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Homage to the French victims of Hamas does not escape controversy

After the Hamas attacks against Israeli civilians, which left more than 1,160 dead on October 7, Emmanuel Macron quickly announced a tribute to the victims with French nationality, but the date remained pending for a long time.

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Homage to the French victims of Hamas does not escape controversy

After the Hamas attacks against Israeli civilians, which left more than 1,160 dead on October 7, Emmanuel Macron quickly announced a tribute to the victims with French nationality, but the date remained pending for a long time. It is finally this Wednesday, at midday, that the Head of State will preside over a ceremony at Les Invalides in memory of the 42 French citizens killed, but also the injured and the hostages.

This tribute comes four months to the day after the attacks. If the presidency delayed, it was to focus first on the release of the hostages. “We considered that the time for negotiations on the hostages was a priority and that it should not be weakened,” explains the Élysée, specifying that “many hostage families did not want the tribute to interfere in the negotiations". The ceremony will finally take place while “three people are still missing today and presumed hostages,” indicates the presidency.

Each Frenchman killed will be represented by a photograph with his name. The 55 expected families will then have a time to talk with Emmanuel Macron. Most of them will come from Israel on a plane chartered by France and will be accompanied during their stay by the interministerial delegation for victim assistance.

Anxious to display a position of balance in the conflict, the presidency announced Monday that another “memorial time” for the “French victims in Gaza” would take place later, without specifying the date or the modalities. An announcement welcomed by La France insoumise, which has been calling for it for several months. “I believe that we must pay tribute (…) to the Franco-Israelis and the Franco-Palestinians who died, whether in war crimes committed by Hamas or in war crimes committed by Netanyahu,” declared Mathilde Panot after the announcement of this tribute to the French victims of Hamas.

The president of the rebellious group in the National Assembly intends to go with three elected officials from her camp to Wednesday's ceremony: the coordinator of La France insoumise (LFI) Manuel Bompard, the vice-president of the National Assembly Caroline Fiat and the chairman of the finance committee Éric Coquerel. Choices which were made “according to each person’s agenda”, explained Mathilde Panot. Note the absence in this delegation of rebellious elected officials who have sparked controversy in recent months, notably Danièle Obono, who described Hamas as a “resistance movement”. “We send the notables,” clarifies a rebellious deputy.

Not sure that this polite choice will be enough to calm the anger of a large part of the political class. The related deputy LR Meyer Habib, fervent defender of Benyamin Netanyahu's policies, did not hesitate to describe Tuesday morning on Sud Radio "certain rebellious elected officials" as "anti-Semitic scoundrels". “Can you imagine that we had Bousquet, Papon or Faurisson at the Vél d’Hiv’ ceremony? It’s exactly the same thing,” he frowned, asserting that “the rebels are not wanted.” Without going as far as this analogy, the president (Renaissance) of the France-Israel friendship group believes that the rebellious delegation constitutes “an insult to the memory of the victims” (read below). "It's scandalous. These people have no face, storms the MoDem deputy Bruno Millienne. They cannot say what they said in the Hemicycle and outside, then come and pretend that they have the slightest compassion for the victims.

Five bereaved Franco-Israeli families wrote to the President of the Republic last week asking him to prohibit the presence of Jean-Luc Mélenchon's troops at the national tribute. “Between indecency, lack of respect, relativism and negationism, La France insoumise and its spokespersons have distinguished themselves by extremely serious comments since the pogrom of October 7,” these families explain to the head of state, accusing the Insoumis of “ bear a very heavy responsibility for the explosion of Judeophobia” in France. MP Meyer Habib assures that he has “spoken to many more than five” families and that “there is not one (…) who wants the presence” of LFI.

The Élysée justifies itself by referring to the protocol which governs the organization of this type of event. “It’s a republican ceremony, so parliamentarians are invited,” replies the presidency, which refers to a 1989 decree setting the rules for this type of event. While slipping: “It’s up to everyone to appreciate the opportunity of their presence, since the families expressed strong emotion.”

While recognizing “understanding the reaction” of the families of victims “in view of all the disinformation that has been made about (their) positions for four months”, the coordinator of La France insoumise, Manuel Bompard, thinks that, “when we make tribute to the dead, the controversy can be put aside. Forgetting to remember that it was his movement which worked to politicize the tragedies of October 7 on the very day they were committed.

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