France

FRENCH LEFT-WING LEADER DENIES FRANCE’S RESPONSIBILITY OVER WWII ATROCITIES

 

http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/French-left-wing-leader-denies-Frances-responsibility-over-WWII-atrocities-500204

 

French left-wing leader Jean-Luc Melenchon slammed the country’s new president for saying that the French government was responsible for the deportation and death of French Jews during World War II.

In a blog post Wednesday, Melenchon blasted Emmanuel Macron’s speech Sunday at a Holocaust commemoration event in which the president forcefully acknowledged his nation’s Holocaust-era guilt.

Melenchon charged that Macron inappropriately labeled the Vichy government, a client state of Nazi Germany, as the French government, when the legitimate French government was in exile in Britain at the time.

At the end of a long blog entry, Melenchon called it “totally unacceptable” to say that “France, as a people, as a nation, is responsible for this crime,” Haaretz reported.

Melenchon also panned the invitation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to participate in the commemoration marking the 75th anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv deportations of thousands of French Jews, calling Netanyahu “the leader of the extreme right-wing government in Israel.”

He also took issue with Macron calling anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism, which he said was a “very old thesis,” pointing out that “this is the first time that this argument has been made official by the president of our Republic.”

French Jews were deeply appreciative of the Macron speech at the Vel d’Hiv commemoration, which included some of the most forceful remarks on French complicity in the persecution of the country’s Jews ever heard from a French president. Macron rejected “those who wish to say that Vichy’s France wasn’t representative of the French nation,” saying that “the Nazis knew they could count on the obedience” of the puppet government and thousands of Frenchmen serving it.

Melenchon, an anti-Israel lawmaker with a record of statements deemed antisemitic, rejected that assessment.

“Never, at any moment, did the French choose murder and anti-Semitic criminality. Those who were not Jewish were not all, and as French people, guilty of the crime that was carried out at the time!” he wrote. “On the contrary, through its resistance, its fight against the [German] invader and through the reestablishment of the republic when the [Germans] were driven out of the territory, the French people, the French people proved which side they were actually on.”

He added: “It is not in Mr. Macron’s power to attribute an identity of executioner to all of the French that is not theirs. No, no, Vichy is not France!”

On July 16-17, 1942, French police officers rounded up more than 13,000 Jews at the Winter Stadium, or Velodrome d’Hiver. The men, women and children were imprisoned there for days in unsanitary conditions and without sufficient water, leading to dozens of fatalities, including by suicide. The Jews were then transported, partly on French national railway cars, to Nazi death camps in Eastern Europe.

French presidents rarely attend the annual commemoration for the Vel d’Hiv deportations.

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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.”

Nazi-hunter accuses France of ‘complicity’ in genocide

PARIS — France’s best-known Nazi hunter, Serge Klarsfeld, accused his country’s government during World War II of “complicity in a crime against humanity and genocide.”

Klarsfeld, a Holocaust survivor and historian, who, in 2014, received France’s highest civil honor together with his wife, Beate, made the assertion in an interview with the French news agency Agence-Presse France, published Saturday, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv deportations.

On July 16 and 17, 1942, French police officers rounded up more than 13,000 Jews at the Winter Stadium, or Velodrome d’Hiver. The men, women, and children were imprisoned there for days in unsanitary conditions and without sufficient water, leading to dozens of fatalities, including through suicide. Then the Jews were transported, partly on French national railway wagons, to Nazi death camps in Eastern Europe.

More than 1,000 people, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attended the commemoration of the 75th anniversary Sunday near a monument that was erected where the stadium, which was demolished decades ago, used to stand.

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) listens to Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld (2nd R) during a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv roundup in Paris on July 16, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Kamil Zihnioglu)

Earlier, Klarsfeld accompanied Macron to a new memorial space, opened near the main Vel d’Hiv monument for Jewish children who were murdered by the Nazis, with help from French authorities.

