“Anti-Zionism is a reinvented form of anti-Semitism,” French president Emmanuel Macron said Sunday at a ceremony in Paris marking the 75th anniversary of the infamous Vel d’Hiv roundup.
Macron also reaffirmed France’s historic responsibility for one of the darkest chapters in the country’s history in which over 13,000 French Jews were sent to Auschwitz.
“It is indeed France that organized the roundup and the deportation…. not a single German took part,” Macron said in the presence in the presence of Binyamin Netanyahu, the first Israeli prime minister ever to participate in the annual memorial ceremony. 13,000 Jews were sent to Nazi death camps from the Velodrome d’Hiver, an indoor cycle track, in 1942.
During the French presidential elections earlier this year, National Front leader Marine Le Pen said it was not France that was responsible for the roundup, but rather “those who were in power at the time.”
“I’ve come here today from Jerusalem, the eternal united capital of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. I’ve come here to bow my head in memory of our slain brothers and sisters, slaughtered solely because they were Jews,” Netanyahu said. “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.”
Turning to the battle against radical Islam, Netanyahu said that extremist forces wanted to destroy not only the Jews and the Jewish state as well, but “anyone that stands in their way.”
“Militant Islam wants to destroy our common civilization,” Netanyahu told the French president. “The militant Shiites led by Iran, the militant Sunnis led by ISIS – both seek to vanquish us. They seek to destroy Europe.”
Israel, Netanyahu said is merely the first Western target that stands in their way. “Militant Islamists do not hate the West because of Israel,” he said. “To the contrary, they hate Israel because of the West, because they rightly see in Israel a forward bastion of our common values of freedom, humanism, democracy. They try to destroy us, but also they try to destroy you.”
Netanyahu’s presence was protested by groups including the Union of French Jews for Peace (UJFP) who accuse the Israeli government of “usurping the memory of the victims of Nazism to make people believe that Israel represents all the world’s Jews.”
Macron also reiterated France’s support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for which negotiations have been frozen for three years. In addition, Macron affirmed this support to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas when he met with him on Wednesday, while also expressing France’s opposition to Israeli settlements.
The Algemeiner reported that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer warmly applauded French President Emmanuel Macron’s declaration that anti-Zionism is antisemitism in a Senate floor speech on Monday.
“I’d like to applaud the French President Emmanuel Macron for his comments over the weekend about antisemitism,” Schumer said. “‘We will yield nothing to anti-Zionism,’ he said, ‘because it is the reinvented form of antisemitism.’”
Schumer continued: “He is absolutely right.”
Schumer explained that “antisemitism is a word that has been used throughout history when Jewish people are judged and measured by one standard and the rest by another.”
“So it is with anti-Zionism; the idea that all other peoples can seek and defend their right to self-determination but Jews cannot,” he said. “That other nations have a right to exist, but the Jewish state of Israel does not.”
Schumer blasted the BDS campaign targeting Israel as a “pernicious effort to delegitimize Israel through boycotts, divestment, and sanctions” that fits Macron’s definition of a “reinvented form of antisemitism because it seeks to impose boycotts on Israel and not on any other nation.”
The New York Democrat expressed hope that “states across the country continue to push back against the BDS movement, by boycotting the boycotters, as my home state of New York has done.”
At 39, Macron a former banker and economy minister, becomes France’s youngest president. He is pro-EU but wants reforms to make the grouping more democratic and has warned that continuing business as usual with the European Union will trigger a Frexit, or a French exit similar to Britain’s.
Macron’s view is held by many young, urban, largely affluent voters who see their nation as a cosmopolitan experiment that has worked and globalization as not only inevitable, but the key to future economic prosperity.
Jewish Life in France
In march of this year, the Jewish Voice reported that six months after an ISIS terrorist plowed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd, killing 86 and wounding 434 people including five local Jews, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) teamed up with the World Jewish Congress (WJC) to help defend the Nice Jewish community against new threats.
