Israel and France celebrated the Jewish state’s 70 years of independence and their shared values of “liberty, equality, and brotherhood.”
By: United with Israel Staff
Israel and France held a special event to celebrate 70 years of Israel’s independence and the close bonds between the two countries.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara joined French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte at Paris’ Grand Palais for a gala that kicked off the Israel-France Cross-Cultural Season.
A special exhibit showcased 70 years of Israeli innovation and featured Israeli developments and technologies in medicine, security and cyber and space research.
“We are celebrating tonight 70 years of Israeli independence and 70 years of Israeli-French friendship. There is much to celebrate,” Netanyahu declared.
Heralding “great moments that decided the future of our peoples,” Netanyahu noted that one such event took place in Paris.
“It took place over 100 years ago, close to 120 years ago, when Émile Zola wrote J’accuse. He attacked anti-Semitism and he paved the way for Zionism because a young Jewish journalist, Theodor Herzl heard those words, understood what they meant and wrote the seminal track that changed Jewish history – he wrote The Jewish State. The Jewish State is the most important work of Zionism and the rebirth of the Jewish people,” the Israeli premier elaborated.
Netanyahu said that Zola’s ‘J’accuse is the “second most important” Zionist work because “it clarifies in moral terms why the attack on the Jews was unjust, just as Herzl said, why the creation of the Jewish state was a necessity.”
“So we celebrate today 70 years of Israel’s founding, of Israel’s ingenuity and 70 years of this profound relationship between our two nations,” he stated, commenting that the friendship was based on “shared values.”
“Why are our nations such great allies? I suppose the answer might be summed up in three words – words with which you all are familiar: liberty, equality, and brotherhood!” Netanyahu said, uttering the phrase “liberte, egalite, fraternite” in French, which is France’s national motto.
Liberty, for Israel, is a “vision that has always guided us and is the hope that has inspired us … to be a free people, a liberated people in our homeland,” Netanyahu said, refrrring . “Like France, Israel believes in liberty. Like France, Israel cherishes liberty.”
“Like France, Israel is a proud democracy – proud of our record in preserving liberty in the heart of the Middle East. This is truly a remarkable achievement because in the 70 years there was not a single moment, a second even, in which Israel’s democracy was put into question. We stand for liberté.”
“Israel also stands for egalite. Like France, Israel values equality. Our people gave the world the most powerful statement of equality ever made – the Bible’s statement that all are created in the image of God, and that fundamental vision of equality guides our nation today,” Netanyahu added.
That is why Israel is home to Arab Supreme Court Justices, Christian diplomats, Muslim police officers, Druze ministers, including Druze Minister Ayoob Kara who was in attendance. It is home to female fighter pilots, to gay members of Knesset.
“We draw on the passion and creativity of all our citizens regardless of gender or religion, or ethnicity or race. In Israel, we believe that all are equal under God and in Israel, and in the Middle East only in Israel – all are equal under the law,” Netanyahu declared.
Like France, Israel is a friendly nation that stands in solidarity with so many around the world. That solidarity is evident when Israel sends medical aid to countries like Haiti and Nepal after devastating natural disasters. Most recently, Israel sent aid to Guatemala after it was hit by a volcano eruption. “Israelis go to various places around the world and offer light and hope,” he said.
Israel also shows solidarity when it treats thousands of wounded Syrians “who are the victims of a terrible war and a brutal regime.”
That solidarity is evident in the life-saving technology Israel shares “with Indian farmers and African mothers who don’t have to walk days, hours every day to get water because Israeli technology solved that problem.”
The solidarity is also apparent in the “peaceful relations we have enjoyed for decades with two of our Arab neighbors, Egypt and Jordan – peace agreements that have stood the test of time.”
To that end, Netanyahu stated that he believes that “this broader peace will expand to the Arab countries and ultimately to our Palestinian neighbors.”
The Shared Israeli-French Challenge
“So these cherished values – liberty, equality and fraternity – unite our two peoples and our two countries. But they have opponents – people who oppose these values try to strike us down. They strike us down not because they hate us for what we are but for what we believe. They believe everything opposite to liberte, egalite and fraternite. They want a different world – a dark world, to go back to the Middle Ages,” Netanyahu warned.
“In France, these people have targeted a supermarket, a satirical newspaper, a music concert. In Israel, they’ve targeted kindergartens, cafes and clubs. And these militant terrorists are united and we should be united against them,” he said.
Netanyahu ended on a hopeful note, saying that he believes that “we can win the war against terrorism by uniting around our common values. President Macron and I had the opportunity to speak about that today and I think that we have opportunities that will prove to be very valuable for our quest for peace and security in the Middle East and beyond.”
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