MACRON UNVEILS DIVERSE CABINET FEATURING CRITICS, ADVOCATES OF ISRAEL

 

French President Emmanuel Macron presented a diverse cabinet of 22 ministers, including a Jew, a Muslim and both advocates and critics of Israel.

Macron, a centrist who had served in governments led both by Socialists and Republicans before his election on May 7 on an independent ticket, appointed on Wednesday as his foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, a former defense minister under the previous president, Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party.

 

In 2014, Le Drian wrote in a statement that France “condemns” the firing of rockets into Israel “but requests that Israel” minimize any harm to civilians in its attacks on Hamas.

Macron appointed Edouard Philippe, a lawmaker from the moderate wing of the main center-right The Republicans party, as prime minister.

Macron appointed to health minister Agnes Buzyn, a physician born to a Polish Jewish couple. Her father survived the Holocaust and her mother was born in France shortly after the war to Jewish immigrants from Poland. She is one of 11 women whom Macron made ministers – exactly half of his cabinet.

Francois Bayrou, a billionaire-turned-politician who has in the past criticized what he has called Israel’s “arbitrary and unjust arrests of Palestinians,” among other alleged actions by the Jewish state, was named minister of state – a position equivalent to minister without portfolio which nonetheless suggests seniority.

Bruno le Maire of The Republicans party was made minister of the economy. Pro-Israel activists in France regard him as a staunch ally and defender of the Jewish state, according to the right-leaning news site Alyaexpress.

Last year, le Maire criticized Hollande’s government for supporting a vote at the United Nations educational branch, UNESCO, which ignored Jewish ties to Jerusalem. He called it “a moral and political error.”

Marielle De Sarnez, a former lawmaker at the European Parliament who in 2010 visited Hamas-controlled Gaza and co-authored a letter urging Israel to lift its blockade of the area, was appointed as the minister in charge of European affairs. The letter she co-signed did not mention Hamas’ violations of human rights and terrorist activities. It also praised the work of UNRWA, a UN agency which Israel in those years accused of incitement, as “fantastic.”

Macron appointed Mounir Majhoubi, a 33-year-old entrepreneur whose family is Muslim and has Moroccan roots, to be France’s minister in charge of digitalization. Majhoubi in 2010 opened a successful high-tech firm together with his then business partner, the French-Jewish developer Marc-David Choukroun.

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MACRON EXPECTED TO SUPPORT TWO-STATE SOLUTION, SAYS BDS IS ANTISEMITIC

 

PARIS – A succession of ceremonies marked the inauguration of Emmanuel Macron as France’s eighth president under the Fifth Republic. Outgoing president François Hollande received his successor at the Élysée Palace on Sunday morning and the two men spoke in private for more than an hour, after which Hollande left en route for the Socialist Party headquarters.

Guided by rigid French protocol, Macron’s day was still very much in his image. Similarly to his long walk on election evening, when he walked for several minutes, alone, across the Louvre Museum courtyard until he reached the stage, Macron walked alone on Sunday on the red carpet at the Élysée court toward his former boss and mentor Hollande.

 

The speech Macron delivered an hour later was sober, with the new head of state saying he is “fully aware of the high expectations of the French citizens.

“The French people has chosen hope and a spirit of achievement over a spirit of division and breaking away from the global market,” he said, adding that he now carries the responsibility of convincing French citizens that their country has all the resources necessary to once again be a leading country within the family of nations.

During his election campaign, Macron expressed himself several times on issues of foreign policy. On a visit to Beirut in January, he referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that “the role of France is to conduct an independent and balanced policy that would guarantee a dialogue by all sides and the construction of peace.”

More specifically, Macron clearly stated during his campaign that he objects any efforts to boycott Israel, and considers such attempts antisemitic. Alluding to a court decision on the issue from 2015, he argued that “France has already condemned boycotting Israel, and I have no intention of changing this position.”

Still, Macron is not expected to deviate a great deal from the policy set forth by his predecessor Hollande, of supporting the two-state solution. Philippe Etienne, the current ambassador to Berlin, will serve as Macron’s diplomatic adviser. Considered a remarkable diplomat, Etienne has not been especially involved during his career in Middle East issues, and thus is likely to embrace the path of Ambassador Pierre Vimont, who prepared the Paris 1 and 2 Middle East Conferences (the Israelis and Palestinians were not invited), on June 3, 2016, and January 15, 2017, respectively.

