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Marion Bernard
Marion Bernard 
 
 

Safer under missiles in Tel Aviv than on the streets of Paris

Sitting on my couch in Tel Aviv, I suddenly realized that I was worried about my family, my friends, the Jews of France, while I literally live in the middle of the source of the conflict.

Marion Bernard
Published: 07.17.14, 12:04 / Israel Opinion

As code red warning sirens wailed throughout Israel this past week, sending me and my friends to seek shelter, something related, yet of far greater concern, was taking place thousands of kilometers away in the city where I was born.

 

 

It happened in Paris, on Sunday July 14, the eve of the French National Day. While preparations for the traditional parade were in full swing, thousands of French people massed at the Place de la Bastille, one of the greatest symbols of the Republic, "to show their support for Gaza."

 

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By support for Gaza, I thought to myself, do they mean for the people of Gaza, who are a hostage of this conflict as are the Israelis, or for Hamas, recognized as a terror organization by the European Union, the United States and most international bodies.

 

The answer soon became obvious.

 

After desecrating one of the most famous monuments of French history, yelling "Israel murderer" and "Israel go away, Palestine is not yours" (certainly ignoring the fact that Israel evacuated Gaza nine years ago), some of these protesters attacked a Jewish synagogue.

 

The Jewish worshipers inside the synagogue of Rue de la Roquette (ironically ...) came to pray for the people and soldiers of Israel, for peace, and themselves became victims of this conflict.

 

"Death to the Jews," shouted hundreds of French people outside the building, forcing the women, children and elderly people inside to barricade themselves. The men stayed near the entrance, trying to push away this rabid crowd which wanted to barge into the synagogue.

 

I cannot imagine the fear and anxiety that gripped these people, especially the older ones, some of whom may have lived through the darkest hours of the French occupation.

 

Sitting on my couch in Tel Aviv, I suddenly realized that I was worried about my family, my friends, the Jews of France, while I literally live in the middle of the source of the conflict.

 

Here I am, overwhelmed by memories of my life in Paris, not so far ago as it has been only three years since I left. I remember my years at university, the richness of French culture that I sometimes miss, and am ashamed of what just happened.

 

I try to understand how we got there, to the storming of a Paris synagogue in 2014 and I suddenly think of Ilan Halimi and the victims of Mohammed Merah, all murdered in France simply because they were Jews.

 

I try to remember my state of mind when I left that country three years ago and I conclude that fear was never a motivation. I came to Israel by choice, not in flight, and I realize that this is a luxury that others after me may not have any more.

 

I think of my family, who are worried about me whenever a siren sounds, and I come to the following conclusion: I feel safer in a country in the middle of an armed conflict, where a rain of missiles falls every day, than in the streets of Paris.

 

This alarming finding is all the more true as it is shared by others.

 

"The Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be imported to France," said President Francois Hollande in the wake of these incidents, denouncing the use of anti-Semitism for political purposes.

 

A firm response from the top echelon of the State, that hopefully does not come too late because ... if the barricades erected in 1789 heralded the French Revolution, symbol of freedom, those put up by the French Jews to protect themselves in the synagogue on Sunday, herald the opposite.

 

Marion Bernard in a journalist at i24news

 

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