Marine Le Pen's planned attendance at an antisemitism march in Paris ignites a storm of criticism. * The National Rally's past and present ties with antisemitism under scrutiny amidst a surge in anti-Jewish acts in France.
In an era where the Jewish community continues to face threatening and dangerous times, the recent announcement by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen to attend a march against rising antisemitism in Paris has sparked a significant controversy. This move is seen by many as contradictory, given the antisemitic history of her party, the National Rally, formerly known as the National Front. The party's legacy includes the repeated convictions of its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine's father, for antisemitic hate speech and Holocaust denial. This article delves into the complex layers of this development, the reaction of the political and Jewish community, and the broader implications for antisemitism and politics in France.
CONTEXT AND CONTROVERSY
Marine Le Pen's decision to join the march, scheduled for a Sunday, has been met with a cacophony of criticism, especially in light of her party's tainted history with antisemitism. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, numerous political parties, and citizens are set to participate in this march, highlighting a united front against antisemitism. However, the National Rally's participation has reignited debates over its ideological transformation under Marine Le Pen, who expelled her father from the party and attempted to distance it from its antisemitic roots. Despite these efforts, the party president, Jordan Bardella's recent comments denying Jean-Marie Le Pen's antisemitism have raised questions about the sincerity of this transformation (AP News).
REACTIVATING OLD SCARS
The presence of Marine Le Pen and her party at the march is particularly significant given France's history with antisemitism, including its collaboration with the Nazis during World War II. The march, called amid a worrying rise in antisemitic acts, comes as a response to the alarming increase in anti-Jewish incidents in France, which has the largest Jewish population in Europe. The Interior Ministry reported 1,159 antisemitic acts since the beginning of October, a stark increase compared to the previous year. These incidents reopen old wounds and underscore the ongoing challenges faced by the Jewish community in France (AP News).
A JEWISH PERSPECTIVE
From a Jewish perspective, the participation of Marine Le Pen and her party in the march against antisemitism is met with skepticism and concern. The Jewish umbrella group CRIF, among others, has openly stated that Le Pen is not welcome at the march. This sentiment echoes the broader Jewish experience of vigilance against antisemitism, especially considering the history of far-right movements in Europe. The controversy also highlights the ongoing struggle to ensure that the fight against antisemitism remains genuine and not co-opted for political gain. The situation is a reminder of the persistent need for vigilance and action against all forms of antisemitism.