The Rock and the Hard Place

As election looms, French Jews are

trapped between antisemitic Left and Right


As the French presidential election looms, the country's Jews find themselves between a rock and a hard place, squeezed between growing antisemitism from both the Left and the Right.

On the Right, there is the figure of Marine Le Pen, who espouses an intense form of nationalism and whose party, the National Front, has a long history of antisemitism.

The Alegemeiner quotes Jewish leader Robert Ejnes saying,

The extreme right is promoting exclusion, hate and nationalism — which have never been good tendencies for the Jews. Many in the National Front party still express the xenophobic, racist and antisemitic ideas of Jean-Marie Le Pen (the founder of the National Front and Marine Le Pen’s father).

Many would think this would lead the Jews to embrace the Left, but this is not so.

"The extreme left political parties are very anti-Zionist," says Ejnes.

It is not the policies of the Israeli government that they criticize, but the very existence of Israel. Anti-Zionist ideas very often hide antisemitic expressions. Both the extreme left and right do not share our values of democracy and justice.

French Jews are deeply Zionist and strongly attacked to Israel. As a result of this, says journalist Jonathan Simon-Sellem,

French Jews are concerned by Marine Le Pen, of course, but also no less by the far-left communist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who is gaining a lot of strength in the polls. ... [Melenchon] gets support from a lot of antisemites on the left and backers of the BDS movement.

Philippe Karsenty, a center-Right deputy mayor, seconds this sentiment, saying,

The main worry for French Jews is, apart from Le Pen, we have some leftists who are very, very anti-Israel. We’re concerned about the slow move against Israel and against the Jews which has been seen for the last 70 years in Europe. Each and every time, it is getting worse and worse and worse.

In many ways, the situation in French reflects the larger dilemma faced by Europe's Jews: Antisemitism on both sides of the political spectrum is getting worse, and there will soon be nowhere for the Jews to turn for support and protection.

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