Proposed March Against Antisemitism in France Mired in Controversy Over Far Right Participation
A proposed national march in France against antisemitism became mired in controversy as soon as it was proposed on Sunday over the possible participation of the country’s main far right party.
Speaking on the Paris Jewish radio station Radio J on Sunday — one day after several thousand protesters took part in a pro-Hamas march through the French capital — Olivier Faure, the leader of the Socialist Party (PS), urged “all political forces” to support a national protest against antisemitism.
More than 1,000 antisemitic acts have been recorded in France since the Hamas pogrom of Oct. 7 in southern Israel. “Let us strive to ensure that the whole left, the whole right, is united on this issue. Let us fight together against antisemitism,” Faure declared.
Asked whether the proposed march would include the far right Rassemblement National (RN) Party — the successor to the Front National (FN) — Faure did not rule out its participation, saying that the party would be welcome on the condition that it disavowed its antisemitic past and broke with several of its current officials with a record of antisemitic barbs, such as Frédéric Boccaletti, a newly elected RN member of parliament who has been accused of promoting Holocaust denial.
Faure’s apparent readiness to march alongside the RN drew a furious response from the far left La France Insoumise (LFI — “France Rising”) Party, which has itself been accused of antisemitism regarding its response to the Oct. 7 atrocities.
“I would never march alongside the RN,” Jean-Luc Mélenchon, LFI’s leader, declared in a post on X/Twitter, pointing to the long record of antisemitic comments made by the party’s founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, who infamously referred to the Holocaust as a “minor detail” in the history of World War II.
Criticism of Faure’s proposed inclusion of the RN was also voiced from within the PS. “We have to be clear. Today, the RN, heir to the FN, founded by someone who nevertheless explained that the [gas chambers] were only a detail of history, are not welcome at a gathering of this type,” said Lamia El-Aaraje, the first secretary of the PS branch in Paris.
Faure quickly backtracked on his invitation, saying that only those political parties “whose history shows a clear commitment against antisemitism, whose founders and elected representatives have never had the slightest weakness in the face of antisemitism,” would be asked to take part.
Faure’s about-face occurred after Jordan Bardella — a 27-year-old RN activist strongly supported by the party’s former leader, Marine Le Pen, who is the daughter of its founder — was elected to lead the party with 85 percent of the vote at a conference of the party over the weekend. Interviewed by broadcaster BFMTV, Bardella said that he did not believe that Jean-Marie Le Pen was antisemitic, despite conceding that he did not agree with how the FN’s founder had depicted the Holocaust as a relatively insignificant event.
Asked when the march against antisemitism would take place, Faure expressed hope that it would gather “in the next few days” in Paris’ iconic Place de la Republique.