French Jewish leaders say President Francois Hollande told them Jewish schools and synagogues will be protected “if necessary” by the French army, while a European Jewish leader says he has reached out to European ministers to request gun permits for Jews.
Hollande met the Jewish leaders Sunday in the wake of Friday’s terrorist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris in which four shoppers were killed.
"He told us that all the schools, all the synagogues will be protected, if necessary, on top of the police, by the army," said Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, according to Agence France-Presse.
The Times of Israel Sunday quoted Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the director general of the European Jewish Association, who said in a statement that he was appealing to European interior ministers to ease gun permits for Jews and to offer self-defense training for Jewish community leaders.
Two police officers stand guard a day after a terrorist attack on a kosher market in Paris, France, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015. France’s president chaired an emergency security meeting Saturday aimed at thwarting a repeat of the attacks around Paris by terrorists linked to al Qaeda in Yemen that scarred the nation and left 20 dead at a satirical newspaper, a kosher supermarket and a printing house. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who took hostages at the market Friday, was killed in a shootout with police trying to free the hostages. During the siege, one of the hostages reportedly grabbed one of the terrorist's automatic weapons, but was shot dead by Coulibaly when the firearm jammed.
France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish population, with community leaders estimating the size at more than 500,000.
The British newspaper the Jewish Chronicle reported that the number had dropped significantly, due to a large-scale emigration to Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere.
JC editor Stephen Pollard wrote on Friday, “Every single French Jew I know has either left or is actively working out how to leave.”
“It is the largest emigration of Jews anywhere since the war,” Pollard wrote. “That’s a simple fact.”
But Rabbi Margolin of the European Jewish Association said calls for moving French Jews to Israel “is not the solution for anti-Semitic terror.”
Israeli leaders over the weekend vocally encouraged Jews to move to Israel.
“To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Saturday, the Times of Israel reported.
The families of the four Jewish men slain at the grocery store decided to bury their loved ones in Israel.
Israeli media reported that those killed - Yohan Cohen, 22; Yoav Hattab, 21; Phillipe Barham, 45; and François-Michel Saada, 64 – will be flown to Israel Tuesday and buried in a state ceremony in Jerusalem.
Dozens of leaders, including Netanyahu, traveled to France Sunday to express solidarity with the French people in the wake of the attacks on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, the killing of a French policewoman and the attack on the kosher market that left 17 dead in three days of jihadist terror.
French citizens poured into Paris for a massive rally against terrorism. The number of those attending was estimated to be as large as one million, USA Today reported.