French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen is attempting to win the favor of Israel lobby groups for her far-right Front National party.
According to the website of the pro-Israel group Europe-Israël, Le Pen told the founder of the European Jewish Parliament, a communal organization based in Brussels, that “anti-Semitism has no place in the Front National.”
Le Pen also reportedly told Jewish oligarch Vadim Rabinovich at their meeting in the French city of Strasbourg that “she would not accept Front National members who have anti-Semitic opinions” or “who support a boycott of Israel.”
The far-right leader reportedly characterized the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in support of Palestinian rights as “racist.”
Le Pen’s conflation of anti-Semitism, of which her party has a long and notorious tradition, on the one hand, and Palestine solidarity activism, on the other, converges with the strategy being pushed by the Socialist administration of President François Hollande.
The Front National’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim invective are increasingly in tune with mainstream French xenophobia, especially in the wake of the murders at the anti-Muslim magazine Charlie Hebdo and at a Jewish supermarket in Paris in January.
In the US, there is nothing new in prominent pro-Israel figures, such as Anti-Defamation League President Abraham Foxman, pursuing alliances with notorious Islamophobes for the sake of Israel.
But in France, the Front National remains 'saddled' with its history of Holocaust denial and of promoting hatred and suspicion of Jews.
Seeking the endorsement of Israel lobby groups is therefore a shrewd way for Le Pen to try to shed that baggage. In that vein, we can expect that the BDS movement will be an increasingly popular target for ambitious French pro-zionist politicians, just as it is for American ones.