Saturday, May 25th | 18 Iyyar 5784

June 13, 2021 12:53 pm

The Antisemitism of Jean-Luc Mélenchon

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Jean-Luc Melenchon, leadeer of the far-left La France Insoumise party. Photo: Gwendoline Le Goff/Reuters. – In the first round of the French presidential election in 2017, nearly one in five voters marked their ballots for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the candidate of the newly formed far-left La France Insoumise (“France Rising”) party. The result meant that Mélenchon missed qualification for the final, second round by less than 2%, with the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen having won a little more than 21% and the center-right candidate Emmanuel Macron, who went on to win outright, taking 24% in the first round.

Mélenchon’s election numbers might be respectable, but his ideas about the world are far less so, even by France’s standards, where the extremes of both left and right have, unfortunately, always enjoyed solid electoral support. Were France an English-speaking country, it is quite possible that Mélenchon would have gained the same notoriety among American Jews that his co-thinker, Jeremy Corbyn, achieved during his leadership of the Labour Party in Britain, given his icy hostility to the beleaguered French Jewish community. And whereas Corbyn has been consigned once again to the backbenches of the House of Commons, Mélenchon, likewise an elected member of his country’s National Assembly, is preparing another presidential challenge next year.

During an interview last week with a radio station in the city of Toulouse, Mélenchon offered up a prediction with regard to the 2022 campaign. “You’ll see that on the last week of the presidential campaign, we’ll have a serious incident or a murder,” he remarked. “In 2012 it was Merah, last week it was Champs-Élysées.”

The “Champs-Élysées” refers to the recent decision of France’s highest court to place on trial a Lebanese-Canadian, Hassan Diab, accused of the 1980 bombing of the synagogue in rue Copernic, which is located close to the landmark Parisian avenue. “Merah” refers to the horrifying murder of a teacher, his two young sons and another young girl at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse by an Islamist terrorist on March 20, 2012, about one month before the presidential election that was eventually won by Francois Hollande.

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