France pays tribute to the victims of the “largest anti-Semitic massacre of our century”


In the courtyard of the Invalides, 42 portraits and three empty armchairs: Emmanuel Macron paid tribute on Wednesday to the French victims of the Hamas attack on October 7 in Israel, the "largest anti-Semitic massacre of our century".

Four months later, to the day, intense emotion gripped political leaders and families, under a heavy sky, when 42 smiling and carefree faces appeared on a giant screen, while Maurice Ravel's Kaddish resonated, a composition inspired by the ritual Jewish prayer for the dead.

“The faces of those tortured on October 7 hold up a mirror to us in which a little of us is reflected,” declaimed the Head of State, for whom that day “the unspeakable resurfaced from the depths of History.”

The portraits of the 42 Franco-Israelis killed also entered the courtyard to a roll of drums, carried by Republican guards, like so many coffins. In the official stand, three empty seats symbolized the three French people still missing and presumed hostages. 

The assault by the Palestinian Islamist movement led to the deaths of more than 1.160 people, killed by bullets, burned alive or mutilated, the majority of them civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data.

A “massive and heinous attack”, the “largest anti-Semitic massacre of our century”, underlined the President of the Republic. The heaviest price, also, for France since the attack in Nice on July 14, 2016 (86 dead and more than 400 injured).


“Their lives deserve to tirelessly fight against ideas of hatred,” insisted Emmanuel Macron, determined to “give in nothing to rampant and uninhibited anti-Semitism.”

France has the largest Jewish community in Europe, with around 500.000 people, and nearly 100.000 nationals living in Israel, often having dual nationality. In 2023, the number of anti-Semitic acts there will also increase fourfold.  

A community whose many personalities attended the ceremony from Chief Rabbi Haïm Korsia to the President of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (Crif), Yonatan Arfi, including the philosopher Bernard Henri-Lévy and the singer Patrick Bruel.

The Archbishop of Paris and the president of the Protestant federation were also in attendance, but not the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, who was traveling "abroad".

“We really appreciated the ceremony and the French president,” reacted Moti Marlev, who lost his daughter Mila Keylin, 41, mother of four, at the Nova festival.

“We are not in a process of mourning or loss, we are in a zone where we have never been before,” Ayala Yahalomi Luzon also testified, without news of her brother Ohad, 49 years old.

After the ceremony, Emmanuel Macron spoke with the families, many of whom had been transported from Israel by a special flight.

“Bousquet and Papon”

 Several officials from La France insoumise (LFI) attended the tribute, despite the controversy surrounding their presence. In particular, the refusal of the party leadership to qualify Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Their words "which in a certain way justified what happened" make their presence "indecent", commented the president of Crif, Yonatan Arfi.

“Their presence was equivalent to that of Bousquet and Papon at Vel d’Hiv,” said MP LR Meyer Habib, referring to two senior officials involved in the deportation of French Jews during the German Occupation and the Vel roundup. d'Hiv in 1942.

MP Aymeric Caron (LFI related) was booed on his arrival at Les Invalides, under cries of “collaborator”, “anti-Semitic” or even “shame”. The ecologist Sandrine Rousseau was also treated as a “collaborator” at the exit.

“Rudeness” and “provocations” denounced by the rebellious leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who praised on X the “great dignity” of his elected officials.

“Shattering tribute (...) Very beautiful speech from the President of the Republic”, greeted for his part the boss of the PS Olivier Faure in a rare compliment to the Head of State.

“All lives are equal, invaluable in the eyes of France,” insisted Emmanuel Macron while the Elysée plans to subsequently also devote a “memorial time” to the French victims of the Israeli bombings in Gaza, where more than 27.500 people were killed. killed since the start of the Israeli offensive, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

Writing (with AFP)

Image credit: Shutterstock / Victor Velter

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