“It’s true there are schools [in France] where you cannot teach the Holocaust,” Sarkozy said during an open discussion at the 15th Annual Herzliya Conference, according to a journalist from French BFM TV.
French law prohibits Holocaust denial in the classroom.
The former French president, who left office in 2012 after losing to current President Francois Hollande, apparently insisted three times during his 45 minutes of discussion that France is not an antisemitic country.
Recent reports have indicated that as many as three antisemitic attacks are committed against Jews in the country every day. The number of French Jews undergoing the immigration process to Israel doubled in 2014 compared to the year before.
And earlier this year, a lone gunman killed four hostages at a kosher supermarket in Paris, prompting the government to pledge $107 million to combat antisemitism.
The current chairman of France’s center-right The Republicans party, Sarkozy arrived in Israel on Sunday for meetings with Israeli officials and for the speaking engagement at Herzliya’s Interdisciplinary Center on Monday, for which he said he was not paid, according to French Blasting News.
He was also scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Coming on the heels of an Israel boycott controversy sparked by the CEO of French multinational mobile giant Orange, Sarkozy roundly rejected a French boycott of Israeli companies, calling such efforts “unacceptable.”
He said it was up to CEO Stephane Richard’s to visit Israel in order to explain himself.
“I know that Stephane Richard will come here to explain himself,” said Sarkozy, who many believe is gearing up for another run at the French presidency in 2017.