emmanuel macron

Macron defends ‘solid, robust’ Iran nuke deal after Trump speech

UNITED NATIONS — French President Emmanuel Macron stood firm Tuesday that the landmark agreements limiting Iran’s nuclear program and climate change would not change, as he gently nudged US President Donald Trump to drop his opposition to the accords.

Macron, like Trump appearing for the first time at the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders, met his US counterpart on Monday for their latest meeting — which appeared to be friendly, but did not bridge differences.

Trump devoted much of his own address at the General Assembly to denouncing Iran, calling the seven-nation agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program championed by his predecessor Barack Obama an “embarrassment to the United States.”

But Macron said that the 2015 deal — reached between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany — was a “solid, robust agreement that verifies that Iran will not build a nuclear weapon.”

“To reject it now without proposing anything else would be a grave error, and not respecting it would be irresponsible,” Macron told assembly.

He acknowledged concerns that the agreement does not cover activities after 2025 or touch on other Western and regional concerns about Iran such as its ballistic missile program.

He called for diplomacy to address the issues, saying: “Let’s be stricter, but let’s not unravel agreements that have already brought security.”

UN inspectors say that Iran is complying with the agreement, including its restrictions on uranium enrichment.

But US law requires the president to certify every 90 days that Iran is in compliance and Trump has signaled he will either not do it when the next deadline arises in mid-October, or will pass the decision to Congress where criticism of Iran is high.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a forceful critic of the deal, but inside the negotiations, France was seen as pressing hard on Iran.

No renegotiation of climate accord

Trump has already declared that the United States will pull out of the Paris climate accord, making the world’s largest economy and second largest carbon emitter the only outlier alongside war-torn Syria and Nicaragua, which wanted a stronger deal.

Macron said “the door will be open” for the United States to enter the agreement reached in the French capital but vowed: “This agreement will not be renegotiated.”

With scientists likening worsening storms and droughts to climate change, Macron said that the effects of rising temperatures were inescapable.

“Unraveling this accord would be to destroy a pact between nations and generations,” he said.

Under the accord signed by 195 nations, each government sets its own plan to curb carbon emissions and meet a global goal of keeping the rise in temperatures this century within two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.


Macron Has Spent $31,000 to Keep Looking Young Since Taking Office

PARIS — Maintaining his boyish good looks does not come cheap for President Emmanuel Macron. Since he became France’s youngest modern president in May, his office has spent 26,000 euros, or $31,000, for a makeup artist to be at the ready for his public appearances.

The Élysée Palace, the French president’s office, confirmed on Friday a report the day before in the magazine Le Point that said two bills, one for €10,000 and another for €16,000, had been sent to the palace for services provided by a makeup artist for Mr. Macron.

Officials told Francetvinfo that the charges were for “external services that took place in the recent months and that were suited to the moment’s urgency.”

Those moments, according to the president’s office, included “press conferences and visits abroad,” which apparently required a beautician to travel with Mr. Macron to promptly apply powder, toner and other cosmetics.

Since he assumed the presidency in May, Mr. Macron, 39, has bounded on to the international stage in carefully crafted public appearances with leaders several decades older, including President Trump, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

“Why, but why, does a young, naturally good looking, President who has hardly spoken on television since his inauguration, need this?” Francois Heisbourg, a former government official, wrote on Twitter.

Aides to Mr. Macron told BFMTV in France that his cosmetic costs were “expensive, but less than for his predecessors,” and were likely to be “significantly reduced” in the future.

Mr. Macron’s predecessor, François Hollande, a Socialist, paid €9,895 a month — more than $10,000 — for a personal hairdresser. Nicolas Sarkozy, another former president, reportedly paid his personal beautician €8,000 a month.

Next week, Mr. Macron’s government is scheduled to present sweeping changes to French labor laws that critics say could undermine workers’ job security. His decision to challenge the almost sacrosanct French labor code and his political missteps and blunders this summer have caused his public approval rating to drop precipitously.

In July, his government announced a series of unpopular austerity measures to close a $9.5 billion budget shortfall, including cuts in housing benefits for thousands of students and low-income households. This month, the president had to back away from proposals that his wife be given an official status as first lady.

Mr. Macron had hoped to restore public confidence in his leadership on a tour of Eastern Europe. He was to meet with the leaders of Austria, Romania and Bulgaria, where he delivered a stinging rebuke on Friday to the government in Poland. He criticized the policies of the right-wing government of Poland’s Law and Justice Party, saying it was going “against Europe’s interest.”

