In Paris, Edel­stein gets blasted by French law­mak­ers over Gaza, Syria at­tacks

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By RINA BASSIST

Knes­set Speaker Yuli Edel­stein’s visit to Paris took an un­pleas­ant turn on Wed­nes­day when sev­eral mem­bers of the French National As­sem­bly’s For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee con­fronted him over re­cent Is­raeli actions along the Gaza bor­der and in Syria.

“If I were a res­i­dent of Gaza I would have had just one de­sire: to join those con­fronting the Is­raeli sol­diers be­cause my dig­nity as a hu­man be­ing would be call­ing me to that bor­der,’’ Com­mu­nist Party mem­ber Jean-Paul Le­coq said, adding he could not imag­ine how French com­pa­nies could still do busi­ness with Is­rael and why France has not can­celed the Cross-Cul­ture France-Is­rael Sea­son sched­uled to be­gin next month.

Edel­stein slammed the crit­i­cism of Le­coq and oth­ers as char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion and said the Jewish state “has the right to de­fend it­self vis-à-vis bar­baric forces.”

He em­pha­sized there was no link be­tween Gaza events and the re­lo­ca­tion of the US Em­bassy to Jerusalem. Ha­mas, he said, has been at­tack­ing Is­raeli civil­ians and sol­diers for years in at­tempts to kid­nap and kill them. He also said no one would fol­low Le­coq’s pro­posal to boy­cott the Euro­vi­sion song con­test sched­uled to take place in Is­rael next year.

Af­ter the con­fronta­tion, Edel­stein told The Jerusalem Post, “Such at­tacks are to be ex­pected, es­pe­cially on days like these .... I was happy to hear that many mem­bers of the com­mit­tee came to the meet­ing in or­der to meet me. That was en­cour­ag­ing. And I hope to con­trib­ute and de­velop strong ties with French au­thor­i­ties so we can to­gether ad­vance cul­ture and in­no­va­tion.’’

National As­sem­bly mem­ber Meyer Habib, who is Jewish, called Le­coq’s re­marks “ter­ri­ble speech of ha­tred against Is­rael.”

“He used in­sult­ing and ag­gres­sive lan­guage in vi­o­la­tion of France’s National As­sem­bly code of ethics, glo­ri­fied ter­ror in Gaza and openly called to boy­cott Is­rael, which is a friend coun­try and an ally,” Habib said. “Call for boy­cott is un­law­ful in France and I won’t be sur­prised if a com­plaint was lodged against him. I am afraid such state­ments pave the way for fu­ture an­ti­semitic at­tacks in France.”

Sep­a­rately on Wed­nes­day, Edel­stein urged France to fol­low Wash­ing­ton’s ex­am­ple and re­lo­cate its em­bassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, telling the French Se­nate, “To fly the French flag in Is­rael’s cap­i­tal would be to strongly side with his­toric jus­tice and with moral­ity. Do­ing so would honor Is­rael and honor our friend­ship. My dear friends, Jerusalem awaits you!’’

The high­light of Edel­stein’s visit was a first-of-its kind cer­e­mony held at the French National As­sem­bly hon­or­ing Right­eous among the Na­tions, non-Jews who risked their lives dur­ing the Holo­caust to save Jews from ex­ter­mi­na­tion by the Nazis.

The Yad Vashem Com­mit­tee paid trib­ute to Berthe and Jean-Bap­tiste Peyrabout for sav­ing eight-year-old Robert Wa­jn­berg dur­ing WWII. Robert’s mother, Leja Wa­jn­berg, man­aged to es­cape the June 1942 Vel d’Hive round-up of Jews in Paris.

Be­tween 1942 and 1944 she hid in the home of the Peyrabouts. Later, Berthe and Jean-Bap­tise hid Robert in their house in the Paris sub­urb of Es­bly, un­til the child was re­united with his mother at the end of the war. JeanMarc Peyrabout, a grand­son of Berthe and Jean-Batiste, re­ceived a medal awarded to the cou­ple in their name.

In wel­com­ing Edel­stein, National As­sem­bly Pres­i­dent Francois de Rugy said the spe­cial cer­e­mony re­flected “a bat­tle of val­ues,’’ and re­minded the au­di­ence that the Peyrabouts lived in the 11th ar­rondiss­menet of Paris, the same neigh­bor­hood in which Holo­caust sur­vivor Mireille Knoll was mur­dered in her apart­ment dur­ing an an­ti­semitic at­tack just a few months ago.

Edel­stein re­sponded by say­ing, “Our peo­ple will never for­get the hor­rors that Eu­ro­pean Jews were con­fronted with when they had no state of their own and could not de­fend them­selves. We will never for­get any of the men, women, girls or boys – six mil­lion peo­ple – as­sas­si­nated by the Nazis who tried to turn hu­mankind into beasts.

“To­day also, those refusing to see or refusing to lis­ten en­able ex­trem­ist fun­da­men­tal­ist regimes, like the Ay­a­tol­lah regime in Iran, to con­tinue... spread­ing an­ti­semitism and anti-Is­raelism or sup­port­ing the mas­sacre in Syria. Still, their lies are un­cov­ered again and again. Have we learned noth­ing? Will we ig­nore once again these calls to elim­i­nate the Jewish peo­ple?’’

Edel­stein then thanked mem­bers of the Peyrabout fam­ily, say­ing Jean-Bap­tise and Berthe Peyrabout showed that com­pas­sion and hu­man dig­nity have no lim­its.

(Marc Is­rael Sellem)

YULI EDEL­STEIN

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