(JTA) — A French singer-songwriter who compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the Armenian genocide released a song about the murder of four Jews at a Paris kosher supermarket last year.
Renaud Sechan, a gravel-voiced balladeer who has sold millions of copies from his 16 albums, released “Hyper Cacher,” the name of the store, on his latest album, “Renaud,” which hit stores earlier this month.
“He fired all around with hate-filled eyes on anyone wearing a kippah, on children, old, some cried, their eyes held up high, others hid where they could,” reads one of the song’s verses.
In his 1985 song “Miss Maggie,” a diatribe against the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Renaud wrote: “Palestinians and Armenians testify from their graves that a genocide is masculine, like the SS, a bull fighter.”
But in “Hyper Cacher,” he struck a more conciliatory note, acknowledging Jerusalem and Israel as being the Jewish homeland.
“May they rest in Jerusalem, on their ancestral home, in the sun of Israel, I want to devote this poem to them, tell them they are dear to us, that we will never forget them,” the lyrics read.
The Jan. 9, 2015 killings occurred a day after a police officer was killed by the same Islamist gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, and two days after the terrorist attack that killed 12 at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The attacks prompted more than 1 million Frenchmen and supporters to march through Paris to express solidarity with the French republic’s values and commemorate the dead. However, many French Jews noted with disappointment no such mobilization occurred in 2012, when four Jews were murdered by an Islamist in Toulouse.
One of the songs in the new album by Sechan — who is better known in France simply as Renaud – is titled “I hugged a cop,” about his gratitude to law enforcement officers targeted by Islamists like Coulibaly and Mohammed Merah, the killer of three soldiers near Toulouse in 2012, who later murdered four Jews at a Jewish school.
A left-wing activist who used to demonstrate with anarchists, Renaud sings in the song about police officers: “I never would’ve thought 30 years ago that instead of hurling bricks at them, I would put my arms around one of them.”
Marc Knobel, a historian who runs the studies department of CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, wrote in an op-ed Friday that although he has had disagreements with Renaud in the past, he was “deeply moved” by the song about Hyper Cacher and the one about policemen.
“You made me weep,” Knobel wrote in the Huffington Post op-ed, which he addressed to Renaud, “because Hyper Cacher and the cops needed to be sung about, and you were the only one who did, because no one else would have dared to.”