13 January 2015, National Assembly, Paris, France
Following is a translation of the remarks on antisemitism delivered by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to the National Assembly on January 13, 2015:
…The first question that has to be clearly dealt with is the struggle against antisemitism. History has taught us that the awakening of antisemitism is the symptom of a crisis for democracy and of a crisis for the Republic. That is why we must respond with force. Since Ilan Halimi in 2006, after the crimes of Toulouse, antisemitic acts in France have grown to an intolerable degree. The words, the insults, the gestures, the shameful attacks, as we saw in Creteil a few weeks ago, which I mentioned here in the Chamber, and which did not not produce the national outrage that our Jewish compatriots expected.
There is a huge level of concern, that fear which we felt at the HyperCacher at Porte de Vincennes and in the synagogue de la Victoire on Sunday night. How can we accept that in France, where the Jews were emancipated two centuries ago, but which was also where they were martyred 70 years ago, how can we accept that cries of“death to the Jews” can be heard on the streets? How can we accept these acts that I have just mentioned? How can we accept that French people can be murdered for being Jews? How can we accept that compatriots, or a Tunisian citizen whose father sent him to France so that he would be safe, is killed when he goes out to buy his bread for Shabbatbecause he is Jewish? This is not acceptable and I say to the people in general who perhaps have not reacted sufficiently up to now, and to our Jewish compatriots, that this time it cannot be accepted, that we must stand up and say what’s really going on.
There is a historical antisemitism that goes back centuries, but there is also a new antsemitism that is born in our neighborhoods, coming through the internet, satellite dishes, against the backdrop of the loathing of the State of Israel, and which advocates hatred of the Jews and all the Jews. It has to be spelled out, the right words must be used to fight this unacceptable antisemitism.
( …) Without its Jews France would not be France, this is the message we have to communicate loud and clear. We haven’t done so. We haven’t shown enough outrage. How can we accept that in certain schools and colleges the Holocaust can’t be taught? How can we accept that when a child is asked “Who is your enemy” the response is “the Jew?” When the Jews of France are attacked France is attacked, the conscience of humanity is attacked. Let us never forget it.
And to how to accept the indignity of a serial hater having a full house on Saturday night, when the country was mourning for what happened in Porte de Vincennes? Let us never pass over these matters in silence, and let justice be implacable with those who preach hate. And I say that emphatically here at the National Assembly.
And to finish my remarks, Ladies and Gentleman, when someone, a young man or woman, a citizen, has doubts and approaches me or the Minister of Education with the question: “But I don’t understand, how come you want to silence this comedian, and you put the Charlie Hebdo journalists up on a pedestal?” There is a fundamental difference – and this is the battle that we have to win, educating our young people – there is a fundamental difference between the freedom to be insolent – blasphemy is not a crime and never will be – there is a fundamental difference between that liberty and anti-Semitism, racism, excusing terrorism and Holocaust denial, which are crimes that the courts must punish with ever greater severity.