Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, AJC’s Paris Director, told JNSthat the National Front party has managed to capture a French public – especially young people and working people – that is critical of how the mainstream conservative and socialist parties have handled the country’s economic crisis and growing Muslim immigration.
“In an opinion poll a few months ago, 90 percent of French respondents said they did not trust their current political leaders,” said Rodan-Benzaquen. “[National Front leader] Marine Le Pen has managed to convince voters that she is a credible alternative to the current system.
“While parts of the electorate hold clear anti-Semitic views, and certain elements in the party and around it do too, I do not believe that the majority of the electorate of the National Front necessarily votes for the party because they despise Jews. The link between a rise in anti-Semitism and a growing National Front is the unhealthy environment in which extremism and populism prosper.”
Gebert said that Le Pen has tried to distance herself from the extremism of her father, National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen.
“She has taken great effort to show that she is not anti-Semitic, and that what she really cares about is what the common man in France cares about,” he said.
Meanwhile, the election of the NPD candidate from Germany, while “an outrage, and an affront to Germany,” was a fluke due to the recent cancellation of a three-percent threshold for European Parliament elections in the country, said Gebert.
Of greater concern, he said, is the rise of Britain’s far-right-leaning UKIP, as well as the advances of the far-right Golden Dawn party in Greece and far-right Jobbik party in Hungary.
– JTA, JNS, Jewish Press staff