'Bad for France and bad for the Jews': France's election results shock Jewish community

While many Jews expected the country's far-right party to cruise to victory, far-left takeover is bad news for  the Jewish community, as many now seek to make aliyah 

“We went to bed thinking the far-right was going to mark historic results, but woke up with the far-left,.”Ariel Kandel, CEO of Qualita, which serves as an umbrella organization for French immigrants in Israel, said at the end of the recent French elections.
Kandel tried to explain why some in France’s Jewish community chose to vote for Marine Le Pen's far-right party. "Eleven Jews have been murdered in recent years in antisemitic incidents, 15,000 Jews are physically assaulted every year, and almost 200,000 declare they’re troubled by antisemitic incidents. There’s no doubt they were looking for someone who could give them some security.”
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צרפת בחירות פרלמנט תוצאות שמאל חוגג דגל גאווה דגל פלסטין
צרפת בחירות פרלמנט תוצאות שמאל חוגג דגל גאווה דגל פלסטין
French far-left rally following election results
(Photo: Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP)
“Le Pen's platform included banning the wearing of kippahs in public, issues with approving kosher slaughter, and creating a problematic climate for those with French-Israeli dual citizenships. However, these seemed like ‘small issues’ that could be lived with were she to combat the immigration crisis and increase security,” he added.
“Jews were willing to pay the price of voting for a party with antisemitic roots as long as they felt safer. Some of them even said it proudly," Kandel said.
Le Pen's party is now unlikely to form the next government, but local Jews will probably have to contend with the country's left-wing elements who have anti-Israel and pro-Hamas stances.
"These are people denying the massacre of October 7, defining Hamas as a resistance movement, waving more Palestinian flags than French ones in their rallies. This is a reality the community finds very hard to accept. It's very dramatic. It's bad for France and bad for the Jews," Kandel explained.
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בחירות ל פרלמנט צרפת מרין לה פן הישג גדול
בחירות ל פרלמנט צרפת מרין לה פן הישג גדול
Marine Le Pen
(Photo: Reuters)
Many Jews have turned to aliyah organizations following the elections to explore different options. Kandel explains that this comes following the emerging political climate and fear for the future among French Jews.
"Aliyah has three main reasons: Zionism, economy, and antisemitism," he says. "Some 68% of French Jews report they don’t feel safe, so they’re looking for different options. The U.S. and Canada were also options in the past, but many see the situation for Jews there has changed since October 7, and now think Israel is the true home of the Jewish people. People are looking for belonging, and Israel provides that for them."
Studies show that 38% of French Jews are considering making aliyah, which translates to roughly 200,000 people. "If you narrow it down, 13% of the community are seriously considering it [aliyah], which is roughly 60,000 people who could arrive in Israel tomorrow morning,” Kandel explained.
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Ariel Kandel
Ariel Kandel
Ariel Kandel
(Photo: Qualita)
“They’ve yet to make the move because France's social policy is among the most generous in the world, and they’re afraid of losing that. It's not an easy economic transition. We need to think about how we can offer them more economic opportunities and better absorption in Israel,” he added.
So, what will happen now? "Antisemitism has been on the rise since October 7, people are under pressure, and I don't recall a situation like this. What will determine the trend now is the new government’s composition. If the far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon wins, it’ll be a dramatic shift that will affect Jews in the country,” he said.
“Discussing Israel, the president typically sets France’s foreign policy. It's unclear what Emmanuel Macron will do regarding Israel, but should leftist winds also blow in parliament, there could be confrontations over the issue of recognizing a Palestinian state."
Kandel argues Israel is missing a great opportunity at this time. "There are no plans for absorbing French immigrants in the country. The government is silent and isn’t addressing it at all, as if nothing’s happening. There’s an opportunity here; we can have French Jews make aliyah but the government isn’t mobilizing. This is the time to make an emergency plan and bring in the thousands who wish to come here."
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