Following the recent events in Paris, French Jews find themselves in an increasingly compromised position, as the true face of extremist Islam gripped the streets of the French capital, leaving at least 17 of its citizens dead in just one deadly week.
The cold-blooded murders of four Jews at a Paris Kosher supermarket on Friday only goes to reinforce these fears. The nearly 500,000 Jews living in France today feel more and more threatened by the six million Muslims also living there.
In the last few years, thousands of French Jews have left the quiet European country, in favor of a new and “better” life in Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, for fear of being abused or attacked simply for “being Jewish.”
In an recent interview conducted by Jeffrey Goldberg from Business Insider with French prime minister Manuel Valls, Valls said the whole premise of Jews leaving France en-masse due to fear flies directly in the face of everything France represents.
As Valls told the interviewer.
“The choice was made by the French Revolution in 1789 to recognize Jews as full citizens. To understand what the idea of the republic is about, you have to understand the central role played by the emancipation of the Jews. It is a founding principle.”
The Prime Minister, who is a Socialist from Spanish heritage, described the threat of Jews leaving France: “If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”
Valls reportedly took pride in showing Goldberg the desk used in his office by ex-French prime minister Leon Blum, who was Jewish, saying, “Jews were sometimes marginalized in France, but this was not Spain or other countries—they were never expelled, and they play a role in the life of France that is central.”
For his part, Valls has become somewhat of a hero to the Jews in France, among other people, as he declared unequivocally that France is officially at war with radical Islam.
“There is a new anti-Semitism in France. We have the old anti-Semitism, and I’m obviously not downplaying it, that comes from the extreme right, but this new anti-Semitism comes from the difficult neighborhoods, from immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who have turned anger about Gaza into something very dangerous. Israel and Palestine are just a pretext. There is something far more profound taking place now.”
On a more positive note, Valls said that the French government is working closely with the Jewish community to make life for them more secure, “The Jews of France are profoundly attached to France but they need reassurance that they are welcome here, that they are secure here.”