Commemoration of the Winterhill Raft
There was every reason to expect the July 16th commemoration of the Winter Grape Roundup to be limited to the usual concern for the dead. It costs more than 13,000 Parisians, including over 4,000 children. Since 1995, when President Jacques Chirac placed responsibility for the irreparable crime on France, after presidents have followed suit. But the National Front candidate Marine Le Pen dissents. This misguided repentance: France was in London, the Vichy government was not France. Her international anti-jihad supporters did not even notice that she did not understand this reassertion of the founding values of the party she inherited from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen.
dozen members of the Truth and Justice for Sarah Halimi committee, meeting a few days before the commemoration was resigned to the certainty that it would be restricted to the historical past. The Crif, they presumed, would maintain its position and role play, and would have seen it in the future. One member suggests they wear white armbands, a knotted piece of torn sheet like the ones handed out at the recent demonstration of cyclists for Sarah.
The ceremony kicked off early on the morning with a walk around the memorial garden led by Serge Klarsfeld who has tirelessly unearthed and published information about the exterminated children one by one. For security reasons, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu did not join the small group. The Vel d'hiv ceremony was a striking contrast with the pomp and circumstance of the 14th of July parade with honored guest President Donald Trump, protected by the most imposing security detail known to man. The magnificence of French architecture, French ceremony, the Champs Elysees, the mounted Republican Guard, combat planes with their white and blue feathers, military cadence, well-rehearsed accuracy, the first ladies and their wardrobes (no one can compete with Melania Trump). The back-slapping shoulder-tapping good hearted-hugging friendship between the Trumps and the Macrons was almost comical ... and almost sincere.
The site where the infamous winter velodrome stood until it was demolished in the mid-fifties is surrounded by nondescript buildings. The modest ceremony was held before a small audience in the presence of a handful of survivors, a bouquet of children, a sprinkling of descendants of righteous gentiles. Brigitte Macron, contrary to what had been announced, did not wait. The commemoration, broadcast live by BFM TV, LCI and, of course, i24 news French channel, was followed by ample media commentary. As far as I could tell CNN Intl. did not cover or even mention the ceremony.
Rabbi Oliver Kaufman chanted El Mole Rachamim, Raphael Esrail recited the kaddish, followed by a minute of silence, the Marseillaise ... but no Hatikvah. And then, President Francis Kalifat Crif President and spokesman said the message that Jews and non-Jews have been trying to communicate with the world over the past seventeen years. Yes, Jews and non-Jews. One of the ploys used to stifle this message is the constant repetition of "The Halimi murder has dismayed French Jews, the Jewish community is distressed by the failure to investigate the Semitic motive of the suspect," and so on. as if it was a narrowly Jewish issue of Jewish curiosity and warnings to attract attention to their minority concerns.
Crif President Francis Kalifat
Francis Kalifat begins with a sober summary of the facts. Seventy-five years ago, a special unit of the French police made up of the Vichy government, "army wing of the Nazi occupation." Held for three days and three nights in the hell of the velodrome of winter, 13,152 Jews were turned over to the Nazis, 3894 children sent directly to the gas chambers. "What did they understand about their tragic destiny? What can we understand? The stinging question of the Shoah will forever haunt us. "
Honoring the contributions of Serge Klarsfeld, the CRIF Memory Commission, the righteous gentiles "spark of humanity in the Nazi night," Kalifat pivoted on a quotation from Vladimir Jankelevitch to focus sharply on the present day. "The extermination of the Jews was not a sudden flare up of violence; it was based on a philosophically elaborated, methodically prepared, systematically perpetrated doctrine. "
From Ilan Halimi to Sarah Halimi Jews are murdered in France today, he continues, because they are Jewish, and this new wave of anti-Semitic acts is the fruit of an articulated, shared, exacerbated ideology. We can not longer accept the excuse of madness. When a supposedly mad killer recites koranic verses as he tortures Sarah Halimi, knowing she is Jewish, and shouts allahu akhbar as he throws his death, we must hear this murderer expressing the antisemitism that rages in the heart of 'radicalized sectors' our society. "
The President of the Crif, dismissed before the fact that it would have held his tongue and protected his privileges, turned to the President and said the anti-Semitic motive should be included in the charges against the murderer of Sarah Halimi.
