Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday held a working meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The meeting with Macron is the ninth in a series of meetings Rivlin is holding with participants in the World Holocaust Forum that began on Tuesday.
At the meeting, Rivlin greeted Macron and expressed his deep appreciation for Macron's attendance at the Forum.
"Our commitment to the memory of the Holocaust and the fight against anti-Semitism unites us," Rivlin emphasized. "I know that you are committed to the war on anti-Semitism, both in word and in deed."
"I know that you are personally deeply committed to fighting anti-Semitism in all its forms – in synagogues, on the streets, online, in politics and of course in physical attacks. Unfortunately, even today we hear about cases of anti-Semitic and racist persecution and violence in France and across Europe.
"We must speak out clearly in denouncing these acts and work without compromise to ensure they do not happen again. We must work at the level of education and at the level of law enforcement. Adopting the IHRA’s legal definition of anti-Semitism in all its forms is an important step that the French government has taken, and we thank you for it. As the French National Assembly recently noted, in a step we deeply appreciate, anti-Semites have recently sought refuge in anti-Zionism. Like other democracies, the State of Israel is open to criticism, but we will not allow our right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state in our homeland to be undermined, and we will not accept claims against the implementation of our right and duty to protect ourselves."
Macron responded: "As I promised you, Mr President, I came to Israel to represent France at the World Holocaust Forum and to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau together. I came for Israel, for what the Shoah represents and for the memory of the Holocaust, to join you in the important statement against anti-Semitism. We see the dark shadow of anti-Semitism spreading across Europe and France and this is a sign that this is a very serious disease."
"I will continue, committed and active, to fight against all forms of anti-Semitism, against racism and hatred and against those who divide our society. We decided to talk about the issue of anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism in a direct and clear way. Anti-Zionism is not different from anti-Semitism.
"This does not mean we cannot disagree. Clearly, between friends there are disagreements. But there is no doubt that today, denying the right of the State of Israel to exist is a modern version of anti-Semitism. Therefore, we took a decision and we will continue to take legal decisions in order to fight hatred, racism and anti-Semitism in every way possible."
Photo credit: Haim Zach (GPO)
Video on the GPO FTP server. Credits: video and sound – Avi Kanner