The 16th of July marks Memorial Day for the deportation of France’s Jewish community in 1942 by Vichy’s police forces. “Rafle du Vélodrome d’Hiver” or in short Vel d’Hiv raid deported 13,152 Jews, most of whom later died at death camps. A monument was later established at the site. However, controversy still looms over whether France is responsible for the death of its Jewish citizens, or the Nazis.
During Memorial Day this year, France’s new President Emmanuel Macron hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Macron gave a thoughtful speech in which he explained why simply denying and later admitting France’s role in the Vel d’Hiv raid are not a solution. On the contrary, a strong nation is able to face the crimes of it’s past. Macron clearly stated that France is responsible for the death of those Jews, and that a new national pride cannot be built upon lies. He also called Anti-Zionism a new form of antisemitism.
Benjamin Netanyahu and many Jewish Community leaders echoed the statement. Referring to the lasest tensions and terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, Netanyahu added: “Your struggle is our struggle. The zealots of militant Islam, who seek to destroy you, seek to destroy us as well.” He added on France’s part in Vel d’Hiv: “the Nazis and their collaborators… shattered the lives of thousands of Jews at Vel’ d’Hiv. It seems that the values of the French Revolution – liberty, equality, fraternity – these values were crushed brutally under the boots of antisemitism.”
The VP of the largest Jewish advocacy CRIF, Yonatan Arfi was pleased to hear the support. “He understands what it is today, not just what it was in the past,” he said on an interview. “Once [it was] from the extreme right, but also [is] present on the extreme left and among radical Islamists. 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.”
Macron’s announcement is extremely important, in light of the rising explicit antisemitism in France the last years. It attacks, threats and incites hate against Jews. Additionally, there remains heavy Holocaust denial in the larger population, and also is supported by public leaders such as the Nationalist party of Marie La Penne.
Sources: Washington Post, Jpost, Franc in the US
Image: AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu, Pool)
By: Roni Zedek