The prime minister of Poland, Beata Szydlo, shot back at Mr. Macron, saying, “Perhaps his arrogant comments result from lack of political experience.”

French President Spent $31K on Makeup in 3 Months

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures during a press conference outside Varna, Bulgaria, on Friday.   (Vadim Ghirda)

(NEWSER) – President Emmanuel Macron’s office has confirmed a report that the French leader spent $30,695 on makeup during his first three months in power, and it says it’s trying to find a cheaper alternative. The report in Le Point news magazine prompted harsh criticism of the president from French social media users. It said the cost includes the pay of a freelance makeup artist following Macron during television appearances and trips abroad. The AP reports that the president’s office confirmed the amount Friday, with Slate reporting it explained it had to “[call] in a contractor as a matter of urgency” and that the cost will drop going forward.

The report comes at a bad time for Macron, with polls showing his popularity plunging in recent weeks following the announcement of budget cuts and divisive labor reform. Le Pointsaid Macron’s makeup expenses are lower than those of predecessor Francois Hollande, who paid a full-time employee the current equivalent of about $12,000 monthly, or $36,000 for the quarter. But they have the British beat by a landslide: The Guardian reports that between 1999 and 2005, Tony Blair spent $2,300 (at today’s exchange rate) on makeup.

Emmanuel Macron’s Sudden Collapse: French ‘Radical Centrist’ Now as Unpopular as Trump

A few months ago Emmanuel Macron was on top of the world. After being elected the youngest president in French history, Macron’s approval rating was above 60 percent and his independent movement, La République en Marche — which branded itself  as“neither right nor left” — won a large majority in the French parliament, giving the 39-year-old free rein to implement his “radical centrist” agenda.

Not surprisingly, Macron’s defeat of the far-right demagogue Marine Le Pen led to a collective sigh of relief in neoliberal circles, and the former investment banker was hailed by center-left commentators as the savior of the European project. Macron’s meteoric rise was also touted as proof that centrism is the best way to fight right-wing populism in Europe and the United States.

…who they apparently view as inherently superior and deserving of all the economic resources available. Maximum greed + absolute power.

Macron found a way to thread the needle btwn far right and far left populism/socialism. He’s culturally liberal but economically pragmatic.

These reactions were to be expected — and, of course, Le Pen’s conclusive defeat was certainly worth celebrating. But Macron’s victory was never the triumph for centrism that many liberals reflexively took it to be. Indeed, the optimism exuded by many people on the center-left was borderline delusional, and that delusion has become all the more apparent as Macron’s popularity has plunged over the summer.

According to the most recent YouGov poll, Macron’s approval rating has plummeted in just two months and is now about the same as Donald Trump’s, at 36 percent. (Trump’s approval rating started out much lower and has declined far more slowly.) This is the steepest decline for any French president in more than 20 years; by comparison, it took six months for his predecessor, François Hollande — whose approval rating fell all the way to 4 percent by the end of his term — to slip this low.

Though many of the center-left liberals who looked to Macron as liberalism’s white knight may be stunned by this sharp decline, it was about as surprising as Macron’s assault on labor unions (which is to say, not surprising at all). This is because Macron was never really that popular to begin with — or, to be more accurate, he was never a known quantity. As a candidate, this worked to his advantage, as he was widely seen — and portrayed by the media — as an outsider and was deliberately vague about the policies he would implement as president.

But this outsider status was an illusion, and Macron is a product of the very “establishment” that he railed against. The young president spent his early career making a fortune as an investment banker at the Rothschild firm before eventually becoming the economy minister for Hollande’s government from 2014 to 2016. In that position he pushed for the very same pro-business reforms that contributed to Hollande’s single-digit approval rating.

Even the success of Macron’s En Marche movement in the parliamentary elections was not truly indicative of any broad level of support. Voter turnout in that election was the lowest in modern French history, indicating widespread apathy and cynicism more than anything else.

Macron’s brand of “extreme centrism,” then, is hardly the massive popular hit that many mainstream commentators perceived it to be. Over the past few months, as the French people have become more acquainted with their new president’s authoritarian personality and neoliberal policy proposals, their opinion of him has declined rapidly.

