Netanyahu and Macron mark mass killing of French Jews

Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron at a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin

During the recent French presidential campaign, Front National candidate Marine Le Pen told French media, "I don't think France is responsible for the Vel d'Hiv".

Standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday at remembrance ceremonies recalling 75 years since a mass roundup of French Jews outside of Paris, Mr. Macron insisted "it was indeed France that organized this".

President Macron confronted antisemitism in France yesterday as he voiced the country's guilt for sending thousands of Jews to Nazi death camps. But it was only in 2009 that France's highest court recognised the state's responsibility. The Jews arrested were confined for four days at the Vel' d'Hiv velodrome, and from there deported to Auschwitz.

While warning against the dangers of modern extremism, Mr. Netanyahu hailed the "great, great human beings" who had risked their lives to save Jews in France during Nazi occupation.

In 1995, former French president Jacques Chirac formally apologized for the "irreparable act" carried out by the collaboration of "French police agents and gendarmes, acting under the authority of their leaders", in the roundup.

After a tense, white-knuckle handshake at their first meeting in May, Mr Macron said they gained "better, intimate knowledge of each other" during Trump's visit last week. We have known in Israel a lot of heroism, as have you here in France.

After attending a Holocaust commemoration event with Netanyahu, Macron also appealed for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which have been suspended for three years. The Union of French Jews for Peace (UJFP) called the invitation "shocking" and "unacceptable", and accused the Israeli government of "usurping the memory of the victims of Nazism to make people believe that Israel represents all the world's Jews".

"Militant Islam wants to destroy our common civilization", Netanyahu told the French president. They do not hate the West because of Israel, but they hate Israel because of the West.

He added that anti-Zionism was another "new form of anti-Semitism". "We must stand against them together and defeat them together".

The French presidency said Sunday's meeting, the first official talks between Macron and Netanyahu, would be an occasion to "signal our lack of complacency towards Iran".

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