“It’s not an appeal to sentiment,” Klarsfeld, who is a prominent member of the executive board of the Memorial for the Shoah group in France, told the president, “but to historical accuracy.” Macron told him: “Thank you for the work that you do.”

French presidents rarely attend the annual commemoration for the Vel d’Hiv deportations.

Earlier this month, the Communist Party of France condemned Netanyahu’s attendance at the Vel d’Hiv commemoration. An Israeli prime minister had not yet attended the annual ceremony, which is an official day of commemoration in France. The ceremony “is about peace, whereas the Israeli prime minister is a man of war,” the party said in a statement.

But Klarsfeld defended Netanyahu’s presence there as “totally appropriate.” He disputed that the ceremony was about peace, arguing it was about remembrance. “If there was a State of Israel, a Jewish state, in 1942, Vel d’Hiv would not have happened,” Klarsfeld said.

President Trump Seeks Consensus With France’s Macron Despite Differences

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/trump-seeks-consensus-france-despite-differences-n782441?cid=eml_nnn_20170713

 

PARIS — U.S. President Donald Trump has certainly had his differences with Emmanuel Macron, including clashing on climate change and exchanging surly handshakes with the younger French president.

The pair will try to put all that aside, however, and instead find some common ground when they meet Thursday ahead of France’s Bastille Day celebrations.

Trump arrived in the French capital on an overnight flight from Washington and will discuss Syria and broader counterterrorism strategies with Macron. On Friday, he will then participate in the Bastille Day parade.

Air Force One landed just after 8:30 a.m. local time (2:30 a.m. ET) on a cool, overcast day in the French capital. The president wore a suit and blue tie and the first lady a red dress with a flowing skirt and high-heeled pumps.

Trump then traveled to the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence, a French mansion with lush, well-kept grounds and staff already rushing about ahead of a big two days.

First lady Melania Trump meanwhile visited Hopital Necker Enfants Malades, a sprawling children’s hospital in the center of Paris, where she chatted with children in French, one of the five languages she speaks, according to her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham.

Later Thursday, Trump and Macron will hold meetings and a press conference. During the latter the U.S. president may face tough questions about emails revealing that his eldest son welcomed the prospect of receiving Russian government support in last year’s presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton.

Then in the evening, the French president and his wife, Brigitte Macron, will host the U.S. president, the first lady and their delegation for a dinner at the famous Le Jules Verne restaurant, which enjoys stunning views from its perch on the second level of the Eiffel Tower.

Getting rdy to leave for France @ the invitation of President Macron to celebrate & honor Bastille Day and 100yrs since U.S. entry into WWI.

This all tees up the Trumps attending the celebrations for Bastille Day, France’s most important national day that marks a key turning point in the French Revolution in 1789.

The trip is an attempt to build bridges after Trump’s decision last month to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord sparked outrage across Europe.

There are also several protest marches planned for Thursday and Friday, one of which is calling for a “No Trump Zone” in one of the city’s central squares.

Related: Wray Says Russia Probe Not a ‘Witch Hunt,’ Pledges ‘Independent’ FBI

The visit to Paris could offer Trump a well-timed distraction from the controversy surrounding Donald Trump Jr.’s email revelations.

It will mark the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I by visiting U.S. troops. The president will also be the guest of honor at Friday’s Bastille Day events — a celebration of French national pride. White House officials are casting it as a celebration of the U.S.-French military alliance — both then and now.

Trump is visiting a city he has repeatedly disparaged. When he announced his decision on the climate agreement, Trump said he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” And he’s repeatedly said the city has been ruined by the threat of terrorism, which he ties to immigrants.

“Paris isn’t Paris any longer,” he said in February.

But counterterrorism issues give Macron and Trump the potential for a strong working relationship.

Macron’s national security pitch hasn’t differed drastically from Trump’s. On Syria, he argues for intervention, saying that President Bashar al-Assad is a threat to Syria and ISIS is a threat to France.

Related: Hottest Question on the Hill: Would You Meet With a Russian?

