NEW YORK- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly protested the French Foreign Ministry criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for saying that French Jews should consider immigrating to Israel, in view of the massive and often violent anti-Semitism in France.
In response to the many recent instances of violent anti-Semitism in France, Prime Minister Sharon said: We see the spread of the wildest anti-Semitism there If I have to advise our brothers in France, I’ll tell them one thing — move to Israel, as early as possible. I say that to Jews all around the world, but there, I think it’s a must and they have to move immediately.
The French Foreign Ministry declared that Sharon is not welcome to undertake his forthcoming planned visit to France, criticized Sharon’s statement as unacceptable, and demanded an explanation. (New York Times, July 19, 2004)
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said: The French Foreign Ministry is demanding an ‘explanation’ for the Prime Minister’s statement. Well, here it is: violent anti-Semitism in France is out of control, and the French government’s response is to prohibit Jews from wearing yarmulkes in public schools. In view of the ongoing violence against Jews in France, not to mention France’s long and sordid history of anti-Semitism, of course French Jews should seriously consider immigrating to Israel.
The ZOA notes numerous developments confirm Prime Minister Sharon’s assessment, including statements by French leaders that have helped create a climate of hatred toward Jews and Israel:
* In the first six months of 2004 there were, according to French Foreign Ministry statistics, 135 physical attacks against Jews in France — compared to 127 such attacks in all of 2003.
* Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the anti-Semitic National Front Party, received 4.5-million votes in the French presidential election of 2002.
* The French Ambassador to England, Daniel Bernard, denounced Israel in December 2001 as a s-ty little country, yet was not fired.
* French President Jacques Chirac’s initial response to the wave of French anti-Semitism in 2002 was to deny that there was anti-Semitism and to claim that American Jews, under orders from the Israeli government, were conspiring to harm France’s image.
* Former French Prime Minister — and current European Union MP — Michel Rocard publicly denied Israel’s right to exist. In a lecture at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt on June 16, 2002, Rocard said that the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the creation of Israel, was a historic mistake. He said Israel is an abnormal entity that continues to pose a threat to its neighbors until today.
* French Foreign Minister Michael Barnier refused to undertake a state visit to Jerusalem during his visit to the region earlier this month, and instead met with Yasir Arafat, despite Arafat’s continuing sponsorship of the mass murder of Israeli Jews.