Emmanuel Macron, youngest French leader since Napoleon, sworn in

France inaugurated 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron as president on Sunday, making him the country’s youngest leader since Napoleon.

Macron, an independent centrist who has never before held elected office and most recently served as the economy minister in outgoing Socialist president Francois Hollande’s government, was elected on May 7.

Laurent Fabius, the president of the Constitutional Council, proclaimed the official result of the vote in a ceremony at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris.

The ceremony began with Macron slowly marching alone, under a light rain, in the Elysee courtyard. He shook hands with his predecessor Hollande at the front porch and the two men briefly posed for photographers.

They then met for one hour, after which Hollande left the Elysee grounds.

As he left, the now-former president was loudly applauded by the employees of the French presidency. He shook hands with Macron, who accompanied him to his car and also applauded him.

Macron then posed for photographers at the front porch of the Elysee with his wife, Brigitte.

Macron is the eighth president of France’s Fifth Republic, created in 1958. He is the first French president who didn’t come from one of the country’s two mainstream parties. His Republic on the Move movement hopes to reinvigorate French politics and win a majority of lawmakers in the June parliamentary election.

Macron has now taken charge of a nation that, when Britain leaves the European Union in 2019, will become the EU’s only member with nuclear weapons and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

French Jews certainly wanted Macron over Le Pen, but friction may lie ahead

PARIS (JTA) — French Jews may have voted en masse for Emmanuel Macron in the final round of France’s presidential elections, but that doesn’t make him their dream president.

Like many other supporters of the 39-year-old former investment banker, who on Sunday became the youngest French president in recent history, Jews voted for Macron mainly to block his far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen. The centrist won with 65 percent of the vote to 34% for Le Pen.

Leaders of French Jewry said they were relieved and even “happy” to see Macron elected — but the honeymoon may be short-lived.

A self-declared progressive with a foreign policy rooted in human rights, Macron even during the campaign demonstrated that like his Socialist predecessor, Francois Hollande, he is willing to clash over Israel and Islamism with the conservative and pro-Israel mainstream of French Jewry.

To be sure, the youthful-looking Macron has charmed many voters, Jews and otherwise, on his own merits. He is known for an energetic oratory style, a profound understanding of finance and a passion for inter-European cooperation, and he promises to heal France’s deeply divided society by building a post-partisan consensus based on tolerance.

French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte hug as he addresses his supporters at his election day headquarters in Paris , Sunday April 23, 2017. (AP/Christophe Ena)

His good looks, coupled with his apparent devotion to his wife – his former high school teacher, who is 24 years his senior – have endeared him to women especially, according to Elle.

Yet in a town hall meeting on March 22 with hundreds of Jewish voters Macron, an independent politician who had served for two years as Hollande’s industry minister, showed why he and the Jewish mainstream may be on a collision course over Israel and Muslim extremism.

For the first 90 minutes of the meeting, sponsored by the the CRIF Jewish federation, Macron discussed his economic vision lucidly and in great detail. Juggling data and well-chosen anecdotes, he was clearly in his element as he explained his support for free-market labor reforms, greater cooperation with Germany and no new taxes on corporations’ revenue-producing capital.

But then he turned to foreign policy — a weaker subject for the wunderkind who became the first candidate in decades to win a presidential election in France without the support of its main political parties.

French President-elect Emmanuel Macron, left, and outgoing President Francois Hollande attend a ceremony to mark the end of World War II at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Monday, May 8, 2017. (Philippe Wojazer, Pool via AP)

“My policy is to continue the current line of French diplomacy,” Macron told the crowd of 700.

To his evident surprise, the promise of continuity did not sit well with his listeners, whose hisses and booing forced him to pause.

“Oh, no?” he mumbled in surprise when the booing started. “Perhaps it’s not your policy, but it is mine,” he said in the unapologetic style that helped him through debates with more seasoned speakers, including former prime minister Francois Fillon of The Republicans and the fiery far-left candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Macron’s attempts to appease the audience by proclaiming his attachment to Israel’s security “as well as to the two-state solution” did not seem to have a particularly mollifying effect.

Apparently unwittingly, he touched one of the raw nerves of French Jewry under Hollande, who has led a firm line — and according to some critics at times even a hostile one – on Israel.