This was anticipated by many progressives before the election. As I argued in May, Macron represented a thinly disguised continuation of the status quo, and this was likely to exacerbate public discontent and play into the hands of the far right. Owen Jones made the same point when he observed in the Guardian that Marine Le Pen might have her eyes on “the real prize: the 2022 presidential race.”

Of course Macron’s presidency is still young, and there’s more than enough time for the 39-year-old to turn things around. That seems unlikely simply because he embodies the neoliberal ideology that has engendered the rise of far right populism throughout the West. In that sense, he is Le Pen’s greatest ally.

This should serve a cautionary tale for the Democratic Party. Many American liberals will no doubt continue to maintain that Macron’s brand of technocratic centrism, “neither right nor left,” is the prescription for defeating President Trump. But there’s absolutely no evidence to support that, and Hillary Clinton’s failure to stop Trump in November should have put an end to this kind of thinking.

According to a Bloomberg survey from last month, the former Democratic nominee’s approval rating is currently about the same as President Trump’s (at 39 percent), which suggests that her presidency would have been almost as unpopular. By comparison, Sen. Bernie Sanders, still the de facto leader of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, remains the most popular politician in America, with an approval rating that hovers around 75 percent. One can also look across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom, where the Labour Party has soared in the polls under the leadership of left-wing populist Jeremy Corbyn. Since last June’s snap election, which saw the highest voter turnout in 25 years (especially among young voters, who voted overwhelmingly for Labour), Corbyn’s approval rating has overtaken Prime Minister Theresa May’s.

All of this should leave little doubt that the real popular energy is on the left and that progressive populism is the way to defeat right-wing populism, whether in France, Britain or the United States. Unfortunately, the French people are stuck with Macron for the next five years, which will likely strengthen Le Pen and the National Front. In America, the Democrats should take heed of what is happening in Europe and fight Trump with a forceful, progressive populism of their own.


Conor Lynch is a writer and journalist living in New York City. His work has appeared on Salon, The Hill, AlterNet, and openDemocracy. Follow him on Twitter.

Trump, Macron discuss countering ‘malign’ Iranian influence

US President Donald Trump discussed increasing cooperation in the ongoing crises in Syria and Iraq in a telephone call with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Friday.

The two leaders also spoke about “countering Iranian malign influence,” according to a readout of the call provided by the White House, which gave no further details.

Last month Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also discussed curbing Iran with Macron, criticizing the Syria cease-fire deal brokered by the United States and Russia, saying it does not sufficiently address Iranian military ambitions in the area.

Placing himself at odds with Trump on the issue, Netanyahu told journalists in Paris that the agreement perpetuates Iranian plans to set up a disruptive long-term presence on Israel’s northern border, something he has repeatedly vowed that the Jewish state won’t tolerate.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) waves as he stands next to French President Emmanuel Macron (R) upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on July 15, 2017 ahead of their meeting. (AFP PHOTO / GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT)

The ceasefire, announced after a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hamburg last month, was the first initiative by the Trump administration in collaboration with Russia to bring some stability to war-torn Syria.

“Israel is aware of Iran’s expansionist goals in Syria,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.

The prime minister said that while the plan aims to keep Iran 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from the Israeli border, it did not address Iran’s plans to cement its presence in Syria, which, he said, included the establishment of a naval and air force bases.

The premier’s comments Sunday were his first remarks explicitly condemning the ceasefire, after having gingerly endorsed the deal as it came into effect earlier this month.

Apprehensions over Iranian designs in the region were stoked by recent movements of Shiite Muslim militias — loyal to Iran and fighting alongside Syrian government forces — toward Jordan’s border with Syria, and to another strategic area in the southeast, close to where the two countries meet Iraq.

The advances are part of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s push to regain territory from rebel groups, some backed by the West, in the southern Daraa province, and from Islamic State extremists in the southeast, near the triangle with Iraq.

But Syria’s neighbors suspect that Iran is pursuing a broader agenda, including carving out a land route through Syria that would create a territorial continuum from Iran and Iraq to Lebanon.

Iran launches a ballistic missile at Islamic State targets in eastern Syria on June 18, 2017. (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps)

Ceasefires have repeatedly collapsed in Syria’s six-year-old civil war, and it’s not clear if this one will last. The southern Syria truce is separate from so far unsuccessful efforts by Russia, Turkey and Iran to set up “de-escalation zones” in Syria, including in the south.

Israel is expected to watch for truce violations.

Israel has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran to set up a permanent presence in Syria. Israel has carried out a number of airstrikes in Syria against suspected shipments of “game-changing” weapons bound for Hezbollah.

