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Far-Left Coalition Victory in France May Strain Ties with Israel

France’s Far-Left Ascendancy Sparks Fear Among French Jews and Concerns for Israel Relations.

Following a surprising election result in France, the far-left New Popular Front (NFP) coalition has come to power, causing deep concern among French Jews about their future in a country grappling with a surge in antisemitism and strained relations with Israel.

The NFP secured 182 seats in the snap parliamentary elections, defeating Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (RN), which had been anticipated to perform better. Despite this victory, the NFP did not achieve a majority in the 577-seat National Assembly and will need alliances to pass legislation.

President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble alliance now holds the second-largest faction with 163 seats, while the RN and its allies secured 143 seats, becoming the third-largest group.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the far-left La France Insoumise (LFI) party and self-appointed leader of the NFP, has caused significant anxiety among French Jews. “Melenchon is a threat against the Jews,” said Yonathan Arfi, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF). Arfi criticized LFI for its antisemitic tendencies and pledged to oppose its influence.

In his new position of power, Melenchon has already called for France to recognize a Palestinian state. Following the NFP's victory, supporters celebrated in Paris, waving Palestinian flags, while French flags were notably absent.

Melenchon has a controversial history, including a 2017 speech where he referred to the French Jewish community as “an arrogant minority that lectures to the rest.” In 2020, he suggested that Jews were responsible for Jesus' crucifixion, a statement that echoes antisemitic rhetoric from the Middle Ages. He has also failed to condemn Hamas's terrorist actions, describing them as “an armed offensive of Palestinian forces.”

With the NFP's rise to power, French Jews are bracing for increased hostility. “It seems France has no future for Jews,” said Rabbi Moshe Sebbag of Paris’ Grand Synagogue. Renowned intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy warned against Melenchon's potential further ascension in French politics.

The NFP's victory coincides with a record surge in antisemitic incidents in France. Following Hamas' massacre in Israel on Oct. 7, antisemitic outrages in France rose by over 1,000 percent, with over 1,200 incidents reported in the final months of 2023, surpassing the total for the previous three years combined. Notable incidents include the violent assault of an elderly Jewish woman and the rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl by Muslim assailants, which drew international condemnation.

The rise of the far-left coalition is also expected to deteriorate Israel-France relations. The NFP has called for recognizing a Palestinian state and breaking ties with the Israeli government. This stance follows a trend under Macron’s government, which isolated Israel by banning Israeli arms manufacturers from the Eurosatory arms exposition.

As the NFP prepares to exert greater influence, French Jews and supporters of Israel brace for challenging times ahead. The community remains vigilant, hoping for a future where safety and stability can be restored.

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