European Jewish Congress
Paris, December 12, 2010
Ladies and gentlemen,
France knows what Europe owes to men and women of the Jewish faith.
France upholds a model of society where everyone can find their place, whatever their faith, whatever their religion. A society where the free exercise of religion is guaranteed by law, where laïcité [secularism] (1) is an expression of the State’s neutrality and of tolerance, where religious discrimination has no place, where anti-Semitism is considered an insult to humanist values, a scourge to be combated relentlessly. A society where spirituality, far from dividing men, brings them together in the hope of peace.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There is no peace among nations without a wish to share, talk and live together.
The quality of relations between States and Jewish communities is essential to society’s cohesion. Previously, as Interior Minister and then Justice Minister, and now as Foreign Minister, I’ve always worked in an atmosphere of mutual trust with the bodies representing the Jewish community. (…)
Together we’ve worked to make synagogues, schools and cultural centres safe, prevent and combat anti-Semitic acts by means of dialogue between prosecutors’ offices and the representative institutions, and fight discrimination, particularly that conducted through calls to boycott produce which is kosher or of Israeli origin. (…)
France is Israel’s friend. She wants to do everything to achieve a fair and lasting peace in the region. We want a guarantee of security for Israel and her full integration in the region. At the same time, we want the creation of an independent, viable and democratic Palestinian State, established on the basis of the 1967 borders. We want Jerusalem to be proclaimed as capital of the two States.
France does not forget Gilad Shalit, the French-Israeli citizen kidnapped by Hamas on 25 June 2006. Nothing can justify the treatment he is receiving, in contempt of the rules of international law. We remain totally committed to securing his release. Our thoughts are with him. Rest assured that we shall not give up.
Moreover, I’m aware of the worries created by the Iranian regime. France will speak the language of resolve. France doesn’t accept that the Iranian regime can destabilize the region. France doesn’t accept that Iran can obtain a nuclear weapon. If Iran’s leaders don’t clear up the doubt as to their intentions, all economic sanctions will have to be envisaged.
Beyond the Middle East, France is committed to peace and respect for human rights. Peace can’t be reduced to diplomatic contacts between States. It involves mutual understanding between peoples, in their diversity, their differences. It requires that, in nations torn apart by fratricidal wars, the forces of reconciliation be encouraged. (…)
I value the role of Europe’s Jews in the cohesion of our societies. I know their commitment to humanist values. I’m aware of your commitment to democracy and human rights. I’m aware of your desire for peace, with due regard for the legitimate diversity of traditions and cultures.
Ladies and gentlemen, Europe’s future will be forged with you, in an atmosphere of tolerance, openness and friendship between peoples.
Today, like yesterday, you can count on my full support and on that of France.
(1) Laïcité goes beyond the concept of secularism, embracing the strict neutrality of the State.