France has been plagued in recent years by extremist attacks. During last year’s Bastille Day celebrations, a 19-ton cargo truck deliberately plowed into crowds in Nice, killing more than 80 people.

Macron supports intervention against Syria’s government in response to its use of chemical weapons and could prove an important ally as the Trump administration seeks to increase pressure against Assad.

But in doing so, they’ll need to tackle the issue of Russia’s support for Assad, something Trump has only passively acknowledged.

NETANYAHU TO ATTEND COMMEMORATION OF MASSIVE NAZI ROUNDUP IN PARIS

 

For the second time in three weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be spending Shabbat this week in Europe, traveling to Paris on Friday afternoon for a Sunday morning ceremony marking 75 years since a massive Nazi roundup in Paris of Jews, and a meeting with new French President Emmanuel Macron.

He will spend three nights in Paris before going to Budapest for another three nights to attend a summit of the Visegrad group, made up of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

 

Netanyahu flew to Strasbourg on Friday, June 1, to take part in an interment ceremony for former German chancellor Helmut Kohl the next day. He briefly met Macron there.

Anticipating likely public criticism regarding why Netanyahu needs to fly out Friday for a Sunday morning event, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office said that Macron invited the premier to take part in the Paris ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup of more than 13,000 Jews in the city.

The event is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., and Netanyahu will also be meeting Macron in the afternoon.

Explaining the necessity of leaving on Friday, something that will cost the taxpayers much more than if he was to leave on Saturday night, the official explained that Netanyahu is prevented from flying on Shabbat, which on Saturday night will not end until 8:30.

“Manning the positions at the airport by the staff cannot take place, in the best situation, before 9:30, and the staff, the security personnel and the journalists are asked to get to the airport at least two hours before the flight, which means that takeoff would be around midnight,” the official said. “Arrival at the hotel would only be at 5:00, and then there’s the need to wait for luggage. The ceremony is at 9:30.”

According to the official, it is fitting that the prime minister, his staff and even the journalists arrive “refreshed and ready for an important day.”

From Paris, Netanyahu is scheduled to travel on Monday to Budapest for a meeting with the heads of the Visegrad group.

Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest will be the first visit there of an Israeli prime minister since the country emerged from Communist rule in 1989. He is expected to hold both bilateral talks with the leaders of each of the four countries, as well as a joint meeting as well.

Netanyahu is scheduled to fly back to Israel on Thursday, July 20.

France’s new president wastes no time: names PM, sees Merkel

BERLIN (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday, being greeted on a red carpet outside the chancellery with military honors, on a busy first full day in office that started with his naming 46-year-old lawmaker Edouard Philippe as his new prime minister.

Appointing Philippe to the top job in his government ticked several boxes for Macron, at 39, France’s youngest president, who took power on Sunday.

Philippe’s age reinforced the generational shift in France’s corridors of power and the image of youthful vigor that Macron is cultivating. Philippe is also relatively unknown to voters, fulfilling Macron’s campaign promise to repopulate French politics with new faces.

Philippe is the mayor of the Normandy port of Le Havre, a trained lawyer and an author of political thrillers. His appointment marks a milestone in the rebuilding of France’s political landscape, which has been dynamited by the election of Macron — the first president of modern France not from the country’s mainstream left or right parties.

Newly appointed French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, right, is greeted by outgoing Prime Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, prior to their meeting in Paris, France, on May 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Philippe is a member of the mainstream-right Republicans party. As such, Philippe could possibly attract other Republicans to Macron’s cause, as the centrist president works to piece together a majority in parliament to pass his promised economic reforms.

Alain Juppe, a former French prime minister, called Philippe “a man of great talent,” with “all the qualities to handle the difficult job.”

Shortly after the announcement, Macron flew to Berlin, continuing a tradition of French presidents making their first foreign trip to Germany.

A large group of onlookers, some carrying European flags, stood outside the chancellery as Macron arrived.

Germany and France have traditionally been the motor of European integration, but the relationship has become increasingly lopsided over recent years, as France struggled economically.