In response to requests from the Nice Jewish community since the attack, the organizations have provided financial assistance, along with French Jewish organizations, for a series of security upgrades, including security systems and materials, for local communal institutions.
Since the end of World War II, the Nice Jewish community has grown from about 2,000 people to more than 25,000 today, and includes an Ashkenazi and Sephardi synagogue, a butcher, restaurants and a mikvah. The Musee Marc Chagall, containing the painter’s works on biblical themes, is situated in Nice.
In January of 2015, four Jewish men were murdered at the Hyper Cacher supermarket in East Paris by ISIS gunman Amedy Coulibaly, two days after brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi massacred 12 people in an attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices.
In three days that traumatized a nation, three men with deep histories of association with terrorist organizations carried out three deadly attacks: The first against a newspaper, the second against a police officer and the third against a kosher grocery store.
Then President François Hollande said in an address to the nation that the attack on the grocery store was unquestionably “an anti-Semitic attack.”
In Porte de Vincennes — a stately neighborhood of low-slung 19th-century buildings that is home to a heavy mix of both Jews and Muslims, many of whom share North African heritage — there was no doubt.
Netanyahu Makes Historic Trip to Hungary
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Hungary on Monday for a state visit, its capital city remained blanketed in swastika-graffitied posters of Hungarian-born Jewish philanthropist George Soros, according to an i24 News report.
It is the first visit to Hungary by an Israeli prime minister since the fall of Communism in 1989, reported the Times of Israel.
Planning for the trip has been affected by the posters, which many in the Hungarian Jewish community see as fostering anti-Semitic animus and vandalism.
Hungary’s prime minister, Victor Orban, has made political cause with the far-right and often expresses admiration for the country’s wartime fascist leader, Miklos Horthy.
Last week, Hungarian officials announced that the posters would be taken down by the weekend. The billboards heralded a campaign against Soros for his pro-refugee and pro-immigrant stance.
The posters were being removed in order not to embarrass Netanyahu, Hungarian media reported.
Yet according to the Times of Israel, at least half-dozen prominently displayed billboards stayed up in the capital city. Hungarian officials said the advertisements would stay up until the advertising space was purchased by another entity.
Israeli officials had made no public comment as of press time.
Many Hungarian Jews, along with Israeli politicians and diplomats, blasted Netanyahu’s accommodation of the billboard campaign. Approximately 100,000 Hungarian Jews reside in the country.
Israel’s ambassador to Hungary criticized the posters two weeks ago. Then in an abrupt turnaround, Netanyahu ordered Israel’s foreign ministry to backtrack and criticize Soros for meddling in Israel.
“We had the Horthy [remark] and then the billboard campaign. The billboard campaign created a certain domino effect reaction in the Jewish community,” Israeli ambassador Yossi Amrani told Reuters. “People expressed fears.”
Soros has donated to a number of left-leaning and liberal organizations, including to Israeli NGOs critical of government policies in the occupied West Bank.
The Soros posters display a portrait photo of the Jewish businessman with the text affixed: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” implying that he wants to force Hungary to accept refugees.
Soros, 86, survived the Holocaust by hiding from the Nazis in Budapest as a boy. He later made billions in the stock market. He donated many of the profits to NGOs and civic organizations seeking to foster multiculturalism and respect for refugees and immigrants.
Some Israeli opposition politicians have accused Netanyahu of prioritizing Israel’s diplomatic and trade ties ahead of Hungarian Jewish experiences with anti-Semitism.
Yair Lapid, who leads Israel’s centrist Yesh Atid opposition party, called on Netanyahu to cancel the visit over the poster campaign, Reuters reported.
Netanyahu and Hungary’s Orban have built a close relationship over a common right-wing worldview that is skeptical of immigration and opposed to multicultural liberalism.
Soros’ spokesperson said the posters were “reminiscent of Europe’s darkest hours.” The head of Mazsihisz, Hungary’s biggest Jewish organization, called the campaign “poisonous,” reported the Times of Israel.
By: Arthur Popowitz
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