In the telephone call, Trump and Macron also discussed Venezuela and North Korea.

On the issue of Venezuela, Trump and Macron agreed that the regime of President Nicolas Maduro must “restore the rights of the Venezuelan people,” the statement added.

Venezuela’s controversial new constituent assembly, packed with allies of the unpopular Maduro, held its inaugural session on Friday amid widespread international criticism of its legitimacy.

Trump and Macron also discussed matters of mutual interest on North Korea, and “reaffirmed the importance of all sides implementing the Minsk agreements to reach a peaceful settlement in Ukraine,” the statement said.

Russia used Facebook to try to spy on Macron campaign – sources

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Russian intelligence agents attempted to spy on President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign earlier this year by creating phony Facebook personas, according to a U.S. congressman and two other people briefed on the effort.

About two dozen Facebook accounts were created to conduct surveillance on Macron campaign officials and others close to the centrist former financier as he sought to defeat far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and other opponents in the two-round election, the sources said. Macron won in a landslide in May.

Facebook said in April it had taken action against fake accounts that were spreading misinformation about the French election. But the effort to infiltrate the social networks of Macron officials has not previously been reported.

Russia has repeatedly denied interfering in the French election by hacking and leaking emails and documents. U.S. intelligence agencies told Reuters in May that hackers with connections to the Russian government were involved, but they did not have conclusive evidence that the Kremlin ordered the hacking.

Facebook confirmed to Reuters that it had detected spying accounts in France and deactivated them. It credited a combination of improved automated detection and stepped-up human efforts to find sophisticated attacks.

Company officials briefed congressional committee members and staff, among others, about their findings. People involved in the conversations also said the number of Facebook accounts suspended in France for promoting propaganda or spam – much of it related to the election – had climbed to 70,000, a big jump from the 30,000 account closures the company disclosed in April.

Facebook did not dispute the figure.

Seeking Friends of Friends

The spying campaign included Russian agents posing as friends of friends of Macron associates and trying to glean personal information from them, according to the U.S. congressman and two others briefed on the matter.

Facebook employees noticed the efforts during the first round of the presidential election and traced them to tools used in the past by Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit, said the people, who spoke on condition they not be named because they were discussing sensitive government and private intelligence.

FILE PHOTO – French President Emmanuel Macron leaves the polling station after voting in the first of two rounds of parliamentary elections in Le Touquet, France, June 11, 2017.Christophe Petit Tesson/Pool

Facebook told American officials that it did not believe the spies burrowed deep enough to get the targets to download malicious software or give away their login information, which they believe may have been the goal of the operation.

The same GRU unit, dubbed Fancy Bear or APT 28 in the cybersecurity industry, has been blamed for hacking the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and many other political targets. The GRU did not respond to a request for comment.

Email accounts belonging to Macron campaign officials were hacked and their contents dumped online in the final days of the runoff between Macron and Le Pen.

French law enforcement and intelligence officials have not publicly accused anyone of the campaign attacks.

Mounir Mahjoubi, who was digital director of Macron’s political movement, En Marche, and is now a junior minister for digital issues in his government, told Reuters in May that some security experts blamed the GRU specifically, though they had no proof.

Mahjoubi and En Marche declined to comment.

There are few publicly known examples of sophisticated social media spying efforts. In 2015, Britain’s domestic security service, MI5, warned that hostile powers were using LinkedIn to connect with and try to recruit government workers.

The social media and networking companies themselves rarely comment on such operations when discovered.

Facebook, facing mounting pressure from governments around the world to control “fake news’ and propaganda on the service, took a step toward openness with a report in April on what it termed “information operations.”

The bulk of that document discussed so-called influence operations, which included “amplifier” accounts that spread links to slanted or false news stories in order to influence public opinion.

France’s armed forces chief resigns over Macron budget cuts

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s head of the armed forces resigned on Wednesday after a heated dispute with Emmanuel Macron over defense budget cuts, bringing to a head an early test of the newly elected president’s mettle.

In a statement, 60 year-old Pierre de Villiers said he had tried to maintain a French defense force with the ability to do an increasingly difficult job within the financial constraints imposed on it, but was no longer able to sustain that.

“In the current circumstances I see myself as no longer able to guarantee the robust defense force I believe is necessary to guarantee the protection of France and the French people, today and tomorrow, and to sustain the aims of our country,” he said.

