France’s prime minister appeals to Jews to stay


(JTA) — Prime Minister Manuel Valls of France appealed to his country’s Jews to stay in the wake of a call by his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu for European Jews to move to Israel.

“My message to French Jews is the following: France is wounded with you and France does not want you to leave,” Valls said Monday following a weekend that saw two deadly shootings in Copenhagen that mirrored two attacks in Paris last month, the French news agency AFP reported.

In the wake of the Copenhagen attacks, including one outside a synagogue that left a Jewish volunteer security guard dead, Netanyahu said Sunday in a statement, “To the Jews of Europe and to the Jews of the world, I say that Israel is waiting for you with open arms.”

Also Sunday, Netanyahu at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting said that a 180 million shekel (about $45 million) plan will be submitted to the Cabinet encouraging the absorption of immigrants from France, Belgium and Ukraine.

On Monday, Valls said, “The place for French Jews is France. I regret Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks. Being in the middle of an election campaign doesn’t mean you authorize yourself to make just any type of statement.”

Israeli national elections are scheduled for March 17.

Valls also said that the threat of terror attacks remains high in France and that security measures would remain stringent for as long as necessary. France deployed 10,000 troops to protect Jewish buildings and other public sites in the wake of the two Paris attacks by Islamists last month that left 17 dead, including four Jewish men at a kosher supermarket.

On Sunday, it was reported that several hundred graves were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in northeastern France. Valls on Twitter called the vandalism “a vile, anti-Semitic act, an insult to the memory” of the dead and vowed to find those responsible.

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