Millions march in France against terror in historic unity rally
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TIMES OF ISRAEL LIVE, January 11, 2015 (now closed)

Millions march in France against terror in historic unity rally

Largest demonstration in French history draws world leaders, including Netanyahu, Abbas, though Elysee Palace had preferred Israeli PM not attend; Jews killed in supermarket siege to be buried in Israel; victims honored at synagogue ceremony

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

  • People gather on the Place de la Republique in Paris before the start of a Unity rally on January 11, 2015, in tribute to the 17 victims of a three-day killing spree by Islamic fundamentalists. (AFP/Bertrand Guay)
    People gather on the Place de la Republique in Paris before the start of a Unity rally on January 11, 2015, in tribute to the 17 victims of a three-day killing spree by Islamic fundamentalists. (AFP/Bertrand Guay)
  • People hold up posters reading 'Je suis Charlie' (I am Charlie) and 'Charlie - plus forts que la haine' (Charlie - stronger than hate) during a rally in tribute to the 17 people killed in the terror attacks in France and in support of press freedom, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on January 11, (photo credit: AFP/JOHN MACDOUGALL)
    People hold up posters reading 'Je suis Charlie' (I am Charlie) and 'Charlie - plus forts que la haine' (Charlie - stronger than hate) during a rally in tribute to the 17 people killed in the terror attacks in France and in support of press freedom, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on January 11, (photo credit: AFP/JOHN MACDOUGALL)
  • From left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel marching in Paris on January 11, 2015. (Screen capture: Channel 2)
    From left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel marching in Paris on January 11, 2015. (Screen capture: Channel 2)
  • French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for photographers at the Elysee Palace, Paris, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in the wake of a series of terror attacks at the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish grocery store. (AP/Thibault Camus)
    French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for photographers at the Elysee Palace, Paris, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in the wake of a series of terror attacks at the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish grocery store. (AP/Thibault Camus)
  • People gather to take part in a Unity rally “Marche Republicaine” on January 11, 2015 in Paris in tribute to the 17 victims of a three-day killing spree by homegrown Islamists. (photo credit: AFP/ LOIC VENANCE)
    People gather to take part in a Unity rally “Marche Republicaine” on January 11, 2015 in Paris in tribute to the 17 victims of a three-day killing spree by homegrown Islamists. (photo credit: AFP/ LOIC VENANCE)
  • French riot police keep watch during a unity rally  in Paris on January 11, 2015 held in tribute to the 17 victims of the three-day killing spree (photo credit: AFP/ THOMAS SAMSON)
    French riot police keep watch during a unity rally in Paris on January 11, 2015 held in tribute to the 17 victims of the three-day killing spree (photo credit: AFP/ THOMAS SAMSON)
  • Dozens of heads of states taking part in a unity rally in Paris in tribute to the 17 victims of the three-day killing spree,  January 11, 2015 (photo credit: AFP/ERIC FEFERBERG)
    Dozens of heads of states taking part in a unity rally in Paris in tribute to the 17 victims of the three-day killing spree, January 11, 2015 (photo credit: AFP/ERIC FEFERBERG)
  • French ambassador to Australia Christophe Lecourtier (2nd L) leads members of Sydney's French community in the heart of the city to pay tribute to the Paris jihadist attack victims, near the scene of a deadly cafe siege last month in Sydney, on January 11, 2015. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/Peter PARKS)
    French ambassador to Australia Christophe Lecourtier (2nd L) leads members of Sydney's French community in the heart of the city to pay tribute to the Paris jihadist attack victims, near the scene of a deadly cafe siege last month in Sydney, on January 11, 2015. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/Peter PARKS)

Some 1.5 million people, including over 50 world leaders, thronged central Paris Sunday afternoon in a massive and historic show of support against terrorism and to honor 17 victims of a series of attacks that rocked France last week. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attending the rally, announced that the four Jewish victims of an attack on a kosher market Friday would be buried in Israel. The Times of Israel liveblogged developments throughout Sunday.

Tens of thousands turn out early in Republic Square

Tens of thousands of people have already gathered in the Place de la Republique in Paris hours before Sunday’s rally to demonstrate the nation’s defiance and sorrow in the face of last week’s jihadist attacks.

Nearby roads were also packed as the city prepared to march alongside several world leaders in the wake of the attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a policewoman and a Jewish supermarket that left 17 dead.

