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Netanyahu in Paris: Our Common Enemy is Radical Islam.


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he appreciated the "very firm position" taken by French leaders against "the new anti-Semitism and terrorism" in France.

"Our common enemy is radical, extremist Islam -- not normal Islam," Netanyahu said at the Grand Synagogue in Paris, after briefly joining other world leaders in a march against extremism through the capital that drew up to 1.6 million people, according to AFP. "Israel is today at Europe's side, but I would like Europe to be on Israel's side too," Netanyahu said.

"Those who killed and massacred Jews in a synagogue recently in Israel and those who killed Jews and journalists in Paris are part of the same global terror movement," he added, referring to a November attack in Jerusalem. "We must condemn them in the same way, we must fight them in the same way."

aAlthough the various factions of Islamic extremism are involved in their own local bloody conflicts, including among themselves, they are all driven from the same ambition: to impose a dark despotic regime on the world, to take humanity a thousand years backward. They trample anyone who does not share their beliefs, and at the top of the list are their fellow Muslims, but their greatest hatred is reserved for Western culture, the same culture that respects freedom, equal rights, all the things they so despise,a said Netanyahu.

aTherefore, it is no coincidence that radical Islam has been seeking to destroy Israel since its inception - because Israel is the only Western democracy in the Middle East, because Israel is the only place where Christians, women and minorities are truly safe, the only place which respects human rights in general.

aWell, here's another truth: radical Islam does not hate the West because of Israel. It hates Israel because it is an organic part of the West. It sees Israel, and rightly so, as an island of democracy, justice and Western tolerance in a sea of fanaticism and violence that it wants to impose on the Middle East, Europe and the world,a continued Netanyahu.

Israel, he stressed, is attacked abecause of its very existence and essence. But not only we are being attacked. Look around you: the whole world is under attack, the whole world. The World Trade Center in New York, the subways in London and Madrid, tourists in Bali, school children in Russia and Pakistan, a hotel in Mumbai, a shopping mall in Nairobi.a

Netanyahu once again extended an invitation to French Jews to make aliyah to Israel, just a day after he said the country was their "home. Each and every Jew who wants to move to Israel will be accepted by us with open arms and with a warm heart and desire,a he promised. aThey will not come to a foreign country, they will to the land of our fathers.a

France's large Jewish community is increasingly on edge after a series of anti-Semitic incidents including Friday's hostage-taking at the supermarket in eastern Paris. Even before last weekas deadly attacks, France had seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitism in recent years, and it flared particularly in 2014 and during Operation Protective Edge, with violent protests in Paris.

Figures cited by the SPCJ, a French-Jewish security watchdog, show that the number of anti-Semitic incidents rose by 91% in the first seven months of 2014 compared with the same period a year earlier.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has sought to reassure his country's half-million strong Jewish community, saying during a visit to the Paris area where the supermarket siege took place that "France without the Jews of France is not France."

In Sundayas speech, Netanyahu also thanked Lassana Bathily, the Muslim employee of the Jewish supermarket who saved several hostages during Fridayas jihadist attack by hiding them in the supermarketas freezer.

When the gunman first opened fire, Bathily was arranging stock. "We opened the supermarket at 8a.m. and we prepared for a busy day, because on Fridays everyone comes to buy for Shabbat," he said.

"Shortly after 12:30 I went down to the bottom floor, in order to organize the stock, and after a few minutes I suddenly heard gunshots. Seconds later, customers and other staff began to run down the stairs, and I asked them what had happened. They told me that there was a man armed with a Kalashnikov upstairs."

Bathily kept his cool and tried to calm the terrified customers. "I told them that the terrorist must not hear them, so that he would not come down," he recalls. "Then I showed them that we had two freezer rooms on the bottom floor a one for meat and one for dairy products a that could be locked with a key. I opened the two rooms, and put about five people inside each one, and I asked them to be calm and turn off their phones so that they would not make a noise. Then I turned off the light on the floor, I locked the dairy freezer room and I got into the meat room."

There in the freezers, while the gunman was killing hostages upstairs, Bathily and the others managed to keep their nerve. "We were relatively calm," he said. "I wasn't familiar with the people I was hiding with a they were customers and staff that I didnat know so well. After a while, one of the cashiers knocked on the door of the freezer room and said that the gunman had demanded that everyone go upstairs a and if we didnat, he would kill everyone on the upper floor and then come down and kill us all."

The demand left the people hiding in a dilemma. "We talked about it between us and we couldn't decide what to do," Bathily recalls. "Some thought that we had to go up, and some said that it was better to remain downstairs. In the end, two people went up a a customer and an employee."

At that stage, Bathily decided to take action. "I suggested that the hostages escape out of the emergency exit," he said. "They didnat want to go, and preferred to stay and wait for the police, but I was scared that the police outside did not know that there were people hiding on the lower level too and wouldnat know that they had to rescue us. So I decided to take a chance a and I went out."

The employee stepped out of the store, and discovered a heavy police presence surrounding the supermarket. "When I went out, I quickly reached the police waiting outside," he says. "When they realized that I had come from inside, they asked me to draw the layout of the store, so I tried to help them as much as I could and drew the Hyper Cacher to the best of my abilities. I stayed with them until the end, to help, and I left only after all the wounded had been evacuated to hospital."

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk on the record, explained that Bathily gave police a key that allowed them to storm the supermarket without having to punch their way through the shutters that had been brought down by the terrorist at the start of the attack.

Hailed as the hero of the hour, Bathily has only been able to think about one thing since the attack - his slain workmate and friend Yohan Cohen, who was shot dead by the terrorist after he stole one of his guns in an effort to end the siege. "He was a wonderful guy, I am so sad about him," he said.

Bathily "was so courageous," said Mohammed Amine, a 33-year-old friend and former coworker at Hyper Cacher.Amine also paid tribute to Yohan Cohen, whom Amine called "someone amazing, friendly, who likes (and) who respects people. I'm Muslim and he's Jewish," said Amine, an immigrant from Morocco. "But there's such respect between us. We're like brothers. They took my best friend."
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Publication:Israel Faxx
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Jan 12, 2015
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