French march against anti-Semitism after alarming rise in attacks on Jews

“The Republic united against anti-Semitism”, on a flag in the march (Reuters) (CLAUDIA GRECO/)

Thousands of people demonstrate this Sunday against antisemitism in Francewhere hostile acts towards Jews have skyrocketed in the last month due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

“A France where our fellow Jews are afraid is not France,” said the French president, Emmanuel Macronin a letter published in the newspaper Le Parisianbefore the march called by the leaders of Parliament.

Anti-Semitic chants in the Paris metro, insults in the street and on social networks, spitting on Jews, graffiti,… France, which is home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, has recorded more than 1,000 anti-Semitic acts since the Hamas attack on 7 October.

Poster with faces of Hamas hostages (Reuters)
Poster with faces of Hamas hostages (Reuters) (CLAUDIA GRECO/)

In parallel to the Paris demonstration, are planned today more than 70 demonstrations against anti-Semitism throughout Francethe country that has the largest Jewish community in Europe, with about 500,000 people, but also that of Muslims, with several million.

And with each escalation of the conflict in the Middle East, France becomes an echo chamber of tension.

To “send a clear message that France does not accept anti-Semitism”, the president of the National Assembly (lower house), Yaël Braun-Pivet, and her counterpart in the Senate (upper house), Gérard Larcher, called the “great march” this Sunday.

“Jews need to hear a cry of solidarity and brotherhood on the issue of anti-Semitism,” asked the president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (Crif), Yonathan Arfi, on Saturday on the BFMTV network.

Fabien Roussel, secretary of the Communist Party, Marine Tondelier, leader of the Ecologists, and Olivier Faure, secretary of the Socialist Party (Reuters)
Fabien Roussel, secretary of the Communist Party, Marine Tondelier, leader of the Ecologists, and Olivier Faure, secretary of the Socialist Party (Reuters) (CLAUDIA GRECO/)

The Jewish community in Europe remains marked by the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed Thursday to protect Jews and “never again” tolerate anti-Semitism.

Controversial act of the left

France Insoumise (LFI) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, which did not want to participate in the parade called this afternoon, organized an event in a place full of memory for the persecution of the Jews, but it was disturbed by protesters, mostly Jews .

The several hundred people who attended the LFI meeting in a space where the Winter Velodrome was located – the place of detention in July 1942 of thousands of Jews by the French police before many of them were deported to death camps – they met with boos and crashes which forced the police to intervene.

Members of the Jewish community hold placards reading
Members of the Jewish community hold banners reading “Do not touch the Vel d’Hiv (Winter Velodrome)” and “Do not tarnish the memory” as they protest against a rally organized by the party La France Insoumise (AFP) (GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/)

Antoine Léaumont, deputy of the radical left party, justified his absence in the parade of the two presidents of the parliamentary chambers at that event because “fighting against anti-Semitism and against the extreme right is the same thing.”

Controversial presence of the extreme right

However, the march organized by Braun-Pivet and Larcher is expected to be controversial due to the presence of the far-right party. National Group (RN), heir to Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front (FN), famous for its anti-Semitic comments.

The current leader of RN, her daughter Marine Le Pendefended his presence at the march, ensuring that he “separated himself” from his father’s past and reiterated that “support” for the French “of Jewish confession” should not give rise to “ambiguities.”

For far-right and anti-Semitism specialist Nonna Mayer, Marine Le Pen, who launched a strategy in 2011 to appear less extremist, broke with her father’s “anti-Semitism”, but not the followers of her training.

“This party has an old tradition of anti-Semitism, even if its main enemy is the immigrant, the foreigner, the Muslim,” he assured the newspaper. Le Monde Mayer, for whom Le Pen “instrumentalizes” this struggle for political purposes.

Although the demonstration seeks to show “unity”, the refusal of the ruling party, as well as environmentalists, communists and socialists, to parade alongside the extreme right divided it into several sections. The presidents of the bicameral Parliament, the centrist Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne and former presidents of France will open the march, which will have a section made up of the left-wing opposition and another from Le Pen’s party.

France's former President Francois Hollande (R) is welcomed by President of the French National Assembly Yael Braun-Pivet (C) and French Senate President Gerard Larcher (L) at Hotel de Lassay, residency of the President of the National Assembly in Paris ahead of a march against anti-Semitism in Paris, on November 12, 2023. Tens of thousands are expected to march Sunday in Paris against anti-Semitism amid bickering by political parties over who should take part and a surge in anti-Semitic incidents across France.  Tensions have been rising in the French capital, home to large Jewish and Muslim communities, in the wake of the October 7 attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel, followed by a month of Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.  France has recorded nearly 12,250 anti-Semitic acts since the attack.  National Assembly speaker Yael Braun-Pivet and Gerard Larcher, the Senate speaker, called on November 7 for a
Former president Francois Hollande is received by the head of the National Assembly, Yael Braun-Pivet, and the president of the Senate, Gerard Larcher (AFP) (THOMAS SAMSON/)

Asked on Saturday if he would attend the march, Macron said no and stressed his consistent role “in building the unity of the country,” but assured that he would be “heartfelt.”

The radical left party France Insoumise (LFI), the target of criticism for its refusal to call Hamas a “terrorist” despite condemning its attack, will also not participate in the march due to the presence of RN.

After having been practically prohibited in the first days of the war due to the risk alleged by the Government of disturbances to public order, pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been organized in France in recent weeks, such as the one that yesterday in Paris brought together 16,200 people, according to the police.

Also yesterday there was an attack against a pro-Palestinian event in Lyon, with the irruption of around fifty members of a small group of extreme right-wing groups who, hooded and armed with iron bars, injured three people who had to be evacuated to a hospital. .

(With information from AFP)