The press are on standby for the start of a big march at the Place de la Republique on January 11, 2015, in Paris. More than a million people and dozens of world leaders were expected to march through Paris in a historic display of global defiance against extremism after jihadist attacks on Paris last week which left 17 dead. (photo credit: AFP/JOEL SAGET)

The press are on standby for the start of a big march at the Place de la Republique on January 11, 2015, in Paris. More than a million people and dozens of world leaders were expected to march through Paris in a historic display of global defiance against extremism after jihadist attacks on Paris last week which left 17 dead. (photo credit: AFP/JOEL SAGET)

— AFP

Paris terrorist swore allegiance to IS

A video surfaces on the Internet claiming to show Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist who held up a Paris kosher supermarket and shot four Jewish customers dead, in which he swears allegiance to the Islamic State and urges French Muslims to follow his example.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxhi-3AVXQw

An Islamic State-connected Twitter account initally released the video, the SITE intelligence group says.

Paris terror victim just returned from Israel

One of the Jewish victims of Friday’s Paris terrorist attack, Yoav Hattab, 21, had just returned from a trip to Israel on Taglit-Birthright.

“Taglit-Birthright Israel deeply mourns the murder of the four brave men in the terrorist attack in the Hyper Cacher on Erev Shabbat,” says Gidi Mark, CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel. “My thoughts are with the families and with the Jewish community of France at these difficult times.”

His friend from the trip, Nathan Levi, writes on Facebook that Hattab’s dream was “to come with his family from Tunisia, to live in Israel.”

“For him, birthright was only the promo,” Levi writes. “He couldn’t wait to finish college, so he can come to Israel already, to join the army, and to become Israeli.”

Yoav Hattab, 21, was killed in a Paris terror attack on Friday, January 9, 2015. (photo courtesy of Taglit-Birthright)

Yoav Hattab, 21, was killed in a Paris terror attack on Friday, January 9, 2015. (photo courtesy of Taglit-Birthright)

Jogger attack linked to kosher market shooter

A prosecutor says the shooting of a jogger in a Paris suburb on the same day as the Charlie Hebdo massacre has been linked to the gunman who killed a policewoman and later, four hostages at a kosher grocery.

In a brief statement Sunday, the prosecutor said ballistics tests on shell cases from the shooting Wednesday in Fontenay aux Roses linked them to the automatic weapon at the kosher store stormed two days later. The prosecutor said the jogger was seriously wounded.

Amedy Coulibaly was killed when police stormed the market. That raid took place just minutes after security forces killed the brothers who carried out the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper that lampooned Islam and other religions.

— AP

Netanyahu arrives at Elysee Palace

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at Paris’s Elysee Palace ahead of his participation in the anti-terror rally along with other world leaders. He is greeted by President Francois Hollande, roughly 20 minutes after the arrival of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Muslim worker who saved lives at the kosher supermarket

A Muslim employee of the kosher market told French media on Saturday that he helped hide several people, including a baby, in one of the freezers downstairs.

Lassana Bathily, 24, told Metronews that his knowledge of the store and a cool head helped him act quickly to lead a number of shoppers who were cowering at the back of the store down the stairs and conceal them from the gunman.

Lassana Bathily (YouTube screenshot)

Lassana Bathily (YouTube screenshot)

“I opened the door of the freezer and a number of people went inside, I turned off the lights and the freezer itself,” he told the newspaper.

Bathily, who is originally from Mali, said he told the shoppers to stay calm, closed the door and managed to flee the store using an elevator. He was then able to tell security forces about the people hiding in the freezer and give them an indication of what was happening inside.

When the siege was over, he said people came over to congratulate and thank him.

Bathily is interviewed in French here.

For more on the victims and the siege, see: Four Jews cut down by an Islamist killer who ‘showed no mercy’

FM to attend aliyah fair in Paris after rally

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman will attend an aliyah fair in Paris, immediately after his participation in the solidarity rally this afternoon. The Jewish-Agency sponsored fair was scheduled before last week’s tragic events, which are expected to further increase French immigration to Israel.

In 2014, nearly 7,000 Jews relocated from France to Israel, twice as many as in the year before.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, who is currently in Paris, said last week that he expects more than 10,000 French immigrants in 2015. But he is critical of calls from senior government officials in Jerusalem calling on French Jews to come to Israel.

