Why French Jews Believed the Political Right and Marine LePen Could Save Them—and France
Marine Le Pen (center), president of France’s National Rally party, walks with a crowd in Paris in 2018 to honor Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Jewish woman who was murdered in an antisemitic attack in her home. (Photo by Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images)

Why French Jews Believed the Political Right Could Save Them—and France

Caught between ‘one monster and another,’ many Jews chose the party willing to stand up against radical Islam. They lost.

GORDES, FRANCE — On Saturday night, I was at a birthday party here, in Provence, and everyone was asking everyone else whether they planned to vote fascist in Sunday’s election. Most of the attendees were Jews.

They were being a tad ironic. They don’t think the current incarnation of the National Rally party is actually fascist. No swastikas. No goose-stepping. 

But the party is fascist-adjacent. It’s the direct descendant of fascists: the National Rally (formerly known as the National Front) is run by Marine Le Pen, the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the National Front in 1972 and hated Jews. (Among other Le Pen lowlights is this 1987 quip: “I’m not saying the gas chambers didn’t exist. I haven’t seen them myself. I haven’t particularly studied the question. But I believe it’s just a detail in the history of World War II.”)

But that was then. And now? Well, now the “fascists” and the Jews are bound together by a common foe: radical Islam, which has cut a gaping hole through the French body politic.

Now, the French far right and many of the country’s 500,000 Jews believe that they are under siege, and that unless something radical changes, France will soon be lost forever.

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