François Hollande addresses French Jewish council

Seventieth anniversary of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF) – Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Paris, 17 December 2013

(…)

The Keeper of the Seals and the Interior Minister are entirely mobilized against anti-Semitism. As you know, they let nothing pass. Anti-Semitism, as we’ve all said, isn’t a Jewish community matter, it’s a matter for all French people. That’s why I call on all those who are victims of racist acts in general and anti-Semitic acts or remarks to tolerate nothing and to contact the police and the justice system, because the culprits must answer for those acts and be identified and punished.

Likewise, Jean-Marc Ayrault’s government and I are working to ensure that, on the Internet too – this has often been talked about –, we can prevent the cover of anonymity, which enables people to say unspeakable things without being caught. I’ve asked the government to pay very special attention to this and to combat sarcasm and those people who claim to be comedians but are nothing but patent anti-Semites (…).

I’m aware of the CRIF’s solidarity with the State of Israel. And I want to come back to this, because it doesn’t pose a problem, because this solidarity is legitimate and you don’t have to justify it. Israel is the land of refuge created after the Holocaust for Jews, anywhere in the world, who have had to suffer for being Jewish. That’s why they know there’s a country there, Israel. Israel’s existence is necessary to Jews throughout the world.

It’s also a victory over fate. I know the ties with Israel are many: they’re personal, family, human, political and cultural ties, and I respect them.

So I was in Israel from 17 to 19 November; I’m also aware that the Presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate went there.

I very much appreciated the welcome I was given by both President Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I think this welcome and this hospitality were not just circumstantial but reflected a bond that transcends individuals and concerns our two countries.

I’ve recalled that France is fully committed to guaranteeing Israel’s security, and in particular that we won’t let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon. The negotiations that resulted in an interim agreement enabling the Iranian programme to be suspended haven’t definitively resolved the issue. We’ll know only in a few months’ time. The agreement reflected our demands – the ones I set with Laurent Fabius – in the negotiation.

We’ll now maintain our vigilance, because for us there’s no question of Iran being able to acquire a nuclear weapon by any means.

I also went to Palestine; I met President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and I confirmed to him what I’d also told the Israeli Prime Minister: that peace is necessarily demanding.

If there are no concessions, there will be no peace.

If the two sides don’t move towards each other, they won’t meet.

There’s a chance, an opportunity for us to put an end to this conflict, which goes back too long. And so we must seize this chance. And it is France’s duty to facilitate it, because we have this aptitude for using the same language to talk to both the Palestinians and the Israelis. (…)

So several [of you] were in Ramallah, listening to young Palestinians question us, sometimes with words we ourselves wouldn’t have endorsed. But the very fact that they can express themselves was important; I remember those two young people in Gaza, who not only urged us to do everything to lift certain restrictions, of course, but also spoke in French, because France also has a presence in Gaza: we have an Alliance française, which in fact enables young Palestinians from Gaza to speak French. When you speak French, you’re already beginning to speak with France’s values, which isn’t automatic and which at least makes access to the shared culture possible. (…)./.

Published on 18/12/2013

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