Legislative Election Campaign in France Marred by Antisemitic Assault, Row Over Jeremy Corbyn
As France edges towards the first round of elections for its national assembly on Sunday, the campaign has been marred by at least two incidents of antisemitism in recent days, one of which involved a violent assault.
Liron Rozenhaft — whose wife Audrey is standing for the conservative Les Républicains (LR) Party in the city of Strasbourg — was beaten up on Thursday night while sticking up campaign posters in the district where she hopes to be elected. Rozenhaft’s assailants allegedly called him a “dirty Jew” during the attack.
Separately, two far left candidates in Paris were the target of severe criticism over the weekend after they welcomed Jeremy Corbyn — the former British Labour Party leader whose five-year term at its helm was marked by persistent reports of antisemitism in its ranks — to a campaign rally in the north of the capital.
The shocking assault on Rozenhaft took place outside an elementary school in Strasbourg named in honor of US civil rights icon Rosa Parks. According to Raphaël Nisand, Rozenhaft’s lawyer, two young men traveling on a scooter drove past his client and tore down the election poster he had just attached to an elections noticeboard. Rozenhaft told the pair that he was the husband of the candidate and that removal of election posters was forbidden.
Denouncing what he called a “lynching” and “extreme left fascism,” Nisand explained that the two men called for reinforcements following their exchange with Rozenhaft. Ten men arrived at the scene where they proceeded to assault Rozenhaft with kicks and punches under the gaze of at least thirty witnesses, Nisand said. Photographs posted by Audrey Rozenhaft to Facebook showed her husband with a badly swollen eye and cuts and bruises over his face. On Sunday night, Rozenhaft was reportedly readmitted to hospital complaining of difficulties with his lungs. A formal complaint has been filed with the Strasbourg police highlighting the aggravating circumstance of antisemitism.
In an article for the Jewish news outlet Tribune Juive, Nisand wrote that he had invoked the word “fascism” because “in this district, the expression of political ideas other than the dominant one is forbidden.”
Continued Nisand: “In any case, there is antisemitism, because [Rozenhaft] would never have been attacked like that if they hadn’t known he was Jewish.”
Meanwhile, Danièle Obono and Danielle Simonnet — two candidates for the far left New Ecological and Social People’s Union (NUPES) — came in for heavy criticism over the weekend when they appeared with former British Labour leader Corbyn in Paris.
Lamia el Araaje, a Socialist Party MP who is facing off against Simonnet, slammed her opponent in a statement posted to Twitter. “The masks are falling,” el Araaje wrote. “To invite and display the support of Jeremy Corbyn, dismissed from the Labour Party and [its parliamentary party] for complacency with antisemitism in Britain, after 1,000 complaints registered by this party, is a shame of which Danielle Simonnet is proud,” she stated.
Simonnet responded furiously, claiming that Corbyn had “never made a single antisemitic remark” and that the copiously-documented instances of antisemitism were a “gross manipulation” to damage the left wing of the Labour Party.
“The are enough real antisemites to fight without inventing new ones,” she said.