Leaders of French Jewry were especially angry when France voted last year in favor of at least two resolutions by UNESCO, the cultural body of the United Nations, that ignored Judaism’s attachment to Jerusalem. Unusually, the country’s chief rabbi, Haim Korsia — who joined Muslim and Christian faith leaders in endorsing Macron three days before the election — issued a written condemnation of the votes.

Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia speaks to journalists on June 22, 2014, in Paris. (AFP/Fred Dufor)

CRIF condemned France’s failed bid earlier this year to stage a Middle East peace conference in Paris without Israel’s support. Hollande said France was organizing the conference out of a commitment to peace and as a “friend of Israel,” but CRIF President Francis Kalifat clearly had his doubts.

“Some pretend to be Israel’s friend, but there is no such thing as friendship: There are proofs of friendship,” Kalifat said at a protest rally in January against the summit in front of Israel’s embassy in Paris.

Israel’s refusal to attend the conference ultimately led the Palestinians to pull out. CRIF called the ensuing summit a “grotesque” event in light of international inaction on the wholesale slaughter of civilians in Syria.

French Jewry’s mainstream also objected to France’s leading role within the European Union in singling out Israeli West Bank settlements and their products, and to Socialist Party lawmakers who supported a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.

CRIF President Francis Kalifat poses in Paris, France, on May 29, 2016. (AFP/Francois Guillot)

During the town hall meeting, Macron said that like Hollande, he would recognize a Palestinian state only after a negotiated settlement agreed upon by Israel and the Palestinians. (Interviewed last week, he reiterated his support for a negotiated two-state solution and opposition to unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.)

Then there are fears that Macron’s tolerance-driven agenda is too accommodating to Muslim fundamentalists. Many French Jews perceive Islamism as the main threat facing their communities following a string of deadly jihadist attacks on Jewish and non-Jewish targets.

In Macron’s official platform, he speaks of “fighting with determination against all radical streams that distort the values” of Islam. But whereas Le Pen and the right-of-center Fillon proposed concrete punitive steps, including revoking the French nationality of radicals and deporting them, Macron has remained vague, proposing to conduct the fight by “helping French Muslims to achieve the [restructuring] of their institutions.”

Sensing he was losing the audience’s affection, Macron told the CRIF crowd, “Hang on, I can return to the UNESCO vote, which is a different matter.” He added: “It’s a mistake and I condemn it.” But Macron also insisted that the UNESCO vote was a technical glitch, provoking more dismissive boos and laughter from dozens of listeners and an intervention by Kalifat.

“Yes, but there were two votes, Mr. Macron,” Kalifat said. “They were definitely not unintentional.”

Alain Finkielkraut (Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons)

Macron also infuriated prominent members of the French Jewish community when he visited a Holocaust monument during the last stretch of the campaign. Although the visit was meant to draw a contrast with the Holocaust denial roots of Le Pen’s party, the prominent French-Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut said Macron’s actions turned the genocide into a “campaign argument.”

Regardless of their differences, Macron is nonetheless someone French Jews can respect, according to Philippe Karsenty, a French Jewish politician and pro-Israel activist who supported Fillon in the first round but switched to Macron against Le Pen.

“I disagree with him on many issues — Israel, his vision of French history,” Karsenty told JTA. “I think he’s too naïve, like former US president Barack Obama or Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But his background is in banking, in business. He’s accomplished. And he understands the power of compromise.”

French-Israelis vote overwhelmingly for Macron

Israelis eligible to vote in the second round of France’s presidential elections on Sunday opted overwhelmingly for the winner, Emmanuel Macron, France’s ambassador to Israel said Monday.

In a post on her Twitter account, Helene Le Gal said that Macron received 96.3 percent of votes in Israel. The vote was seen as an effort to block his opponent, the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Overall, Macron won 64% of the vote.

She said that the figure was based on results in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa, Ashdod, Eilat and Beersheba, but did not include votes from the French consulate in Jerusalem.

In an interview with Army Radio, Le Gal said she thought Macron would be “very friendly” toward Israel, but did not elaborate on what the focus in relations between the two countries would be during Macron’s presidency.

French President-elect Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Louvre Museum in Paris on May 7, 2017, after the second round of the French presidential election. (AFP Photo/Patrick Kovarik)

Although Macron has not fully detailed his approach to Israel, in an interview on Friday he said that he would not unilaterally recognize a state of Palestine as president and reiterated his support for a two-state solution.

