by: Ilse Posselt
Tuesday, 18 July 2017 | According to French president, Emmanuel Macron, anti-Zionism is the modern-day equivalent of anti-Semitism. The backdrop for this statement, which commentators hailed as “unprecedented” for a French leader in its support for Israel, was a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of an infamous Holocaust roundup in Paris that saw 13,152 Jews sent to Nazi death camps.
The ceremony was held near the Velodrome d’Hiver, the indoor cycle track that French police used in July 1942 to hold thousands of European Jews before deportation to the notorious extermination camp, Auschwitz. The incident later became known as the Vel d’Hiv Roundup. Of the 13,152 Jews who were held at the Vel d’Hiv, fewer than 100 survived to tell the tale.
Addressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the ceremony on Macron’s invitation, the French president 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.”
Macron continued to confirm the role that France played in the Nazi’s efforts to eradicate any Jewish presence from Europe. “It is indeed France that organized the roundup and the deportation. Not a single German took part,” he admitted. “Time does its work. Archives open [and] the truth comes out. It is stark, irrevocable. It imposes itself on us all.”
Macron’s declaration is a clear slight on a comment made by Marine Le Pen, National Front leader, earlier this year during the French presidential elections. Le Pen claimed that France did not shoulder the blame for the roundup, but rather “those who were in power at the time.”
Netanyahu, whom Macron referred to at one point as “dear Bibi,” was the first ever Israeli head of state to be invited to attend a Vel d’Hiv Roundup ceremony.
“I have come here today from Jerusalem, the eternal united capital of the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said. “I have come here to bow my head in memory of our slain brothers and sisters, slaughtered solely because they were Jews. Out of the ash of destruction, we established the Jewish state. And it is the strength of Israel that is the one certain guarantee that the Jewish people will never undergo a Holocaust again. Never again. We will never let it happen again.”
The Prime Minister continued to condemn the threat of radical Islam. “Two days ago in Nice, you said that this was a war of civilizations,” Netanyahu told Macron. “I fully agree. Militant Islam wants to destroy our common civilization. The militant Shiites led by Iran, the militant Sunnis led by ISIS—both seek to vanquish us. They seek to destroy Europe.”
Netanyahu’s comments relate to an address made by Macron on the one-year anniversary of a terror attack during Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, when an Islamist truck driver ploughed his vehicle into the celebrating crowd. More than 80 people were killed.
Referring to Friday’s deadly terror attack at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Netanyahu assured Macron, “Your struggle is our struggle. The zealots of militant Islam, who seek to destroy you, seek to destroy us as well. We must stand against them together; we must remain strong against them together; and we must defeat them together. For the sacred honor of those who perished here, for the sake of generations to come, let us ensure victory—the victory of liberté, egalité, fraternité.”
Apart from Netanyahu and Macron, various leaders of the French Jewish community, a number of Holocaust survivors, French Righteous among the Nations and French World War II veterans also attended the commemoration event.
Following the ceremony, Netanyahu and Macron met for face-to-face talks at the Élysée Palace to discuss, among others, Syria, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During a joint press conference after the meeting, Macron reiterated France’s support for a two-state solution that would see Israelis and Palestinians co-existing in peace “side-by-side behind secure and recognized borders,” with “the capital in Jerusalem for these two entities.”
Calling for renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Macron said, “Everything must be done to advance negotiations, especially considering the regional threats, and we must open new negotiations for this issue.”
For his part, Netanyahu mostly steered clear of the subject of any prospective peace talks and chose to focus instead on Israel’s efforts in coming to the aid of developing African countries. He did, however, stress that “the root of the conflict is the persistent Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state, a Jewish state with any boundaries.”
The Israeli prime minister’s time in France came to an end yesterday afternoon, when he flew to Hungary for a three-day state visit. This trip marks the first time an Israeli head of state visits Hungary since Communist rule in this country came to an end in 1989.
Posted on July 18, 2017
Photo Credit: Remi Jouan/commons.wikimedia.org
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 18 July 2017)
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