Monday, January 12, 2015
PM Netanyahu's remarks at the Great Synagogue of Paris
On this day, all citizens of Israel and Jews around the world stand with France and the French people. I greatly appreciate the determined stance of the President of France, Francois Hollande, and Prime Minister Valls against any expression of anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism and against terror. This stance is important to France and it is important to the world.
I wish to convey my condolences to the families of the journalists and police and all those innocent people who were murdered while realizing their most basic rights: freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom of belief, even the freedom not to believe. These are the values on which modern France is built and these are values that are worth fighting for.
Today I marched through the streets of Paris, in one line with leaders from around the world, in order to say that terror must end. It is time that we fight against terror together. And I would like to use this opportunity to salute the French security forces who acted with remarkable bravery, as well as to express my appreciation to the Malian, who is a Muslim, who helped save seven Jews.
My dear brothers and sisters, I came here from Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, to share in your pain over the murders of Francois-Michel, Philippe, Yoav and of Yohan, who bravely tried to grab the terrorist's gun and was fatally wounded. The memory of our four holy brothers will be forever engraved on the hearts of our people.
Unfortunately the people of Israel have experienced this pain. We have experienced it many times because we have been fighting against terror for many years, and like many in Israel, I am personally familiar with the wounds of terror as well as the agony of bereavement. As a soldier, I was wounded in an operation to free hostages who had been kidnapped on a Sabena airplane. My late brother, Yoni, was killed in Entebbe when rescuing the hostages kidnapped on an Air France airplane. For years, the best of our sons and daughters were killed in many terror attacks, and the finest of our fighters fell in heroic battles against terrorism, including just recently during Operation Protective Edge.
Today we bow our heads in memory of the victims in Paris. However, as representatives of an ancient and proud people, we stand tall against evil because we can overcome it. "The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread" – because truth and justice are on our side. And here is the truth: Our shared enemy is radical Islam, not Islam and not just radicals – radical Islam. This form of Islam has many names: ISIS, Hamas, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, al-Shabab, Hezbollah; but they are all branches from the same poison tree.
Although the various factions of radical Islam are given to local bloody conflicts, including amongst themselves, they all share the same aspiration: To impose a dark tyranny on the world, to return humanity one thousand years to the past. They trample anyone who does not share their path, first and foremost their Muslim brothers, but their greatest hatred is saved for Western culture, that same culture that respects freedom and equal rights – all the things they so despise.
For this reason it is not a coincidence that radical Islam has sought to destroy Israel from the very day it declared its independence: Because Israel is the only Western democracy in the Middle East, because Israel is the only place that is truly safe for Christians, women, minorities, that respects all human rights.
Well, here is another truth: Radical Islam does not hate the West because of Israel. It hates Israel because it is an organic part of the West. It rightly views Israel as an island of Western democracy and tolerance in an ocean of fanaticism and violence that it wishes to impose on the Middle East, Europe and the entire world.
Israel is not under attack because of this or that detail of its policies, but rather because of its very existence and nature. But we are not the only ones under attack. Look around you: The entire world is under attack, the entire world – the Twin Towers in New York, the subways in London and Madrid, tourists in Bali, students at schools in Russia and Pakistan, a hotel in Mumbai, the mall in Nairobi.
A very short path connects the issuing of the fatwa against the author Salman Rushdie, the murder of Theo van Gogh in Holland and the attacks on Jews in Israel and around the world – it is a short distance from this to the murderous attacks in Paris on the office of Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket not far from here. These are not isolated actions and we must see what they have in common. Otherwise we will not be able to fight against terror in methodical and consistent manner.
We must recognize that there is a global network of radical Islam at work – a network of hatred, fanaticism and murder. I believe that this threat will only grow larger when thousands of terrorists come to Europe from the killing fields of the Middle East. The danger will grow much greater and will become a serious threat to humanity at large if radical Islam gains control over nuclear weapons, and therefore we must use all means to prevent Iran from acquiring an atomic weapon. We must support each other in this fateful struggle against radical Islamic fanatics wherever they are.
Israel stands with Europe and Europe must stand with Israel. As the civilized world today stands with France against terror, so must it stand with Israel against terror. It is the exact same terror. Those who slaughtered Jews in the synagogue in Jerusalem and those who slaughtered Jews and journalists in Paris belong to the same murderous terrorist movement. They should be condemned in the same measure and they must be fought in the same manner.
Only when the international community fights our shared enemy in a uniform manner will we know that we are on the path to victory. I promise you: Israel will continue to fight against terror. Israel will continue to defend itself and we know that when we defend ourselves, we defend the entire civilized world.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, Jews of France, I would like to say to you what I say to our Jewish brothers and sisters from all countries: You have the full right to live in safety and tranquility as citizens with equal rights wherever you wish, including here in France. But Jews of our time have been blessed with another right, a right that did not exist for previous generations of Jews: The right to join their Jewish brothers and sisters in our historic homeland, the Land of Israel; the right to live in our free country, the one and only Jewish state, the State of Israel; the right to stand tall and proud at the walls of Zion, our eternal capital of Jerusalem.
Any Jew who wishes to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed with open arms and warm and accepting hearts. They will not arrive in a foreign land but rather the land of our forefathers. God willing, they will come and many of you will come to our home. Am Yisrael Chai.