A clear message, and an important one, from French President Emmanuel Macron:
Standing at a site from which thousands of French Jews were sent to their deaths during the Holocaust, President Emmanuel Macron of France on Sunday deplored his nation’s wartime role in abetting murder and pledged to fight a renewed tide of anti-Semitism.
Joined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, as well as Holocaust survivors, the Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld and others, Mr. Macron commemorated the 75th anniversary of a roundup of Jews at the Vélodrome d’Hiver, or Vel d’Hiv, a stadium on the outskirts of Paris.
“It was indeed France that organized” the roundup of 13,000 people at the stadium on July 16 and 17, 1942, he said. “Not a single German” was directly involved.
It’s also a politically smart move. The hotbeds of anti-Semitism in France are, first and foremost, the Islamists and their allies who mostly inhabit the far Left and, secondarily, the hard ultra-nationalist Right. Both of these groups are broadly unpopular among the average French voters who back Macron, and they hate each other too much to form an effective coalition.
Macron’s statement helps consolidate the middle ground in France that he hopes will back him while enhancing his moral and political stature in both Germany and the United States. It also helps bring his government into a closer alignment with Israel, helpful at a time when France’s traditional Arab allies are moving closer to the Jewish state, and where European weakness in the Middle East makes it important for countries like France who have interests there to make friends.