By Jake Baum
For the Mitzpeh
Marine Le Pen is not “the Donald Trump of France.” Regardless of one’s stance on the ongoing anti-Semitism allegations against President Donald Trump’s administration, the anti-Semitism that characterizes French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, her family and the National Front Party is difficult to deny.
The National Front Party can, at face value, seem like a populist force similar to the movement that helped elect Trump in November. Both movements oppose refugee resettlement, are generally more religious and harbor negative views towards globalization.
But, while Trump took advantage of the existing mainstream Republican Party to propel his movement, Le Pen’s party – the National Front – has never been a mainstream party in French politics. From its establishment in 1972, the party has been open about its direct support for anti-Semitism. Its penchant for neo-fascism left no room for doubt regarding its anti-Semitic, xenophobic and Franco-centrist policy platform.
In fact, Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie – who led the party for 40 years – is well known for his Holocaust denial and was frequently fined for comments that stood in violation of French laws prohibiting such speech. Just last year, he was fined for dismissing the fact that Nazis used gas chambers during the Holocaust as “merely a detail of history.” In 2012, he was convicted of contesting crimes against humanity for claiming that the Holocaust “was not particularly inhumane.”
Marine rose to power within the party and sought to soften the its views towards Jews and broaden its appeal to the French public in the wake of Trump’s election. However, she realized she had to rid the party of its neo-fascist origins. After a feud with her father over the future of the National Front, she convinced the leaders of the party to expel him completely, marking an opportunity for the party to leave its discriminatory views behind and join the new European France.
But Marine Le Pen’s record on the Jewish community shows that she doesn’t practice what she preaches. Only a month ago, she claimed that the French government during the Holocaust (the Vichy regime) should not be held accountable for handing French Jews over to the Nazi Party at the time, adding, “it’s not France.”
However, her statement contradicts what the French government itself admitted in 1995 – that it was directly responsible for the death of tens of thousands of French Jews when the Vichy government handed over its citizens during the Holocaust. This is a position that the government has maintained, and Le Pen’s statement marks yet another incident in the long line of Holocaust revisionism for which the National Front Party is known.
Despite her attempts to dissuade accusations of anti-Semitism, Marine Le Pen is no different than her father. Analysis of her past comments and her inability to let go of her party and family’s history make it abundantly clear that her change of message is for gaining votes and nothing more.
Marine Le Pen is an anti-Semitic vestige of a France that disappeared a long time ago. Modern French politics involve acknowledgement of the country’s tricky past, anticipation of its bright future in the European Union, and most importantly, tolerance.
Marine Le Pen is not right for the Jewish people and she is not right for France.
Jake is a senior international business major. He can be reached at email@example.com.