Macron, French Jews, and Israel

Manfred Gerstenfeld interviews world renonwned French Jewish philosopher Professor Shmuel Trigano on PM Macron and Israel: "The act of Macron in the Church was meant for the PA and the PLO. His message was ‘Yad Vashem is Jewish, Jerusalem is not.’"

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

OpEds Macron at memorial
Macron at memorial
Manfred Gerstenfeld

“When looking back at the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to the Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem I recognize the essence of the French syndrome regarding Israel. It is part of the media, the public opinion fed by the national press agency AFP as well as of the Foreign Office, the Quai d’Orsay.  

“Macron’s visit had a set agenda. It seemed a happening of successive symbolic scenes. First visiting Yad Vashem showing compassion and big words about memory. He concocted the scandal of the visit to the Saint Anne Church, an almost comic remake of the visit there by President Jacques Chirac in 1996. It was a very symbolic location: a French-owned Catholic Church. Two pro-Palestinian NGOs reside there. Finally, Macron went to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. It was the counterpart of the Yad Vashem visit.”

Shmuel Trigano is an emeritus professor of sociology at Paris University. He has founded various institutes for Jewish learning. He is the author of numerous books focusing on Jewish philosophy and Jewish political thought. 

“Macron’s policy toward Israel doesn’t differ much from that of his two predecessors, the socialist François Hollande and the center-right, Nicolas Sarkozy.  French foreign policy is conceived at the Quai d’Orsay, a state within the French state. Its policy doesn’t change when a new president arrives, nor is it discussed publicly or in parliament. The Quai d’Orsay follows a pro-Arab policy since the 19th century. Typical of it was when after the Second World War it helped the Mufti of Jerusalem, who was detained by France to flee to Egypt. Thus he avoided being judged as a war criminal at the Nuremberg Tribunal. This was an important act to curry favor from Arab nationalists.

“As far as French Jews are concerned, Sarkozy had more empathy toward them than his two successors. Yet concerning Israel the votes of France under Sarkozy in international bodies were pro-Palestinian and the country's position was permanently in favor of the Palestinian Arab cause.

“Macron hasn’t done anything specific against French antisemitism. Yet, he has recognized that anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism. This statement is cancelled by both his policy and the current public debate in France which adopts the Palestinian narrative.  


What is behind Macron’s  surprising position on anti-Zionism?’ All I can think of is that his advisors might have suggested that he do so. 
“One thus must ask: ’What is behind Macron’s  surprising position on anti-Zionism?’ All I can think of is that his advisors might have suggested that he do so.  The statement had no concrete consequences. Macron specializes in saying something and the opposite. For instance, he exults the French Republic regularly.  Yet he is extremely pro-European, which opposes national and republican coherence.  

“Macron made a statement of anger about the judgment of the murderer of Sarah Halimi. He was found ‘not criminally responsible for his actions’ by the judges.     Macron’s remarks can only be explained as a slip of the tongue. One cannot imagine that the President of the Republic criticizes the courts. There was no follow-up to his statement.

“Macron implicitly says that Israel exists due to European guilt about the Holocaust. That contradicts the truth not only concerning Jewish and Zionist history. It also distorts what the Shoah and the expulsion of virtually all the Jews from the Arab world proves: the objective conclusion that a collective Jewish destiny exists. I analyze this European syndrome concerning the European memory of the Shoah in my book The Auschwitz Frontier.

“Macron also implicitly says that Jerusalem is not of the Jews. In his Yad Vashem speech he warned against the instrumentalization of the Shoah. In my reading of this text that was also addressed at the Jews. French foreign policy has always preferred that Jerusalem would not be in Israel but a corpus separatum (an entity apart).

"By blocking the Israeli security guards at the Saint Anne Church and in his speech Macron played another game. In this French Catholic Church he conveyed the message that Jerusalem isn’t Israeli while France is even more legitimate there.  The playacting of Macron in the Church was meant for the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. It was a kind of apology for having come to Yad Vashem. His message was ‘Yad Vashem is Jewish, Jerusalem is not.’

“In the plane going home, Macron called three French journalists and told them that what the memory of the Shoah was for his predecessor Chirac, that of the Algerian War was for him. This was based on a major lie. The colonization of Algeria cannot be compared to a crime against humanity. Furthermore, the FLN, the Algerian independence movement, has committed major racist and political crimes against parts of the Arab population and has ethnically cleansed a million non-Muslims.  

“What was behind this ideological fallacy?  Macron aimed at twisting the memory of the Shoah into a pseudo-memory of French crimes in Algeria. He sort of provided the Palestinian Arabs with a competitive tool against the Jews. This backs up the Palestinian invention of the Nakba, which is the travesty of a failed Arab war of extermination against the Israeli Jews into something like a Shoah.

"One should mention that a Jewish delegation accompanied Macron to Jerusalem. They remained silent, which should be retained for the historical record.

“To sum it up, it has to be clear that in the struggle against the outburst of antisemitism that French Jews have absolutely nothing to expect from Macron and his government.”




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