Elaborating, Macron said that “unilateral recognition of Palestine, right now, will undermine stability.” It would also “have implications in the loss of the entire [French] relationship with the State of Israel.”

Macron visited Israel in September 2015 while serving as economy minister under outgoing President Francois Hollande, during which he defended Paris’s support for the European Union’s plans to label products from Israeli settlements, while also expressing its opposition to any boycott of Israel.

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen leaves after speaking at her election day headquarters Sunday, May 7, 2017 in Paris. (AP/Michel Euler)

Referring to Macron’s 2015 visit, Le Gal told Army Radio that the former banker “was very impressed” with Israel’s startup culture and high-tech companies, and “was inspired by that when he came back to France.”

Following his electoral victory, Israeli politicians from across the spectrum offered their congratulations to Macron, with a number of lawmakers describing his triumph over Le Pen as a defeat for anti-Semitism.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that he looked forward to working with Macron, in particular in the realm of counterterror.

“I look forward to working with President Macron and together to take on the shared challenges of our two democracies,” he said.

French Ambassador to Israel Helene Le Gal attends a ceremony for new ambassadors at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on December 12, 2016. (Isaac Harari/Flash90)

“One of the greatest threats facing the world today is extremist Islamic terror, which carries out attacks in Paris, Jerusalem and many other cities around the world. Israel and France have a longstanding alliance and I am sure that we will continue to deepen our connections,” Netanyahu added.

In a victory speech late Sunday, Macron promised that as president he would defend France against jihadists, who have killed over 230 people in a string of terror attacks since 2015, including a fatal assault on a kosher supermarket in Paris.

“France will be at the forefront of the fight against terrorism,” he said.

Outside polling stations in Israel on Sunday, a number of French voters said that their vote for Macron was first and foremost a vote against Le Pen, whose National Front party has long been accused of anti-Semitism.

Many people mentioned Le Pen’s statement that France was not responsible for the roundup of more than 13,000 Jews at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track, ordered by Nazi officers in 1942, as a reason to oppose her.

A Jewish man looks at election posters outside the French consulate in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2017 during the second round of the French presidential vote. (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

Le Pen has also advocated a number of policies that have caused consternation among French Jews, such as bans on religious headgear and on French citizens holding dual nationality.

Like French citizens in Israel, French Jews breathed a sigh of relief following Macron’s victory over Le Pen, although they also expressed concern over the fact that Le Pen was able to garner as many votes as she did.

The Real Purposes of the Macron Leaks

http://www.renegadetribune.com/real-purposes-macron-leaks/
By Thomas Müller of The New Nationalist

As anticipated, the Crime Syndicate’s selection for the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, won handily. Per usual, the last-minute drama of this election involved tawdry, sleazy-sounding leaks surrounding the new president. Some of the leaks were concerning drug use and homosexuality. Some spoke to the hiding of offshore money and corrupt dealings.

Another Macron leak contained secret plans for the Islamization of France and Europe. Among other things, this is a very divisive scheme to have France’s history with Muslim countries rewritten to teach French children that Islam was always part of France. The document also recommends the introduction of Arabic teaching to French schools, including bi-lingual classes. This scheme is called convergence theory as related to the two European and African shores of the Mediterranean.

The New Nationalist (TNN) doubts that this leak episode is anywhere near complete. There are several agendas afoot. First is the intent to demonize alt-media and social media for even discussing it. French mainstream media is outright banned from reporting on it, at least until after the election. This was planned for a while and timed perfectly so that people would turn to social media, and then be exposed to a lot of lies and slander mixed with truth. So now we will get an ear full about the lies, slander and the so-called “hate speech” aspect. Next, look for more steps to be taken to sweep up and discredit the alt-media in some “hate speech” dragnet. Of course, a “Russian narrative” will be inserted into this latest psyop as well.

Second, TNN suspects more scandals will be brought forth from the Macron leaks that will destabilize the French political system and damage this puppet president. This latest political marionette is also right out of central casting.

He is the poster boy for sleaze and weirdness. The tabloids will have a field day. Additionally, France has a very inflated credit rating. Look for a downgrade at the first sign of more political unrest. This is the same formula being applied to the U.S. with Trojan horse and Red Queen Donald Trump.

As it stands, a very high number of French citizens didn’t even vote. A recent poll shows that high percentages of Europeans age 18-34 are ready to hit the streets in a “large-scale uprising” rather than participate in a faux, rigged electoral process. In France, this was 61% even before our anticipated additional fallout from the Macron leaks. Later this year, watch for the same leak/scandal pattern to emerge in the general election in Italy, where 65% of young adults are ready for an uprising. Ditto with Spain at 63%.