Raphael Ahren

Jerusalem is no safer than Paris?

Times of Israel blogger Jonathan Zausmer pens a pretty hard-hitting response to those calls from Netanyahu, Liberman et al for French Jews to move to Israel.

“Our hearts go out to the people of France and Jews of Paris who were targeted in a viscous attack by Islamic extremists,” he emphasizes. “Do we wish to see you here in Israel as citizens of the Jewish state? Yes we do, as we wish to see an ingathering of Diaspora Jews from around the world.”

And then comes the “But.”

“But know this: you need to do the math. The outrages of terror and war in the last two decades in Israel and the threat of Islamic fundamentalist violence are as present here as in Paris. If you are running away from a situation in a moment of fear for your personal safety and that of your family, take a moment and analyze the data.”

Read on here.

UK on high alert for Paris copycat attacks

Great Britain is on the verge of raising the country’s terror threat to the highest level in seven years on Saturday out of fears of attacks similar to those which took place in Paris last week, the Sunday Times reports.

Senior security sources tell the paper that the threat of 150 jihadists in the UK carrying out a “spectacular” terrorist attack on British soil was nearing “critical.”

Thirty former Islamic State fighters currently in the UK are under surveillance by domestic security because they are deemed a serious threat, British security sources tell the Times. Another 120 have “extremist” views may have firearms training and could be capable of carrying out attacks like those in Paris, and their observation by British authorities will be reassessed.

Police patrols around Jewish targets in the UK have been increased, as Al-Qaeda in Yemen has instructed its operatives that Britain is a higher priority target than France, The Times reports.

World leaders head to Paris rally

Forty-four foreign dignitaries, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are heading out of the Elysee Palace en route to the rally in honor of those murdered in last week’s terrorist attacks, and will march behind the families of the 17 victims.

Hundreds of thousands, meanwhile, have packed into the Republic Square. Approximately 2,000 police offices and over 1,350 soldiers have been deployed to the area to protect the crowds.

200 attend pro-France rally in Jerusalem

Roughly 200 people participated in a unity rally with the people of France and its Jewish community at Jerusalem’s city hall.

The rally included new immigrants from France and senior Jerusalem officials, Ynet reports. Participants held signs that say “Israel is Charlie.”

Hollande: Paris is capital of the world today

Before greeting world leaders who arrived in Paris for the solidarity rally, French President Francois Hollande says that “Paris is the capital of the world today.”

Live footage of Paris rally

AFP offers a live feed from the Place de la Republique in Paris for the rally which, before its start, has already drawn hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in solidarity with the victims of last week’s terrorist attacks.

Dignitaries are boarding a bus which will transport them to the rally. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are on separate buses, however.

Kosher market terrorist planned attack on Jewish school

The terrorist who killed four at a kosher market in Paris on Friday was planning to attack a Jewish school the day before, according to Army Radio.

The report says that Amedy Coulibaly had planned to attack a Jewish school on Thursday. This follows reports on CNN on Friday that he shot and killed the French policewoman, Clarissa Jean Philippe, on Thursday in the vicinity of his intended target — a Jewish primary school.

Israeli flags fly at Paris rally

Among the many national flags fluttering in the wind at the Place de la Republique are Israeli flags, Army Radio reports.

One yellow flag also has the face of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Cameron: Extremism is with us for long haul

British Prime Minister David Cameron says that extremist violence would remain a threat for many years to come, as he joins a historic march against terrorism in Paris.

“We in Britain face a very similar threat, a threat of fanatical extremism … It’s a threat that has been with us for many years and I believe will be with us for many more years to come,” he tells British television.

— AFP

EU culture ministers vow to guard free speech

Culture ministers from all 28 European Union nations vowed Sunday to defend freedom of expression from “terrorists” in the wake of the Islamist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

In a statement as a huge unity rally took place in Paris, the ministers said the “senseless barbarity” of the attack aimed to undermine European values “in the most violent way.”

“We, the ministers of culture of the European Union, stand in solidarity to defend the freedom of expression and vow to protect the rights of artists to create freely,” said the statement, issued by the current Latvian presidency of the EU.

The ministers said they “do not accept terrorists’ attempts to impose their own standards. Since time immemorial, the arts have been an inspiration for reflection giving rise to new ideas and fighting against intolerance and ignorance.”

