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Why French Jews will vote for Marine Le Pen in upcoming elections

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen has around 23 percent of the vote with less than a week to go, according to polls
ALAIN JOCARD (AFP)
Jewish supporters of Marine Le Pen explain their motivations for supporting the far right candidate

They are French, Jewish, and their support for far right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is loud and clear. I24 NEWS went to meet Jewish French supporters of Marine Le Pen's National Front party in order to decipher the motivations behind their voting choice.

In a small neighborhood in the city of Sarcelles, nicknamed "little Jerusalem," Jewish inhabitants are not shocked by the growing support for far right candidate Marine Le Pen. "According to what we see, Marine Le Pen is more lenient and nicer than her father "said one French resident, before asserting that "no, she does not scare me."

Research indicates that Jewish support for Le Pen is directly linked to the anti-Semitic attacks that have swept across France since 2000.

Patrick KOVARIK (POOL/AFP)

"In 2002 and 2007, surveys show that less than 5% of Jews voted for the FN, for Jean-Marie Le Pen. In 2012, Marine Le Pen drew about 14% of this electorate," explained Jérôme Fourquet, analyst at the FIFG, an organization that studies French public opinion. "There has been a rise in insecurity since the early 2000s in the Jewish community, that is, a rise in delinquency aimed specifically at Jews, and also a feeling, that is quite justified, that the Republic and French society looked away and did not want to see," he added. Since 2012, there has been a notable rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

The FN as a bulwark to Islamic fundamentalism

"Today in France, one of the FN's tactics to tarhget potential Jewish voters is to remind them that they are afraid of terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism and that the party is there for them," said Nonna Meyer, a political scientist at Sciences Po Paris. She added that Marine Le Pen presents the FN as a fortification against Islamic fundamentalism.

"Her discourse on Islam appears to be a satisfactory for the Jewish community insofar as our Jewish community in France has been subjected to violence coming from Islam, "said Francis Khalifa, the President of CRIF.

"But the reality is quite different," he continues, "we clearly recognize and state that much of the anti-Semitic acts that have been committed in our country (...) represent a small minority of Muslims. It is not about Islam as a whole."

The FN no longer talks about immigrants but, rather, about radical Islamists, and radical Islam has become the common enemy of the Jews and Frontist voters alike.

One recurring argument among FN supporters is that Marine Le Pen is not anti-Semitic. According to them she "fired her father" and set about cleaning up the party. "Our Jewish compatriots have nothing to fear from the FN, quite the contrary," she declared recently, as a signal to this potential electorate. To prove attachment to the Jews, the party also tries to demonstrate support for Israel in all circumstances.

joel SAGET (AFP)

Finally, another extreme right wing tactic is to create a circle to penetrate the Jewish community, called the Union of French Jewish Patriots (UPFJ).

"We are here to ensure the protection of our Jewish brothers," asserted Gilbert Collard, deputy of the Rally Marine Blue, in Sarcelles, during a ceremony of commemoration to the victims of Mohamed Merah organized by the UPFJ.

The UFJ was created a year ago, as a tool of the FN to approach the Jewish electorate, of which Gilbert Collard is the founder. While it is difficult to know how many members this association has, the president said it has about 900 affiliates.

The FN wants to show that Jews support it and are even committed to it. This "operation seduction" of the Jewish community may have been largely altered by the comments of the candidate who attracted a flood of critics by stating that France was not responsible for the roundup of the Vel d'Hiv last week.

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