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A French organization that saved Jews during the Holocaust has declined to attend a commemoration because it was organized by pro-Israel Jews.

The Marseille branch of CIMADE, a French Protestant group established in 1939, declined to attend the region’s main memorial ceremony for Jewish Holocaust victims because of the pro-Israel attitude of CRIF, the umbrella group representing French Jewish communities, which organized the event together with the municipality.

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The values that led CIMADE to save Jews make the group “equally committed to oppose the colonial, discriminatory and bellicose policy of Israel with regards to the Palestinians,” CIMADE regional deputies Françoise Rocheteau and Jean-Pierre Cavalie wrote in a letter to the local CRIF branch in December. It also said CIMADE was determined to fight “apartheid.”

The letter, which was published online Monday by a group promoting a boycott of Israel, was a reply to an invitation extended by CRIF to CIMADE to attend the 70th commemoration on Jan. 20 of the deportation and subsequent murder of thousands of local Jews.

Marseille had a Jewish population of 39,000 in 1939, according to Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People. Only 10,000 remained after the Holocaust. CIMADE organized “vital relief and later resistance” in connection with the murders, according to Yad Vashem, and helped smuggle Jews to safety. Yad Vashem named Madeleine Barot, who headed CIMADE during the Holocaust, a Righteous among the Nations in 1988. She passed away seven years later.

“We understand our positions may appear unacceptable, making us unwelcome at your commemoration,” the CIMADE representatives wrote. “We cannot keep silent on our convictions but do not wish to cause a scandal.”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. In heavily Protestant areas, such as the isolated communes of the.
    Haute Loire, the Hautes Alpes or the Tarn, Jews found shelters and.
    sometimes assistance in leaving the country. Chambon-sur-Lignon (in the.
    Haute Loire) is perhaps the most famous of these Protestant villages, virtually.
    an entire commune that mobilized for rescue. Frequently cut off by snowdrifts.
    during the winter, this almost homogeneously Protestant enclave helped.
    thousands of refugees who passed through it. Jews there received the solid.
    support of the local population, as well as the Cévenole normal school,
    headed by two nonviolent Protestant pastors, André Pacal Trocmé and.
    Edouard Theis. Source: Carol Rittner, Stephen D. Smith & Irena Steinfeldt, The.
    Holocaust and the Christian World, Yad-Vashem 2000, pp. 88-91

  2. Rabbi’s reversal riles Shoa memorial event.

    Organizers to vote on restoring ‘Hatikva’ to interfaith program.

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    Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg says omitting the Israeli anthem from the Holocaust commemoration would be “giving in to the current atmosphere of anti-Semitism.”.
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    Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg says omitting the Israeli anthem from the Holocaust commemoration would be “giving in to the current atmosphere of anti-Semitism.”.

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