Marine Le Pen blasted by Israel over Holocaust comments

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On Sunday, Le Pen "wanted to add fuel to the fire" after a debate that failed to move the needle for her campaign last week, said Nicolas Lebourg, a historian who specialises in the far right.

Marine Le Pen got into some hot water today for claiming that France should not be held responsible for the "1942 "Vel d'Hiv" roundup in which more than 13,000 Jews were arrested to be deported to Nazi concentration camps", BloombergPolitcs reported.

Those responsible "were those in charge at the time", she said.

Chirac's Socialist predecessor Francois Mitterand had refused to acknowledge responsibility for the deportations, saying in 1994: "The republic had nothing to do with that".

"I think France isn't responsible for the Vel d'Hiv", National Front's Le Pen told the French press on Sunday of the German-ordered roundup of Parisian Jews on July 16, 1942, Reuters reports.

While her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who led the FN until he passed the baton to his daughter in 2011, revelled in minimising the Holocaust, Marine Le Pen has sought to purge the FN of anti-Semitism and even expelled her father from the party because of his comments.

With National Front head Marine Le Pen and Macron leading the field, the race remains wide open, with material swings in support possible in the final days.

Also throwing neutrality to the wind was Francois Durpaire, an educator and historian who co-authored a comic book titled "La Presidente" (using the feminine form of the noun) depicting France under Le Pen. The top two candidates contest a May 7 runoff, where Macron is tipped to easily beat Le Pen.

French polling firm IFOP says its surveys show a "constant progression of the National Front among the gay electorate" since Marine Le Pen took over.

He was convicted of contesting crimes against humanity.

Reminiscent of the runup to Trump's election a year ago, many artists have said they would prefer exile to living under Le Pen.

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Some of them managed to enter the hall where Ms Le Pen was expected to speak. She has instead targeted Muslims, voicing fears their civilization will upend that of France.

Former president Jacques Chirac was the first French leader to admit the country's culpability in 1995.

"I think that, in general, if there are people responsible, it is those who were in power at the time".

"This declaration is contrary to historical truth, as expressed in the statements of successive French presidents who recognized France's responsibility for the fate of the French Jews who perished in the Holocaust", the ministry said in a statement.

In what will also be familiar to American voters from Election 2016, the French political and media establishment is vocally anti-Le Pen.

Macron said Monday: "It's the true face of the French far right, the face that I am fighting".

Courting LGBT voters, "pinkwashing" the far-right, has been a delicate dance for Le Pen.

"Everything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger", he told a cheering crowd in Clermont-Ferrand in central France on Friday.

Surprisingly, research of voting patterns also shows that one-third of gays who Wednesday after France legalized same-sex marriage in 2013 voted for National Front candidates in the 2015 regional elections - even though the party would scrap the marriage equality law.

This would mean both qualifying for the run-off scheduled for May 7, which polls suggest Macron would win comfortably - although analysts caution against firm predictions.

Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Jeffrey Schaeffer in Paris contributed.

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