Macron had accepted his resignation, de Villiers added.

A fierce row broke out last week between the two men just two months after Macron was elected, and just as France prepared for the military pomp of a July 14 Bastille Day parade where Macron’s U.S. counterpart Donald Trump was the guest of honor.

De Villiers, appearing before a closed-door hearing of parliamentarians – had used strong language to protest at the 850 million euro ($979.46 million) defense budget cut Macron was making as part of his efforts to rein in state spending.

“I won’t let myself be fucked like that,” he said according to two parliamentary sources. “I may be stupid, but I know when I am being had.”

Macron had gone public with his rebuke. “I have made commitments, I am your boss,” he said in a speech to dozens of top army officers and their families.

7 reasons why Macron’s speech about the Holocaust in France was groundbreaking

JTA — It wasn’t the first time that a French president acknowledged his nation’s Holocaust-era guilt, but Emmanuel Macron’s speech Sunday was nonetheless groundbreaking in format, content and style.

Delivered during a ceremony at the Vel d’Hiv Holocaust memorial monument exactly 75 years after French police officers rounded up 13,152 Jews there for deportation to Nazi death camps, the 35-minute address was Macron’s first about the Holocaust since the centrist won the presidency in May.

Evocative and more forthright than any of the speeches on the subject delivered by Macron’s predecessors, his address “relieved the feeling of isolation” experienced by many Jews due to anti-Semitism today, according to Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur of the Liberal Jewish movement in France.

Macron’s speech “made me proud to be French and Jewish,” she said.

Here are six significant ways that the address differed from those of previous French presidents, including in scope; the unusual role played at the event by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; its references to present realities, and Macron’s emotional delivery.

1.Monsieur le Premier Ministre

It was the first time that an Israeli head of state attended the annual commemoration for the Vel d’Hiv deportations of July 16-17, 1942, named after the Velodrome d’Hiver stadium that used to stand near the monument.

Netanyahu was invited despite objections on Muslim websites, by the Communist Party and the party of the far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon — although the invitation came from the CRIF federation of French Jewish communities and not by the Elysee Presidential Palace, as reported by some French media. The Elysee, which organized the event, did not object publicly to Netanyahu’s attendance and facilitated it.

The arrival of Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in a motorcade whose limousines sported gold-fringed Israeli flags electrified the predominantly Jewish audience of 1,200 people. Holocaust survivors in their 80s and 90s approached the monument railing to catch a glimpse of the Israelis as others reacted with thunderous applause.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd L) and French President Emmanuel Macron (2nd R) pay their respects after laying wreaths during a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv roundup in Paris on July 16, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Kamil Zihnioglu)

They oohed and applauded as Netanyahu delivered the first part of his speech in French, which he speaks with a thick accent and some errors, but understands without requiring translation. And they nodded as he urged Macron to stand with Israel and fight “the cancerous spread of militant Islam” and “hate that starts with the Jews but never ends there,” as Netanyahu defined it.

But their enthusiasm for Netanyahu was dwarfed by the deafening applause they gave Macron when he responded to Netanyahu.

2. Anti-Zionism and the reinvention of anti-Semitism

Addressing Netanyahu, Macron assured the Israeli leader and listeners that “we will continue our fight against terrorism and the worst kinds of fanaticism,” adding: “So yes, we will never surrender to the expressions of hatred; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism.”

Articulated in recent years by Manuel Valls, a former prime minister of France, Macron’s statement was the first time an incumbent president in France equated anti-Zionism – a fairly popular sentiment in France – with anti-Semitism. It triggered several emotional yelps from the audience and applause so vigorous, it caused the tarp strung up over the monument plaza for security reasons to vibrate.

There was another wave of applause when, unusually, Macron and Netanyahu hugged publicly after Netanyahu’s speech.

French President Emmanuel Macron embraces Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv roundup in Paris on July 16, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Kamil Zihnioglu)

3. Deeper, farther

Much of Macron’s speech was devoted to establishing France’s complicity in the murder of 25 percent of its Jewish population during the Holocaust and deconstructing apologist views on the subject.

Speaking plainly and avoiding metaphors, Macron sounded less like a politician than a historian or a prosecutor who is committed to factual accuracy.

In the first admission of Holocaust culpability by a French president, Jacques Chirac in 1995 said that “Frenchmen, the French state assisted the criminal folly of the occupier,” resulting in a failure to uphold the nation’s values and an “irreparable crime.”

