Not for the first time in this French presidential campaign, accusations of antisemitism have been levelled against an anti-establishment candidate.
Last week it was Marine Le Pen who was accused of belittling Jewish plight during the holocaust, but this time it is the far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon who is under fire from French Jewry.
The source of such accusations are farcical in reality. The row pertains to a satirical article in NordPresse which ‘quotes’ Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy as saying that he will leave France should the Left Party candidate win the election, with the implication that Mélenchon’s tax policies would affect his considerable Jewish wealth.
The article was met with anger by a small minority of supporters who (apparently) were not aware that the quotes were in fact fake.
Using the hashtag #BHL (the subject’s initials), supporters of Mélenchon suggested that Levy return to Israel or the United States.
Levy has in fact criticised Mélenchon in the past, not because of his political positions but rather his rumoured association with antisemitic elements in French society. Levy claimed that the left-wing firebrand spoke out in defence of protesters who allegedly chanted “death to Jews” at a pro-Palestine rally.
Jews Boycott Far-Left And Far-Right
Not just Levy, but French Jewry at large, under the umbrella of CRIF (Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions), have declared themselves to be boycotting both the far-left Mélenchon and the nationalist Marine Le Pen, giving the reason that “they both traffic in hatred”.
Former Rothschild banker, the neo-liberal Emmanuel Macron is the candidate of choice for French Jewry according to popular opinion. The former leader of CRIF and the chairman of the Keren Hayesod Zionist group Richard Prasquier, claimed that “Macron is becoming a very strong candidate with the potential of occupying a very large electorate, and his popularity is considerable among French Jews,” adding that the appeal is “astounding”.