The EU’s top officials and a host of leaders from European nations are attending the rally in Paris to show solidarity after three days of violence in Paris in which 17 people died, including the Charlie Hebdo attack and a siege at a kosher supermarket.

— AFP

Rally’s motto: ‘I am Charlie, a cop, a Jew’

The unofficial slogan of Sunday’s rally in the French capital is printed on a large balloon flying over the gathered masses: “Je suis Charlie, flic, juif” — “I am Charlie, a cop, a Jew.”

Netanyahu reaches front row of world leaders

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes a front row position in the march of world leaders in Paris, two spots down from French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Abbas, Netanyahu separated by 3 world leaders

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is walking in the front row beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel now, with only Merkel, Hollande, and Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta separating the Palestinian leader from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli flags in Place de la Republique

Here’s a photo of demonstrators in Paris’s Place de la Republique standing atop the monument to the Third Republic and holding an Israeli flag.

Demonstrators at Paris's Place de la Republique wave an Israeli flag (photo credit: John Macarthur)

Demonstrators at Paris’s Place de la Republique wave an Israeli flag (photo credit: John MacArthur)

Netanyahu brings personal security to France march

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be the only major world leader who brought his own security detail to the march. The security guard was linking arms with Netanyahu and stood in the front row along with the other world leaders, and is visible to Netanyahu’s left in the photo below.

From left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel marching in Paris on January 11, 2015. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

From left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel marching in Paris on January 11, 2015. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

March heads to Place de la Nation

Marchers are starting to head out of the Place de la Republique for the Place de la Nation, where the rally terminates.

Over half a million turn out to Paris rally

At least half a million people turned out to the rally in Paris, AFP reports, and solidarity marches in the French cities of Marseille and Lyon have drawn 60,000 and 150,000, respectively, France24 reports.

Hollande, Sarkozy to visit Paris synagogue

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is going to Paris’s La Victoire synagogue after the rally, joining President Francois Hollande and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

Hollande has left the rally after a moment of silence and is heading back to the Elysee Palace.

The French army will stand guard at the country’s synagogues if need be, a French Jewish leader says.

‘Paris attacks may spur Jewish emigration’

The slaying of four Jews at a Paris kosher market may cause a substantial increase in the number of Jews who will immigrate to Israel this year, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky says.

Sharansky arrived in Paris Sunday aboard the plane that brought Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman to France to attend a mass rally and march through Paris’s center in protest of the killing of 17 people last week by Islamists in and around the French capital.

“Before the attack, our estimates spoke of 10,000 new olim in 2015,” says Sharansky, using the Hebrew word for Jews who immigrate to Israel, or make aliyah. “In two weeks’ time we will reexamine this estimate in light of the current developments,” he told JTA at an event promoting aliyah among 55-year-olds and older in central Paris.

— JTA

Bomb threat at Belgian newspaper

Belgian newspaper Le Soir evacuates its offices after a bomb threat.

Belgian paper threatened over Muhammad cartoons

The offices of a Belgian newspaper that republished cartoons from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were evacuated on Sunday after receiving an anonymous bomb threat, its staff said.

The evacuation of Le Soir, a French-language daily, came as thousands of people marched through Brussels in solidarity with France following Islamist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and other sites.

“An anonymous caller made threats against the editorial side of the paper, after which it was decided to evacuate the building,” Maroun Labaki, in charge of the paper’s foreign pages, told the Belga news agency.

The caller told journalists the bomb was “going to go off in your newsroom,” Le Soir journalist Martine Dubuisson tweeted.

Police closed off the road around the paper’s offices.

Le Soir was one of many European papers that reprinted cartoons from Charlie Hebdo including some mocking the prophet Muhammad.

A German tabloid that reprinted them was firebombed on Sunday.

— AFP

‘Most French see Israel as part of problem’

Channel 2’s diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal, watching the rally from his TV station’s studio, asserts that “for most of the French,” Israel is part of the problem when it comes to the radicalizing of Muslims.

Israel is currently engaging in “aggressive” and “effective” propaganda about the imperative to stand firm and confront Islamic extremism, he says.

But, amid the failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “Israel has a problem in convincing the French and others that we’re not part of the problem.”

Maestro walks after request to play ‘Hatikva’ for terror victims denied

A French-Jewish conductor refused to appear at the Israeli Opera for a performance on Saturday evening, after the Tel Aviv opera house’s management denied his request to play “Hatikva” in commemoration of the victims of the terror attacks in France last week.

