Diaspora Affairs minister stands by praise for France's far-right Le Pen

Amichai Chikli of the Likud Party defended his support for the head of France's National Rally Party, in which he said she is 'good for the state of Israel with 10 exclamation points';  Chikli says 'very concerned' about spike in French antisemitism

Maayan Hoffman/ The Media Line|
Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli (Likud) defended his open support for France’s National Rally Party (NRP) leader Marine Le Pen on Tuesday, saying, “It is natural that conservative leaders will have good relations with conservative leaders all across the globe.”
Chikli spoke to The Media Line in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of an event at the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem.
The right-wing leader was criticized last week for telling Israeli public broadcaster Kan Reshet Bet that if Le Pen became president of France, “this is good for the state of Israel with 10 exclamation points.” He also said that he believed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would agree
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עמיחי שיקלי
עמיחי שיקלי
Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli
(Photo: Moshe MIzrachi)
In a historic first, NRP won about one-third of the vote in the initial round of legislative elections earlier this month. However, the party faced a disappointing outcome in the second round on July 7, finishing in third place with 143 seats. Even if the NRP had performed better, Le Pen would not have become president, as Chikli suggested. Current French President Emmanuel Macron’s term does not end until 2027, and he has stated unequivocally that he does not plan to step down. However, Le Pen’s protégé, 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, would have become prime minister.
The prime minister will now join the New Popular Front, a four-party left-green alliance.
“I never said vote for X or Y, never,” Chikli told The Media Line. “All I did was I had a meeting with her. I wrote [on the X platform] that I appreciate the fact that she attended the march of the Jewish community against antisemitism, I appreciate the fact that she and Jordan Bardella said that it would be a reward for terrorism to recognize a Palestinian state now, and I appreciate her statement about the International Criminal Court – her saying that comparing [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar and Prime Minister Netanyahu makes this organization irrelevant.”
Continued Chikli: “I don’t see it as interfering in the elections of France, not at all.”
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צרפת בחירות ל פרלמנט האספה הלאומית קלפי מרין לה פן מצביעה
צרפת בחירות ל פרלמנט האספה הלאומית קלפי מרין לה פן מצביעה
Amichai Chikli says far-right French politician Marine Le Pen would be "good" for Israel
(Photo: Francois Lo Presti / AFP)
A report by the Hebrew news outlet Walla revealed that Macron expressed his disapproval of Chikli’s support for Le Pen during a call with Netanyahu last week. Chikli had met Le Pen at a conference of far-right-wing political parties in Europe in May, where he took a selfie with her and posted his praise online.
Chikli said that conservative leaders proudly “share values” and that Israeli leaders should have something to say about whether a leader chooses to participate in a march against antisemitism or “just to send your warm wishes to those who are there, like Macron, who I think made a terrible mistake not to attend this march.”
The Jewish community of France held a march against antisemitism on November 12, 2023, amid a spike in incidents in the country following the October 7 Hamas massacre and the subsequent war in Gaza. The French government reported more than 360 antisemitic incidents in the first three months of 2023, a 300% increase from the year before.
The local Jewish community has linked part of the increase in antisemitism to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the far-left France Unbowed Party. Mélenchon has faced accusations of using coded language that echoes antisemitic stereotypes and downplaying the threat of antisemitism. A recent poll conducted by the American Jewish Committee in Europe found that 92% of French Jews believe that France Unbowed has “contributed” to the rise in antisemitism.
To secure a center-left victory, Macron allied with Mélenchon, which caused some French Jews to feel betrayed.
“I think [Macron] also made a terrible mistake to collaborate with Mélenchon, who refused to condemn October 7, the worst massacre we have had since the Holocaust, who refused to recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization,” Chikli said.
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צרפת בחירות פרלמנט כיכר הרפובליקה פריז תוצאות
צרפת בחירות פרלמנט כיכר הרפובליקה פריז תוצאות
Anti-Israel protest in France
(Photo: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt / AFP)
He added that “we are very concerned” about the situation for the Jews of France, where demonstrations by pro-Palestnian entities have accused not only enemy flags but swastikas. In a recent incident, two teenage boys were charged with raping a 12-year-old Jewish girl and hurling antisemitic epithets at her.
Chikli said he believes the election results, which put the New Popular Front alliance as the largest party in the 577-seat National Assembly with 182 seats, “are bad for the Jewish community” and for France’s relationship with the state of Israel. However, he said, “I would not go into panic. I have optimism that Europe, generally, and France especially, has a lot of people that understand the threat coming from radical Islam. I do not think the last word has been said.”
The minister added that he would continue to work with conservative, bold leaders to condemn anyone who refuses to stand boldly against antisemitism and “who doesn’t have the guts to march with the Jewish community in its most difficult moment.”
“We expect leaders to take bold decisions, and we will support those who take these decisions and stand with the Jewish people against its enemies. And if you don’t, don’t expect me to be nice,” Chikli concluded.
This story is written by Maayan Hoffman and reprinted with permission from The Media Line
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