Paris Protests Israeli PM's Visit
Paris Protests Israeli PM's Visit
Protesters flocked to the streets of Paris. Clad in green “Free Palestine T-Shirts,” they held up signs with pictures of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Across his face were written the words such as “terrorist,” “assassin,” “fascist,” and “thief.” One sign read “camp guard.”
The Israeli Prime Minister stands accused of violating international law by setting up a blockade in Gaza and planting Israeli settlements on the Palestinian West Bank. Yesterday, the newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron invited the Israeli Prime Minister to France. After his meeting, Macron said: "I call for a resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in the framework of the search for a solution of two states, Israel and Palestine, living in recognized, secure borders with Jerusalem as the capital.”
Many Parisians found the Israeli Prime Minister's presence in France problematic. A member of the EuroPalestine organization, Olivia Zemor, told reporters that “rolling out the red carpet” for a Prime Minister guilty of violating international law was “embarrassing.” She then went on to state: "We called for this protest, we protest Emmanuel Macron's invitation to Netanyahu and his rolling out of the red carpet to a criminal, a torturer - the torture of men and children exists - a land thief, to someone who does not respect international law and human rights, which is embarrassing.”
Another protester stated: "I hope that France, in the next few years or even decades, will choose justice and will side with the oppressed peoples because that's what France is about. It's not oppression, it's freedom and human rights, it's diversity and equality, and we must give an example."
The official reason behind the Prime Minister's visit was a Sunday mass remembering France's rounding up of 13,000 Jews before sending them to concentration camps. This was one of the most tragic episodes of French collaboration with the Nazis.
Another protest group, the Union of French Jews for Peace (UFJP) called the visit "shocking" and "unacceptable" . Likewise, the former French ambassador to Israel, Elie Barnavi, stated that Netanyahu's visit made him “a little uneasy.” Regarding France's role in the holocaust, the former ambassador stated: "This story has nothing to do with Israel."
The newly elected French President claims that these talks will help France work with Israel towards a two state solution. He even went so far as to state his concern about the Israeli settlement policy, warning the Prime Minister that it could have dangerous consequences for the Middle East. The Israeli Prime Minister made no comment on this topic, although he claimed: "We share the same desire for a peaceful Middle East." They also discussed the war in Syria Macron also said that he was concerned about Israel's security, a statement that might be worrying for the protesters gathered on the streets of Paris this week.
As far as French protestors are concerned, France shouldn't make the mistake of collaborating with an oppressor again.
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