By COLlive reporter
The visit that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took to Paris this week was a well-crafted day-long trip that aimed to show solidarity with the French capital reeling from one of its worst terror attacks.
It began with laying a wreath at HyperCacher kosher grocery, continued with meeting leaders of the Jewish community, and only afterwards visiting the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine which was targeted.
This itinerary was not a coincidence, COLlive.com has learned from a conversation with the Mayor on Wednesday night.
De Blasio said that the “very strong ties” between both cities which have suffered from terror attacks led him to offer assistance to Paris, “because of our experience in fighting terrorism.”
But there was another objective to the trip which he called “an emotionally intense experience”: To shed light on the prevalent antisemitism in France, and Europe in general.
“The media there was not focusing on the attack on the Jewish community,” de Blasio said in a 30-minute conference call with Jewish media outlets upon returning to the U.S.
He said the media coverage in the French press presented the attack on the kosher store on Friday afternoon, where four Jewish men were brutally murdered by terrorist Amedy Coulibaly, “almost as coincidental, and not the attack on the Jewish community that it was.”
“I wanted to focus on the attack and draw attention to the threat that the community is under,” he said. “Jewish people throughout Europe have not been sufficiently protected until now. The governments must use all forces, including military forces, to make clear the government will not tolerate it.”
In a period of less than 10 years, 23-year old Ilan Halimi was tortured to death in Paris, 7 people (including 3 children and a teacher) were shot outside their Jewish school in Toulouse, and 4 people were shot at the Jewish museum in nearby Brussels.
Antisemitism “clearly is a problem in Europe,” the Mayor added. “There are many elements to it. Some of it has been there a long time and should have been renounced decades ago. We have to see it as a threat, to any notion of democracy. It has to be rooted out aggressively.”
In reference to calls for French Jews to migrate, de Blasio said: “No community should ever be forced out of any country. It would be a victory for terrorism if people felt they could not stay in a Western country or live safe and successful lives there. It worries me.”
“It’s such a no brainer,” he said. “When the Jewish community has been under attack, they deserve protection. And if not, the question is why? It should be absolutely a given that the Jewish community should be able to continue to thrive.
“There’s a lot of latent anti-Semitism in Europe, and it’s incumbent on all leaders to root it out,” the Mayor concluded.
VIDEO: Mayor de Blasio in Paris