This outpouring of discontent is totally understandable; however, the question begs: How does this revolution manifest itself? As more divide-and-conquer (((Bagelian dialectic)))? Will it be a Trotskyite Antifa movement? Where is the anti-war movement? Inquiring minds are asking what happened to Occupy Wall Street. Will the counter forces be exclusively anti-Muslim without understanding the weaponized migration and Kosher forces behind it all? Sure looks that way so far.


This article originally appeared on The New Nationalist and was republished here with permission.

Featured image: Knights Templar International

FRENCH ELECTIONS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT EMMANUEL MACRON’S VICTORY AND THE BATTLES TO COME

http://www.newsweek.com/french-elections-results-macron-marine-le-pen-explained-596015?spMailingID=1826337&spUserID=MzQ4OTUyNDAxNTAS1&spJobID=790196512&spReportId=NzkwMTk2NTEyS0

 

The centrist Emmanuel Macron decisively won France’s presidential election on Sunday, beating the far-right into submission with a liberal, internationalist agenda.

With more than 99 percent of local areas counted, Macron had taken 65 percent of the vote to his far-right rival Marine Le Pen’s 35 percent.

Sunday brought a remarkable campaign to an end. But what happens now, and what to make of the result? Here’s what you need to know.

The real fight starts now

At times during the campaign, it felt hard to believe Macron’s lead was as commanding as pollsters claimed: After Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory, a dramatic upset felt plausible.

But in truth, since the first round on April 23, the former economy minister’s victory was never seriously in doubt. Supporters in the ranks of his movement, En Marche! (Onwards!), have long understood that the really tough battle comes on June 11 and 18 in the country’s legislative elections, when voters pick lawmakers—known as deputies—for France’s National Assembly.

Read more: Emmanuel Macron is set to defeat Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election

In France, a president needs the support of a prime minister in parliament; and the premier must command majority support either from his or her own party or govern in a coalition. En Marche! is only a year old and has never won a single seat. Now, it ideally needs to win 289 of the 577 in the National Assembly.

Macron acknowledges this, pledging in his victory speech to build  “a true majority, a strong majority, a majority for change.”

But Macron’s opponents know it too.

The center-right Republicans suffered in the presidential race because their candidate, François Fillon, was mired in a financial scandal. But he stepped down after the first round, and the party quickly made itself heard with an anti-National Front website.

To Macron’s left, meanwhile, the Unsubmissive France candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon never endorsed the En Marche! candidate. Melenchon immediately took to the airwaves to celebrate Le Pen’s loss, but he denounced Macron as a “President-monarch” who would declare “war” on the country’s social security system.

This battle is going to be as tough as the one that’s just finished.

Le Pen: still mighty?

The journey to 2017 for Marine Le Pen and her far-right National Front party was long, and riven with infighting.

Since taking over the party leadership in 2011, Le Pen has ruthlessly pursued a rebranding exercise that sought to distance the party from its old, extremist image. She cracked down on anti-Semitism, and emphasized big-state economic policies as much as anti-immigration rhetoric.

But not all party members supported that strategy. The National Front now needs to decide if the vote share Le Pen took—slightly less than double the 17.8 percent her father Jean-Marie achieved when he reached the second round in 2002—is big enough to justify her tactics.

One of the party’s most important alternative voices is Le Pen’s niece, Marion Marechal Le Pen, a proud Catholic who prefers to focus more on conservative values than statist economics.

Speaking to France 2 Television on Sunday, Marion said there were “lessons to be learned” from the election, among them a failure to convince French voters of the viability of its plans for the euro. She may become even more outspoken in the weeks to come.

Emmanuel MacronFrench President-elect Emmanuel Macron in Paris, France May 7, 2017. The presidential campaign is done, but Macron’s fight is not over.PHILIPPE WOJAZER/REUTERS

A gallic shrug

France is usually enthusiastic about its democracy; voters there are much more likely to show up on the day than in America. Turnouts of 80 percent are common in presidential elections.

So the comparatively low turnout on Sunday—official figures are not yet available but an estimate by the pollster Ipsos put it at 74 percent, the lowest since 1969—is striking.

