TEL AVIV – In the wake of attacks against European Jews following President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Sunday condemned “well-rooted” anti-Semitism in his own country, adding that “the ideology of hate” is “alive” and causing French Jews to immigrate to Israel out of fear.
In a rare admission of the depth of the problem, Philippe said that anti-Semitism in France is an “ancient” phenomenon that “always tries to justify itself with new pretext.”
“In our country, anti-Semitism is alive. It is not new, it is ancient. It is not superficial, it is well-rooted and it is alive. And it hides always behind new masks, attempts to justify itself through diverse reasons,” Philippe said during an address at the eighth annual conference of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities.
“This ideology of hate is here, it’s present and it’s making some French Jews make aliyah,” he added, using the Hebrew term for Jewish immigration to Israel. “It should be a spiritual choice but it pains all citizens of the republic when it’s a form of self-exile, made out of insecurity and fear.”
In Paris and Lyon, demonstrators took to the streets in protest of Trump’s announcement and called for a boycott of Israel, which is illegal in France and deemed racial discrimination. They also cheered for Palestinian terrorists convicted of murder to be released from Israeli prisons.
In the Netherlands, a man wearing a Palestinian flag smashed the windows of a kosher restaurant. Meanwhile, in Gothenburg, Sweden, some 20 men attacked a synagogue by hurling firebombs at it.
In his speech, Philippe underlined France’s disapproval of Trump’s “unilateral decision,” saying that while “no one can deny the attachment of the Jewish people to Jerusalem,” peace between Israel and the Palestinians must be “negotiated on the basis of international laws.”
The mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo also addressed the CRIF event, saying that “anti-Semitism, which cloaks itself as anti-Zionism, must never be allowed to succeed.”
Also on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in which the latter urged the Israeli leader to display “courage” by making overtures towards peace, including freezing building in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
Netanyahu invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table but stood firm in his stance on Trump’s Jerusalem move, saying, “President Trump’s announcement was so historic and so important for peace.”
He added, “The most important thing about peace is to recognize that the other side has the right to exist. I think that is what is holding up the peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
“Jerusalem has never been the capital of any other people. I think the sooner the Palestinians come to grips with this reality, the sooner we’ll move towards peace,” the prime minister said.
“There is an effort, continually in UN forums, UNESCO and elsewhere to deny the millennial connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem. It’s absurd. You can read it in a very fine book, it’s called the Bible. You can read it after the Bible,” he added. “You can hear it in the history of Jewish communities throughout our diaspora, ‘Next year in Jerusalem, next year in Jerusalem.'”
Netanyahu also thanked Macron for condemning the uptick in violence since Trump’s announcement.
“You are indeed a friend. I welcome the condemnations that you just expressed against the terror attacks against Israel and Israelis. They’re always inexcusable,” he said.
Meanwhile, the EU’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said during a joint press conference with Netanyahu that “the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”
She condemned “all attacks on Jews everywhere in the world.”
“Let me condemn in the strongest possible way all attacks on Jews everywhere in the world, including in Europe, and on Israel and on Israeli citizens,” Mogherini said.
Netanyahu is on a two-day trip to Paris and Brussels where he will meet with 28 European foreign ministers. Ahead of his journey, the Israeli leader slammed his European counterparts for their “hypocrisy” following Trump’s announcement.
“I ascribe great importance to Europe. While I respect Europe, I am not prepared to accept a double standard from it,” he said. “I hear voices from there condemning President Trump’s historic statement but I have not heard condemnations of the rockets fired at Israel or the terrible incitement against it.”
“I am not prepared to accept this hypocrisy, and as usual at this important forum, I will present Israel’s truth without fear and with head held high,” Netanyahu added.
Violence has erupted in the region and the Muslim world since Trump’s announcement. Terror group Hamas said Trump’s move was a “declaration of war” and called for an Intifada. On Friday, a barrage of rockets was launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip, most of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. One of the rockets was later found in a kindergarten’s yard in the southern town of Sderot, but caused no injuries.
Israeli airstrikes took out two Hamas terrorists.
On Sunday morning, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed a security guard in Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station, critically wounding him.