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French Jews urged to leave as far right wins first election round

The final result in France’s presidential election is uncertain, but the initial success of both the far right and far left is frightening the Jewish community.
TJI Wrap
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French far-right leader Marine Le Pen

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, left, attends a press conference in June (AP/Christophe Ena).

Published: 2 July 2024

Last updated: 2 July 2024

“It is clear today that there is no future for Jews in France. I tell everyone who is young to go to Israel or a more secure country.” 

These words are the response of Grande Synagogue of Paris Chief Rabbi Moshe Sebbag to the results of the first round of the French presidential election held last weekend.

Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally (RN) party scored historic gains to win the first round with around 34% of the vote, according to exit polls. In second place with 29% of the vote was the New Popular Front (NFP), a left-wing coalition that is equally unpalatable for the Jewish community due to anti-Zionist and, arguably, antisemitic elements.

The final result will depend on political dealmaking over the next week.

The result is a huge setback for President Emmanuel Macron who had called the snap election after his ticket was trounced by the RN in European Parliament elections earlier this month, where the far right also made unprecedented gains.

Macron’s Renaissance party has plummeted to 22% of the vote, putting it in third place. The traditional right, which regularly held power until 2012, has become all but insignificant.

Massive violent and destructive protests, sponsored by the far-left Disobedient France party and led by the Palestinian flag, are promised if the National Rally wins.

In the past, centre-right and centre-left parties have teamed up to keep the RN from power, but that dynamic, known as the "republican front," may not work this time.

Another possibility is that the anti-immigrant, eurosceptic RN could form a coalition government with the pro-EU Macron — an unprecedented and uncomfortable marriage.

If no candidate reaches 50% in the first round, the top two contenders automatically qualify for the second round, as well as all those with 12.5% of registered voters. In the run-off, the candidate with the highest number of votes forms the government.

For France’s Jewish community significant influence from either the RN on the far right or the NFP on the left is deeply threatening.

The far left is blatantly hostile to both Israel and its leader Jean-Luc Melenchon shows little sympathy with Jews. He recently declared there was “only residual” antisemitism in France.

The far right is more complicated. Marine Le Pen has dissociated herself from the outright antisemitism of her father, the notorious Jean-Marie Le Pen, and the party has strongly supported Israel and condemned Muslim antisemitism.

Many Jews regard the RN as the lesser of two evils — but far right governments have never been safe for Jews and the party's strong nationalism and anti-immigration attitudes do not sit well with its Jewish community.

A far right government would also be likely to set off popular antisemitism on the streets, writes analyst Dr Dov Maimon, a Senior Fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute.

“Massive violent and destructive protests, sponsored by the far-left Disobedient France party and led by the Palestinian flag, are promised if the National Rally wins. With the Olympics in the capital, the Tour de France, and the indigenous rebellion in French New Caledonia, will the state be able to prevent massive riots, unlike in July 2023? Back then, Jewish shops were targeted. Now that Gaza has become a rallying cry against Jews and Israel, who will protect French Jews this time?” he wrote.


Paris Grand Synagogue Rabbi: ‘There is no future for Jews in France’ (Jerusalem Post)

Far right wins first round in France election, final result uncertain, exit polls show (Reuters)

French Jews turn to far-right National Rally: 'We're voting for the nicest enemy' (Jerusalem Post)

Who will protect France’s Jews? (Dov Maimon, Times of Israel)


Bizarre French election dominated by an obsession with Jews (TJI)


  • Avatar of Betty Rosengart

    Betty Rosengart4 July at 12:53 am

    Your title got it really wrong! Or your aim is for proe to repeat just that. Jews are afraid of Melenchon more than the far right. Some well known Jewish people even mentioned that they would vote RN rather than the left party. Melenchon or left is actively stirring the “muslim vote”. That man is ready to use any mean to get to power. The more he fails the more extremist he is getting. A real danger for French democracy.

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