Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen was criticized by Israel’s Foreign Ministry Monday for comments exonerating France for the rounding up of Jews during the Holocaust.
“I think that generally speaking if there are people responsible, it’s those who were in power at the time,” Le Pen told France’s LCI television channel. “It’s not France.”
Le Pen’s comments were made in reference to the July 1942 Vel D’hiv roundup, in which over 13,000 Jews were arrested by order of the Nazis and deported to the Auschwitz death camp. Le Pen suggested France’s Vichy puppet government was responsible for the round up, rather than France as a whole.
“We condemn the comments from Marine Le Pen that France was not responsible for the expulsion of Jews from its territory during the Holocaust,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to Times of Israel.
The Foreign Ministry complained that Le Pen’s statement “contradicts the historical truth, that is given expression in the declarations by French presidents who have recognized the responsibility of the state for the fate of French Jews who died in the Holocaust.”
Le Pen told LCI that she wanted French children to be instilled with a sense of national pride, rather than feeling ashamed by their country’s darkest moments.
“]France has] taught our children that they have all the reasons to criticize (the country), and to only see, perhaps, the darkest aspects of our history,” Le Pen said. “So, I want them to be proud of being French again.”
The National Front leader’s comments were also criticized by CRIF, the umbrella organization representing French Jewry.
“These remarks are an insult to France, which honored itself in 1995 by recognizing its responsibility in the deportation of France’s Jews and facing its history without a selective memory,” the organization said in a statement.
In February, Le Pen suggested French Jews accept a ban on wearing yarmulkes as a “sacrifice” in the “struggle against radical Islam.”
“Maybe they will do with just wearing a hat, but it would be a step in the effort to stamp out radical Islam in France,” Le Pen said at the time.