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National Front leader Marine Le Pen
Photo: AFP
Ben-Dror Yemini
Like father, like daughter: Marine Le Pen is an anti-Semite too
Op-ed: The radical left and the radical right in Europe have something in common—hatred and racism. Even when the leaders of far-right parties disassociate themselves from anti-Semitic comments, polls prove that Muslim haters are usually Jew haters as well.
For years, Marine Le Pen tried to explain to France and the world that she wasn’t following her father’s path. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the National Front party, was convicted by a French court after describing the gas chambers used in concentration camps during the Holocaust as a "detail" of history. After his daughter was elected National Front leader, and he continued making controversial comments, she did not hesitate to expel him from his position as the party’s honorary chairman.

 

 

Now, it is Marine Le Pen herself. Echoing a sentiment common in anti-Senitic circles, she said on Monday that France was not responsible for deporting Jews to Nazi death camps.

 

Marine and Jean-Marie Le Pen. It turns out that the daughter—just like the father—suffers from the ancient European disease of anti-Semitism (Photo: AP)
Marine and Jean-Marie Le Pen. It turns out that the daughter—just like the father—suffers from the ancient European disease of anti-Semitism (Photo: AP)

 

The National Front’s platform is not anti-Semitic. In many senses, it announced the change Europe is going through. According to public opinion polls, Europeans hold views that are closer to US President Donald Trump’s views than Americans. While most Americans were not thrilled with the president’s executive order on immigration, 55 percent of Europeans—according to a survey conducted in eight leading countries—voiced support for restricting Muslim immigration. In Germany, which opened its gates to a huge wave of immigration, 51 percent were in favor of limiting Muslims’ entry.

 

The conservative tendencies and the shift to the right are being received in the Israeli Right with unconcealed sympathy. On some level, the sympathy is definitely called for. The European Right’s views on Israel are more reasonable, and sometimes even favorable. Dutch politician Geert Wilders is both an extreme rightist and an ardent supporter of Israel, and he is no anti-Semite. The picture, however, is far from rosy. Most far-right parties in Europe suffer from a certain level of anti-Semitism. The worst ones are the Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary, followed by the Freedom Party of Austria, which nearly won the country’s presidency.

 

Some of these parties developed against a clear neo-Nazi background. Some are trying to shake off the old heritage, but it’s not always working. The National Front, for example, has remained an incubator for anti-Semites, despite Marine Le Pen’s alleged change. Jews have started believing that this change is real too. According to one poll, 7 to 8 percent of France’s Jews voted for Le Pen in the previous presidential election. It turns out, however, that the daughter—just like the father—suffers from the same ancient European disease. She is an anti-Semite too.

 

The more important point is that even when the leaders of far-right parties disassociate themselves from anti-Semitic comments, different polls that have been conducted in Europe in recent years prove that Muslim haters are usually Jew haters as well, and some of those who declare their enthusiastic support for Israel are mainly referring to the Israel that, in their eyes, fights the Muslims. They don’t mean Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

 

The European Left is no different. Perhaps the opposite even. While the European Right is trying to shake off anti-Semitic characteristics, not always successfully, there is a feeling that the European Left is going in an opposite direction. The British Labour Party, for example, has lost the separation line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, or at least the pretense that such a line exists.

 

This isn’t about Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s leader, who turned Hamas and Hezbollah members into his friends. Alex Chalmers, co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC), resigned a year ago over the anti-Semitic sentiments of his fellow students. Only recently, an internal party committee decided to dismiss anti-Semitism charges against former London Mayor Ken Livingstone. Even the left-wing Guardian newspaper issued a harsh condemnation against the party. While support for Labour is declining, the bad news is that the party is becoming popular among young people in Britain.

 

So the radical left and the radical right do have a common denominator—hatred and racism, regardless of whether we are talking about hatred toward Jews or hatred toward Muslims. Racism is racism, hatred is hatred, and Islamophobia is closer to anti-Semitism than to pro-Zionism

 

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