Outgoing French ambassador films warm farewell to Israelis

Monday, August 12, 2013 |  Yossi Aloni

After four years as France's ambassador to Israel, Christophe Bigot decided to say farewell to Israelis in an original way.

Rather than saying goodbye in an official ceremony that fails to speak to the hearts of average Israelis, as most of his colleagues do, Bigot filmed a short video.

Filmed in Tel Aviv's popular Bialik Square against the backdrop of a well known fountain, the video takes the form of an interview between Bigot and the French embassy's cultural attache.

Bigot's favorite landscape in Israel: Haifa. "I loved to travel to Mount Carmel with my children and look down on the city streets," he explained.

His favorite Israeli personality? David Ben Gurion, who with all his simplicity, vision and courage was a man of struggle and faith who built Israel with his hands.

The Hebrew words most engraved in his memory? "I know 200 words in Hebrew," said Bigot. "The words I heard most were bitachon (security) - and rega (hold on a moment)."

Another world Bigot heard often was chutzpah. "You can translate this word as 'insolence', but I see it as a perception that sanctifies action without taboos. Everything is possible here. It sends a message full of hope and optimism."

The seminal event during his mission to Israel? The release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is also a French citizen. "After five years in solitary confinement (in Hamas-ruled Gaza), I see a young man full of optimism."

What does Bigot wish for Israel politically? "This country has made great achievements, but is missing one important thing: peace. Peace will ensure Israel's future and security and also change the region in a profound way. This is what frustrated me most during my four years here, but also gave me the most hope for the future."

In conclusion, Bigot said that he had "felt wonderful emotions here. I made a lot of friendships and this land gave much to me." Switching to Hebrew, the outgoing French ambassador closed with "Lehitraot Chaverim! (Goodbye Friends!)"

The video can be seen below. Dialog is in French with Hebrew subtitles:

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