‘My role is to preserve unity’: Macron defends absence from Paris march against anti-Semitism

Regarding current IDF operations in Gaza Macron said that he ‘condemned in the strongest terms all the bombing of civilians, in particular civilian infrastructure, which must be protected under international humanitarian law.’

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

French President Emmanuel Macron has justified his absence from last Sunday’s march against antisemitism in Paris, saying that his role was not to attend protests, but “to work for the release of our hostages, and to continue to preserve the unity of our country during this period.”

Speaking to the news outlet Le Figaro during an official visit to Switzerland, Macron emphasized that his opposition to antisemitism was never in doubt and that he would have been ready to clarify any “ambiguities.” He continued: “But there were none, I was always implacable.”

The French leader had faced criticism for not attending the march, with Eric Ciotti, who heads the Les Republicains (LR) Party, calling on him to “clarify the reasons” for his absence. Several speakers at the march, among them a descendant of Alfred Dreyfus — the French Jewish army captain falsely convicted on espionage charges at an infamous 1894 trial that unleashed a wave of antisemitic violence across France — expressed disappointment at Macron’s absence. Nearly 200,000 people attended the march in Paris, with more than 20,000 gathering as well in provincial cities.

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However, Macron has been anxious to avoid being pulled into day-to-day political disputes, arguing that a head of state should stand above the fray. Some analysts also suggested that Macron wanted to avoid marching in the same demonstration as Jordan Bardella and Marine Le Pen, the leaders of the far right Rassemblement National (RN — “National Rally”), who joined the march despite appeals from the Jewish community to stay away.

Macron also addressed the ongoing war in Gaza, triggered by the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in Israel which resulted in the murder of more than 1,200 people and the seizure of over 200 as hostages.

France’s stance was to support “Israel’s right to live in peace in the region” along with the “legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people” towards the goal of a “two-state solution,” he said.

Referring to the fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Macron added that he “condemned in the strongest terms all the bombing of civilians, in particular civilian infrastructure, which must be protected under international humanitarian law.”

Macron asserted that his role as president is “to work for the release of our hostages, and to continue to preserve the unity of our country during this period,” stressing that “protecting French people of Jewish faith [does not mean] pillorying French people of Muslim faith.” Six French citizens are understood to be in Hamas captivity.

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More than 1,500 antisemitic incidents have been reported in France since the Oct. 7 atrocities.