The visit signaled his intentions to move rapidly on campaign promises to revive support for the beleaguered European Union by reforming and strengthening it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron wave outside of the chancellery in Berlin on May 15, 2017. (AFP Photo/Tobias Schwarz)

Speed is becoming one of Macron’s trademarks. Including the “thank you” at the end, the announcement of Philippe’s appointment, delivered by the presidency’s new secretary general, took just eight seconds.

As well as the political coup of poaching Philippe from the right, Macron is also siphoning off support from lawmakers on the left. At least 24 Socialists are now campaigning for re-election under the banner of Macron’s Republic on the Move party.

But not everyone was pleased with Philippe’s announcement.

For far-right leader Marine Le Pen, Macron’s rival for the presidency, the selection of Philippe reflects a continuation of the system she hoped to break.

French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party Marine Le Pen delivers a speech in Paris, on May 7, 2017, after the second round of the French presidential election. (AFP/Bertrand Guay)

“This is the sacred alliance of the old right and left, united in their wish to remain in place at any price,” Le Pen said in a statement. Defeated by a Macron landslide, she denounced what she predicted would be a continuation of old policies, including “austerity, submission to Brussels, massive immigration.”

The populist Le Pen said her National Front party is now the only “true opposition” for June legislative elections.

French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who won nearly 20% of the vote in the first round of the presidential election, also reacted with hostility.

Voters go to polls again in June to elect 577 National Assembly lawmakers. Melenchon urged them not to give Macron a parliamentary majority.

“The right has just been annexed, with a prime minister taken from its ranks, from the Republicans,” Melenchon said. “Don’t give full powers to Mr. Macron and his prime minister.”

Jean-Luc Melenchon delivers a speech during the official presentation of his party's candidates in Villejuif, France, on May 13, 2017. (AFP Photo/Philippe Lopez)

Macron’s trip to Berlin highlighted his pro-European politics and desire to work with Merkel on what he says must become “a more efficient Europe, a more democratic Europe, a more political Europe.” Macron previously met Merkel when he visited Berlin in March as a candidate.

Germany is looking to Macron to revitalize France as an economic power and political heavyweight in the EU, which is facing complex divorce proceedings with its current No. 2 economy, Britain.

When Britain leaves the bloc in 2019, France will be the EU’s only member with nuclear weapons and a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

As a candidate, Macron called for a “new Franco-German deal” that would involve “much more structured cooperation” on investment, on European border security, and on defense.

Macron is the conservative Merkel’s fourth French president in nearly 12 years as chancellor. She built a solid relationship with Macron’s predecessor, Socialist Francois Hollande, despite their political differences — notably with their joint effort to secure an accord to calm the fighting in eastern Ukraine in tense talks in Minsk, Belarus in 2015.

Germany is keen to continue the Franco-German diplomatic drive to keep a lid on the situation in Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists are battling the government.

Merkel has praised Macron’s embrace of European unity, but has offered few concrete details about the way forward for German-French relations.

France Chooses a Leader, and Takes a Step Into the Unknown

PARIS — France’s presidential election on Sunday has already broken all kinds of barriers in a country whose politics seemed frozen for decades. The two candidates are outsiders. The political establishment has been elbowed aside. The tone of the race between the insurgents has shocked many for its raw anger and insolence.

Then, barely an hour before the official close of campaigning at midnight Friday, the staff of the presumed front-runner, Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old former investment banker, announced that his campaign had been the target of a “massive and coordinated” hacking operation.

Internal emails and other documents, some real, some fake, according to the campaign, were posted on 4chan, an online message board favored by white nationalists, in an apparent effort to aid his rival, Marine Le Pen, 48, the far-right leader.

Saturday was a surreal day in France. The dramatic timing of the leaks, coming just as French law mandated a 44-hour media blackout before and during Sunday’s critical presidential runoff, jolted the final hours of the race.

Government officials warned that there could be charges filed against those who violated the law. The French media largely observed the blackout, offering little about the content of the hacking, which so far appeared to involve mostly mundane exchanges.

