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May 7, 2017 4:26 pm

French Jews, Relieved by Le Pen Election Defeat, Still Cautious About Future

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France’s new President, Emmanuel Macron, comfortably defeated Marine Le Pen in the election’s second round. Photo: Wikicommons

French Jews breathed a sigh of relief as far right candidate Marine Le Pen was roundly defeated by centrist Emmanuel Macron in the second and final round of the country’s presidential election on Sunday — but experts warned that the community still faces tough decisions over its long-term future.

Projections after the polls closed showed Macron with a comfortable 65 percent of the vote. However, the new French president will be acutely aware that a full 25 percent of voters abstained on the second ballot. As a whole, the election was dominated by extremist challenges, from Le Pen’s National Front on the right and Jean-Luc Melenchon — who won almost 20% of the first-round vote — on the communist-dominated far left.

Macron’s victory on Sunday brought some temporary respite to French Jews, experts told The Algemeiner.

“French Jews are very positive about the result, they didn’t want Le Pen to win, so they are happy with that,” said Dr. Dov Maimon, the head of the Europe Desk at the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) in Jerusalem. “Maybe 5 or 10% voted for her, but 90% percent were against her with good reason.”

Michel Gurfinkiel, a leading French political analyst and president of the Jean-Jacques Rosseau Institute in Paris, agreed that the majority of Jews will be pleased by Le Pen’s defeat. “But a majority will still be concerned about their future,” he said.

Francis Kalifat, president of the French Jewish representative organization CRIF, tweeted his congratulations at Macron. “It all starts now,” Kalifat declared.

While the immediate threats that would have been posed by a National Front victory have abated — among them a prohibition on the wearing of kippot in public places, measures against Jewish ritual slaughter, and a ban on dual nationality that would have harshly impacted French Jews in Israel — the general pessimism about the community’s long-term future remains.

“Macron is a supporter of multiculturalism, which in this case means more power for the Muslim community,” Maimon observed. “70 percent of French Muslims say they don’t like Jews.”

A 2014 poll conducted by CRIF found that over 70 percent of French Muslims believed that Jews “had too much power” over the nation’s media and financial system.

Gurfinkiel said that while Macron had made several statements to reassure the Jewish community in the run-up to the election, many Jews remain nervous about some of his key political allies. Among them is the secretary-general of Macron’s En Marche! political movement, veteran socialist politician Richard Ferrand. As well as having donated 2,ooo Euros to a Palestinian solidarity group in 2016, Ferrand is said to be a supporter of the BDS movement targeting Israel. Macron, for his part, has voiced firm opposition towards the BDS campaign.

Gurfinkiel said that similar concerns had emerged around former French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, another Macron ally and a frequent critic of Israel. “The big question mark is over whether he will keep these people around,” Gurfinkiel said.

Uncertainty among French Jews is not likely to dissipate over the next four weeks, as Macron begins campaigning for a working majority in next month’s parliamentary elections. Gurfinkiel said there was a possibility that the National Front would dissolve into a new party with wider appeal, meaning that Le Pen could end up “as the leader not just of the populist right, but of the entire conservative right in France.”

The coming weeks will see some clarification of the major political questions, said Gurfinkiel. “Is everybody going to flock around Macron? Is the hard left going to try and make it by itself against the National Front and Macron? Is the conservative right able to undergo some kind of resurrection?” he asked.

Maimon emphasized that the deeper dilemmas faced by French Jews would not be resolved by a single election. As well as antisemitism and the preservation of Jewish identity, he said, French Jews were worried about the economy, a decline in prosperity and, most of all, the education of the younger generation.

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  • robert Davis

    You have no strategy you work on shoe strings : 1. If there has been antisemitism at Trump’s arrival is a moslem reaction to a fact they perceived rightly as very bad for them not bcs Trump did something wrong. 2. As for french jews “ça va pas qu’Est-ce qu’ils font” is jibberish not french (ce qu’ils font ne va pas…) and President Trump’s talk with macron is just a polite tradition nothing important except for your shoe string “strategy”…

  • robert Davis

    You know everything better don’t you? I’m jewish all right and live in France and know better about french jews than you. I also have a better strategy than you as you don’t seem to make a difference between what’s important and what’s not. You fight for shoe strings. To revert to Marine her fight against religious signs is strategic, that would help against muslims which is the important matter.Anyway no one can be worse than hollande except…macron, “bébé hollande” as we call him.

  • steelraptor from Saturn

    Oh the so-called Zionist thinks Le Pen the Jew-hater is a better option. The one who wants to ban Jewish rituals, and who denies French complicity in the Holocaust. And wants to end dual citizenship, and that means dual French-Israeli citizenship. But being a Christian, why would you have a problem with that? Zionist my ass.

  • WB93

    I see that this ‘news’ outlet is censoring my comment. Won’t repeat it, and expect that this also will be censored. Just more proof of the irrelevance of Jewish Establishment defenders and the modern Judenrat that keeps us focused on irrelevant issues, distracted from our Torah-mandated responsibilities..

  • Hard Little Machine

    They were faced with two options. On the one hand a state sponsored pogrom and being trapped inside France unable to emigrate. And on the other, a pro Muslim bureaucracy that will stand aside as others foment a pogrom on their behalf but still willing to let them flee.

    Flee is the operant word here. Expect the population of French Jews to decline 5% a year or more.

  • WB93

    Reminds me of the Jews who were happy that the NSDAP won the 1933 elections (don’t scoff… there were many such Jews).

    French Jews, like most Jews (even in Israel), are living in the LaPuta exile… disconnected from the reality of Islam’s threat to our existence (even worse than the NSDAP).

    Maybe the only good thing about dhimmi Macron’s ‘win’ will be an increase in Aliyah to Israel by those few who realize what’s really going on and don’t believe the lies about ‘peaceful’ or ‘moderate’ Islam.

  • RichieM

    But they’re fine with the now guaranteed increased invasion into France of more Jew-hating Muslims? Idiots!!

  • robert Davis

    “the coming weeks” will be too late you idiot gurfinkel! To believe what liars say is a stupidity and you probably are aware of it but only want to keep your job being nice to macron. We jews must now make macron’s job difficult and boot out the jewish elite.

  • steelraptor from Saturn

    Many conservative Americans who pass themselves off as pro-Israel, including Zionist Jews, were rooting for the anti-Semite Le Pen. Her anti-Semitism doesn’t bother many of them at all, simply because she passes herself off as anti-Islamist. I include the likes of Pamela Geller, whose blog deleted my comments pointing out that Le Pen is an anti-Semite very soon after I posted them up. Today. My other comments were allowed to stand (on the same thread). Glad that Algemeiner gets it on Le Pen, as do most French Jews, who unlike most American Jews, actually support Israel.

    Macron is still terrible, another Hollande. No good candidates here, no good news all-round. Just a sinking ever deeper into the mire. Things will continue to get worse. Like America.