And not all those who did turn up to vote were especially enthusiastic; Ipsos found that about 43 percent of Macron’s voters chose him only to prevent Le Pen from coming to power.

Macron acknowledged this in his victory speech: He spoke directly to “all the French people who voted for me without actually believing in our ideas,” promising to convince them they made the right choice. But he did not spell out a clear plan, promising only to “do everything I must do in order to defend the Republic.”

Macron’s team will hope that, if his economic reform agenda takes off, less enthusiastic voters will come round. But there may be many battles to fight before that, and the country could quickly turn against him.

A vote for Europe

Among the tricolores flailing wildly at Macron’s rallies, there were always plenty of EU flags. A year ago, after Britain voted to leave the bloc, some wondered if it marked thebeginning of the EU’s end. But Sunday’s vote is the latest sign that there’s plenty of fight left in the embattled union.

Leading France, Macron will sit at the helm of one of the bloc’s two most powerful countries, alongside Germany, and will play a huge role in shaping the EU’s direction.

Politicians in London are waiting to find out Macron’s position ahead of negotiations on a new U.K.-EU relationship. The early signs are that he favors a tough line, making sure Britain takes some punishment for leaving. “I am a hard Brexiter” he told Monocle.

On Russia, Macron is unlikely to push for any weakening of sanctions the bloc currently imposes. The Kremlin will not welcome Macron’s victory; he was the only one of the four leading candidates not to favor a softer approach towards Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, Macron wants to reform the EU: he favors much closer co-operation between the countries that use the euro currency, and supports creating the post of a shared finance minister with the power to set shared budgets on some areas.

Hacked off

In the U.S. presidential election, hacking attacks on the email servers of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party set the news agenda, sometimes for days at a time.

In France, Macron’s campaign suffered a similar hack, and a user of the forum 4chan posted stolen emails from the campaign online on Friday. But its impact on the election could scarcely have been weaker.

In part, that’s because the country’s electoral commission warned media outlets they could face criminal charges if they published details of the emails: French election law strictly limits last-minute political coverage that could influence the vote.

And the content of the emails is disputed; the Macron campaign says there are false emails mixed in with real ones.

But with the vote done, journalists will begin poring through the material. If there is a scandal in there, it could harm Macron during the all-important parliamentary campaign.

And the episode highlights the cybersecurity challenges facing democracies of all kinds

French Jews ‘relieved’ Macron won but worried over Le Pen’s electoral gains

(JTA) — Leaders of French Jewry expressed both relief over the defeat of the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the presidential elections and concern over her receiving more than a third of the vote.

Le Pen, whom the chief rabbi of France and the CRIF umbrella of Jewish communities have decried as dangerous to democracy and minorities, received 34.2 percent of the vote compared to the 65.8 percent who voted for the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, according to a report by Le Monde based on exit polls from Sunday’s final round of the elections.

“I am happy with the result of Emmanuel Macron being elected president, which constitutes a veritable relief for all our nation and for the Jewish community of France,” Joel Mergui, the president of the Consistoire, wrote Sunday evening in a statement by his group, which is responsible for providing religious services to Jews.

Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia, who is employed by the Consistoire, also spoke of his satisfaction from the vote. But in his statement, Korsia also referenced concerns over the support shown to Le Pen – a nationalist who seeks a ban on wearing Jewish and Muslim religious symbols in public, ritual slaughter and the provision of pork-free meals in school cafeterias.

The vote was the best electoral result ever obtained by her National Front party, which was established in the 1970s by her father, the Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has multiple convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews. He clinched 18 percent of the vote in the 2002 presidential elections — the first time that National Front made it to the final round.

“Well aware that many voices have been raised in favor of the candidate of the National Front, the Chief Rabbi calls on all political leaders to take seriously the voters’ cry of despair and anger in order to review their platforms and to regain the enthusiasm and support of the citizens,” the statement by Korsia’s office read.

Francis Kalifat, president of CRIF, called the victory “uncontestable” and congratulated Macron on it. “Everything starts right now,” Kalifat, who has lobbied intensively in favor of Macron in recent days, wrote optimistically on Twitter.

The president of European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, said in a statement: “We remain extremely concerned by the still large support for parties of the far right, not only in France but across Europe.”  He also wrote in a statement that the result was “a victory against hate and extremism” by the French people.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement that while Macron’s election is ”extremely encouraging,” his group is “concerned that a third of the French population voted for a dangerous political leader.” This, he said, is part of a “worrying political landscape in Europe and the increase in far-right rhetoric which has swept the continent.”

