French Jews have condemned the Israeli army for its plan to use the Paris Grand Synagogue as a recruitment site.
“The alliance of the kippah [the ritual Jewish skull cap] and the Uzi rifle is being organized in the center of Paris. Thus the religious Jewish community finds itself invaded and taken hostage in one of its most prestigious sites,” the Union of French Jews for Peace (UFJP), said in a 24 May statement.
UFJP, a group frequently critical of Israel’s abuse of Palestinians, was responding to an Israeli embassy announcement that a representative of the Israeli army would visit the synagogue to meet potential recruits.
The Israeli embassy in Paris appears to have deleted the notice, but verifiable traces of it remain on the Internet including an image cached by Google and a screenshot tweeted by the French academic Julien Salingue.
The notice, dated 1 May, stated that “The Embassy of Israel wishes to inform the Jewish community of the arrival of a representative of the IDF (the Israeli army) in Paris.”
At the meeting, to be held at the Grand Synagogue in rue de la Victoire on 26 May at 6.30PM, the representative would “give a lecture about the IDF’s recruitment policies, followed by a question and answer session.”
Israel recruits, arms and radicalizes hundreds of youths from around the world each year – targeting especially Jewish youth in Europe and North America – to participate in its violent occupation and colonization of Palestinian land.
The announcement stated that the army recruiter would be available for private consultations with potential recruits on the mornings 26 and 27 May and up until 15 July by contacting the Israeli embassy for an appointment.
UFJP said that while media in France are fretting over the eventual return of militant Islamists who joined the fight in Syria, “the IDF openly and without comment recruits in a religious building.”
UFJP noted that the Israeli army is guilty of war crimes, is currently involved in the ethnic cleansing and expulsion of Palestinians from villages in the Jordan Valley and other parts of Palestine, frequently arrests children, and last week was responsible for the cold-blooded, videotaped murder of two Palestinian children.
UFJP called on the French government to to remind the Israeli ambassador to respect French and international law and to ban such misuse of religious sites.
French media have been silent about the matter, so it was not immediately apparent if the government took any action.
Setback to fight against anti-Semitism
The use of a synagogue for Israeli army recruitment is particularly damaging to efforts to combat wholly wrong and misguided views promoted both by anti-Semites and Zionists that the Jewish religion, religious sites and Jewish communities around the world should be identified with the Zionist movement, the Israeli state, its army and their ongoing efforts to dispossess Palestinians.
Israel’s misuse of Jewish community and religious sites for military recruitment is only likely to reinforce the incorrect message disseminated by Zionists and anti-Semites.
The UFJP statement came on the same day as an unidentified gunman murdered three persons and seriously injured one more at the Jewish Museum in the Belgian capital of Brussels.
The atrocity has fueled fears of anti-Semitic violence in Europe either by extreme Islamists or by groups associated with the continent’s resurgent ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi far right.