The President of the Republic received the Lord Jacobovits Prize, given to European leaders who fight against anti-Semitism. Denouncing the holding of a religious festival at the Palace separately, the oppositions denounced the non-respect of secularism.
The sequence makes some people cringe. While Emmanuel Macron held a ceremony Thursday evening in the Salle des Fêtes of the Élysée, to receive the Lord Jacobovits Prize – granted to European heads of state and government (such as Angela Merkel in 2013 or King Felipe in 2016) , who fight against anti-Semitism and defend the freedom to practice the Jewish religion -, the head of state attended the first evening of Hanukkah. Several videos circulating on social networks show the President of the Republic, alongside the Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia, lighting a candle, using another, on the candlestick placed on the desk in front of him. Contacted, the Élysée insists on the “context» of this evening, which did not carry “never» on the celebration of this Jewish holiday.
If Emmanuel Macron obviously did not participate in any religious act or word, in the name of the secularism of the State and its duty of neutrality towards all religions, this filmed moment begins to annoy the oppositions. Whatever they are. Thursday evening, the LR mayor of Cannes David Lisnard asked himself “how can we refuse to participate in a civic march against anti-Semitism on the incongruous and fallacious grounds of safeguarding national unity, and celebrate a religious festival within the presidential palace?» The head of state had, it is true, not marched at the big demonstration of November 12, bringing together the entire political class, including representatives of the RN, with the exception of rebellious leaders.
The Elysée, a “place of worship”
The president of the Association of Mayors of France (AMF) even joked “a first» which is, according to him, “contrary to secularism“. Guest of BFMTV, RN deputy Laurent Jacobelli “understands that it may come as a surprise that the President of the Republic is celebrating a religious ceremony in the heart of the Élysée“. According to him, “perhaps Emmanuel Macron wants to counter the troubled image he was able to give to our Jewish compatriots by not participating in the march.» For its part, the Élysée intends to nip the controversy in the bud by affirming that “several foreign heads of state» have already taken part in this type of religious celebration, which generally takes place in December.
What does it matter for the left, which was not left out. “This evening, the Élysée Palace has become a place of worship. And Sunday morning, the Latin mass? Secularism, when you hold us», jeered LFI deputy Adrien Quatennens. Former senator and member of the PS David Assouline, for his part, charged a “president who navigates by sight, without principles or guidelines.” “The Republic was waiting for him to demonstrate against anti-Semitism, he was not there. Secular, she was not expecting him for a religious festival at the Élysée“, he added. Same story with more local personalities. “France is a Secular Republic, the Élysée like town halls cannot be places of worship», criticized the PS mayor of Montpellier Michael Delafosse.