French-Jewish conductor Frédéric Chaslin (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

French-Jewish conductor Frédéric Chaslin (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

Parisian-born Frédéric Chaslin had asked to say a few words and play the Israeli national anthem in honor of the 17 people killed in Paris last week — in the kosher supermarket siege and shootout at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, and a policewoman killed separately — but was told the move would upset the audience. He subsequently left the theater, and an understudy conducted the performance.

Read more here.

Up to 1.5 million attend Paris march

As many as 1.5 million people flooded Paris for a march against terrorism on Sunday, one of the organizers said.

“Fantastic France! I am told we will be between 1.3 and 1.5 million in Paris,” said former minister Francois Lamy on his Twitter account.

— AFP

Bernard-Henri Lévy: France ‘will not be weak anymore’

French-Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy tells CNN that today’s outpouring of people onto the streets is France’s way of saying that it has failed to stand sufficiently firm in the face of Islamic extremism, and that this is now going to change.

French-Jewish philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy (photo credit: Youtube screenshot)

French-Jewish philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

The message of the rally, he says, is that “we will not be weak anymore in the face of this jihadism.”

Bennett: Abbas, Qatar have no place at anti-terror rally

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett in Paris criticizes the participation of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Qatari officials in the Paris march, pointing out Qatar’s support for Hamas.

“It’s hypocritical of those same Qataris and Arabs who are financing terrorism to come and demonstrate as if against terrorism,” he is quoted by Channel 2 telling a Parisian Jewish youth group. “I don’t accept this.”

“They’re hands are covered in blood,” he tells Army Radio.

Bennett, head of the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party, says there’s no difference between between terror in New York City, Tel Aviv, the West Bank settlement of Itamar and Paris. “When an Islamist murderer kills the Fogel family in Itamar, when Abu Mazen [Abbas] finances terrorists who afterwards go and blow themselves up in Tel Aviv, it’s no different from those same terrorists in Paris,” he says.

“We won’t let 2015 turn into 1938,” Bennett tells Channel 10 during his visit to Paris. He says that the battle is not just against Islamic radicalism, but for the freedom of the West in general.

Economics Minister Naftali Bennett speaks to French youths in Paris on January 11, 2015. (screen capture: Channel 2)

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett speaks to French youths in Paris on January 11, 2015. (screen capture: Channel 2)

Millions rally for French; thousands more across Europe

Over a million people took part in French rallies outside Paris, in addition to the about 1.5 million who marched in solidarity with the victims of last week’s terror attacks in the capital.

Another 12,000 people joined a rally in Vienna Sunday, AFP reports, in addition to more than a thousand who turned out in London, over 8,000 in Berlin, 20,000 in Brussels and 2,000 outside the French embassy in Luxembourg.

French chief rabbi urges against call for aliyah

France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia tells Israel’s Army Radio he implores Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to to issue a call for French Jewry to make aliyah to Israel during the speech he is set to give soon at Paris’s Great Synagogue. Were he to do so, “this would be a big problem” for the French Jewish community, says Korsia.

Newly elected Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia, speaks to journalists on June 22, 2014, in Paris. (Photo credit: AFP/Fred Dufor)

Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia (Photo credit: AFP/Fred Dufor)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, however, has made an appearance at an aliyah fair in Paris and tells attendees that if they want to live in peace and security they need to move to Israel.

“The most important message for French Jews is: immigrate to Israel. If you are looking for security and a safer future for your children there is no other alternative,” he says at the event, which was attended by some 500 Parisian Jews.

Even European leaders understand today that radical Islam is a threat emerging from people unwilling to accept the values of the free world, Liberman adds. “That’s why in the Middle East they act against Israel – because they recognize us as representatives of the free world in the region.”

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky is also attending the events, and vows to help provide for the physical security of Jewish communities across France, “increasing our assistance to any individual who wishes to immigrate to Israel, and working to ease immigrants’ integration into the Israeli workforce and Israeli society.”

— Raphael Ahren contributed

Herzog slams PM’s big Paris contingent

Opposition leader and Labor Party chief Isaac Herzog criticizes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for taking such a large retinue to the Paris march, saying that it would have been appropriate to send a small contingent and preserve dignity and restraint.

Netanyahu was joined on the trip by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, among others.

