Antisemitism pushes French leader to move to Israel

 Pierre Besnainou moved to Israel as a result of antisemitism in France (photo: Gloria Deutsch)

When the former president of the European Jewish Congress and a leading
light in the Paris Jewish community makes aliya and speaks of
anti-Semitism in his native country, it is time to sit up and take
notice. Gloria Deutsch reports in the Jerusalem Post:

Pierre Besnainou moved here with his family in April
2014 and took up permanent residence in the house in Herzliya Pituah
which, until then, had been a holiday home only. He still has two
daughters living in Paris but hopes they will soon follow him to

“Yes, unfortunately, there is anti-Semitism in France and
during the past year it has increased a lot,” says the successful
businessman, who was born in Tunisia in 1954. For many years, as
co-chairman of the Anti-Semitism Task Force of the Jewish Agency, he
actively fought anti-Semitism. He is also a member of the board of
governors of that organization.

“The terrorism started with the
events in Toulouse [the attack at a Jewish school in 2012] and
continued with the whole Charlie Hebdo affair,” he says. “Unfortunately
the Muslim population originating in North Africa has been

This is particularly painful for Besnainou, who
spent a happy childhood in Tunisia and remembers the peaceful
coexistence between the Jews and Arabs of his home country.

children grew up in Tunis,” he says. “During the summer holidays, many
French Jews went to Eilat, but we always went to Tunis and my kids had
many friends there,” he recalls. He also dealt with Tunis in his first
business venture and says he encountered anti-Semitism for the first
time in France and not in his birthplace.

“Now it feels like a
war, and the Jews of France are on the front line in this war,” he
says. “However, the French government is very active in the fight
against anti-Semitism and is determined to combat it with strong laws;
that is a fact it’s very important not to forget.”

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