The French presidential elections cast a shadow on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday, as President Reuven Rivlin spoke out against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who was voted into the runoffs on Sunday.
Rivlin denounced her candidacy, noting that “a member of her party denied not only France’s involvement in sending Jews to their extermination, but the mass extermination itself.”
The president also took sides on the longstanding issue of making Israeli policy with constant reference to the Holocaust, making it “the eyeglasses through which we look at the world.” Rivlin took issue with Menachem Begin’s justification for the 1982 war in Lebanon, which was to “prevent another Treblinka.”
Haaretz interpreted the remarks as a swipe not only at the right wing in general, but at Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in particular. The paper noted that Netanyahu, who spoke immediately after Rivlin at the Yad Vashem ceremony, employed precisely the kind of rhetoric Rivlin had just criticized, dismissing the “naive” belief that genocidal anti-Semitic hatred will ever disappear. Typically, he compared IS and Iran to the Nazis.
Meanwhile, polling results among French expatriates in Israel confirmed pre-election surveys, as about 60 percent—over 5,000—voted for the conservative Fillon.
The voting in Israel was much the reverse of the French electorate, which sent centrist Emmanuel Macron and National Front leader Le Pen to the final round.
In the general election, Fillon received only 20 percent of the overall vote, placing third after Macron and Le Pen.
In Israel, Macron was second with 31 percent, or 2,590 votes, while Le Pen won only 3.7 percent, or 311 votes, about as expected.
Macron, who in the general election got 23.7 percent, and Le Pen with 21.5 percent, will face off in a second round of voting on May 7.