French elections: what role is antisemitism playing?

The number of crimes motivated by antisemitism in France has risen significantly since the recent escalation in the Middle East. Now the rape of a twelve-year-old girl, apparently motivated by antisemitism, has sent shock waves through the country. Against this backdrop, taking a stance on hostility towards Jews has become an election campaign issue. Several voices accuse representatives of the new left-wing alliance NFP who are critical of Israel of antisemitism. Europe's press observes the situation with concern.

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Libération (FR) /

Aiming at the wrong targets

In Libération, a group of Jewish academics and personalities condemns the Macron camp's antisemitism accusations against the LFI and NFP as instrumentalisation:

“Firstly because this whitewashes the far right, whose history and roots are inextricably linked to racism, antisemitism and xenophobia. Secondly, because it prevents the formation of a dam that could stop the RN. Thirdly, because it aims to break up the alliance of the left and the Greens, which will only help the far right - so this is an attempt to destroy the only credible alternative to this great threat to freedom, equality, fraternity and democracy. ... And finally, because it sabotages the fight against the resurgence of antisemitism in France and Europe, which is inextricably linked to the fight against other forms of racism.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Don't overlook the RN's xenophobia

We must not let ourselves be fooled, historians Marie-Anne Matard-Bonucci and Laurent Joly warn in Le Monde:

“By presenting itself as the 'self-proclaimed defender of the Jews of France', the Rassemblement National not only wants to overcome the last hurdle in it quest to become socially acceptable. In an attitude that runs counter to the openly displayed anti-Zionism of some leaders of La France Insoumise, it is trying to seduce an electorate frightened by the antisemitism which is experiencing a worrying resurgence against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But giving in to this temptation is a form of blindness that ignores the close link between xenophobia and antisemitism.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

A breeding ground for antisemitism

Kathimerini writes:

“Since France did not experience antisemitism during the Second World War to the extent that Germany did, it has implicitly integrated it into the tissue of democratic decency. But it has not eradicated it. With millions of Muslims on its territory and feelings of guilt about its colonial past, France, though a bastion of the West, is in danger of embodying what Pierre-André Taguieff calls 'the new antisemitism'. The left, having lost the working class to Le Pen, is struggling to fill the social vacuum with immigrants and Muslims. Hence its antisemitism.”

Expresso (PT) /

Entrepreneurs don't care about values

Expresso considers the way leading representatives of the French economy are flirting with a Le Pen victory to be dangerous and cowardly:

“For these entrepreneurs only the business-friendly mantra counts. The rest doesn't matter. Even though Le Pen's speeches follow populist trends and impulses and we never really know what to expect the next day. It's Kissinger's maxim applied to the economy: she's a fascist, but she's our fascist. Marine Le Pen's party isn't really fascist? Perhaps not, but that wouldn't matter anyway. All they care about is business.”

El País (ES) /

Left should stop quarrelling for now

El País says the left should put its differences aside:

“If everything is just sound and fury, society will split into two poles and the fate of an entire country will be played out in a game of heads or tails. ... The best thing that could happen to the New Popular Front would be for the LFI's leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon to take two steps back so that his party can make common cause with, for example, the social democrats led by Raphaël Glucksmann, one of the most interesting figures in French politics at the moment. The demonstrations against the right on the weekend revealed a common sense that many of us have been missing. One banner read: 'We can argue later'. That's right. There are other priorities right now.”