Olmert hails French fight against anti-Semitism

15th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 15, 2006 (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert paid tribute Thursday to France's efforts to combat anti-Semitism, after meeting leaders of the country's 600,000-strong Jewish community.

PARIS, June 15, 2006 (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert paid tribute Thursday to France's efforts to combat anti-Semitism, after meeting leaders of the country's 600,000-strong Jewish community.

Speaking on the second day of a state visit to Paris, Olmert praised President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin as "firm and courageous fighters against anti-Semitism."

"It is a war without mercy that we must wage against the hatred of Jews," he told a 300-strong assembly including members of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) and France's chief rabbi Joseph Sitruk.

The Israeli prime minister also paid tribute to the memory of a young Jewish man, who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by a gang from the Paris suburbs this year in a suspected anti-Semitic crime that shocked the country.

French-Israeli relations have often been strained over the question of anti-Semitism — France is home to the world's second largest Jewish community outside Israel, as well as Europe's largest Muslim population, at five million.

In incendiary comments made in 2004, Israel's former prime minister Ariel Sharon urged France's Jews to emigrate immediately to Israel, due to the threats he said they faced at home.

Olmert stopped well short of any similar appeal — but stressed that all Jews, including those living in France, were welcome in Israel.

"You live in a wonderful country, but you have a home — it is the state of Israel — and we hope that one day the world's Jews will come there to live."

He notably called on French parents to allow their children to visit Israel "to get to know the country, to study there and one day to live there."

Olmert also sought to defend his plan to set Israel's borders in the West Bank unilaterally if talks with the Palestinians fail.

"If if is a choice between the 'Greater Israel' and a Jewish state with a Jewish majority, living inside safe and recognised borders, I choose the second option," he said.

If talks fail, Israel "will take its fate into its own hands," he said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article