Macron’s positions on Israel, its conflict with the Palestinians and the Middle East in general correspond with those of the government of France’s outgoing president, Francois Hollande, Macron told a predominantly Jewish crowd in March during a town hall meeting organized in Paris by CRIF.

Hollande is one of France’s least-popular presidents. Citing dismal approval ratings, he had withdrawn from the presidential race to better the chances of his party to remain in power.

The economic policies of Macron, a former banker who at 39 will be the youngest president in the history of the Fifth Republic of France, differ significantly from those of the Socialist Party. A believer in free-market economy, he is calling for an economic reform opposed by labor unions and advocates of France’s relatively generous welfare amenities.

This has alienated many left-wing voters in what could explain a historically low turnout in Sunday’s vote.

According to Le Monde, a quarter of registered voters did not show up to vote, making the turnout of 75 percent the lowest recorded in any final round of the presidential elections since 1969.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not address National Front’s gains in the vote in a standard statement congratulating Macron. He said that one of the greatest threats facing Israel and France “is radical Islamic terror which has struck Paris, Jerusalem and so many other cities around the world,” adding he was sure the two countries “will continue to deepen our relations.”

President Donald Trump congratulated the “people of France on their successful presidential election.” Trump, who said last month Le Pen was “the strongest candidate on borders,” added: “We look forward to working with the new President and continuing our close cooperation with the French government.”

Prodigy Macron charts unlikely path from obscurity to Palais Elysee

PARIS (AFP) — In his unorthodox private life and short political career, France’s new president Emmanuel Macron has battled conventions and broken with traditions.

The 39-year-old son of two doctors from the northeastern city of Amiens — set to be the youngest president in French history — breaks the mold of a traditional French leader, apart from his elite education in some of the country’s best universities.

Firstly, he is married to his former teacher, glamorous 64-year-old Brigitte Trogneux, a divorced mother of three children whom he fell in love with as a schoolboy.

Their relationship has been a subject of fascination, often encouraged by the media-savvy Macron, in French glossy magazines.

He has also charted one of the most unlikely paths to the presidency in modern history, from virtual unknown three years ago to leader with no established political party behind him.

The philosophy, literature and classical music lover launched his independent movement En Marche (“On The Move”) only 12 months ago, which he said was “neither of the left nor the right.”

This unusual positioning for France, which has seen him borrow economic policies from the right coupled with social measures from the left, was initially met with cynicism.

“There is a left and a right… and that’s a good thing, that’s how our democracy functions,” ex-prime minister Manuel Valls said after En Marche launched. “It would be absurd to want to remove those differences.”

Others saw the ambitious former investment banker, who was then economy minister in Socialist President Francois Hollande’s government, as too young and too inexperienced to have serious presidential ambitions.

Few apart from his loyal core of advisers believed that he had the ability to triumph in 2017 at the age of 39, a year younger than Napoleon Bonaparte when he took power in 1804.

Momentum

But Macron pressed on, using his image as a dynamic young modernizer to draw in thousands of volunteers to En Marche, which was modeled partly on the grassroots movement of ex-US president Barack Obama in 2008.

After resigning from his job as economy minister in August, he set about writing his pre-election book “Revolution” and then finally declared he was running for president on November 16.

“We can’t respond with the same men and the same ideas,” he said at a jobs training center in a gritty Parisian suburb.

A giant meeting at a convention center in southern Paris in December was an early warning to rivals — and led to widespread mockery of Macron who ended the rally screaming, arms aloft, as he basked in the adoration.

Since then, he has benefited from the woes of the Socialist party and a scandal that engulfed one-time favorite Francois Fillon from the right-wing Republicans party, the other mainstream force in French politics.

Fillon was accused of paying his wife hundreds of thousands of euros from the public purse for a fake job as a parliamentary assistant — allegations he denied but which sunk his campaign.

“He’s been lucky,” veteran political journalist Anne Fulda, who wrote a recent biography called “Emmanuel Macron, Such a Perfect Young Man,” told AFP. “That’s something that helped him considerably. The stars aligned.”

With frustration at France’s political class running high, Macron was able to tap into a desire for wholesale change that also propelled his far-right rival Marine Le Pen into Sunday’s run-off vote.

Already hated?

As a student, Macron worked as an assistant to a famous French philosopher and followed a well-worn path through France’s elite public universities including the ENA, which has groomed many leaders.

