November 10, 2023 — New York, NY
American Jewish Committee (AJC), the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people, is deeply disturbed by French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments, in a BBC interview released today, that Israel’s actions to protect its citizens from terrorists had “no legitimacy” and that Israel must stop killing women and babies in Gaza.
In the interview, President Macron said he supported Israel's right to self-defense after the Hamas missile barrage and massacre on October 7, the single deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust – but contradicted his support by characterizing Israel’s actions in Gaza, which target terrorist leaders and military infrastructure, as illegitimate, overlooking Hamas' role in using Gazan civilians as human shields, storing weapons and placing command posts and rocket launchers in and beneath civilian facilities, and forcibly preventing civilians from heeding Israel’s warnings to evacuate.
While AJC appreciates the President’s previous remarks expressing strong solidarity with Israel, including proposing an international anti-Hamas coalition, we are profoundly disappointed that he would thus contribute to the propaganda efforts of Hamas, the terror group controlling Gaza, whose supporters routinely claim that Israel intentionally targets civilians.
The President’s comments lent credence to an anti-Israel narrative of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” promoted by Hamas’ ideological kin around the world, and in France in particular, many of whom have a history of targeting and even murdering Jews. They also come just before a major march against antisemitism that will take place Sunday in Paris, following a historic spike of antisemitic acts (1,159) registered in the past month. His comments do a disservice to efforts to provide a much-needed sense of security for French Jews, who feel particularly vulnerable right now.
AJC acknowledges and appreciates France’s efforts to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza. At the same time, we believe it is crucial that the French government continue to affirm, with absolute clarity, that the responsibility for the harm caused to Gazan civilians rests entirely with Hamas.
The Iran-backed terrorist organization started this war on October 7 by targeting Israeli cities and communities with missiles and committing pogroms against Israeli civilians in the South, in an onslaught of murder, mutilation, torture, rape, burning, and other atrocities that left more than 1,400 men, women, children, and babies dead – including 40 French citizens – and thousands more wounded, and was followed by the kidnapping of more than 230 Israelis and citizens of other nations.
AJC urges President Macron to reconsider his latest statements, align them with the values of democracy and justice, and support an ally committed to these principles. It is crucial, especially in these turbulent times, that world leaders convey coherent messages that uphold nations’ territorial integrity and their inherent right of self-defense, and give no comfort to terrorists.
AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel, and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit www.ajc.org.