France's President François Hollande vowed that his government would do everything possible to battle anti-Semitism and protect French Jews as he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a memorial in Toulouse where an Islamist gunman named Mohamed Merah murdered four Jews, including children, last March.

Under extremely tight security, the memorial took place at the Ohr Torah school where Merah shot and killed a rabbi and three children. Merah earlier had murdered three French soldiers before he himself died in a shootout with police.

“We are here because a terrorist committed a cowardly and barbaric act,” Hollande told the attendees.

“I would like to remind you of the French Republic’s determination to fight relentlessly against anti-Semitism. We will attack anti-Semitism and we will repress anti-Semitism, not only the acts but also the words. Jews in France must be aware of the fact that the French Republic will do everything it can to protect them and to give them security, which is in the interest of all of France.”

Netanyahu (who had called on French Jews to 'come home' to Israel in the wake of the Merah massacre), commended Hollande.

“Anti-Semitism very quickly becomes a fire that spreads everywhere and consumes everything,” Netanyahu said.

“Anyone who does not respect the human rights of Jews will not respect the human rights of other people. Nothing justifies the killing of children. Nothing justifies the killing of Jews.”

Nicole Yardeni, president of the Council of French Jewish Institutions in the Midi-Pyrenees region, told French media       
the joint appearance by Hollande and Netanyahu sent "a very strong message of unity against this menace which threatens all humanity.”

But France has a long and troubling history of anti-Semitism. What was once the domain of French far-right nationalists has now transferred to extremists within the country's large Muslim population.

On Wednesday, France deported a Muslim imam for making speeches vilifying Jews.

France is home to an estimated 500,000 Jews, the largest Jewish population in Western Europe. But that figure is dwarfed by the 5 million Muslims in the country.