French Socialist Party Expels Gérard Filoche, Politician at Center of Antisemitic Tweet Row
The French politician at the center of a row over an antisemitic tweet was expelled from the country’s Socialist Party (PS) on Tuesday, hours after he found himself in a furious exchange with a presenter on an Israeli TV channel.
Gérard Filoche — a leading labor unionist and member of the National Bureau of former President Francois Hollande’s recently-ousted PS — sparked outrage across France with a tweet he posted last Friday promoting classical antisemitic conspiracy theories.
The tweet showed newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron wearing a Nazi armband with the swastika altered to a dollar sign. Looming behind Macron were three prominent Jews — the economist Jacques Attali, the investor Patrick Drahi and the banker 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.”
On Monday — after separate announcements from Attali and French Jewish organization CRIF that they would be pursuing legal action against Filoche, as well as confirmation from the PS that it was preparing to expel him for his “inexcusable” tweet — the embattled far-left figurehead became embroiled in an angry argument on Israeli TV channel i24.
Filoche and presenter Anna Cabana spoke over each other for much of the exchange, as she became increasingly exasperated with Filoche’s constant appeals to his record as a founder and activist with French anti-racist group SOS Racisme.
“Capitalism is what feeds antisemitism,” Filoche declared. “Read how the capitalists put Hitler in power. Capitalism is competition — it’s competition, it’s violence. ”
Watch the clash between Gérard Filoche and i24 presenter Anna Cabana:
Filoche then played down the scale of his offense, protesting that he had “inadvertently let a tweet pass for 40 minutes before I removed it.” The tweet was originally posted to his account by a member of the PS staff, whom Filoche claimed had noticed “only the references to Macron and money.” Cabana responded that, in her view, his excuse was barely credible, snapping at Filoche that he was “either a fool or a bastard!”
Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was among those demanding the expulsion of Filoche from the PS in the run-up to the party’s official announcement on Tuesday. Party secretary David Assouline said on Twitter that the National Bureau had voted to unanimously to sever Filoche’s membership, declaring that “antisemitism is incompatible with our core values.”
Le Bureau National a voté à l’unanimité pour l’exclusion de G.Filoche. Il ne pourra plus dès ce soir se réclamer du Parti Socialiste et de ses instances. L’antisémitisme est incompatible avec nos valeurs fondamentales.
— David Assouline (@dassouline) November 21, 2017
“The expulsion of Filoche from the PS has been in the making for a long time,” Valls said. “It took an unspeakable and antisemitic tweet to launch the process of expelling him.”
Meanwhile, senior PS leader and former party secretary Jean-Christophe Cambadélis announced he could no longer defend Filoche’s continued membership of the party, explaining, “Today the disagreement is not political, it is ethical; we cannot compromise on ethics.”
One of the organizations in France to have leapt to Filoche’s defense is the Trotskyist New Anti-Capitalist Party (NAP), a leading advocate of the BDS movement in France. The NAP said it categorically denied that Filoche — himself a Trotskyist activist before he joined the PS — “is an antisemite.”