Hundreds of Jews at Paris ‘aliyah fair’

Hundreds of French Jews have been attending the Jewish Agency for Israel aliyah information fair in Paris.

The event was held under tight security in central Paris, the agency says.

The fair had been planned in advance of the past week’s tragic events.

Hundreds of French Jews attend a Jewish Agency aliyah information fair under tight security in central Paris, Sunday, January 11. (Photo credit: Eliaou Zenou for The Jewish Agency for Israel)

Hundreds of French Jews attend a Jewish Agency aliyah information fair under tight security in central Paris, Sunday, January 11. (Photo credit: Eliaou Zenou for The Jewish Agency for Israel)

President urges world leaders to defend Jews

President Reuven Rivlin calls on governments worldwide to improve security for local Jewish institutions.

“We demand of all governments around the world, and the government of France in particular, to protect and safeguard the security and well-being of the Jewish community,” he says. “There is an obligation to ensure Jews are able to live with dignity and pride, without being victims of attacks, threats and intimidation.”

Speaking at a Bible study session in Jerusalem, he says that Israel will “warmly and affectionately” receive every Jew who’d like to immigrate to Israel and play a part in building the nation.

“However, it is important that this aliya to Israel will not be an aliya of fear, but of choice. An aliya born out of a positive Jewish identity, out of Zionism, and not because of anti-Semitism.”

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin speaks at a memorial ceremony to commemorate 19 years since the assasination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, at the president's house in Jerusalem on November 04, 2014. (Photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO/FLASH90)

President Reuven Rivlin at the president’s house in Jerusalem, November 4, 2014 (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO/Flash90)

— Raphael Ahren

No al-Qaeda link in French attacks, Holder says

US Attorney General Eric Holder says there was no “credible information” as yet that Al-Qaeda was behind the attacks in France that killed 17 people.

Holder spoke as dozens of heads of states joined hundreds of thousands of people in a massive display of unity and defiance against terrorism on the streets of Paris.

“At this point, we don’t have any credible information that would allow us to make a determination as to which organization was responsible” for the attacks this week, Holder said in an interview from Paris with ABC’s “This Week.”

AFP

Netanyahu talks terror with world leaders

What did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discuss with the world leaders he marched with in Paris? According to a statement by his office, the main topic was the need to fight terrorism.

“I marched now in one row with world leaders to unite against terrorism,” Netanyahu says, according to the statement. “I told them against terrorism, any terror, one has to fight to the death.”

A Prime Minister’s Office official says he was referring to the world leaders he spoke to before, during and after the rally. He refused to comment on whether the prime minister spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who was just four spots away from Netanyahu in the front row of the march. The PMO says Netanyahu spoke to French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and sat with Hollande on the bus.

— Raphael Ahren

Kouachi’s wife condemns husband’s attack

The wife of Charlie Hebdo attacker Cherif Kouachi, who was held for 72 hours after the deadly assault, condemns her husband’s actions and says she had no idea what he was plotting.

Izzana Hamyd voices sympathy for the victims of the attack and says she’d never seen any sign in her husband to suggest that he might undertake such terrorist activity, and described herself as “stupefied” by the attack.

Read the full story here.

EU envoy urges ‘concrete action’ after rally

The European Union’s ambassador in Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, releases a statement condemning the Paris attacks of the last few days, hoping that the mourning will be transformed into “concrete action.”

“I have been shocked and appalled by the utterly condemnable terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo leaving twelve dead and the four people murdered in the despicable and anti-Semitic attack on the kosher supermarket in Paris,” Faaborg-Andersen says.

“Today’s march of a million people from France, Europe and all over the world is evidence not only of solidarity with the victims but of a determination to defend our common values of democracy, including freedom of speech and religion, against extremism and intolerance.”

Quoting the union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, the ambassador adds that we now ensure “this pain transforms itself into concrete actions.” He adds: “I am confident that Europe will rise to the challenge.”

Israeli leaders’ trip to France cost NIS 800k

How much did the Israeli delegation’s trip to France for the rally cost?

According to Channel 2, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman racked up a bill of about NIS 700,000 for the trip. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and his entourage racked up a bill of NIS 60,000, and former Shas MK Eli Yishai’s trip cost NIS 40,000.

