by Mati Tuchfeld
What is happening is nothing more than a continuation of Europe's traditional policy of burying its head in the sand. So it is no wonder that Netanyahu's visit did not sit easy with the French government. They did not want the headache caused by someone coming to mess with their truth.
Sometimes things take place before your eyes that are difficult to describe by means of a pen or a keyboard. These are rare sublime moments, full of sensitivity, in which one is moved to tears. Such a moment happened on Sunday evening in Paris, when a boy, perhaps 14 or 15 years old, approached Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately after his speech at the Grand Synagogue and sobbed against his chest.
The boy, whose family requested that he remain unnamed, lost a brother in the attack at the kosher supermarket on Friday. Netanyahu gave him a warm paternal embrace and patted his head for several long minutes. The boy, whose father was standing next to him, could not find the words to thank Netanyahu for his decision to visit Paris during the toughest time the French Jewish community has experienced in the past generation.
Those who do not understand why Netanyahu had to make the quick trip to Paris, those who wonder if he was "forced" to go there after two ministers in his government announced they were going, and those who question the "waste" of money on the trip -- it would have been enough for them to take one fleeting glance at the eyes of the French Jews in attendance at the Grand Synagogue during Netanyahu's speech to realize instantly why he was there.
The bitter truth is that French Jews have been abandoned. Despite the nice and flowery words of French President Francois Hollande and other government ministers, French Jews feel that their government has left them on their own. Even the French people are not eager to identify with them. At the mass rally in Paris on Sunday, the Jewish issue was on the farthest margins. All the signs and shirts said, "We are Charlie." None said, "We are Hyper Cacher" [the name of the kosher supermarket that was attacked].
This was no coincidence. For the French people and their leaders, it is comfortable to talk about what happened last week as an attack against freedom of expression and democracy and portray the struggle taking place as one between "radicalism" and "liberty."
But this is not the truth. What is happening is nothing more than a continuation of Europe's traditional policy of burying its head in the sand. So it is no wonder that Netanyahu's visit did not sit easy with the French government. They did not want the headache caused by someone coming to mess with their truth.
European Jews were the first to understand the situation. For years, they have suffered from the Islamic terrorism that has run rampant in their cities, particularly in Paris. They have already become used to hiding their identities, going out without their kippot and fortifying their children's educational institutions as if they are military installations.
It appears that the feeling of abandonment by the French government after the kosher supermarket attack is the straw that has broken the camel's back for French Jews. While Netanyahu was only able to bring small consolation to French Jews, he delivered a strong message that there is a country that has not abandoned them. The French may have disappointed us, but the Jews will always remain united.
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