Le Monde, the influential daily newspaper, posted a note explaining to readers that it had obtained the leaked documents but would not be publishing any of them before the vote, saying that they had been released “with the clear goal of harming the validity of the ballot.”

But the hacking attack succeeded in sowing still more confusion in a race that was already among the most unpredictable in memory. Even before the last-minute attempt at sabotage, the election represented a big step into the political unknown for France — the first time in more than 50 years that neither of the establishment parties will be represented in the final round.

Instead, voters will choose one of two starkly different candidates who have each pledged to change the system, though in radically different ways.

Ms. Le Pen, a fierce nationalist, wants to take France out of the European Union and restore the franc. Mr. Macron, a centrist who formed his own party, En Marche!, wants to push market and labor reforms to make France more competitive and deepen its ties to the European Union.

“The experienced politicians were rejected and now we have a new category of candidate,” said Dominique Bussereau, a member of the mainstream right party Les Republicains.

But for all the turmoil, whether either candidate will be able to muster broad legislative or popular support is in doubt — raising the real possibility that an election intended to shake the status quo could still result in stasis. Can either candidate, as an outsider, really be effective as president?

Neither has ever held national elected office. Each lacks any real base of support in Parliament and will be trying to build one from the ground up. The president of France is powerful only if he or she has a majority in Parliament to help push through his or her party’s program.

That uncertainty may ripple through Europe, which will be watching closely to gauge both the strength of far-right forces in France and the depth of the anti-European Union sentiment.

The differences between the candidates are so deep that the winner will surely be seen as a harbinger of Europe’s future. Resentment of European Union rules and the failure of the bloc to wrestle with immigration and border controls were major issues in the campaign.

Beyond France, the election will be critical in determining Europe’s openness to the world and the fate of its generous social welfare benefits. It is being especially closely watched in Germany, which holds parliamentary elections in September, as well as in Italy, which could also hold elections this year.

In particular, a close eye will be kept on Ms. Le Pen’s share of the vote, which will serve as a gauge of the current strength of the populist tide that last year ushered Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Donald J. Trump to power in the United States.

In the final polls, Mr. Macron was heavily favored to win — by as much as 20 percentage points. Still, the polls come after a long season of staggering electoral upsets around the world and in the face of the last-minute hacking of Mr. Macron’s campaign accounts.

Analysts were unsure what the impact of the hacking might be. Thomas Guénolé, a political-science professor at Sciences Po, one of France’s best universities, said the hacking was part of a larger trend in France toward “an Americanization of French politics,” citing scandals, leaks and fake news, as well as increased focus on the images of the candidates.

But he said that if the attack was meant to benefit Ms. Le Pen, it could backfire by putting “a very ugly shadow on the far right.”

It is still unclear how the attack will be viewed by voters. On French social media, the tone of tweets and Facebook posts was more mocking than outraged, and many French people seemed unaware of the hacking.

“I didn’t know about the leaks but now that I know about it, it won’t change my vote,” said Audrey Payet, a 33-year-old day care worker, in central Paris. She said she planned on abstaining because she did not want to choose between “a racist party and a banker party.”

No matter who wins, the country will be abandoning a political order that has shaped it for the last 59 years, when it was dominated by the country’s two mainstream parties — the Socialist Party and the center-right Republicans. This election has been shaped by new issues and resulted in an electorate effectively divided into quarters across the political spectrum, including left and right extremes and Mr. Macron’s new centrist movement, En Marche! (“On Our Way!”).

“We are changing into a four-party system that has never existed before in France in the Fifth Republic, and that does not exist elsewhere in large European countries,” Mr. Bussereau said.

In the first round of the presidential vote, on April 23, the Socialist Party all but collapsed, its candidate receiving just 6.4 percent of the vote. The sitting president, François Hollande, a Socialist, is so unpopular that he became the first president in decades not to seek a second mandate. The candidate of the mainstream right, François Fillon, an experienced former prime minister, took about 20 percent of the vote in the first round after being tarnished by a nepotism scandal that led to embezzlement charges.