And Francois Hollande in 2012 said the roundups were a “crime committed in France, by France.”

But the Macron address delivered Sunday “was a precedent-setting speech that went deeper, on a pedagogic level, than addresses that preceded it by French presidents,” said Serge Klarsfeld, a historian and one of France’s leading researchers on the Holocaust.

Macron’s speech was the first presidential address that named individual collaborators who helped the Nazis kill Jews, including René Bousquet, a police chief who was indicted for planning the Vel d’Hiv roundups, but died in 1993 before his trial.

A memorial to the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, on Quai de Grenelle in Paris. (CC BY-SA Leonieke Aalders, Wikimedia commons)

“France organized the roundups,” Macron said. “Not a single German participated.” And so France “in almost every aspect organized the death” of the victims.

More jarringly to many French ears, he said the collaborationist Vichy government “was not replaced overnight” by the free French government that succeeded it after the country’s liberation in World War II.

“Ministers, civil servants, police officers, economy officials, unions, teachers” from the Vichy government were all incorporated into the post World War II government that replaced it, Macron said.

By touching on France’s perceived failure to purge itself of collaborators and their legacy, Macron differentiated himself from all of France’s presidents after Francois Mitterrand. Klarsfeld praised Macron for pointing out how Mitterrand and postwar leader Charles de Gaulle “remained silent on the historical truth” about collaboration “in favor of appeasement and reconciliation.”

Macron said he “does not judge” his predecessors who remained silent on the issue.

During his speech, Macron said “It is very convenient to view Vichy as a monstrosity, born of nothing and returned to nothing.” But it is “false. We cannot base any pride on a lie.” Rather than weaken the French nation, as argued by National Front politicians, admitting its guilt “opened the path to correcting” its faults, Macron said.

4. Refuting revisionists

Speaking about the Vichy puppet government, Macron deconstructed the main revisionist talking points put forward by the French far right led by the National Front party under Marine Le Pen. In April, Le Pen argued that the government’s actions in World War II do not represent France as a nation.

France's far-right National Front (FN) leader and parliamentary candidate Marine Le Pen speaks (C) after the polls closed during the second round of the French parliamentary elections (elections legislatives in French) on June 18, 2017 in Henin-Beaumont, northern France. (Denis Charlet/AFP)

“I reject the attempts to absolve one’s conscious by those who claim Vichy wasn’t France,” Macron said. No other French president had said this in these terms.

5. L’affaire Halimi

Responding to repeated pleas by French Jews – including at the Vel d’Hiv event during a speech by CRIF President Francis Kalifat – Macron for the first time commented on the death of Sarah Halimi.

Halimi, a 66-year-old physician, was killed by a Muslim neighbor, Kobili Traore, who shouted about Allah before he killed her. Halimi’s daughter said that Traore had called her a “dirty Jew.” Yet in what CRIF considers a “cover-up,” the indictment filed against Traore last week does not categorize the killing as a hate crime.

In his address, Netanyahu counted Halimi among other French Jews murdered in recent years by Islamists.

Sarah Halimi (Courtesy of the Confédération des Juifs de France et des amis d'Israël)

Macron replied: “Despite the denials of the murderer, the judiciary must as soon as possible provide maximum clarity on the death of Sarah Halimi.” Klarsfeld said it was a strong message that will “probably induce change” in how Traore is tried.

6. Emotion

A rational and analytical thinker with a background in banking and economics, Macron surprised many of his listeners with the apparent intensity of his intonation and body language during the speech.

“Above all, the speech was special for his palpable emotion,” Horvilleur said.

7. Vision

Like many others Horvilleur, the Liberal rabbi, was “deeply moved” by Macron’s remarks at the end of his speech about how the children deported from Vel d’Hiv informs how he views his role as president.

Children “who wanted to go to school, graduate, find work, start a family, read, watch a show, learn and travel,” he said. “I want to tell those children that France has not forgotten them. That she loves them. That their tragic fate demands of us never to give up to hate, rancor or despair.”

Macron denounces anti-Zionism as a new form of anti-Semitism

French president Emmanuel Macron on Sunday condemned anti-Zionism as a new form of anti-Semitism, in what observers said was an unprecedented statement from the leader of France in support of the Jewish state.

“We will never surrender to the messages of hate; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism,” Macron said an event in Paris marking the mass deportation of French Jews during World War II. He was directly addressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the event.

