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Macron vows France 'will never give in to anti-Semitism' at Holocaust memorial

Benyamin Netanyahou et Emmanuel Macron à la cérémonie commémorative de la Rafle du Vel d'Hiv à Paris le 16 juillet 2017
i24NEWS
It was the first time Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu attended the ceremony, whose invitation was protested

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French president Emmanuel Macron attended a ceremony commemorating 75 years since the rounding up of 13,000 Jews at Paris's Vél d'Hiv stadium in 1942, the majority of whom were later deported and killed in Nazi extermination camps.

The leaders concluded Sunday's ceremony with speeches to memorialize the event and speak out against anti-Semitism.

Macron declared that France "will never give in to anti-Semitism," adding that "There is a new kind of anti-Semitism and racism today in France" and they have new "propaganda tools like social media."

He added that anti-Zionism was another "new form of anti-Semitism."

The French leader also declared that Holocaust denial must be fought against and each generation must be worthy of the "examples of the Holocaust survivors."

Netanyahu also spoke, linking anti-Semitism with Islamist violence that has plagued France in recent years.

"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," he said. "They wish to destroy anyone that stands in their way – Jews, Christians, Muslims, who suffer the brunt of their savagery." 

"Two days ago in Nice, you said that this was a war of civilizations. I fully agree. Militant Islam wants to destroy our common civilization. The militant Shiites led by Iran, the militant Sunnis led by ISIS – both seek to vanquish us. They seek to destroy Europe."

It is the Israeli premier's first visit to Paris since 2015 after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket Hypercacher.

It will also be his first visit with newly elected Macron who are slated to meet tomorrow at Élysée Palace, the presidential compound for talks that will address particular Syria, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

- (AFP/Archives)

The leader of the Jewish state alongside his French counterpart, attended the somber memorial ceremony to remember of one of the darkest episodes in French history.

In July 1942, 13,152 Jews were arrested at the request of the Nazis and by order of the French government in power. Held in inhumane conditions for four days, they were piled on the steps of the Velodrome d'Hive stadium (demolished in 1959), dedicated to cycling races, before being taken to camps in the Loiret. There, 3,000 children were brutally separated from their parents, and deported first to Auschwitz.

Less than a hundred of those rounded up - and none of the children - survived.

The tragic episode was controversial during the most recent presidential campaign as far-right candidate Marine Le Pen claimed that France was "not responsible for the Vel d'Hiv", she was sharply criticized for the comment. Jacques Chirac had recognized French responsibility in July 1995, a position since taken up by his successors.

In Sunday's memorial speech, Macron pointedly remarked that it was the French who organized the deportation of Jews from Paris.

"Hiding or diminishing the truth regarding France's role in World War Two would be a disgrace," he said. "We have responsibility to know where and when we have failed during WWII."

Netanyahu said the Nazis and their French collaborators "shattered the lives of thousands of French Jews at Vel’ d’Hiv. It seems that the values of the French Revolution – liberty, equality and fraternity – these values were crushed, crushed brutally under the boot of anti-Semitism."

He also acknowledged the many French citizens who stood up against Nazi Germany and the Vichy government, saying that "on behalf of the State of Israel, on behalf of the Jewish people, I salute the noble French citizens, who at great risk to their own lives, saved their Jewish compatriots."

The ceremony and Netanyahu's visit comes just days after after renewed tensions in Jerusalem following an attack in which two Israeli policemen were killed .

Upon his arrival, Netanyahu was met with fierce protests from demonstrators and various groups from the Union of French Jews for Peace (UJFP) to France's Community Party who contested his invite to the ceremony saying, the Israeli premier was not bringing a message of peace.

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Useless & barbaric palestinian terrorists are Jordanians, they may return.back where they kicked out on 1972. I stand for ONE state solution!

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