A big question now is where those voters will turn — to the center with Mr. Macron or farther to the right with Ms. Le Pen. Also in play are the 19 percent of voters who went in the first round with the far-left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Many of his voters may abstain, in effect aiding Ms. Le Pen.

Both the far left and the far right were animated by their deep resistance to globalization — be that economic, cultural or related to immigration — and it became a clear dividing line in the campaign. The issue has become a new and increasingly important political fissure in France and in Europe more broadly, and is breaking down traditional left-right political divisions. Instead, the political spectrum is being divided among winners and losers.

“It’s a consequence of the social-economic impact of globalization,” Mr. Guénolé, the political scientist, said. “More and more people are feeling precarious.”

That much was clear in the outcome of the first round of voting.

Ms. Le Pen and her far-right National Front hewed to a hard protectionist, anti-European line and took a strongly nationalist position on French identity. She depicted herself as a “patriot.” Mr. Macron openly embraced the European Union, calling for more integration, saying that France was already part of the global community, its immigrants inextricably a part of the nation’s fabric.

“There is not a French culture — there is a culture in France and it is diverse,” Mr. Macron said at a rally in Lyon.

Even if Mr. Macron wins handily, as projected, his victory will chiefly reflect voters’ opposition to Ms. Le Pen and the National Front. The party remains anathema to large parts of the French electorate, in view of its history of anti-Semitism, racism, and apologias for France’s collaborators with the Nazis.

Yet the lines that now fissure French politics mean that neither of the two candidates facing each other in the runoff Sunday received even a quarter of the votes in the first round. Mr. Macron took 24 percent and Ms. Le Pen took 21 percent. That suggests that no matter who wins, their overall support will be relatively narrow.

“Even if he wins 60 percent of the vote, that does not mean that 60 percent of the French have voted for Emmanuel Macron,” said Alexis Massart, director of the European School of Political and Social Science at the University of Lille. “A part of that 60 percent voted against Marine Le Pen,” he said.

That will leave Mr. Macron, if he does succeed Sunday, in a vulnerable position. While the outcome of the first round was a political earthquake for France, just how big remains to be seen.

For now, the French electorate seems more divided than at any time in recent memory. Much will hang on parliamentary elections in June — an electoral one-two punch that gives voters yet another chance to consider the direction of the country, with the potential to either thrust France forward or prolong the ongoing paralysis.

Largest nationalist party in France, Front National, allied with Jews.

Council of French Jewish Organizations was conceived by Napoleon in an effort to modernize the state, in the aftermath of the emancipation of the Jews during the French Revolution. This emancipation had actually been the first of its kind in Europe, and its effects were to be felt through all the continents. France was always the place where local ‘patriots’ have strong ties to massonic and other jewish supremacist organizations.

Long associated with anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories, the French National Front of late has been toning down its language and moving toward respectability under the leadership of Marine Le Pen. The party’s president since 2011, Le Pen, who campaigns on pro-jewish, an anti-immigration and anti-European platform, is increasingly seen as a serious presidential candidate in the 2017 elections.

Marine Le Pen assumed the leadership of the National Front in 2011, replacing her father. He had run the party with his deputy, Bruno Gollnisch, who was also convicted of denying the Holocaust, though the ruling was overturned by a higher court. Together they seemed happy to make the National Front the bete noire of the political establishment.

After assuming the party leadership, Le Pen stripped Gollnisch of his duties at the European Parliament, leading him to observe last year that she “seeks to keep me and her father in a certain state of virginity” — a phrase pundits took to be a euphemism for impotence. She repeatedly has condemned anti-Semitism and punished a party official who made anti-Semitic statements. In 2011, Le Pen dispatched her life partner and National Front Vice President Louis Alliot on a bridge-building mission to Israel.

