Seventy years ago, on July 17, 1942, the Velodrome d'hiver Roundup took place in Paris. It was the greatest mass arrest of Jews ever carried out on French soil, and one of the main mass-arrests of Jews in Europe during World War II .
It took fifty-one years before a commemoration was held in memory of this crime. And it took two more years for a President of the Republic, Jacques Chirac, to acknowledge France's responsibility for this crime. The new French President, Francois Hollande, was even more explicit this year; he talked about a crime committed "in France, by France." He added, most pointedly, that anti-Semitism is not an opinion but "an abjection". At a time when anti-Semitism is in France again, and just four months ago in Toulouse the worst anti-Semitic crime to have been committed in France since World War II took place -- the murder of three Jewish children and the father of two of them, by a French Islamist -- these words are not enough. It is necessary to look deeper.
In fairness, France was not the only country in Europe to have been infected for centuries with anti-Semitism, but French authors have played a particularly important role in the formulation of racist theories and modern anti-Semitism.