WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 700 people gathered at Congregation Adas Israel for an AJC program of solidarity with France's Jewish community and memorial for the 17 French men and women murdered by Islamist terrorists in Paris last week.
"We are at war against terrorism, against radical Islam," declared Gérard Araud, Ambassador of France to the United States. "Journalists and Jews are on the front line of democracy," he added, referring to the deadly attacks on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and a crowded kosher supermarket.
"We will not waver in our commitment to defeat the scourge of anti-Semitism," said White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. "This is not an issue for any single community or nation to deal with by itself," he continued. "From the President on down, you have my commitment that we will wage this fight together."
The solidarity and memorial event took place four days after an Islamist terrorist killed four of his hostages shopping hours before the onset of Shabbat at a kosher supermarket. The four Jewish victims were buried in Israel yesterday.
A rising tide of anti-Semitic violence in France has placed the Jewish community, the largest in Europe, on edge and prompted 7,000 French Jews to move to Israel in 2014 alone.
Echoing French President Hollande's concern for the well-being and security of the country's Jewish community, Ambassador Araud said, "We want the Jews of France to remain in France."
Other Obama Administration officials attending Tuesday evening included Julieta Valls Noyes, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs; Ira Forman, State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism; and Charles Kupchan, National Security Council senior director for Europe. U.S. Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch and Jan Schakowsky participated. Representatives of the Muslim and French communities also attended.
"We are here to insist that anti-Semitism and all forms of religious and racial hatred are intolerable, that the fight against violent extremism must be waged comprehensively and relentlessly, and that the Jews must not and will not be driven out of Europe," said Jason Isaacson, AJC Associate Executive Director for Policy.
Isaacson read aloud a letter from the Tunisian Ambassador to the United States, M'Hamed Ezzine Chelaifa, who eulogized one of those murdered at the Paris kosher supermarket, Yoav Hattab, a son of the Chief Rabbi of Tunis.
AJC has longstanding ties with the Jewish community in France and with the French government, and maintains an office in Paris, headed by Simone Rodan-Benzaquen.
A memorial gathering took place Monday at AJC headquarters in New York, addressed by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, French Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre, and Consul General of France in New York Bertrand Lortholary.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee