The President of the Jewish Community in Marseilles, Zvi Amar, attempted to calm the tensions that were raised following the comments he made to the press stating that Jews in Marseilles should take off their kippot in response to the murder of a Jewish politician which occurred in the city.
In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Amar said that his comments were taken out of context. “I wanted to say that we need to act carefully and be aware. Our security situation here is difficult. I suggested to the community, specifically to the children, that when they go outside into the street they should wear a hat.”
Amar emphasized his intent. “I did not say that we should hide, nor did I say that I am not a Jew. Just the opposite, we are a proud community. In my fifteen years in the community, we have grown from 22 synagogues to 58. We have increased from nine Jewish schools to 23, from just seven Kosher restaurants to over 60. This shows that our community is not only growing but flourishing. But a few months ago, things changed. What is happening all over France is affecting us as well.”
“Whoever wants to follow my advice is welcome to. It is completely legitimate for others to think differently,” he added.
Amar was asked about the responses he has received since the statements he made were published. “80 percent of the responses have been positive. Some mothers have called up crying and saying ‘God protect you.’ I tell them that I haven’t done anything wrong. I would be very happy to receive criticism from all corners, as long as it keeps us safe, as long as I have at least warned my community. If God Forbid something drastic does happen here it would have a very harsh impact on the community.”
Amar said that one of the unexpected reactions to his statement was that a number of non-Jewish Frenchman approached him and said that they will wear a kippah in solidarity with the Jews of the community. He told Arutz Sheva that these acts have brought him joy, to know that there is support for the community among the non-Jewish community as well.
Amar also said that French security forces are doing their utmost to protect the Jewish community, its schools and synagogues.