During a lengthy and introspective speech commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv roundup, a mass arrest of 13,152 French Jews in July 1942 that was part of the Nazi effort to eradicate the Jews of France, Macron forcefully denounced Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.

Like several of his predecessors, Macron accepted France’s responsibility for the deportations, admitting that the Vichy regime actively organized them. “It is indeed France that organized” the roundup, Macron said. “Not a single German” took part, he added.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv roundup in Paris on July 16, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Kamil Zihnioglu)

“Time does its work,” the president said. “Archives open (and) the truth comes out. It’s stark, irrevocable. It imposes itself on us all.”

In 1995, then-president Jacques Chirac was the first French leader to admit his nation was guilty of having assisted in the mass murder of Jews.

Fewer than 100 of those who were detained at the so-called Vel d’Hiv and then sent to the Nazi death camps survived.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pays his respects after laying a wreath during a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv roundup in Paris on July 16, 2017. French President Emmanuel Macron on July 16 marked 75 years since the roundup of some 13,000 Jews to be sent to Nazi death camps, calling France's responsibility a "stark truth." (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Kamil Zihnioglu)

In a clear reference to far-right leader Marine Le Pen, the rival he defeated in May, Macron denounced “politicians who are prepared to reverse the truth.”

France's far-right National Front (FN) leader and parliamentary candidate Marine Le Pen speaks (C) after the polls closed during the second round of the French parliamentary elections (elections legislatives in French) on June 18, 2017 in Henin-Beaumont, northern France. (Denis Charlet/AFP)

Le Pen had insisted during the campaign that today’s France could not be held accountable for the Vichy regime’s actions.

Netanyahu was the first Israeli leader to speak at the annual event in memory of the Vel d’Hiv roundup, which led to criticism by some leftist Jewish French groups, who argued that this event had nothing to do with Israel.

During his speech, delivered partially in French but mostly in English, Netanyahu hailed French citizens who protected Jews during World War II and vowed never to let Holocaust be repeated.

“Seventy-five years ago, a heavy darkness descended on this City of Lights,” he said adding that the Nazis and their collaborators in France “shattered the lives of thousands of French Jews at Vel’ d’Hiv.”

But he praised “Chirac and successive presidents” who deserved “much credit for telling the truth.”

A memorial to the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, on Quai de Grenelle in Paris. (CC BY-SA Leonieke Aalders, Wikimedia commons)

During the Holocaust, the values of the French Revolution – liberty, equality and fraternity – were brutally crushed “under the boot of anti-Semitism,” he went on. “Yet we must say, and we heard it today as well, we must say that not all was dark.”

Netanyahu then saluted “the noble French citizens” who risked their lives to rescue fellow Frenchmen, such as the residents of Chambon-sur-Lignon who saved thousands of Jews.

“This is a special heroism. We have known in Israel a lot of heroism, as have you here in France. This is different heroism,” Netanyahu said. “There is heroism in battle, in pitting one’s life to save others. But the heroism of the people who saved Jews involved putting their families at risk, putting their children, their wives, their husbands, at the risk of execution… We will never forget, never, these great, great human beings.”

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu at the Elysee palace in Paris, July 16, 2017 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

After the Holocaust, the State of Israel was established to guarantee that the Jewish people will never undergo a Holocaust again, Netanyahu said. “Never again. We will never let it happen again.”

Turning to the present, the prime minister spoke about a “war of civilization” between radical Islam and the West. “Militant Islam wants to destroy our common civilization. The militant Shiites led by Iran, the militant Sunnis led by ISIS – both seek to vanquish us,” he declared.

In the jihadists’ view Israel is merely the first Western target that stands in the way of their goal, he added. “Militant Islamists do not hate the West because of Israel. To the contrary, they hate Israel because of the West, because they rightly see in Israel a forward bastion of our common values of freedom, humanism, democracy. They try to destroy us, but also they try to destroy you.”

Netanyahu, who spoke ahead of Macron, praised the new president for condemning anti-Semitism and “this larger militancy that seeks to destroy our world.”

Israel identifies with France in its struggle against terrorism, the prime minister continued. “The zealots of militant Islam who seek to destroy you, seek to destroy us as well. We must stand against them together; we must remain strong against them together; and we must defeat them together.”

The event was also attended by famed French Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld; Francis Kalifat, the head of French-Jewish umbrella group CRIF, and several leaders of organizations representing French Holocaust survivors.