Taking care to mark the distinction between the state of the world and the state of the art today that protects Jews from the world of Christianity from its origins. To those who contest the presence of the Israeli Prime Minister, the President of the Crifters of Israel is a haven for Shoah survivors and a rampart for Jews everywhere against a repetition of the tragic events commemorated here.
The fate of the Jews, Kalifat concludes, is intimately linked to the fate of French democracy endangered by fanatical obscurantist Islamism. Reaffirming the loyalty of French Jews to the Republic, he honors the presence of President Macron upholding the commitment to truth and justice established in 1995. [This echo of the demand for Truth and Justice for Sarah Halimi would imply that the Republic is faced with moment of truth, more difficult than acknowledging past crimes.]
In a poignant illustration of the limits of noble discourse, Sarah Halimi's brother William announces in an exclusive Times of Israel interview [http://www.timesofisrael.com/seeking-justice-brother-of-sarah-halimi-sees-warning-for-french-jews-in-grisly-slaying/that he and his nieces are making Aliyah with their families this summer. In fact, Kobili Traoré was questioned on the 10th of June and simply became involved with the family. If and when he is released from the hospital, he will be tried trial in prison. From excerpts of the interrogation published in The Express it is cleverly self-serving. What does the 27 year-old have to say about the hard facts in the police report? The crushing blows and unspeakable acts Unleashed on the defenseless woman for more than 30 minutes? A seemingly offhand admission: "It was horrible, I should not have done that." Traoré denies that he held the Diara family hostage before breaking into the next door and murdering Sarah Halimi. And he denies the anti-Semitic motive though admitting he knew she was so kore wore the kippa. But he did not target her because she was Jewish. "It could have been anyone." One bizarre detail tells volumes about the nature of a new antisemitism that is, in fact, a traditional Islamic Jew hatred. He claims he broke into the apartment but did not know where he was until he saw the "torah" and the "lady that woke up." He said he told her to call the police "we're going to be massacred." And then beat her with all his might and the fists. He does not know what to do. He threw his out the window. He does not remember shouting allahu akhbar. He felt like he was in danger. The anxiety crisis started the day before. He smoked hashish, went to the mosque [reportedly the radical Omar mosque, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud], argued with the caregiver of his disabled, went to sleep, woke up at 3:30 am, went to the apartment of his good friends the Diaras. Halimi family counsel, Buchinger and Goldnadel Masters, observed that Traoré seems to have been based on the evidence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
I come from Jerusalem, eternal capital of the Jewish state, with my wife Sarah who lost all her family in the Holocaust. The words of the Israeli Prime Minister, President Emmanuel Macron.
From beginning to end of the commemoration, honored, gentile, resistant, ordinary people who helped save Jews. [Adopted President Macron's favorite triplet, Netanyahu declared, "the acts committed here 75 years ago brutally crushed the values of the French Republic, freedom, equality, fraternity. There is courage in battle on the battlefield and the courage of ordinary families. We honor Simone Veil, arrested by the French police in Nice and delivered up to the Nazis, a courageous survivor who reconstructed herself, like the Jewish people and reconstructed ourselves and established the state of Israel. Today the forces of radical Islam are trying to destroy the Jewish people, the Jewish state, and everyone on their path. They want to destroy Europe. Israel is the first target because they see it as a bastion of our shared values. France is a target, says Netanyahu, and he names the Jewish victims from Ilan Halimi to Sarah Halimi. [I wish this roster would begin with Sebastien Selam]. Your fight is against the zealots of radical Islam. We must not forget the past if we are to protect the future.
