French President Emmanuel Macron had a busy week. Just 48 hours after shaking hands with U.S. President Donald Trump, Macron met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv massacre, a day that is seared into the collective memory of French Jewry. It was on that day, July 16, 1942, that French police — not the Nazi occupiers — French police speaking French, pledging an oath of allegiance to the French principles of liberty and egalitarianism, rounded up the country’s Jews at the Vel d’Hiv stadium and handed them over to the Third Reich. Nearly 13,000 Jews were deported from France. Many of them ended up in Auschwitz where they were gassed to death by Nazi guards carrying out Adolf Hitler’s Final Solution.
Standing alongside Netanyahu at Vel d’Hiv, Macron invoked the memory of the massacre to pledge his commitment to the safety of Jews in France.
“We will never surrender to the messages of hate,” said the newly elected French president. “We will not surrender to anti-Zionism, because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism.”
By revealing the anti-Zionist movement for what it is, Macron parted ways with his left-wing counterparts in France who have long propagated blood libels to demonize the Jewish State of Israel.
Killing two birds with one stone, Macron even managed to pushback against the French far-right, which has a history of trafficking in anti-Semitism.
As The Daily Wire reported, French presidential candidate and National Front leader Marine Le Pen stirred up controversy in April when she engaged in a bit of historical revisionism by insisting that the state of France played no part in the wartime roundup of Jews.
“I think France isn’t responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” Le Pen said in an interview. “I think that, in general, if there are people responsible, it is those who were in power at the time. It is not France,” she continued. “We have taught our children that they had every reason to criticise France, to see only the darkest historical episodes perhaps. I want them to be proud of being French once more.”
Against the backdrop of growing anti-Semitism in Europe, Le Pen attempted to use her platform to galvanize ethno-centric far-right voters and reassert nationalist pride by whitewashing French history.
At the time, Macron used Le Pen’s recent remarks about Holocaust victims to highlight the sheer radicalism of the National Front.
“Some people had forgotten that Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen,” he said. "They haven’t changed and we must have no indulgence or minimise what the Front National [French transliteration of National Front] is today in our country.”
But it isn’t just the far-right that’s threatening the Jewish body politic in France.
Anti-semitic attacks are coming from all corners. Indeed, Islamists, given sanctuary by the French Left, pose the immediate danger to the safety and security of the country’s Jews. Over the last five years, Islamist terrorists have slaughtered children at Jewish schools and shoppers at kosher supermarkets in a coordinated effort to bring centuries of Islamo-Arab anti-Jewish violence to Europe.
This intolerance of Jews, seen mostly in Muslim migrant communities, has spawned an exodus of sorts out of France. Jews are leaving their homes by the thousands in search of greener pastures in Israel and the United States.
While Macron’s candor will certainly be welcomed by France’s besieged Jewish community, he faces an uphill battle if he operationalizes his words. After years of relative indifference and perhaps even complicity, the French state has all but institutionalized anti-Semitism.
As The Daily Wire reported, the tragic murder of 67-year-old Sarah Halimi and the French authorities’ subsequent response is a representative case study in the failures of the French state to take seriously the specter of anti-Semitism.
French police have refused to call a prima facie anti-Jewish attack a hate crime, raising questions about France’s disturbing tolerance of Muslim violence. Indeed, the French media appeared complicit in a propaganda campaign to downplay the anti-Semitic hallmarks of an April 4 attack in which a young Muslim man, praising Allah, threw an elderly Jewish woman out of her apartment window.
“Before he threw Sarah Halimi to her death from a window of her third-story apartment in Paris, 27-year-old Kobili Traore called his Jewish neighbor ‘Satan’ and cried out for Allah,” reports The Jerusalem Post. “Years before the attack, Traore called a daughter of his 65-year-old victim, whom he beat savagely before killing, ‘a dirty Jewess,’ the daughter said.”
All evidence pointed to the fact that Halimi’s brutal murder was motivated by Islamist-inspired anti-Semitism. This was a hate crime against Jews, pure and simple. But French authorities have shied away from labeling the crime as such.
If Macron is serous about tackling anti-Semitism, then he not only needs to acknowledge his country’s past failures, but proactively uproot the institutionalization of anti-Semitism in the present.