This week’s historic gathering of the leaders of the Western World in Jerusalem to ostensibly combat antisemitism took a bit of an embarrassing turn on Wednesday when French President Emmanuel Macron essentially kicked a Jew out of a church.
During a visit to the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem’s Old City, Macron was filmed yelling at an Israeli security guard who had dared to enter the compound, which is considered French territory.
“Everybody knows the rules … they aren’t going to change with me … Outside, please,” the French president told the Israeli.
— Ava Djamshidi (@AvaDjamshidi) January 22, 2020
The Israel Police later issued a statement claiming that the French had apologized for their president’s behavior, but Macron’s office countered by vehemently denying any contrition on his part.
Question of protocol, or Jewish sovereignty?
The French will argue that the entire incident was merely a matter of protocol. St. Anne’s was gifted to the French government by the Ottoman Sultan in 1856, and has ever since been considered sovereign French territory. The security forces of foreign nations are not permitted entry.
But the reality is that France, like many other European nations, denies Israel’s right to exercise sovereignty over any part of the eastern half of Jerusalem, including the Old City.