Former French President Nicholas Sarkozy has spoken out in defence of his country’s Jewish population as he was honoured for protecting France’s Jews at a dinner in central London on Sunday night.
The Conference of European Rabbis presented the politician, who is expected run for a second term in office in 2017, with an award in honour of his efforts to support French Jewry as interior minister and later president.
He said: “We do not want French Jews to leave France because they are afraid. We want them to be comfortable to wear a kippah. We must stand up to protect our Jewish communities. It is impossible not to. We did not fight the Nazis to force the Jews to run to Israel 70 years later.”
Mr. Sarkozy was the first recipient of the Rabbi Moshe Rosen prize, initiated in memory of the former Chief Rabbi of Romania who for many years safeguarded his community through great self-sacrifice during years of communist rule.
Dinner guests included CER president and associate president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt and Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
This is not the first time Mr. Sarkozy has chosen a public platform to show his support for both Jews in general and the state of Israel in particular.
In June 2015 told the Herzliya Conference in Israel that humanity owed a debt to the Jewish people for their persecution over the centuries, which culminated in the Holocaust.
“The silence of the nations while the crimes were committed is a blemish on the conscience of humanity, he said. “We all failed and have a debt toward the Jewish people, and it continues to exist.” He said that the “only way to do something about it” was to always ensure the security of the Jewish people.
“Mankind has not yet understood that the fate of the Jews is always the forerunner of what will happen to others,” he said. “Fighting for the security of Jews and Israel is fighting for all those who make a difference in the world, and this is my profound conviction.”
Mr Sarkozy, who left office in 2012 after losing to current incumbent François Hollande, insisted three times during his 45 minutes of discussion that France was not an anti-Semitic country.
In his remarks, Sarkozy critisized the nuclear deal between the US and Iran, saying that the European countries were essentially left out of negotiations which were largely bilateral. Mr. Sarkozy was also very critical of the West’s policy toward Syria and the Islamic State, lamenting what he called a lack of leadership.
As Breitbart London has reported, the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is also keenly aware of the threats to France’s Jews posed by ongoing Islamic terrorism.
Mr. Valls joined Jewish leaders in Paris on Sunday to honour four people gunned down in a kosher market a year ago by an attacker claiming ties to the Islamic State group and spoke strongly in favour of Jews remaining to continue their lives in France.
“France would not be France” without its Jews, Mr. Valls said. He called it intolerable “to see French Jews leave their country, in larger and larger numbers, because they no longer feel safe” or at home.
“For these enemies who attack their compatriots, who tear apart the contract that unites us, there can be no worthy explanation,” he said, acknowledging the “immense anguish” of the Jewish community.
More French Jews emigrated to Israel in 2015 than ever before, according to figures from the Jewish Agency — many because of security concerns after last year’s market siege.
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