After the ceremony, Netanyahu and Macron headed to the Elysee palace for their first formal working meeting.

Trump warms up to Macron in third overseas trip

President Trump returned from his third journey abroad this week buoyed by the success of a two-day tour in Paris that was designed to feature his newly forged bond with French President Emmanuel Macron.

The bonhomie of Trump’s meetings in France came as a surprise to some observers given that the president had offered veiled support for Marine Le Pen, Macron’s election opponent, and that former President Barack Obama endorsed Macron shortly before he won election in May by highlighting Macron’s embrace of “liberal values.”

Trump had repeatedly characterized Paris as a terrorists’ paradise when he was himself a presidential candidate, stoking concerns that the two leaders’ divergent worldviews would prevent them from connecting.

But Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Trump and Macron are less incompatible than they may appear at first glance. Kupchan noted Macron, while a “political centrist,” is also viewed as a “maverick” with anti-establishment leanings and, like Trump, had no experience running for office before he won the presidency in France earlier this year.

Their similarities could provide the foundation for a relationship that ultimately allows Trump to have a primary point of contact in Europe other than German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has openly criticized Trump for withdrawing from the Paris climate accords.

Spencer Phipps Boyer, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former Obama administration official, said Macron has labored to build a “rapport” with Trump “that hasn’t yet developed with President Trump and Chancellor Merkel.”

“President Macron obviously went out of his way to make sure he didn’t say anything to antagonize President Trump,” Boyer said of Trump’s trip to France this week. “I think this contrasts with Chancellor Merkel. Obviously, both Macron and Merkel have been very clear on their differences with the United States.”

Indeed, Macron and Trump glossed over potential points of contention during a joint appearance in Paris on Thursday, when journalists pressed them on climate change and Trump’s past comments about Paris. Both leaders sidestepped what could have been an opportunity to bash the other in order to focus on areas where their governments agree, such as military cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State.

Boyer said Macron likely scored a political victory at home by hosting the American president this week and flaunting their friendship for the world to see.

“Critics who point to his youth and relative inexperience in politics, this was a way for him to, I think, show that he could be looked at as an important leader in Europe in terms of his relationship with the United States,” Boyer said.

Trump, too, had a political incentive to accept Macron’s invitation to spend Bastille Day in Paris as his guest of honor, Boyer noted.

“I think Trump jumped at the opportunity because his previous trips to Europe have gone so poorly and the narrative of those meetings was that the world has kind of a very negative impression of this administration, that President Trump is deeply unpopular in Europe, and that trans-Atlantic relations are in a bad place,” Boyer said.

He pointed to Trump’s journey to a NATO meeting and the G-7 summit in May, during which he declined to endorse NATO’s collective defense commitment, clashed with other leaders on trade and withheld support for the Paris accords, from which he later withdrew.

Some European leaders bristled at Trump’s “America First” rhetoric and his blunt criticism of NATO allies who have failed to meet their defense spending commitments. Although Trump’s aversion to the globalist policies of his predecessor were no secret before his overseas debut, the trip set the tone for his administration’s relations with Europe.

“He came into office dismissive of NATO, hostile to the European Union and seemingly ready to turn his back on America’s traditional democratic allies in favor of building a new relationship with Russia and pursuing what he calls ‘America First,'” said Kupchan. “That caused an enormous amount of consternation on the other side of that, so much so that after Trump’s first visit to Europe, Chancellor Merkel goes back home and says, ‘We can’t rely on our friends like we used to.'”

Merkel issued her thinly-veiled criticism of the Trump administration and the U.K.’s decision to exit the European Union just days after the conclusion of the G-7 summit, at which Trump had said Germany is “very bad” on trade.

“Since then, I think both sides have sobered up. And the Europeans, they have made it clear that they’re not going to wait around for Trump when it comes to the Paris agreement or to free trade or to European integration,” Kupchan said. “And I think Trump, on his part, has become more skeptical of the idea of rapprochement with Russia, he has supported a strong NATO, he went back to Europe soon after his last trip, which is quite unusual, to build a stronger relationship with Macron, so I would say things have moved in the right direction.”

During a sweeping speech in Poland on his second trip to Europe, which took place earlier this month, Trump made explicit his support for the Article 5 collective defense commitment of NATO, a move that was viewed by some as an acknowledgement that his initial reluctance to back the article had ruffled feathers. His endorsement marked a nearly complete reversal from his previous claim that NATO had become “obsolete.”