June 29, 2013—New York—An AJC leadership delegation met privately for over an hour with French Interior Minister Manuel Valls in New York on Friday. Minister Valls was in the United States for a series of meetings with security officials, including Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder, and FBI Director Robert Mueller. France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish community.
A recent report, released by France’s Jewish community, documented a 58% rise in anti-Semitic incidents in 2012 over the previous year. The data also revealed an alarming uptick in the number of incidents that occurred in the aftermath of the murder of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse in March of that year.
“Once again, we were profoundly impressed by our meeting with Minister Valls, the point person for combating anti-Semitism, racism, extremism, and terrorism in his country,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “Minister Valls’ clarity of vision and steely determination are to be admired," Harris added. "We welcomed the opportunity to continue our important dialogue with him. He reaffirmed that he will leave no stone unturned in the struggle against anti-Semitism. He also reiterated his government's position that France supports the European Union’s designation of the military wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and is optimistic that the EU will formally adopt this stance.”
Minister Valls is an alumnus of AJC’s Project Interchange, which conducts educational seminars in Israel for current and emerging leaders around the world. The five-person AJC delegation included Stanley Bergman, who became the organization's president earlier this month. Also present for the meeting were French Ambassador to the United States François Delattre and Consul General of France in New York Bertrand Lortholary. AJC last met with Minister Valls in Paris in February.
During that same visit, both the AJC delegation and Minister Valls were guests of honor at a special interfaith dinner hosted by the Imam of Drancy, and attended by 150 Imams, the Israeli Ambassador to France, and leaders of France’s Jewish community. AJC maintains regular contact with France’s Interior Ministry via its Paris office, directed by Simone Rodan-Benzaquen.