The French president, Emmanuel Macron, demanded this Sunday vigilance against a “rampant” anti-Semitism that has not only resulted in recent years in attacks with Jewish targets, but also infiltrates social networks or public debate with the ” complacency of certain political forces”.
“It can take other faces, but hateful anti-Semitism continues to circulate,” Macron stressed in a speech commemorating the roundups carried out by French police in Paris in July 1942 of 13,000 Jews, the vast majority of whom were then sent to Nazi death camps to be killed.
The speech was delivered at the old Pitiviers train station, about 90 kilometers south of Paris, through which many of these Jews passed and others detained by the police of the French collaborationist Vichy regime during the German occupation in the Second World War.
Macron insisted that “80 years after that eclipse of humanity, I still feel as urgent if not more to remember history to conjure it up, to scrutinize the hatred of the past to better detect it in our present.”
In his opinion, anti-Semitism is now both in France, Europe and in other parts of the world “even more rampant” than in 1995, when the then president, Jacques Chirac, recognized for the first time the direct responsibility of France and the State French in the Holocaust for his involvement in the raids of July 1942.
The president emphasized that anti-Semitism is present in the jihadist attacks perpetrated in France against people for being Jews, but also in the recurring desecration of Jewish cemeteries, in messages on social networks or in revisionist debates on historical events such as those same raids.
Macron recalled Chirac’s words in July 1995, when he pointed out that France, by detaining Jewish children, women and men and then handing them over to the Nazis to send them to death camps, “has committed the irreparable.”
He added a few phrases of his own: “By acting in the name of France betraying the spirit of the Republic, the French State of Pétain, de Laval, de Bousquet, deliberately failed to fulfill all the duties of the fatherland of the Enlightenment and of human rights. Because not a single Nazi soldier participated in the raids on July 16 and 17, 1942.”
He charged, without naming him, against far-right intellectual Éric Zemmour, presidential candidate last April, who has defended the figure of Marshal Philippe Pétain, leader of the French collaborationist regime from 1940 to 1944, on the grounds that by handing over foreign Jews to the Nazis, saved many French Jews.
“Let us repeat it here, even if the revisionist commentators do not like it. Neither Pétain, nor Laval, nor Bousquet claimed to save the Jews. It is a falsification of history. Those who claim such lies have as their project to destroy the Republic and break the unity of the nation,” said the head of state.
He added that “looking at our reality head-on does not mean weakening France, nor repenting. It is recognizing everything so as not to repeat it.”
The inauguration ceremony of the old Pithiviers station as a new Holocaust memorial in France gave rise to a parallel political controversy, caused by a message from Mathilde Panot, the head of the leftist parliamentary group La France Insumisa (LFI), who was criticized in a generalized way by the supporters of Macron and even by some socialist officials. Panot wrote on his Twitter account: “80 years ago, the collaborators of the Vichy regime organized the raid on the Winter Velodrome. Do not forget these crimes now more than ever with a President of the Republic who pays tribute to Pétain and 89 deputies from the RN” by Marine Le Pen.
The head of the LFI deputies was referring to the fact that in 2018, Macron recognized that Pétain during the First World War was “a great soldier” although later he was responsible for “dire decisions” in the Second World War.
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