French President Emanuel Macron hosted another world leader, just a couple of days after President Donald Trump’s visit. He hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who made certain amount of friends in France, due to his hard-line politics.
The motive for this meeting was the anniversary of shameful Holocoust roundup in Paris 75 years ago. During the meeting Macron repeated the statement that his state was responsible for arresting and deporting of about 13,000 Jews in 1942. He also criticized anti-Zionism, adding that it is just new form of anti-Semitism.
In the speech Macron gave on the site were on the 16th of July, 1942 thousands of Jews were detained and later relocated to concentration camps across Europe, he said, “We will never surrender to the messages of hate, we will not surrender to anti-Zionism, because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism.”
Netanyahu encouraged French Jews in 2015 to come to Israel, due to terrorist attacks, and thousands of them did. But now hearing President Macron he solidarized with France by saying, “Your struggle is our struggle.”
“The zealots of militant Islam, who seek to destroy you, seek to destroy us as well.” Netanyahu said, alluding to muslim extremist’s attacks, most recent of which happened on Friday in Jerusalem when Arab gunmen killed two Israeli police officers.
The Vel d’Hiv raid, as the roundup is called in France after the stadium where Jews were held, was mentioned in this year’s France’s presidential election as historical revisionism was constantly present topic.
Marine Le Pen, French politician and the daughter of the Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen, reached the pinnacle of controversy by saying that French state was not responsible for the events happened in 1942. There were also reports from French newspapers saying that Le pen’s deputy denied use of the poison gas Zyklon B by the Nazis. Macron and some of his predecessors joined in condemning this position.
The first French president to admit publicly that France was a collaborator in the Holocaus was Jacques Chirac, in 1995. In his symbolic speech at the Vel d’Hiv he said, “France, on that day, committed the irreparable. Breaking its word, it handed those who were under its protection over to their executioners.” Macron referenced Chirac’s speech by saying, “I say it again here, it was indeed France that organized the roundup, the deportation, and thus, for almost all, death.”
In France there was a year’s long stream of anti-Semitism, which caused more and more Mews to move to Israel. In 2012 a terrorist attack occurred in Toulouse in Jewish day school, there were four victims, three of whom were children. Following that, in 2014 comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala called Jews “slave drivers”. And right after last Netanyahu’s visit and his call for Jews to move to Israel, an attack was made on kosher supermarket, and it’s aftermath was four dead Jews.
Number of Jews in France is in constant fall. In 2015, 8,000 Jews immigrated to Israel and 5,000 in 2016 according to Jewish Agency of Israel to Agence France-Presse. Statistics are expected to be similar this year, but there is a record of some Jews coming back to France.
France’s reputation as not really hospitable state for Jews has continued, and Macron is trying to revert that. It was noticed that PM Netanyahu did not call Jews to immigrate this time.
Certain French leaders wanted this event to stay apolitical and were not really fond of the fact that Israeli leader attended this event. Former Israeli ambassador in France Elie Barnavi, said the roundup had “nothing to do with Israel.” But some of them appreciated Macron’s decisiveness to fight the anti-Semitism.
Yonatan Arfi, the vice president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Organizations (CRIF) said that Macron “understands what it is today, not just what it was in the past,”
“It’s at once from the extreme right, but also present on the extreme left and among radical Islamists,” he said. “Anti-Zionism has definitely become part of anti-Semitism today, and it’s a real satisfaction to find someone before us who speaks the same language.”