Photo Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL
President Emmanuel in Jerusalem, January 22, 2020.

Emmanuel Macron defeated his right-wing rival Marine Le Pen by a hefty margin – a little under 58% to a little over 42%, way more than the polls had predicted. At the same time, most age groups were split more evenly between Macron and Le Pen; the only group that went all out for the incumbent president were the 18-to-24-year-olds. Yes, Generation Z, the post-millennials, saved Macron. And not so much because of their outpouring love for the president, but out of their fear of the alternative.

The French presidential election system was set up this way by President Charles de Gaulle, founder of the Fifth Republic. The two-round system (no one gets 51% of the votes in the first round) often forces a second-round competition between a centrist and an extremist candidate, and the majority always prefers the centrist. Next, France will have a parliamentary election and the reelected Macron will campaign for the voters to give his party the majority so that his premiere would be from his own party and not, embarrassingly, from the opposition. He’ll get that, too.


So, how come, on Monday morning, the euro fell 0.34% against the dollar, to $1.07725, close to its two-year low last week? Reuters suggested investors may be relieved to see that Le Pen is not in office, but this doesn’t mean they have high expectations of the winner. Still, the nationalist Le Pen promised to nationalize some key parts of France’s industry, cut taxes radically, and curtail France’s participation in the EU budget. The nightmare is over, investors, what’s holding y’all back?

Turns out the future of the world’s economy is mired in anxiety: US stocks are not performing; futures are declining; China is being revisited by the pandemic it may have invented, so large chunks of its workforce are under lockdowns; supply chains are getting bogged down even worse than before; and Putin continues to try to salvage some measure of victory over Ukraine in time for May 9, the anniversary of the Red Army’s victory over the Nazis.

The dollar roared over in Israel, too, where it struck NIS 3.27 for the first time in who knows how long. It has probably more to do with the Fed raising interest rates recently than with French politics, but it couldn’t come at a better time, when Israel is struggling to retool its economy and restart its lavish exports again.

Most French Jews heaved a sigh of relief over Macron’s win, especially Orthodox Jews – who would normally align with the right-wing candidate. The reason is that Le Pen, despite her cosmetic efforts, is more an old-fashion fascist than a modern-day extreme right-winger. As part of her fierce anti-immigration (some say xenophobic) policy, she promised to ban animal slaughter without stunning, insisting that stunning the animal is more humane. Of course, stunning renders the animal as “traif” for both Jews and Muslims, who threatened that they would leave France if they were deprived of their kosher and halal meat (If Le Pen Wins, She’ll Ban Kosher Shechita in France).

And since France exports kosher meat, a ban on its production in France would have had a devastating impact on Jewish communities elsewhere, most notably in neighboring Switzerland.

Many right-wing Israelis didn’t see a big distinction between Macron and Le Pen because both support the two-state solution and a Palestinian state. But if that’s your litmus test, then most Western and Third-World countries should be classified as anti-Israel. I thought Macron stood out as a friend a couple of weeks ago, when he clashed with Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, calling him a “far-right antisemite.” So Emanuel can’t be all bad.

Here’s what happened: Morawiecki compared the French president’s phone calls with Vladimir Putin to negotiating with Hitler. Now, you may support Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine or be against them, but they just don’t compare with what Hitler did to most of Europe and the rest of the planet. In response, Macron told Le Parisien that Morawiecki was trying to help Le Pen, and called him a “far-right antisemite who bans LGBT persons” in his country.

A spokesman for Morawiecki said it was a lie and the Polish PM wasn’t an antisemite. But he kind of is. In 2018 he said Jews were involved in perpetrating the Holocaust (which would have been a brilliant solution to the supply chain problems). And Morawiecki is also behind the Polish law that punishes anyone who blames Poles for taking part in the Nazi Holocaust crimes.

And, in June 2021, after Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called the new Polish law barring Jews from filing Holocaust restitution claims in Poland “immoral,” PM Morawiecki said, “I can only say that as long as I am the prime minister, Poland will not pay for German crimes: Neither zloty, nor euro, nor dollar.”

See? It always comes down to economics. And Poland.

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