France, Is­rael reaf­firm al­liance

Macron, Ne­tanyahu talk of shared strug­gle to fight anti-Semitism.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES MCAULEY In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by James McAuley of The Washington Post and by Aron Heller and An­gela Charl­ton of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

PARIS — Two days af­ter treat­ing President Don­ald Trump to a Bastille Day pa­rade, Em­manuel Macron wel­comed yet an­other world leader — the Is­raeli prime min­is­ter — to Paris.

As Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu ar­rived for talks Sunday, the French president con­demned anti-Zion­ism, or op­po­si­tion to Jews re­tain­ing their bib­li­cal home­land, as the new form of anti-Semitism.

The back­drop for their meet­ing was the 75th an­niver­sary of a Paris Holo­caust roundup, and Macron used the oc­ca­sion to re­it­er­ate his dec­la­ra­tion that the French state bore the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ar­rest and de­por­ta­tion of ap­prox­i­mately 13,000 Jews in 1942.

“We will never sur­ren­der to the mes­sages of hate,” Macron said, stand­ing on the site where French po­lice, on the night of July 16, 1942, de­tained thou­sands of French and for­eign-born Jews be­fore fa­cil­i­tat­ing their trans­ports to Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camps across East­ern Europe. “We will not sur­ren­der to anti-Zion­ism, be­cause it is a rein­ven­tion of anti-Semitism.”

Macron in­sisted that “not a single Ger­man” was di­rectly in­volved, but French po­lice col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Nazis.

It was a half-cen­tury later when then-President Jac­ques Chirac be­came the first French leader to ac­knowl­edge the state’s role in the Holo­caust’s hor­rors.

Macron dis­missed ar­gu­ments by French far-right lead­ers and oth­ers that the col­lab­o­ra­tionist Vichy gov­ern­ment didn’t rep­re­sent France.

“It is con­ve­nient to see the Vichy regime as born of noth­ing­ness, re­turned to noth­ing­ness,” Macron said. “Yes, it’s con­ve­nient, but it is false. We can­not build pride upon a lie.”

French Jewish lead­ers hailed Macron’s speech Sunday — even as crit­ics railed at him on­line, where anti-Semitism has flour­ished. Macron pledged to fight such ha­tred and called for a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the re­cent killing of a Parisian woman that was be­lieved to be linked to anti-Jewish sen­ti­ment.

A string of ter­ror at­tacks in re­cent years in­spired Ne­tanyahu, in a 2015 speech, to en­cour­age French Jews to leave for Is­rael. Thou­sands have since done so. But as Macron vowed Sunday to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms, the Is­raeli leader changed his tone and spoke of sol­i­dar­ity with France.

“Your strug­gle is our strug­gle,” Ne­tanyahu said, re­fer­ring to Fri­day’s at­tack in Jerusalem, when Arab Is­raeli gun­men shot and killed two Is­raeli po­lice of­fi­cers. “The zealots of mil­i­tant Is­lam, who seek to de­stroy you, seek to de­stroy us as well.”

In France in 2012, ter­ror­ists at­tacked a Jewish day school in Toulouse, killing four peo­ple, in­clud­ing three chil­dren. In 2014, the Franco-Cameroo­nian co­me­dian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala likened Jews to “slave driv­ers” and pro­moted a ver­sion of the Nazi salute. In Jan­uary 2015, an at­tack on a kosher su­per­mar­ket on the out­skirts of Paris left four Jewish cus­tomers dead.

Sunday was Ne­tanyahu’s first visit to France since his ap­pear­ance in Jan­uary 2015 at Paris’ Grand Syn­a­gogue, im­me­di­ately af­ter the at­tack on the su­per­mar­ket, when he de­liv­ered his speech urg­ing Jews to con­sider leaving France.

Some French Jewish lead­ers ve­he­mently op­posed the pres­ence of the Is­raeli leader at an event they said should oth­er­wise have re­mained apo­lit­i­cal. In the words of Elie Bar­navi, France’s for­mer am­bas­sador to Is­rael, the wartime roundup had “noth­ing to do with Is­rael.” But oth­ers wel­comed Macron’s re­marks about the re­al­i­ties of con­tem­po­rary anti-Semitism.

“He un­der­stands what it is to­day, not just what it was in the past,” Yonatan Arfi, the vice president of the Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil of French Jewish Or­ga­ni­za­tions, France’s largest Jewish ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion, said in an in­ter­view.

“It’s at once from the ex­treme right, but also present on the ex­treme left and among rad­i­cal Is­lamists,” he said. “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.”

Af­ter the Holo­caust cer­e­mony, Macron also ap­pealed for re­newed Is­raeli-Pales­tinian peace talks. Wor­ried that Ne­tanyahu is back­ing away from com­mit­ment to a two-state so­lu­tion, Macron as­sailed Is­raeli set­tle­ment con­struc­tion as a threat to in­ter­na­tional hopes for peace.

Pro-Pales­tinian and other ac­tivists protested Ne­tanyahu’s ap­pear­ance in Paris, crit­i­ciz­ing the set­tle­ments and the block­ade of Gaza.

Sep­a­rately Sunday, Is­rael re­opened a holy site in Jerusalem af­ter clos­ing it in re­sponse to a deadly shoot­ing last week that raised con­cerns about wider un­rest.

For the first time in decades, Is­rael closed the site — known to Mus­lims as the No­ble Sanc­tu­ary and to Jews as the Tem­ple Mount — af­ter Fri­day’s at­tack in­side the com­pound.

Ne­tanyahu said that af­ter con­sul­ta­tions with se­cu­rity of­fi­cials the site would re­open Sunday af­ter­noon with in­creased se­cu­rity mea­sures that in­cluded metal de­tec­tors at the en­trance gates and ad­di­tional se­cu­rity cam­eras.

At mid­day, Is­raeli po­lice opened two of the gates to the com­pound to al­low wor­ship­pers to en­ter through the newly erected de­tec­tors. Po­lice said some wor­ship­pers re­fused to go through them and knelt to pray out­side in­stead. But de­spite con­cerns that the new mea­sures could slow move­ment and spark re­newed ten­sions, po­lice said they ap­peared to be work­ing fine and that 200 peo­ple had al­ready passed through.


French President Em­manuel Macron (left) and Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu ad­dress the me­dia af­ter a meet­ing at the El­y­see Palace in Paris on Sunday.

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