French leader decries coun­try’s Nazi past as Ne­tanyahu vis­its

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - NEWS - By An­gela Charl­ton

PARIS — French President Em­manuel Macron de­nounced France’s col­lab­o­ra­tion in the Holo­caust, lash­ing out Sunday at those who negate or min­i­mize the coun­try’s role in send­ing tens of thou­sands of Jews to their deaths.

Af­ter he and Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu at­tended a Holo­caust com­mem­o­ra­tion, Macron also ap­pealed for re­newed Is­raeli-Pales­tinian peace talks.

Wor­ried that Ne­tanyahu is back­ing away from com­mit­ment to a two-state so­lu­tion, Macron as­sailed Jewish set­tle­ment con­struc­tion as a threat to in­ter­na­tional hopes for peace.

Com­mem­o­rat­ing 75 years since a mass roundup of Jews dur­ing the dark­est chap­ter of mod­ern French his­tory, Macron in­sisted that “it was in­deed France that or­ga­nized this.”

“Not a single Ger­man” was di­rectly in­volved, he said, but French po­lice col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Nazis.

Holo­caust survivors re­counted wrench­ing sto­ries at the cer­e­mony at the site of Vel d’Hiv sta­dium out­side Paris, where po­lice herded some 13,000 peo­ple on July 16-17, 1942, be­fore they were de­ported to camps. More than 4,000 were chil­dren. Fewer than 100 sur­vived.

They were among some 76,000 Jews de­ported from France to Nazi camps.

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 regime didn’t rep­re­sent France. “It is con­ve­nient to see the Vichy regime as born of noth­ing­ness, re­turned to noth­ing­ness. 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 re­newed anti-Semitism has flour­ished.

Ne­tanyahu said that “re­cently we have wit­nessed a rise of ex­trem­ist forces that seek to de­stroy not only the Jews, but of course the Jewish state as well, but well be­yond that. The zealots of mil­i­tant Is­lam, who seek to de­stroy you, seek to de­stroy us as well. We must stand against them to­gether.”

Pro-Pales­tinian and other ac­tivists protested Ne­tanyahu’s ap­pear­ance in Paris.

Macron con­demned an at­tack last week that killed two Is­raeli po­lice of­fi­cers at a Jerusalem shrine revered by Jews and Mus­lims, and said he is com­mit­ted to Is­rael’s se­cu­rity — but warned that con­tin­ued Jewish set­tle­ment con­struc­tion threat­ens peace ef­forts.

STEPHANE MAHE/GETTY-AFP

Is­rael’s Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, left, and France’s Em­manuel Macron met Sunday in Paris.

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