A Gathering of Solidarity with The People of France and Its Jewish Community

On Tuesday, January 13, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough joined Members of Congress; France’s Ambassador to the U.S., His Excellency Gérard Araud; the American Jewish Committee (AJC); and hundreds of people from the local Jewish community and many other Jewish organizations at “A Gathering of Solidarity and Remembrance With the People of France and Its Jewish Community” at Congregation Adas Israel in Washington, D.C.

His remarks underscored our nation’s solidarity with the people of France and with Jewish communities throughout the world following the terrorist attacks in Paris, as well as our commitment to combat the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world.

McDonough’s remarks as delivered follow:

Thank you for the opportunity to join you this evening to pay tribute to the victims and heroes from last week’s terrorist attacks in France. On behalf of the President, I am here to affirm our nation’s solidarity with the French people and the Jewish community in France and around the world, to condemn in the strongest terms the violent attacks of last week and to remember the precious lives of the fallen.

The violence, hatred and intolerance that motivated these senseless attacks upon people going about their daily lives - at work at Charlie Hebdo or at their local kosher supermarket just before Sabbath, must be condemned and will be defeated.

I’m honored to be here this evening with Ambassador Araud, AJC, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Alan and Judy [Gross], a couple that personifies strength and perseverance, and all of you who have come here tonight in solidarity and remembrance with our brothers and sisters in France and all of you who have come here tonight in solidarity and remembrance with our brothers and sisters in France.

As President Obama has said, France is our oldest ally. Ours is a relationship that goes back centuries to the founding of our two great republics.  We stand in solidarity with the French people, and share a steadfast commitment to the values of liberty, free expression, coexistence, and religious freedom that were so cruelly and violently assaulted in Paris last week.

The violent assault on the Jewish community in France that took place on Friday afternoon - as the Jewish community in Paris was in the final hours of preparing for the restfulness and peace of the Sabbath - was the latest in a series of troubling incidents in Europe and around the world that reflect a rising tide of anti-Semitism.  

We will not waver in our commitment to combating the scourge of anti-Semitism.  This is not an issue for any single community or nation to deal with by itself. We must all do our part.  And we will.  From the President on down, you have my commitment that we will wage this fight together.

Thank you for giving me and my colleagues the opportunity to be with you this evening.

The Chief of Staff was joined at the service by White House colleagues, including Charlie Kupchan, NSC Senior Director for Europe; Steve Pomper, NSC Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights; Melissa Rogers, Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; and Matt Nosanchuk, NSC Director for Outreach. In addition, Julieta Valls Noyes, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, and Ira Forman, Special Envoy to Monitor Combat Anti-Semitism, represented the State Department.