Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday accused French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen of a new, dangerous form of Holocaust denial disregarding European responsibility for the World War II murder of Jews.
“The prevalent message arising from recent political statements is uniquely disturbing,” Rivlin said at a ceremony for Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day.
“And in every place that message is the same: we are not responsible for the Holocaust. We are not responsible for the extermination of the Jews that occurred within our borders,” Rivlin said in Lohamei Hagetaot, a kibbutz north of Haifa.
“For example, some two weeks ago a French presidential candidate denied France’s responsibility for the deportation of its Jewish citizens to the Nazi concentration and death camps,” he said.
Le Pen, who has advanced to the second round of the French presidential race, said on April 9 she did not “think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” the 1942 round-up of Jews at a Paris cycling track who were then sent to Nazi death camps.
The Israeli government condemned her remark as “contrary to the historical truth, which has been expressed by French presidents who have recognised the country’s responsibility for the fate of French Jews who died in the Holocaust.”
In his speech on Monday, Rivlin warned of new form of Holocaust denial set to blur the boundaries between victims and perpetrators.
“The denial of responsibility of the crimes committed in the days of the Second World War is Holocaust denial of a new, more destructive and dangerous kind from that we have known till now,” he said.
“Traditional Holocaust deniers belonged to the extreme fringes of the left and right” whose “success was minimal” while the new form “strives towards a more sophisticated goal” of “a denial of the distinction between a victim and a criminal.”
“If I am the victim, I bear no responsibility; no responsibility for the horror that was; no responsibility to fight the renewed outbreak of anti-Semitism, the rise of xenophobia and the rise of nationalist violence,” Rivlin said.
“We must wage a war against the current and dangerous wave of Holocaust denial.”
Israel’s official stance of avoiding contact with Le Pen’s National Front, which is accused of anti-Semitism, was reaffirmed during the January visit of the party’s secretary general Nicolas Bay.
Le Pen received 3.7 percent of the votes cast by French nationals in Israel on the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, far behind Francois Fillon (60.4 percent) and Emmanuel Macron (30.9 percent).