French dignitaries arrive at Grand Synagogue

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy arrives at Paris’s Grand Synagogue for a memorial ceremony for the victims of last week’s terrorist attacks.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, speaking outside the synagogue before entering, calls for unity and says Sunday’s massive march marks a historic moment.

French President Francois Hollande is expected soon.

3.3 million rally across France

At least 3.3 million people march against extremism in France, AFP reports. A French official says it is the largest demonstration in French history.

Paris shooter had Jewish schools’ addresses in phone

Amedy Coulibaly had two other addresses of Jewish schools in his phone when he attacked a kosher supermarket in Paris on Friday, according to a Channel 2 report, raising the suspicion that the terrorist planned additional attacks.

French president arrives at synagogue service

French President Francois Hollande has arrived at the Grand Synagogue for a memorial service to the victims of last week’s terrorist attacks.

France preferred Netanyahu not attend Paris rally

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Grand Synagogue of Paris for the memorial ceremony, Channel 2 reports that the French government didn’t want Netanyahu to attend the march earlier today, because his presence would be divisive.

Netanyahu initially acceded to the request, but then decided to go after Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said they would be going.

In retaliation, the Channel 2 report says, the Elysee Palace extended an invitation to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and when Netanyahu announced his attendance Paris chose to highlight their invite to Abbas.

French President Francois Hollande (3rd L) is surrounded by head of states (From L to R : Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, Ibrahim Boubakar Keita of Mali, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, EU Council President Donald Tusk and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas) as they attend the solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris January 11, 2015. (photo credit: AFP/POOL PHILIPPE WOJAZER)

French President Francois Hollande (3rd from left) is surrounded by head of state (from left to right) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ibrahim Boubakar Keita of Mali, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, EU Council President Donald Tusk and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as they attend the solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris, January 11, 2015. (photo credit: AFP/Philippe Wojazer, Pool)

Netanyahu tweet crops out Abbas

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shares a photo of himself and world leaders marching in Paris along with his statement for the need to combat terrorism.

The photo crops out Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, half of whose head is visible on the right side.

 

Netanyahu, Hollande greeted with applause

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Francois Hollande are welcomed with loud cheers as they enter a packed Grand Synagogue in Paris on Sunday.

Parts of the crowd chanted Netanyahu’s nickname “Bibi” and “Israel will live, Israel will overcome” as the leaders arrived for a ceremony for “all the victims” of the attacks in Paris this week, which claimed 17 lives.

AFP

Morocco snubs rally because of Muhammad cartoon

Morocco’s Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar snubbed the mammoth march against extremism through Paris on Sunday due to the presence of “blasphemous cartoons depicting the Prophet,” the ministry said.

He nevertheless went to the Elysee Palace to present the country’s “sincere condolences to the French president and to the French government following the despicable attacks in France this week.”

— AFP

3.7 million march in France in record numbers

A French official tells AFP that at least 3.7 million people march across France in record-breaking numbers.

Bennett: French Jews worried, want to make aliya

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett tells The Times of Israel at a Jewish Agency aliya fair: “I came here to meet the Jews. I found them very worried. Many are beginning to realize they have no future in France, especially the young, and want to immigrate to Israel. It’s not only the religious anymore.”

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett in Paris on January 11, 2015. (photo credit: Elhanan Miller, Times of Israel staff)

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett in Paris on January 11, 2015 (photo credit: Elhanan Miller, Times of Israel staff)

— Elhanan Miller

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at Grand Synagogue

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the crowd at the Grand Synagogue in Paris.

Speaking in Hebrew, the prime minister stresses that the Jewish spirit cannot be broken, even in the face of deadly terror attacks.

“Truth and justice are on our side,” he says as the crowd cheers.

France’s National Front marches alone for ‘liberty’

France’s far-right National Front (FN) holds a demonstration of its own in the southern town of Beaucaire against terrorism, after being excluded from the unity rally in Paris.

Party leader Marine Le Pen leads the demonstration, claiming she and her supporters had been shunned, even though President Francois Hollande had invited “all citizens” to participate in the Paris march.

Le Pen thanks the 1,000-strong crowd “for being here and reminding us of the values of liberty,” saluting them from beneath a banner reading “I Am Charlie — Homage to the victims of terrorism.”

The slogan contrasts with the flat rejection Saturday by her father and FN founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, to associate with the “#JeSuisCharlie” (IAmCharlie) slogan. “Sorry, but I’m not Charlie,” the elder Le Pen told the Beaucaire crowd in a video message, echoing his long-standing hostility towards the paper that frequently singled him out for merciless satire.