After first working as a civil servant in the finance ministry, he then went into investment banking, where he earned millions at Rothschild putting together mergers and acquisitions.

Opponents have targeted this period of his career as proof he is part of the “global capitalist elite.” His self-assurance, expensive suits and defense of entrepreneurs has offered further ammunition.

“I’ve spoken with hundreds of people and you can feel it in the air: you are already hated,” one far-left critic, Francois Ruffin, wrote last week in an article in Le Monde newspaper.

He is also frequently criticized for being too vague or intellectual in his speeches, which are often long and peppered with literary references or poetry.

While at ease among ordinary voters, Macron has been accused of being condescending in the past, whether referring to “illiterate” abattoir workers, “alcoholic” laid-off workers or the “poor people” who travel on buses.

In an infamous exchange, when confronted by a protester in a T-shirt in May last year, he lost his cool, saying: “The best way to buy yourself a suit is to work.”

Saying ‘anti-Semitism defeated,’ Israelis fete Macron victory

Several Israeli lawmakers from across the political spectrum welcomed the victory of centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in France’s presidential election on Sunday, breathing a sigh of relief over the defeat of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Pro-European Macron won France’s landmark presidential election, according to first estimates, heading off a fierce challenge from the far-right in a pivotal vote for the future of the divided country and Europe.

“I look forward to working with President Macron and together to take on the shared challenges of our two democracies,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement which included his congratulations. “One of the greatest threat facing the world today is extremist Islamic terror, which carries out attacks in Paris, Jerusalem and many other cities around the world. Israel and France have a long-standing alliance and I am sure that we will continue to deepen our connections.”

Le Pen’s National Front, with a history of anti-Semitism, had been eyed warily in Israel, with politicians mostly avoiding engaging lawmakers from the far-right group despite attempts by Le Pen to make common cause over the fight against radical Islam.

Initial estimates showed Macron winning between 65.5% and 66.1% of ballots, with Le Pen taking between 33.9% and 34.5% in the runoff election.

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein tweeted congratulations to Macron and wished France “success and prosperity under his leadership.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely wrote that she was “looking forward to continuing Israel’s close relations with France.”

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid also both sent out congratulatory messages.

Zionist Union number two Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister, tweeted, “Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron, the president of an enlightened France.”

Félicitations à @EmmanuelMacron, Président de la lumière à la française ⁦🇫🇷

Colleague Amir Peretz, a candidate in the Labor party leadership race, called the result a “big victory for France and democracy.”

“This is an important defeat of fascism, anti-Semitism and empty populism. Best wishes to the new president of France,” he said.

Another candidate for leader of the Labor party, Erel Margalit, tweeted a photo of himself and the new French president, saying, “Congratulations my friend. Congratulations France.”

Likud MK Oren Hazan, a brash backbencher who had publicly supported Le Pen and alleged that others in the ruling party did as well, was silent in the immediate aftermath of the results Sunday night. Hours before the results were announced, he wrote on Facebook that victory for Macron would be a disaster.

“If France becomes the first European-Islamic power, then it will be impossible to undo and Jews… will not be able to walk around there at all.”

However, most in Israel had opposed Le Pen, who finished with only 3 percent or so of the vote among expats in Israel in the first round of voting.

Speaking to The Times of Israel on Sunday, many French-Israelis lined up to vote outside French consulates had spoken of the need to defeat Le Pen and fears that her rise could herald another dark age for Europe.

President Reuven Rivlin, who had warned Israeli officials against meeting with counterparts from the National FRont party, did not immediately release a statement.

Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich who is running to head the Histadrut labor federation, said Macron’s victory was “a great relief.”

“Normality has prevailed, dark anti-Semitism and malignant racism were defeated. It’s good for us, good for France, good for Israel-France relations, good for democracy, good for the world. Just good,” she posted on Facebook.

Congratulations to President Elect @EmmanuelMacron ,
looking forward to continuing Israel’s close relations with France

Minister without portfolio, Ayoub Kara, a Druze-Israeli from the Likud party, cautiously welcomed Macron’s victory.

“I hope that it will lead to a change in direction for an uncompromising war against radical Islamic terror in Europe,” he tweeted, “and that he will join Trump to stop the Iranian threat.”

Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria wrote on Twitter: “The Jews of France are now breathing a sigh of relief.”