European Jewish Congress
French far-left leader slams Macron for accepting responsibility for WWII deportations of Jews
France
French far-left leader slams Macron for accepting responsibility for WWII deportations of Jews

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a populist far-left-leader in France, blasted French President Emmanuel Macron for his admission that the Vichy government was indeed the French government during the Second World War, and that it was responsible for deporting French Jews.

In an angry 2,000-word blog, Mélenchon took the newly-elected president to task for a range of policy missteps, but saved the bulk of his wrath for the remarks Macron made in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Denying or hiding France's role in the Second World War is a disgrace, Macron had said on Sunday in the presence of visiting Netanyahu at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the deportation of Jews from Paris. "We have a responsibility to realise where and when we have failed," Macron said. "There are those who say Vichy wasn't France," he noted. "It's true that Vichy wasn't all of France, but Vichy was the government of France and the French establishment. It was responsible for deporting French Jews, and not the Germans."

In his blog, Mélenchon did not deny the involvement of French citizens in rounding up Jews for deportation, but in an echo of remarks during this year's election campaign by the leader of the far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, Mélenchon declared it "totally unacceptable" to say that "France, as a people, as a nation, is responsible for this crime."

Some 13,000 Jews were deported by French police on July 16-17, 1942, many of whom were first detained in harsh conditions at Paris' Vel d'Hiv. In all, about 75,000 Jews were deported from France to Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. Only 2,500 survived. Although the Vichy government was only in full control of southern France after the German invasion, it had nominal control of the entire country.

The French republic, Mélenchon asserted, had been abolished and the legitimate French government was in exile in London at the time. "Never, at any moment, did the French choose murder and antisemitic criminality. Those who were not Jewish were not all, and as French people, guilty of the crime that was carried out at the time! On the contrary, through its resistance, its fight against the [German] invader and through the reestablishment of the republic when the [Germans] were driven out of the territory, the French people, the French people proved which side they were actually on."

And then taking aim more directly at Macron, who roundly trounced Mélenchon and his party in presidential and parliamentary elections this year, the left-wing parliamentarian added: "It is not in Mr. Macron's power to attribute an identity of executioner to all of the French that is not theirs. No, no, Vichy is not France!"

In his remarks Sunday, Macron also condemned Holocaust denial and antisemitism in France today, saying that it has taken a new shape, and that anti-Zionist and anti-Israel expressions should be opposed. "It's a new type of antisemitism," he said.

Casting doubt on a possible connection between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, Mélenchon said there have been those who have made such a connection, "but this is the first time that this argument has been made official by the president of our republic."

 Click here to read the full article in Ha’aretz

Thursday, July 20, 2017
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