— AFP

‘Radical Islam is our enemy’

“Radical Islam is our enemy,” Netanyahu says.

“Not ordinary Islam,” he emphasizes.

“The radicals want to destroy Islam as well, but first and foremost they hate the West. It is no coincidence the radicals have wanted to destroy Israel since the day it was founded, because Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.”

The crowd continues to cheer at the prime minister’s words.

“The radical Islamists do not hate the West because of Israel; they hate Israel because it is an integral part of the modern world.”

Netanyahu says that Israel is an island of democracy in a sea of hate that threatens to drown the entire region.

“But not only we are being attacked,” he continues. “Look around, the whole world is under attack.” He cites several terror attacks that occurred over the past years, including the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.

‘Iran must not have nuclear weapons’

“We must realize that there is a network of radicals, a network of hate and zeal,” the prime minister says.

“The danger will become a serious threat to all humankind, if radicals get a nuclear weapon,” he adds.

“We cannot let Iran achieve nuclear capabilities. Israel stands with Europe, and Europe must stand with Israel.”

‘Terror in Jerusalem and Paris are the same’

“Those who murdered Jews at a synagogue in Jerusalem and those who murdered Jews and journalists in Paris are part of the same problem,” Netanyahu says.

“We must condemn them and fight them!”

“Israel will fight terror, and will continue to defend itself,” he adds.

When Israel protects itself, it protects the Western world as well, the prime minister asserts.

‘Jews are welcome to come to Israel’

“Jews have the right to live wherever they want,” the prime minister says.

But Jews these days have an opportunity that did not exist in the past, to live freely in the only Jewish state, the State of Israel, Netanyahu adds.

The prime minister receives an ovation after these remarks.

“Any Jew who chooses to come to Israel will be greeted with open arms and an open heart, it is not a foreign nation, and hopefully they and you will one day come to Israel,” he says.

Am Israel chai! Am Israel chai!,” Netanyahu concludes.

The crowd loudly repeats his final remarks. Some can be heard chanting Netanyahu’s name.

Prayer for the State of Israel at Paris synagogue

Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s passionate speech at the Grand Synagogue in Paris, a cantor recites a prayer for the security of the State of Israel.

Crowd sings ‘Hatikva’ at Paris memorial

The Israeli national anthem, “Hatikva,” is sung by the crowd at the Grand Synagogue in Paris, followed by the French “La Marseillaise.”

People can by heard shouting “Viva la France!” (“Long live France!”).

‘No fear’ at Paris rally

A Metro driver rallies a packed train, a crowd applauds and cheers the police and a heartbroken man falls sobbing into President Francois Hollande’s arms.

As a shaken France unites after its darkest week in decades, such unusual scenes are the order of the day.

They come from the poor suburbs outside the city limits and from the chic quarters of the center, they jog, they cycle, they cram into packed underground Metro trains and — when all else failed — they walk there.

But they come. For the journalists, police officers, Jews, Muslims and ordinary people killed by extremists.

“Who am I?” yells a driver on one Metro line. “Charlie!” responds the crowd, clapping, on a journey where people usually avert gazes and stay glued to their cellphones.

“I am really happy to work today and take you to the Republican march,” says another driver on the Metro, also to applause.

Despite their differences, people come together under wintry blue skies with a defiant message: France will not be divided by fear or religious differences.

“I am French and I am not afraid” reads one banner.

Daniel, a hip young Jewish singer, and Riad, a 60-year-old Muslim shopkeeper, swap views on the country’s ordeal as the crowd gathers.

“We can live together,” says Daniel Benisty, 30, who is Jewish like the four men killed when Islamist gunman Amedy Coulibaly stormed a kosher supermarket in the French capital on Friday.

“It’s the idea of living together because we share the same values, liberty, fraternity, equality, to live in peace and respect each other despite our differences.”

“Exactly!” agrees Riad. “I don’t recognize these Islamists, they’re not Muslims.”

— AFP

Historic Paris rally ends

Sunday’s historic march in Paris, a show of solidarity and defiance after terrorist attacks in the French capital that claimed 17 lives, disperses.

Police report no notable incidents or disturbances.

Organizers put the crowd at the historic march at between 1.3 and 1.5 million, including dozens of world leaders.

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