Prominent French Socialist Faces Potential Legal Action Over Antisemitic Tweet Depicting Macron as Agent of Jewish Conspiracy
A leading French Socialist Party (PS) politician was on Monday facing expulsion and possible legal proceedings following a crudely antisemitic tweet which displayed France’s president, Emanuel Macron, in the grip of a Jewish financial conspiracy.
Gérard Filoche — a member of the PS National Bureau and veteran labor unionist — posted the offending tweet on Friday night. An accompanying photo montage showed Macron wearing a Nazi armband with the swastika altered to a dollar sign. Looming behind Macron were three prominent Jews — the economist Jacques Attali, and the investors Patrick Drahi and Jacob Rothschild — flanked by the American and Israeli flags. Filoche added as a comment, “A dirty guy, as all the French people will know soon enough.”
Filoche deleted the tweet shortly after posting it — but not before it had been widely shared. On Monday, he told the French newspaper Liberation, “I withdrew this message and I apologized, it was bullsh*t.”
Filoche claimed that he had not posted the tweet himself, and that it had been removed as soon as it was brought to his attention. He blamed “Macron and the right-wing of the PS” for drawing attention to the tweet to gain political advantage.
“Where is the problem?” he complained.
By Monday, moves were afoot to both expel Filoche from the PS and bring him to court on charges of violating France’s stringent anti-hate speech laws. Senior PS official Rachid Temal, elected as a senator for the party in this year’s elections, said he had launched a process to expel Filoche soon after the tweet was posted.
Je viens d’engager une procédure d’exclusion à l’encontre de Gérard Filoche suite à ce tweet. pic.twitter.com/P5yDQeFkYL
— Rachid Temal (@RachidTemal) November 17, 2017
One of the three Jewish individuals named in the tweet, former head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Jacques Attali, announced on Monday he was initiating legal proceedings for “incitement to racial hatred.” Attali noted dryly that the imagery used by Filoche invoked the classic fixations of antisemitism. “A head of the state who is the puppet of the Jews isn’t anything new,” the Algiers-born Attali said, adding that he was receiving antisemitic death threats on social media on a daily basis.
CRIF, the representative body of French Jews, announced that it would be pursuing a legal complaint against Filoche. The organization said it “condemned Gérard Filoche’s publication of an antisemitic caricature worthy of Vichy” — a reference to the pro-Nazi regime in occupied France from 1940-44.
In his interview with Liberation, Filoche was asked whether he was aware that the offending image had been lifted from the website of Alain Soral — a far-right French activist known for his political collaboration with Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, an antisemitic agitator who describes himself as a comedian, and who has been frequently fined by the French authorities for his baiting of the Jewish community.
“No, I did not know, I was told after it was something from Soral,” Filoche said.
Filoche then asked, “We want to make believe that I am a red-brown?” a term used to describe someone with a combination of communist and fascist views. “That’s wrong, I’m red-red,” he continued. “Antisemitism, racism, it’s out of my world.”
The association of Jews with wealth and power has been a major factor behind antisemitic violence in France over the last decade and a half. Recently-released statistics from the SPCJ, a communal defense body, revealed that French Jews are the target of 30 percent of racist attacks in the country, despite constituting less than one percent of the population. In several cases of theft and kidnapping involving Jewish victims — such as the robbery of a Jewish family in their own Paris home while they were tied up and beaten last September — the assailants have insisted that cash, jewelry and similar valuables must be at hand because “Jews are rich.”