French presidential election posters show the 11 candidates in Sunday’s first round of voting. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

French Jews are apprehensive and have no favorite candidate among the 11 running in the first round of their country’s presidential election on Sunday, a number of community figures told The Algemeiner this week.

One candidate who most French Jews will not be voting for, is Marine Le Pen – the head of the far-right National Front party who polls show will likely be one of the two contenders to advance to the election’s final round on May 7.

According to Robert Ejnes – the executive director of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions – the Jewish vote will be largely divided between Francois Fillon (of the center-right Republican party), Emmanuel Macron (a centrist independent) and, to a lesser extent, Benoit Hamon (of the center-left Socialist party).

“French Jews in their vast majority reject the extremes,” Ejnes said.

The top concerns of French Jews ahead of the election, Ejnes noted, are “antisemitism and anti-Zionism.”

“The extreme right is promoting exclusion, hate and nationalism – which have never been good tendencies for the Jews,” he said. “Many in the National Front party still express the xenophobic, racist and antisemitic ideas of Jean-Marie Le Pen (the founder of the National Front and Marine Le Pen’s father). The extreme left political parties are very anti-Zionist. It is not the policies of the Israeli government that they criticize, but the very existence of Israel. Anti-Zionist ideas very often hide antisemitic expressions. Both the extreme left and right do not share our values of democracy and justice.”

French-Israeli journalist Jonathan Simon-Sellem – founder of the JSS News website and an elected representative of the French community in Israel – said he expected Macron would draw support from Jews who normally vote for the Socialist party (of which current President Francois Hollande is a member), but are turned off by Hamon’s pro-Palestinian positions.

Also, Simon-Sellem explained, “French Jews are concerned by Marine Le Pen, of course, but also no less by the far-left communist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who is gaining a lot of strength in the polls. Even though it sounds crazy, Le Pen and Melenchon could be in the second round of the election against each other.”

Melenchon, Simon-Sellem pointed out, “gets support from a lot of antisemites on the left and backers of the BDS movement.”

Some 2%-5% of French Jews would vote for Le Pen in the first round, Simon-Sellem predicted, “only because of her positions on Islam and immigration.”

Philippe Karsenty – deputy mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine and a Republican candidate in June’s parliamentary elections – said there was “no chance” Le Pen would win the presidency, but if she did it would be “a big disaster for the whole country. We would have a real civil war.”

“She’s not an option for the Jews,” Karsenty continued. “You’d really have to be a nutcase to vote for her.”

In Karsenty’s view, a majority of Jews “prefer Fillon, except we’re really upset with how he handled his money” – …read more

Source:: The Algemeiner


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