A recently published survey of 1,095 self-identified Jews showed that the National Front had more than doubled its share of the Jewish vote in the 2012 presidential elections, earning 13.5 percent of Jewish support. But with roughly 600,000 people, the Jewish community of France—meaning simply the total number of Jews in the country—accounts for no more than 0.7 percent of the population so there was no reason to placate Jews if only they do not pay the bills of the party. Zionist media also gave full support not to the National Front, the survey by the IFOP polling company grabbed headlines in major publications because it was seen as a worrisome indicator that a party once shunned by the mainstream is gaining full media support.

The National Front, was the xenophobic and populist right-wing party, but after Marine Le Pen and her Zionist friends take power, front is doing its best these days to drag French Jews into its ranks. One of the most prominent figures of the party, Gilbert Collard, is coming out with a new statement defending Israel against the so-called “pro-Palestinian” demonstrations.

Now, Front National has a lot of ethnic Jews inside the organization itself. For example, Rachline, a National Front activist since the age of 15 and the son of a Jewish father, won 45 percent of the vote in Fréjus last March. During his campaign, he spoke out against the building of a new mosque in town. With a population of 53,000, Fréjus is one of the more substantial communities run by the National Front. Rachline has since become one of the first two members of the party ever elected to France’s Senate.

Under Marine Le Pen, party officials for the first time began courting Jewish votes by addressing letters to their communities. One such letter was sent this month by Julien Leonardelli, a party regional secretary from the Toulouse area, to a local Jewish community center that assailants earlier this year attacked with firebombs.

Leonardelli wrote of his “grave concern at the increase of anti-Semitic attacks” in France, which he said were the result of irresponsible immigration policies by the Socialist Party and the UMP party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

As a National Front representative and spokesperson for Marine Le Pen, I express deep indignation over these acts and assure all our Jewish compatriots of our full support in the fight against all forms of anti-Semitism,” Leonardelli wrote.

Her father was not much better. Despite his many anti-semitic remarks, he also nany times tried to better the party’s relationship with the Jewish community, even though I do not like the term. Take his trip to the United States to the World Jewish Congress in ’86, for instance. The recorded fact is that, at he also publicly expressed his admiration for the Israel army in its war against Egypt.

Why Marine Le Pen (White Feminist, White Freemason, Zionist) is confident she will be France’s next president

Supporters of Emmanuel Macron were not alone in cheering his victory Sunday in the first round of France’s presidential elections.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who finished second in the voting, saw it as excellent news. The two will face off in the final round next month after the centrist Macron won 23 percent of the vote, 2 points ahead of Le Pen.

She has called Macron her “ideal” adversary — Macron is relatively inexperienced and without the infrastructure of an established party, and despite running as an independent is nonetheless widely seen as a continuity candidate of the deeply unpopular government of President Francois Hollande.

“A runoff between a patriot such as myself and a caricature of a diehard globalist like him is ideal,” Le Pen, the leader of the Eurosceptic and anti-establishment National Front party, told the AFP news agency on Jan. 17. “It’s a gift.“

To be sure, the sharp-tongued and gravel-voiced Le Pen has also spoken dismissively of other candidates.

But when it comes to Macron, she is not alone in assessing his perceived weaknesses as a candidate. Nor is she alone in believing that her anti-Muslim party, with its rich record of anti-Semitism, raw nationalism and xenophobia, is closer to the presidency than at any point in its history.

Macron, 39, a youthful-looking former banker who has never held elected office, has generated a huge following among professionals in France’s more affluent cities and regions. A supporter of corporate tax cuts and competitiveness in the job market, he has appealed to voters with a cosmopolitan worldview. He backs the European Union and promotes tolerance toward minorities while acting against radicalization.

But these very characteristics, as well as Macron’s image as an aloof wunderkind who owes his success to a corrupt establishment, make him deeply unpopular to a class, largely low-income, that feels disenfranchised by immigration, globalization and the European Union. Politically this is a perilous position, as witnessed in the 2016 vote in Britain to leave the European bloc and Donald Trump’s election in the United States.

