France's Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot pledged his country’s support to Israel Monday, as he warned that “France will not be a passive witness” to attempts to delegitimize the Jewish State.
Speaking of the series of recent anti-Israel comments by the Iranian administration, he said “We must act resolutely towards the Iranian regime,” adding that “in front of these words and actions, France will not be a passive witness”.
Providing the keynote speech at a ceremony to honour French Holocaust survivor Margot Cohen for her work in protecting Jewish children from deportation in WWII-era Lyon, the envoy said that Holocaust revisionism “is an indignity because nothing, not even a word is trivial”.
“We have to repeat, again and again, that anti-Semitism is not an opinion, but an abjection.”
Last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a group of ambassadors of Islamic countries at an annual Quds Day (Jerusalem Day) celebration in Tehran that “Zionism is the modern times plight of human society”, adding that “any freedom lover and justice seeker in the world must do its best for the annihilation of the Zionist regime”.
Bigot echoed the condemnation of the Anti-Defamation League in the wake of Iranian incitement, by equating the Islamist State’s nuclear aspirations with its threats to wipe Israel off the map. The French ambassador warned of the danger of “playing down” the Iranian leader’s words or showing “indifference” to them, adding that the threat of anti-Semitism can’t be taken lightly, especially in France, where a spate of recent attacks has occurred.
In June, an Israeli Knesset committee for Immigration, Absorption & Diaspora Affairs convened a meeting with Bigot to seek explanation for figures showing a 53% rise in anti-Semitic incidents during the first five months of 2012 compared to last year.
Bigot sought to redress fears from within the French Jewish community and further afield by stressing that whilst there had been “brutal attacks”, “the new government in France is determined to react to this phenomenon and has already increased protection of synagogues and Jewish schools”.
“We’re very proud of our Jewish identity and Jewish history and we do consider these anti-Semitic attacks are an attack on our history, our people, and our values, values we share with you,” he added.
Also present at the committee meeting was the Jewish Agency head, the body whcih oversees Jewish Immigration to Israel from Europe, who confirmed that communal issues in France had not sparked a mass exodus to the Jewish State: “Aliyah (immigration) from France is not an aliyah of rescue, but one of choice. People come here because they want to live in Israel.”
Earlier this year, Socialist President Francois Hollande was elected to power pledging to tackle anti-Semitism. Throughout his campaign, the president declared that “security of Jews in France is not the problem of a particular community, it is that of the national community”.