PARIS (JTA) — A Muslim website called on pro-Palestinian activists to crash a Holocaust commemoration ceremony in Paris to protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attendance.
On Friday, the Le Muslim Post urged readers to show up in large numbers at the July 16 state ceremony at the Vel d’Hiv former stadium, where French police in 1942 rounded up 13,000 Jews for deportation to death camps. Its article noted the Netanyahu government’s “treatment of Palestinians in camps, deprived of freedom and liberty of movement.”
Unnamed associations were organizing the protests, it said. The article did not say whether police approved the planned protest.
Netanyahu’s planned visit to attend the 75th anniversary of the deportations “a rare opportunity” by the unnamed organizations “to make their voice heard.”
The call for protest followed an assertion by the head of France’s pro-Palestinian lobby that Netanyahu should not attend the ceremony because Jews in prestate Israel did not save their brethren during the genocide.
Bertrand Heilbronn, president of the France Palestine Solidarity Association, who is Jewish, made the assertion in an op-ed published Monday on the website Mediapart that he co-authored with the French-Jewish historian Dominique Vidal.
Netanyahu, who was invited to attend the commemoration by French President Emmanuel Macron, should not be present because “Israel didn’t exist at the time and the Jewish community of Palestine, the Yishuv, that preceded Israel, did nothing to save the persecuted Jews in France or elsewhere,” Heilbronn and Vidal wrote.
The op-ed also speaks of Israel’s “attempt to paint Holocaust victims posthumously as pioneers of the state’s establishment” and describes Netanyahu as “the leader of the Israeli far-right” whose governments have “abandoned Holocaust victims to poverty.”
Inviting Netanyahu would “fuel a strange confusion between the Jewish community of France and Israel” and an “insult to the memory of the victims of the deportation,” the op-ed’s authors wrote.
The leaders of the mainstream groups of French Jewry support Zionism and Israel, with CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, describing itself as a Zionist organization. French Jews regularly pray for the safety of Israeli soldiers in hundreds of synagogues throughout France.