Jewish Communities Worldwide

Abandoned in political chaos: How France’s electoral shift is leaving Jews behind

As France enters a period of potential political instability, the stakes for its Jewish citizens and its relationship with Israel are high.

The recent French general elections have sent shockwaves through the political landscape, with potentially far-reaching consequences for the French Jewish community. As the country grapples with a fragmented political scene, the rise of both far-right and far-left forces raises pressing questions about the future of Jewish life in France and the country’s stance toward the Middle East.

The National Rally’s doubling of its support in two years to 34% marks a significant milestone. Once considered a pariah due to its historical associations with anti-Semitism, the party has undergone a remarkable transformation under new leadership. Its firm support for Israel and vocal opposition to antisemitism represent a dramatic shift from its past positions. This evolution has placed French Jews in a complex position, torn between the party’s pro-Israel stance and lingering concerns about its nationalist rhetoric.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the emergence of the New Popular Front coalition presents its own set of challenges. Traditionally, Jewish institutions were associated with the Socialist Party and the presidential party. The recent Socialist Party’s entry into an alliance with far-left elements, some of which have been criticized for anti-Zionist and even antisemitic sentiments, is deeply troubling for many in the Jewish community and has been perceived as abandonment. The coalition’s presumed sympathy for Hamas and its use of the Palestinian flag as a rallying symbol have exacerbated fears of rising anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism. Sadly for the Jews, the flag that unites the left parties is no longer the red flag but the Palestinian one.

The weakening of President Macron’s centrist alliance further complicates matters. In an attempt to build a common bloc against the far right and maintain his central position, Macron, following the Socialist Party’s lead, announced he would join the New Popular Front, a party considered by 92% of French Jews as promoting antisemitism. Jews who counted on the President for protection now find themselves abandoned by their protector. The last bulwark of the republican arc that was supposed to protect Jews has collapsed. This effectively means that French Jews and their institutions risk being sacrificed by all the parties that had protected them until now.

The situation is complicated by the broader geopolitical context. The events of October 7, 2023, have cast a long shadow, intensifying debates around Israel, Palestine, and antisemitism in France. The use of Gaza as a rallying cry against Jews and Israel has created an atmosphere of tension and fear within the Jewish community.

These political developments come at a time of heightened vulnerability for French Jews. The memory of the June 2023 riots, where Jewish businesses were targeted, remains fresh. With the New Popular Front threatening massive protests in the event of a National Rally victory, there are legitimate concerns about the potential for further unrest and its impact on the Jewish community.

Marine Le Pen. Photo by Shutterstock

France’s relationship with Israel also hangs in the balance. The potential ascendancy of the National Rally could lead to a more overtly pro-Israel stance in French foreign policy. Conversely, if the New Popular Front gains significant influence, France’s traditionally balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could tilt more decisively toward the Palestinian cause.

As France enters a period of potential political instability, the stakes for its Jewish citizens and its relationship with Israel are high. The coming months will be crucial in determining whether France can find a path that ensures the safety and rights of its Jewish community while maintaining a constructive role in Middle East diplomacy.

Published by Jerusalem Post