Sharon urges French Jews to emigrate

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has reiterated his controversial call for French Jews to emigrate to Israel, despite praising France's efforts to crack down on anti-Semitism.

    Sharon says he wants to attract one million Jews in 15 years

    Sharon, who is due to visit France next week, sparked a row with Paris last year when he urged French Jews to emigrate to escape "the wildest anti-semitism".

    France put on hold an invitation for him to visit Paris until he explained the remark.

     

    Sharon did so, and the two countries' foreign ministers have exchanged visits, but Sharon again criticised Paris in February for balking at a US-backed proposal to declare Lebanon's Hizb Allah, now represented in the Lebanese parliament, a "terrorist" group.

     

    In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Sharon praised France's efforts to tackle anti-Semitism.

     

    "I have a lot of respect for France's action against anti-semitism," he said in an advance copy of the interview, due to run in Le Figaro's Friday edition.


    Attracting Jews

     

    "The French government's action on this issue should serve as a model and an example for other European governments."

     

    But Sharon said Israel still wanted French Jews to emigrate to the Jewish state.

    "Our policy is to grow as much as possible the Jewish population in Israel. However, one obviously cannot ignore the fact that there is anti-Semitism in France"

    Ariel Sharon,
    Israeli prime minister

    He is due to meet French President Jacques Chirac next Wednesday.

     

    "Our objective is to attract one million Jews to Israel in the next 15 years, from the whole world, including France," he said.

     

    "Our policy is to grow as much as possible the Jewish population in Israel. However, one obviously cannot ignore the fact that there is anti-Semitism in France," he added.


    Anti-Semitic attacks


    France
    is home to Western Europe's biggest Jewish and Muslim communities.

    "One also cannot ignore the fact that 10% of the French population is of Muslim origin."

     

    The country has been troubled by anti-semitic attacks although a police investigation earlier this year found that French far-right groups were increasingly targeting Muslims rather than Jews.

     

    Israel and France have had a history of rocky ties since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War that led France, formerly Israel's chief arms supplier, to impose an arms embargo until the 1980s.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Israel’s settlements: 50 years of land theft explained

    Israel’s settlements: 50 years of land theft explained

    On the anniversary of UN Resolution 242, Al Jazeera explores the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise.

    Robert Mugabe: Portrait of a presidency

    Robert Mugabe: Portrait of a presidency

    Some key moments in the life of the man who led his country from independence in 1980 until November 21, 2017.

    When is Thanksgiving Day and why is it celebrated?

    When is Thanksgiving Day and why is it celebrated?

    In the US, Thanksgiving Day will be celebrated on Thursday, November 23.