Voz media US Voz.us

Elections in France: Why many Jews will vote for Marine Le Pen's party?

The right-wing leader's faction is the only one that has spoken out forcefully against antisemitism and sided with Israel like no other. The fear campaign against Le Pen is not working because, apparently, the known reality is far worse than the uncertainty her party in power can produce.

Protest against antisemitism in Paris, France, after a teenage girl was allegedly raped for being Jewish.Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP

Published by

A large number of French Jews have publicly expressed their willingness to vote for the right-wing National Rally party (RN, by its French acronym), led by Marine Le Pen, following the faction's overwhelming victory in the European elections. The situation resulted in President Emmanuel Macron dissolving the Parliament (National Assembly) and calling for legislative elections for Sunday, June 30 and July 7, less than three weeks after the heavy defeat suffered by his faction.

Given  that several members of the Jewish community have expressed their willingness to vote for RN has drawn the attention of some analysts due to the fact that Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of that political force and father of the current leader of the party, has made repudiable antisemitic expressions.

The RN party is emerging as the favorite to win the elections. The right-wing faction is estimated to get just over 36% of the vote, while Renaissance, Macron's political force, will be supported by around 20% of voters, leaving it in third place. The leftist New Popular Front coalition is projected to come in second with 30% of the vote.

In a article published in Foreign Policy, Professor Robert Zaretsky pointed out that the New Popular Front consists mainly of the parties France Insoumise, the French Communist Party, the Ecologists and the Socialist Party.

After the war broke out in Gaza in response to the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, Danièle Obono, a parliamentarian from the far-left France Insoumise faction described Hamas as a "resistance movement." Meanwhile Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the party's leader, refused to describe the massacre of Israeli civilians as an act of terrorism.

In addition, Mélenchon and his close circle refused to participate in a march against antisemitism, in which Marine Le Pen did participate. While leftist leaders claimed that the presence of the right-wing politician was the reason for their decision not to attend the event, internal conflict in the leftist New Popular Front coalition was inevitable.

Mélenchon has also noted that antisemitism in France is "residual," despite a significant increase in antisemitic incidents in the country. After the alleged attack on a 12-year-old teenage girl, who was raped for being Jewish in a suburb of Paris, Mélenchon expressed his "horror" for what happened and condemned the "antisemitic racism." He was the target of several critical voices that pointed against him since they considered that his expressions and silences contributed to the social atmosphere that derived in this crime.

Among those critical voices was that of Raphaël Glucksmann, an important leader of the New Popular Front who is the grandson of left-wing Zionists and a critic of Soviet communism. Glucksmann has called the Hamas attack terrorist, supports Ukraine in the war against Russia and is a supporter of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, members of the Jewish community have criticized him for belonging to a coalition they consider antisemitic.

Zaretsky explained in his article that the French Jewish community was justifiably repulsed by the National Front party - now known as National Rally - because its founder and former leader Jean-Marie Le Pen was an open antisemite and Holocaust denier. However, since Marine inherited the leadership of a faction in 2011, she not only changed its name, but also declared the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis as the "summum of barbarism" and purged its ranks of its most shameful elements, including her father.

On the other hand, the prospect of a New Popular Front government dominated by Indomitable France resulted in many members of the Jewish community surprisingly expressing a preference for National Rally. Indeed, Serge Klarsfeld, the well-known French Nazi-hunter, argued that Marine Le Pen's faction had "evolved" and now "supports Jews," while France Insoumise is a "decidedly anti-Jewish party."

Likewise, French Jewish intellectual Alain Finkielkraut, author of "The Imaginary Jew," among other well-known works, confessed that in order to prevent the spread of antisemitism he might be "forced" to vote for RN.

Support for National Rally has also come from Israel. Amichai Chikli, the Israeli Minister of Diaspora and Combating Antisemitism, thanked Le Pen in May this year for her opposition to the International Criminal Court's decision to equate the Jewish state, the only democracy in the Middle East, with the terrorist group Hamas."Friendship is tested by actions, not words. On behalf of many good citizens of Israel, thank you Marine Le Pen," the minister said.

Islamism, one of the roots of antisemitism in France

Hostility towards Jews by a large number of members of the Muslim community in France, composed mainly of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from North African nations, is one of the main concerns of French Jews.  This could also explain the support of many members of this collectivity for Le Pen, who has repeatedly stated her intention to act firmly against Islamists and to implement tougher immigration measures.

According to a report published in May by the Israeli media Yediot Ahronot and Ynet and the French newspaper Le Parisien, 44% of Jews in the country hide their Jewish identity in public and 80% consider that the police and the judicial system do not work adequately to take care of them.

According to the report, 61% of French Jews have been victims of at least one antisemitic act because they consider them "responsible or guilty for the policies of the Israeli government."

The report adds that a quarter of French Jews have been victims of an antisemitic incident since October 7, and 73% of them have suffered threats and harassment on social media.

The report further claims that 66% of the Muslim population living in France is antisemitic. And it adds that more than 50% of all young Muslims think that Jews control the media and politics.

According to a report by Israel's Ministry of Diaspora and Combating Antisemitism, published in January of this year, in France there was a 430% increase in applications to emigrate to the Jewish state following the October 7 massacre due to an increase in antisemitic events in the country. Some of these incidents include the stabbing of a Jewish woman, attacks by children in the streets, the burning of doors of Jewish homes and the painting of Stars of David on the front of houses where Jewish members of the community live in Paris and its suburbs.

The report adds that a large part of the antisemitic aggressions are perpetrated by people belonging to the second and third generation of immigrants from Islamic countries, who were born and educated in France. Antisemitism is also heavily influenced by the social polarization in France between the right and the left, as well as by the growing cooperation between radical Islamists and far-left elements.

Le Pen seems to be the only alternative for the Jewish community

Rassemblement Nationale has a grim past. Nevertheless, Marine Le Pen seems not to have been infected by her father's hatred and has expressed her support for the Jewish community and Israel repeatedly and over the years. However, the right-wing leader must be vigilant to keep at bay any extremists who try to rear their heads in her party.

The Jewish community has surely had enough of Macron's tibidity and the antisemitism of the left, so everything seems to indicate that it feels the need to lean toward the only option that, as the Israeli minister said, not only speaks, but also acts to improve the lives of Jews in France.

Islamism in France is a clear threat, not only to the Jewish community, but to all French people who want to live in freedom; even more so when radical Muslims join with leftists in a bizarre alliance to try to impose their agendas as liberticidal as they are opposed to each other.

The support for Le Pen by many Jews demonstrates the weariness of a community that has been living in fear for too many years, and this fear cannot be solved by a lukewarm Macron or an alliance of antisemitic liberticidalists composed of leftists and Islamists.

"The explosion of antisemitic acts, 300% more than in the first three months of 2023, should alert all French people: the stigmatization of Jews for months now by the extreme left through the instrumentalization of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a real threat to civil peace," Le Pen expressed after the rape suffered by the Jewish teenager in Paris. And she added that "everyone should be fully aware of this on June 30 and July 7," referring to the upcoming legislative elections in France. And it seems that Jews got the message.

The harsh polarization in France has been caused by a series of governments that apparently did not want to control an intolerant and radicalized immigration for short-term political reasons. Now it is too late for regrets. The country's Jews and the French in general need a solution, or at least a breath of fresh air. The fear campaign against Le Pen is not working because the known reality is much worse than the uncertainty that National Rally in power can produce.