|Charb on IDF tactics: "Hamas is taking the population hostage!" "So let's kill the hostages."|
Netanyahu would not understand the difficulties his arrival might pose, at least not if he thought he could extract some political advantage out of it, and showed up anyway. (A tweet from Andrea Mitchell, h/t Emptywheel, suggests that Obama and Biden were not invited either, I assume for similar reasons, so as not to distract from the focus of the European event and make the security provisions even more complex and difficult, and showed the grace to accept the situation quietly, though the cons everywhere are criticizing PBO for skipping it as if he had done it out of sheer laziness.)Audibert explained that Hollande wanted the event to focus on demonstrating solidarity with France, and to avoid anything liable to divert attention to other controversial issues, like Jewish-Muslim relations or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Audibert said that Hollande hoped that Netanyahu would understand the difficulties his arrival might pose and would announce that he would not be attending.
The source noted that one of the French concerns - not conveyed to representatives of the Israeli government - was that Netanyahu would take advantage of the event for campaign purposes and make speeches, especially about the Jews of France. Such statements, the Elysee Palace feared, would hurt the demonstration of solidarity the French government was trying to promote as part of dealing with the terror attacks.
The Élysée scrambled to invite Mahmoud Abbas as well (good! more recognition for the Palestinian nation) by way of minimizing Netanyahu's ability to turn the solemn event into anti-Muslim propaganda, but they couldn't of course stop him from campaigning. Making Chuck Schumer look like a rank amateur at camera hogging, Netanyahu placed himself in the front lines of the Paris march, arm in arm with President Keita of Mali (a champion of press freedom, something you can't always say for the Israeli PM).
|Cabu in more optimistic days in January 2009. Obama spreads fear: "He'll fucking get us unemployed!"|
Amid a growing feeling of insecurity among French Jews, Netanyahu also told them: “ I want to say to you what I say to all our Jewish brothers, that you have a full right to live secure and peaceful lives with equal rights wherever you desire, including here in France.”When he finished his speech the crowd burst (as I heard first from Yousef Mounayyer) into a spontaneous rendition of the Marseillaise, as if to say, "Thanks, but the Jews of France are French."
But he also added, “these days we are blessed with another privilege, a privilege that didn’t exist for generations of Jews – the privilege to join their brothers and sisters in their historic homeland of Israel....
“Any Jew who chooses to come to Israel will be greeted with open arms and an open heart, it is not a foreign nation, and hopefully they and you will one day come to Israel,” he said. “Am Yisrael Chai. Am Yisrael Chai.”
Richard Silverstein has some details on Netanyahu's original negotiations over the march, the reasons Hollande didn't want him to come—
Hollande was also reacting to Netanyahu’s previous act of bad faith after the Toulouse terror attack, when he joined the funeral service and publicly called for French Jews to leave for Israel before it was too late. Political leaders don’t forget when foreigners insult their nation, nor did Hollande—and the roles played by the remarkably slimy Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennet, who had been hoping to show up at the march with Netanyahu absent, to make him look bad. But Bibi's the slimiest, using the occasion to repeat the insult of Toulouse.
Adam Horowitz's report in Mondoweiss includes a response to the insult from the highest levels of the European Jewish community:
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the European Jewish Association, was quoted by the website nrg.co.il as saying that he regretted that “after every anti-Semitic attack in Europe, the Israeli government issues the same statements about the importance of aliyah [immigration to Israel], rather than employ every diplomatic and informational means at its disposal to strengthen the safety of Jewish life in Europe.”Watching that official video splice of the applause moments of Netanyahu's speech, I notice you can hardly hear the interpreter—applause covers him up—and it seems clear that all the applause is coming from fluent Hebrew speakers. Looks like they couldn't get enough Parisian Jews to fill the shul for the PM and had to round up some Israelis to make him a decent-looking audience. But enough real French Jews were there for a very rousing Marseillaise when they were needed.