President Emmanuel Macron
The French president's declaration harmonizes with what had been said before. Adopt the solemn but emotional tone he favors, he rejects attempts to backtrack on Jacques Chirac's acknowledgment of the responsibility of the crimes of Vichy, dismissing, without naming Marine the Pen, the subtle distinctions of negationism. "Vichy was not all of France," says the president, "but it was France." Going one step further than his predecessors, Macron maintains that the Vichy government was an ex nihilo aberration, not a parenthesis but the fruit of 3rd Republic antisemitism going back to the Dreyfus and persisting after the Nazi defeat. The administration, the elites, political leaders, journalists, collaborators, Darquier de Pellepooix, Céline's Bagatelle for a massacre, Pierre Laval "give free rein to vices already at work in the 3rd Republic." Savagery is forged first in the spirit. Hitler started with Mein Kampf. A nation is not humiliated by repentance of admission of when and how it failed. The French president, too, paid tribute to the righteous gentiles and the resistance, our "national pride." But this corruption of the spirit is present today. Racism and anti-Semitism Jewish Victims of this Anti-Semitism, from Ilan Halimi to Sarah Halimi, adding: "Despite the murderer's denials, Sarah Halimi's" The admission of when and how it failed. The French president, too, paid tribute to the righteous gentiles and the resistance, our "national pride." But this corruption of the spirit is present today. Racism and anti-Semitism The President lists Jewish victims of this anti-Semitism, from Ilan Halimi to Sarah Halimi, adding: "Despite the murderer's denials, the court must shed light on the death of Sarah Halimi." President Macron, too, named distinguished survivors of the Shoah-Simone Veil, Samuel Pisar, Elie Wiesel and countless anonymous heroes who showed courage and humanity to the very end. Then he rose to lofty eloquence, rising to heights of humanity, inspiring citizens to the fight for goodness on every front, for refugees, against discrimination, for culture and education, against climate change, terrorism, obscurantism, the despair, discrimination, and second class citizenship that breeds hatred and the reinvention of antisemitism that is anti zionism ,. He poetically evokes the children, victims of the velvet of winter, who wanted to live, and were exterminated so cruelly. And he solemnly promised to make France a country where they would have wanted to live and live forever.
End of ceremony, enter harsh reality
And here is the tragic reality. If the descendants of these children lived in France today, they could have been hiding their kippot and Magen Davids, they could be harassed out of schools and neighborhoods, beaten up in the subway, accused of genocide against the Palestinians. If the descendants of those children lived in France today, the children were exterminated by the Nazis, the children whose parents were forced to flee the Arab-Muslim countries, they could be assassinated at a Jewish school in Toulouse, Their lives might be shattered by the savage murder of their grandmother in Paris in 2017. And who would be persecuting them? The descendants of immigrants and refugees from Arab-Muslim countries, the underprivileged victims of discrimination that President Macron vows to protect. By taking them out of their ghettos and giving them the social mix that will soothe their souls. The tender consideration of Kobili Traore in the apartment downstairs of Sarah Halimi. Without first making sure he had integrated the values of the Republic.
The French police did not pound Sarah Halimi from her home in the middle of the night. The police stood down, waiting interminably for reinforcements, while Kobili Traore beat, smashed, and exterminated a defenseless Jewish woman.
The courage and lucidity to acknowledge the crimes of the present. Not all French, but some French. These allahu akhbar killers are French, born in France or welcomed as immigrants. Their genocidal hatred is not a parenthesis, it is ideological, scriptural, historic. When jihad violence is hypocritically minimized as hit or miss crime, the present borrows from the shameful past.
A two-hour meeting at the Elysees
Apparently Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Macron went straight from the commemoration ceremony to a working session with their respective teams. Two hours later, they have a brief statement to the press. Before outlining plans for an upcoming visit to Israel in a context of increased friendly high-tech startups on civil and anti-terrorist enterprises, President Macron found it necessary to repeat the two-state solution platitudes dear to French foreign policy. Stop that nasty colonization and give us a Palestinian state right now please, with Jerusalem as its capital.
On July 14th, three Arab Israelis came roaring out of the Mount Temple like missiles and fatally shot two Israeli policemen in the back.
Nidra Poller is an American-born writer who has lived in Paris since 1972. She is author of works of fiction in English and in French, and has published in many including the Wall Street Journal Europe, Family Security Matters, New English Review, Times of Israel (English), Commentary, Midah. She is the author of the literary-political books testifying to the Troubled Dawn of the 21st Century (her latest release).