Thousands marched in Paris on Sunday, including prominent lawmakers, to condemn a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents in France since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, prompted by the massacre of more than 1,200 people in southern Israel by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7.
France’s two houses of parliament organized the protest in response to a three-fold increase in antisemitic acts since then compared to all of 2022.
Police estimated that 105,000 people took part in Sunday’s march in Paris. As many as 75,000 others attended similar events elsewhere in the county.
“The number of antisemitic acts [in France] has exploded,” French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said at the start of the month.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, and former French presidents François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, participated in the march, holding a banner in French with the slogan, “For the Republic, against antisemitism.”
They also sang the French national anthem.
However, what was meant as a show of political unity was obscured by the fact that President Emmanuel Macron decided not to participate. (He did publish an open letter in support and condemned “the unbearable resurgence of unbridled antisemitism,” Reuters reported.)
Macron was rebuked recently by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a BBC news interview he gave on Nov. 10 in which he claimed that Israel was killing women and children in Gaza.
Macron called Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Sunday to clarify his remarks, making “clear that he does not and did not intend to accuse Israel of intentionally harming innocent civilians in the campaign against the terrorist organization Hamas.”
“President Macron also emphasized that he unequivocally supports Israel’s right and duty to self-defense, and expressed his support for Israel’s war against Hamas,” according to a readout of the call.