Israel Slams Le Pen's Remarks Denying French Role in Holocaust

More than 13,000 Jews were arrested and then deported during the raid of the Vel d'Hiv in Paris in 1942.

"It's not France", Le Pen said in comments that were later condemned Monday by both Israel and Emmanuel Macron, who is an independent presidential candidate.

Former President Jacques Chirac and current leader Francois Hollande have both apologized, although Chirac's Socialist predecessor Francois Mitterand refused to acknowledge responsibility for the deportations, saying in 1994: "The republic had nothing to do with that".

Ms Le Pen is among the leading contenders in France's two-round presidential vote.

French physicist Serge Galam, who predicted a Trump victory, claims that a Le Pen presidency is very likely because of her strong base of support versus lukewarm feelings that exist for the other potential runoff candidates. "In reality, our children have been taught they had every reason to criticize [France], to see only its darkest aspects", Le Pen has said.

Macron is a front-runner - along with Le Pen - in the two-round presidential election that will be held on April 23 and May 7.

Under Marine Le Pen, the party has softened its image, including by kicking out antisemitic members like Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was excluded from the party in 2015.

Nicolas Lebourg, a historian who specialises in the far right, said that with her comments Sunday, Le Pen "wanted to add fuel to the fire" after a debate that failed to move the needle for her campaign last week.

Violent clashes have broken out inside and outside a venue that was supposed to hold a rally by French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. "They haven't changed and we must have no indulgence or minimize what the National Front is today in our country", Macron told BFM television.

Her father, from who she is estranged and had ousted from the National Front party he once led, has been convicted twice for contesting crimes against humanity and stating that the gas chambers used to kill Jews were a mere "detail" of history.

What happened at the Vel d'Hiv cycling track in 1942?

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Sacha Ghozlan, president of the French Jewish Students' Union, accused Le Pen of "revisionism".

"The Vel' d'Hiv round ups, organized by the French authorities and carried out by French policemen, became engraved in French national memory as a symbol of the responsibility of the regime and the French nation for the Holocaust of the Jews of France", the museum says on its website.

The French Jewish community is the biggest in Europe and is thought to number around 500,000 people, but many have been fleeing France in record numbers fearing rising anti-Semitism and following a series of attacks targeting the community.

  • Leroy Wright