French President Emmanuel Macron made a surprise appearance at the funeral of the 85-year-old Jewish woman and Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll, whose murder last week caused outrage in France and the Jewish world.
In a speech at the 19th century Invalides monument Wednesday, Macron decried the "barbaric" views that fueled an Islamic extremist's supermarket hostage-taking last week as well as Knoll's killing. Macron said Knoll's attacker "murdered an innocent and vulnerable woman because she was Jewish, and in doing so profaned our sacred values and our history."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded Macron's attendance, saying "Israel welcomes the determined, unequivocal stand of the president of France and the French establishment, which condemned the murder and expressed complete commitment to the fight against anti-Semitism."
The Director General of Israel's Foreign Ministry, Yuval Rotem, also commended Macron for his "firm stand against anti-Semitism."
"The murder of Mireille Knoll is a result of that old hate," Rotem said. "Too often in the past world leaders have ignored the threat anti-Semitism poses to democracy. It must be confronted to ensure a future without fear for all."
"The murder of the 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, prompted by antisemitism and blind hatred, underlines the need to continue combating antisemitism in all its variations," the statement said.
A march to honor Knoll's memory will take place in Paris later on Wednesday organized by Crif, an umbrella organization of French Jewish groups. Crif's leaders told far-right and far-left groups not to attend, sparking controversy between France's Jewish community and French right-wing political parties.
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The controversy underscores the enduring tension and alarm among France's 400,000-strong Jewish community over anti-Semitism, which Interior Minister Gerard Collomb on Tuesday described as a cancer that must not be allowed to eat away at the nation.