President Macron confronted antisemitism in France yesterday as he voiced the country’s guilt for sending thousands of Jews to Nazi death camps.
Binyamin Netanyahu attended the ceremony, the first Israeli prime minister to do so since President Chirac recognised in 1995 that French officials and police carried out the round-up and not their Nazi occupiers.
France’s invitation was a “very, very powerful gesture”, Netanyahu said in French.
“In this regard, France is prepared to support all diplomatic efforts on the basis of the peace parameters recognized by the global community”, he said.
The Union of French Jews for Peace, a pro-Palestinian organisation, described the decision to invite Mr Netanyahu as “shocking” and “unacceptable”.
“It was indeed France that organised this”, he said, adding that “not a single German” was directly involved.
He did not indicate any eagerness for France to spearhead such negotiations after a fruitless French diplomatic effort early this year. Many were sent on to Auschwitz concentration camp and fewer than 100 people survived.
Mr. Macron’s comments came during a period of resurgent anti-Semitism in France, fueled by right-wing nationalism and by fundamentalist Islam. “It seems that the values of the French Revolution – liberty, equality, fraternity – these values were crushed brutally under the boots of antisemitism”. Macron’s office said he is concerned about Israel’s security but also anxious that Netanyahu is backing away from commitment to a two-state solution. “You can’t build pride on a lie”, Macron said on Sunday.
French president Emmanuel Macron on Sunday condemned anti-Zionism as a new form of anti-Semitism, in what observers said was an unprecedented statement from the leader of France in support of the Jewish state.
He also spoke about the murder of Sarah Halimi, a Jewish woman killed last April. “They wish to destroy anyone that stands in their way – Jews, Christians, Muslims, who suffer the brunt of their savagery”.
After his meeting with Macron, Netanyahu and his wife Sara will fly to Budapest, where he is slated to meet with the leaders of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Addressing Macron specifically, Netanyahu referred to fighting Islamic extremism, stating, “Your struggle is our struggle”.