A group of young Parisian Jews interrupted Israeli President Shimon Peres's speech before a crowd of thousands in a gala evening Thursday and blamed him for the deaths of yeshiva students at Mercaz HaRav a week earlier, because of his transferring tens of thousands of assault rifles to Arab factions in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.
The incident occurred towards the end of a gala evening held in honor of Mr. Peres at the Palais des Congrès in Paris. The evening consisted of a series of speeches by Jewish functionaries and French government officials, as well as artistic interludes. France's Chief Rabbi Joseph Chaim Sitruk implored Peres to keep Jerusalem united and whole.
Peres got up to speak at the end of the evening. He described the cooperation between France and Israel as "wonderful" and at a certain point mentioned that his visit had begun with a memorial prayer at a synagogue for the eight yeshiva boys who were massacred at Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem a week earlier.
'You killed them!'
At this point a Jewish man stood up and shouted at Peres: "Thousands of Israelis were murdered because of you since Oslo!" As part of the Oslo accords, the Rabin-Peres government transferred tens of thousands of assault rifles to Yasser Arafat's forces reasoning that Arafat would help defend Israel by fighting other Arab terror factions.
Then ten young people also stood up and began to shout "traitor" in Hebrew ("boged!"). They also accused Peres of being responsible for the killing of the eight Mercaz Harav students. "Your guns killed them!," they shouted.
According to an eyewitness, Peres replied to the youths: "I don’t know who you are to say who is traitor and who is not, but if you speak so loudly, this shows that you are a fringe minority."
After a full 15 minutes, the youths were evicted from the hall by security guards who were employed by the Jewish community.
'Acts of louts'
"Thousands of Israelis were murdered because of you since Oslo!"
The main Jewish organizations in France issued a joint condemnation of the action Friday. In the press release, CRIF, the umbrella representative of French Jewish organizations, the Central Consistoire and the Unified Jewish Social Fund said they "condemn the acts of louts."
The three Jewish organizations said the troublemakers "represent only a fringe minority, clearly identified, whose acts are contrary to the values of Judaism and which has cast itself out of society."
They called on all Jewish organizations "to refuse any relation with these people."
Speeches skipped 30 years
David Shapira, who represents the Jewish National Fund in Paris and who witnessed the event, called the incident "disgraceful." Shapira said that in all of the speeches made throughout the evening, the speakers made a point of not mentioning the Oslo accords.
The incident seems to have gone unreported in the Israeli press.
In fact, Shapira said, all of the speakers mentioned Peres' involvement in purchasing French weapons and fighter jets for Israel in the 1950s and 1960s, his part in securing French aid in the construction of the Israeli nuclear plant in Dimona, and the fact that he approved the spectacular Entebbe counter-terror raid in 1976. "From there they skipped more than 30 years forward, to his election as President," Shapira said. "It was as if they were making a very clear effort not to mention any of the more controversial parts of Peres's biography."
Betwen 3,000 and 4,000 people attended the gala evening, which marked the end of the Israeli president's five day state visit to France. Tickets were free of charge.
The incident seems to have gone unreported in the Israeli press but received some coverage in the French Jewish press.