French Jewish parliamentarian Meyer Habib said Wednesday’s massacre of 12 cartoonists, policemen and others by gunmen at a Paris newspaper was France’s equivalent of the September 11 terror attacks and that jihadi terrorists want “to destroy the entire infrastructure of France.”
“This is a very sad day. This is our September 11,” Habib said.
Assailants had struck murderously first at a Jewish school in Toulouse (in 2012), he recalled, and then at the Jewish Museum in Brussels (in 2014). “We warned that this would come to all of France, and to our sorrow it came,” Habib told Israel’s Channel 2 news Wednesday night.
He spoke hours after masked gunmen stormed the Paris offices of a weekly newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad, killing 12 people, including the editor, before escaping in a car. It was France’s deadliest postwar terrorist attack.
Shouting “Allahu akbar!” as they fired, the gunmen staged a noon-time attack on the weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, located near Paris’ Bastille monument. The publication’s depictions of Islam have drawn condemnation and threats before — it was firebombed in 2011.
“We are in a fight against jihadism, against this darkness,” said Habib, who represents French citizens living in Israel and seven other Mediterranean countries in the National Assembly in Paris. “We have to open our eyes.”
He said French Jewish groups would hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to deal with security threats. While Jews were not specifically targeted in Wednesday’s attack, “the Jews are always on the front line,” he said. “I am threatened, like all Jews.” Overall, he said, jihadists “want to destroy all the infrastructure of France.”
He said the French Jewish leadership was concerned about the imperative to protect 200 synagogues and dozens of schools. “There are 400,000 Jews in the Paris area alone,” he noted.
For the first time since the founding of the state, France topped the list of countries from which immigrants moved to Israel in 2014, with over a quarter — about 7,000 people — making the leap. It was the largest single-year movement of French Jews to Israel since the founding of the state. Half that many moved to Israel in 2013.
“We expect that some 10,000 new immigrants will come from France alone next year, and we will surpass 30,000 immigrants from around the world – and even more,” Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said in a statement announcing the figures last month.