French PM: Keep troops at Jewish sites for as long as possible


(JTA) — Prime Minister Manuel Valls of France asked his country’s defense minister to keep soldiers deployed outside Jewish institutions for as long as possible.

Valls informed members of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, an umbrella group that represents 50 national Jewish organizations in the United States, of the request Thursday during a conference call.

“Today, I asked the minister of defense to prolong for as long as possible the deployment of armed forces around Jewish institutions,” Valls said in reference to the measure, which was taken last week following the slaying of four at a kosher shop near Paris — one in a series of terrorist attacks that left 17 dead.

Valls added that the protection by 10,000 troops “will remain necessary for many months, as long as there is a fear that not all of the accomplices of the assailants are in custody, and as long as the threat remains.”

The Dec. 2 vote by the French parliament in favor of immediate recognition of a Palestinian state “was not related to the attacks” last week, Valls said during the talk.

“Even if there will be peace between Israel and Palestinians tomorrow, even if Hamas suddenly ceases to exist, the Islamist threat will not go away,” said Valls, who vowed to fight against extremism.

In addition to Islamists, which Valls said “feed off the young in poor neighborhoods in France,” anti-Semitism “exists also among a minority from the far right.”

“In some cases, these two are interlinked,” added Valls, who cited the partnership of Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, a comedian of Cameroonian origins with multiple convictions for inciting anti-Semitic hate, and Alain Soral, a far-right thinker who has been convicted of Holocaust denial. They announced recently that they would start a political party.

Last year, Valls issued a call to mayors that led to the cancellation of Dieudonne’s tour of French cities for the anti-Semitic jokes featured in his new show. On Wednesday, Dieudonne was arrested on suspicion of inciting to terrorism for writing a Twitter message apparently in sympathy with the kosher shop’s gunman.

Valls, whose wife is Jewish, has earned plaudits among French Jews for his pro-Israel statements and those against anti-Semitism.


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