(January 22, 2019 / JNS)
This week, I will accompany Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on his state visit to Paris. He will be welcomed by President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, with the honor reserved for friends of France.
Seventy years ago, nearly to the day—on Jan. 24, 1949—then-Foreign Minister of France Robert Schuman recognized the State of Israel and its de facto government.
My country quickly proved how devoted it was to defending the young state, and stood beside it with determination in the days when its security was under serious threat. Later, Franco-Israeli relations continued to develop and Israel formed additional diplomatic ties, but the relations between us have never been anything but strong, because French and Israeli society share values and cultural affiliations.
The Jewish community in France—the largest in Europe, and the third-largest in the world—as well as the French citizens living in Israel (there are many of them, and their numbers are increasing), play a large part in that, of course. President Rivlin’s upcoming visit to Paris is an opportunity to celebrate our brave ties and the values that unite us.
The visit will also provide an opportunity for us to restate our boundless commitment to fighting anti-Semitism and to commemorate the Holocaust, which is taught three times in the French curriculum, as well as our commitment to promoting a model of secularism in the French Republic.
The visit will center on the two countries’ excellent cooperation in the field of security and defense and their fight against terrorism. I am certain of our relations today and our relations in the future.
During a season of Israeli-Franco cultural events that was held simultaneously in both countries in 2018, more than 400,000 Israelis took part in 120 French events held in Israel, and 500,000 French took part in the Israeli events in France.
What exciting proof of the Israeli public’s affection for France. What proof of the two nations’ dynamic cooperation in arts, academia, science, and technology.
Seventy years after Robert Schuman’s historic decision, both countries can look ahead with determination and co-author a new chapter in their shared history.
Hélène Le Gal is the French ambassador to Israel.