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VIDEO: Despite her efforts, Jewish voters in France still fear Marine Le Pen

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VIDEO: Despite her efforts, Jewish voters in France still fear Marine Le Pen
17:16 CEST+02:00
In this video members of the Jewish community in Paris tell The Local that despite Marine Le Pen's efforts to shed the anti-Semitic reputation surrounding her name and her far right National Front party, many are increasingly worried at the prospect of her becoming president.

Marine Le Pen's efforts to soften the image of her name and National Front party in recent years have been successful, given the millions of French voters expected to back her on Sunday.

But in certain communities, notably among France's half a million strong Jewish population, her work to detoxify the image of the "Le Pen" name and her party has not been as successful as she hoped. (SEE VIDEO BELOW)

When the woman, whose father Jean-Marie has numerous convictions for hate-speech and holocaust denial, stands a chance of becoming the next president of France the Jewish community are concerned.

"She is as anti-Semitic as her father was," 17-years-old David Haliwa told The Local. 

And that means they are worried. 

“Anti-Semitism is a serious issue. If Le Pen gets elected, expect all the Jews to leave the country”, 68-year-old Daniel Huet told The Local. 

Moshe Bijaoui, 25, says he would be one of those French Jews quick to leave France if Le Pen won. Thousands of Jews already leave France every year to emigrate to Israel.

“Le Pen is a source of worry for our community. I'd been preparing my 'Aliyah' to Israel. If she gets in office she would just accelerate the process," he told The Local.

Marine Le Pen has long judged the fact her party is seen as anti-Semitic as a major barrier to French voters backing her, much more so than the party's other traits of Islamophobia and anti-Immigration.

"It's anti-Semitism that stops people from voting for us. That's all it is," Le Pen's partner and National Front deputy Louis Aliot has said previously.

The realisation that they had to reform the party's image make Marine Le Pen's comments on the eve of the election about the round-up of Jews during World War Two as all the more bizarre. 

Le Pen provoked uproar by saying the notorious “Vel d'Hiv” roundup that saw the deportation of 13,000 Jews from Paris "had nothing to do with France". It was ordered by the Nazis but carried out by French police.

By denying France's responsibility in the deportation of the French Jews during WW2, the National Front's candidate is also rejecting France's official position concerning the question. In 1995, then president Jacques Chirac recognized for the first time for France's role in helping Nazi Germany to deport thousands of French Jews.

And in 2012 François Hollande apologized for what had taken place.

But Le Pen was angry that France had "taught our children that they have all the reasons to criticise (the country), and to only see, perhaps, the darkest aspects of our history".

Her rivals picked up on her words as a chance to remind voters that she was the daughter of a holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen who has repeatedly referred to the gas chambers as just a "detail in history".

"Some had forgotten that Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen," Macron told BFMTV.

'She says bizarre things like her father... something is not right'

The Jewish community in Paris were given the same reminder.

"Marine Le Pen says bizarre things just like her father did," one man told The Local. "It proves that something is not quite right."

The comments came not long after she was forced to suspend a high ranking party official in Nice after he was secretly filmed denying the extent of the Holocaust.

Marine Le Pen, unlike her father, has tried to gain the sympathy of the French Jews, by positioning herself as the person who can best protect them from radical Islam.

Among the Jewish community's chief concerns is their security in the face of Islamic terrorism, which is no surprise given the terror attacks in Toulouse in 2012 and Paris in 2015 that specifically targeted Jews.

Why 5,000 Jews emigrated from France to Israel last year

Why 5,000 Jews emigrated from France to Israel last year

In the 2012 presidential election Marine Le Pen garnered 13.5 percent of votes within the Jewish community, believed to number 260,000 voters. Not vast numbers but significant none the less.

Ifop pollster Jerome Fourquet pointed out: "what better proof of ‘normalization' than a high score (or equivalent to the national average) for the National Front among the Jewish electorate?"

If the comments of many in the Jewish community are anything to go then Le Pen is appears unlikely to have wooed more Jewish voters in their droves this time around.

“I will vote against the FN. Marine Le Pen is too aggressive and aggressive people scare other people off," an elderly orthodox Jewish man told The Local near Quai de la Loire in Paris.

Some are worried by Le Pen's plan to ban the wearing of all religious symbols in public places would see Jews banned from wearing the traditional Kippah headwear in the streets.

Others are put off by her desire to end dual citizenship, which allows those Jews that are eligible to hold passports from both Israel and France.

"I'm asking the Israelis to choose their nationality. It doesn't mean that if they don't choose French nationality, they have to leave," Le Pen said recently.

A 60-year-old Jewish man named Mr Samama told The Local he feared Le Pen's election as president.

“If she wins it would be catastrophic for France, first and foremost economically," he said.

“We feel threatened. When she talks about wanting to ban dual nationality we can see that she is targeting the Jewish community."

"I'm scared. She's too extreme," said one woman.

by Elisabeth Beretta, Martin Pollard, Ben McPartland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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