Conservative writer Guy Millière is a Trump supporter who opposes Le Pen, but says Macron is an “inflatable doll” who, if elected, will guarantee “five more years of Hollande” and a continuation of the rule of a “clique that knows nothing about the difficulties of ordinary Frenchmen,” he wrote Monday on the rightist news site Dreuz. “He’s a candidate made up by billionaires.”

Macron’s supporters say that although he served two years as a Cabinet minister under Hollande, a Socialist, Macron is in fact an outsider to the political establishment and the only candidate who stands a chance to transcend bipartisan divisions in a deeply polarized society. Macron also was inspector of finances in the French Ministry of Economy under Jaques Chirac, a center-right president.

Yet that, too, could be an Achilles heel in a country where no independent candidate has won a presidential election since the 1970s.

Relatively inexperienced in politics and lacking the support of established party mechanisms, Macron is now up against one of France’s shrewdest and most seasoned politicians in Le Pen, a career lawmaker who heads one of her country’s most dynamic and hierarchical parties, and whose life partner and father both have devoted their adult lives to politics.

French presidential election candidate Emmanuel Macron rat the Parc des Expositions in Paris, on April 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Eric Feferberg)

Le Pen’s family legacy, however, may play in Macron’s favor.

The daughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, a Holocaust denier and open anti-Semite who she succeeded as party leader in 2011, she and her party are widely regarded as extremist and borderline neo-fascist despite her efforts to rehabilitate its image.

Francis Kalifat, the president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, has called Le Pen “a candidate of hate.” On Sunday, he called on voters to vote for Macron in the second round, just to keep Le Pen out of power.

Known in France as a “republican front,” such mobilizations, in which voters set aside their differences and vote for the candidate likeliest to keep National Front out of power, have cost the party many elections. In 2002, the only time National Front participated in the second round of a presidential elections, the republican front resulted in Chirac beating Jean-Marie Le Pen with 82 percent of the vote.

Since then, Marine Le Pen has kicked out of the party dozens of members who were caught making anti-Semitic statements – including her father in 2015 after he said a Jewish singer should be put “in an oven.”

But in a remark that critics said echoed her father’s revisionism, she earlier this month said France was not responsible for how its police rounded up Jewish Holocaust victims for the Nazis.

Marine Le Pen has also vowed to outlaw the wearing of the kippah in public, explaining she does not regard it as a threat but will ban it nonetheless to facilitate imposing similar limitations on headgear worn by Muslims, whom she flagged as a “threat to French culture.”

Kalifat said she was a “threat to French democracy” and Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, wrote in a statement Monday that the younger Le Pen is “no less dangerous than her Holocaust-denying father.”

Many in the French political establishment concur, and most of the losing candidates in Sunday’s voting urged their supporters to vote for Macron. On Sunday, both Benoit Hamon of the Socialist Party and Francois Fillon of The Republicans of former President Nicolas Sarkozy urged a united front against Le Pen.

But this year, that front has at least one major gap: Jean-Luc Melenchon, the communist candidate, who is also a Eurosceptic, did not call on his supporters to vote for Macron, whose economic and foreign policies are diametrically opposed to Melenchon’s.

Meanwhile, Le Pen is already attacking Macron on points that resonate with many of her voters. In a speech she made to supporters following the first round, she called Macron “Hollande’s extension,” saying he was guaranteed to continue the president’s policy of “mass immigration.” In Macron’s world, she added, “the rich man reigns.”

In light of the challenges facing Macron, even some of his ardent supporters spoke openly of their concern ahead of the final round.

“I don’t consider today as a victory,” Michael Amsellem, one of Macron’s many Jewish supporters, wrote on Facebook. “Having Le Pen in the second round is a tragedy.”

Citing the abstention of Melenchon and his supporters from the republican front, as well as polarization between “protectionists and internationalists, “we are in a major danger zone from Le Pen,” Amsellem wrote.

“The French people are full of surprises,” he added. “This is not going to be so simple.”