Marine Le Pen: Ban halal and all ritual slaughter

Marine Le Pen

(JTA) – Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate in the French presidential elections, said she would ban halal slaughter of animals if she is elected, along with any other method of ritual slaughter without stunning.

Le Pen, who finished second with 21.5 percent of the vote in the first round of the elections Sunday, made the statement Tuesday on halal slaughter during a campaign visit at a meat market near Paris. She did not mention shechitah, the kosher slaughter of animals, but did say she wanted to outlaw any slaughter of animals without stunning.

“Slaughter without stunning, I’m sorry, it should have special labels,” Le Pen said. “Furthermore, I think that slaughter without stunning should be prohibited.”

Her National Front party’s showing on Sunday was the best electoral result in its history and the second time it made it to the second and final round, which will be held May 7.

Both halal and shechitah require animals be conscious when their throats are slit — a practice that critics say is cruel but which advocates insist is more humane than mechanized methods used in non-kosher abattoirs. Muslims slaughter animals in a similar method to shechitah, albeit with fewer restrictions, to produce halal meat.

In her statement Le Pen, who has called for a shutdown of immigration from Muslim countries, a ban on public prayer and the wearing of Muslim religious symbols, referenced halal slaughter specifically.

“I would say that I think that 90 percent of abattoirs are halal” in the Paris region, Le Pen said.

In Europe, the Jewish and Muslim customs have united opponents both from liberal circles who cite animal welfare as their main concern and right-wing nationalists who view the custom as foreign to their countries’ cultures.

Le Pen in the past has said she would impose limitations on expressions of Judaism in France not because she regards them as a threat, but to preserve the principle of equality in order to implement similar steps against the spread of Islam in France, which she and her party often describe as a ”threat.”

She has said during the current campaign that she would ban the wearing of kippahs in public in France in order to facilitate a ban on Muslim clothes. She has also said that she would make it illegal for French citizens to have an Israeli passport.

Le Pen has called on French Jews to make these “sacrifices” to curb radical Islam and has promised to be French Jewry’s “shield” against Islam.

French Jewish leaders have called Le Pen a “candidate of hate” and urged voters to support the leading candidate, centrist Emmanuel Macron, to keep Le Pen from winning. He won the first round with 23.7 percent of the vote. Polls from Tuesday predict he would win the second round by more than 20 points.

French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia accused Le Pen of “fomenting hatred and war between the government and religions, as well as interreligious animosity” with her statement.

“It undermines the foundations on which France was built,” he said in a statement.


Facebook Suspends 30,000 French Accounts 10 days Before Election in Attempt to Censor Le Pen Supporters

Facebook suspended 30,000 French accounts ten days before a hotly contested election.

Critics argue the move is in an attempt to censor Marine Le Pens surging popularity.
Japan Today reported:

Facebook Inc said on Thursday it suspended 30,000 accounts in France as the social network giant steps up efforts to stop the spread of fake news, misinformation and spam.

The move, which comes 10 days before the first round of a hotly contested French presidential election, is among the most aggressive yet by Facebook to move against accounts that violate its terms of service, rather than simply respond to complaints.

Facebook is under intense pressure in Europe as governments across the continent threaten new laws and fines unless the company moves quickly to remove extremist propaganda or other content that violates local laws.

The pressure on social media sites including Twitter, Google’s YouTube and Facebook has intensified in the run-up to the elections in France and Germany.

Facebook already has a program in France to use outside fact-checkers to combat fake news in users’ feeds.

Also on Thursday, Facebook took out full-page ads in Germany’s best-selling newspapers to educate readers on how to spot fake news.

U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government interfered with the U.S. election last year in order to help Donald Trump win the presidency. Officials say a similar campaign is under way in Europe to promote right-wing, nationalist parties and undermine the European Union.

In a blog post, Facebook said it was acting against 30,000 fake accounts in France. It said its priority was to remove suspect accounts with high volumes of posting activity and the biggest audiences.

On Thursday Marine Le Pen’s headquarters was firebombed in arson attack.

Marine LePen’s presidential campaign headquarters were attacked early this morning in an arson attempt claimed by a leftist group calling itself ‘’Combat Xenophobia’’, which is threatening more attacks between now and the French presidential election

French Jews worried over Le Pen’s success in presidential vote’s 1st round

JTA — Leaders of French Jewry had mixed reactions to the success of Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the French presidential elections.

“Satisfaction and concern,” Francis Kalifat, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, wrote on Twitter Sunday after exit polls showed that Macron, a centrist independent candidate, won the first round with 23.8 percent of the vote, followed by Le Pen, the far-right leader of the National Front, with 21.7 percent.

Kalifat has called Le Pen, who will run against Macron in the final round on May 7, a “candidate of hate.” He called on voters to elect Macron regardless of their opinion of his policies just to make sure Le Pen does not become president, in a pattern known in France as a “republican front,” which has been used to keep the National Front out of power.

Such a vote is “indispensable” in the second round, Kalifat wrote.

Kalifat said he was “worried to see National Front making it to the main event of French democracy,” but “satisfied to see a republican in the lead” — a term which means a person who is attached to the French nation’s founding values.

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

National Front won the first presidential round in France only once before in 2002 with 18 percent of the vote, and was squarely defeated in the second round.

National Front has made considerable electoral gains since Le Pen became its leader in 2011, succeeding her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a Holocaust revisionist and openly anti-Semitic nationalist. The party advocates pulling out of the European Union, stopping immigration from Muslim countries and imposing limitations on religious freedoms, as well as harsh punishments for violence and incitement.

Marine Le Pen kicked out her father from the party in 2015 following his conviction for inciting racial hatred against Jews. (He suggested a Jewish singer critical of the party be “put in the oven.”) She has kicked out several party members for anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Earlier this month, however, she said France was not responsible for its authorities’ rounding up for Jews for the Nazis.

Marine Le Pen recently called for banning the wearing of the kippah in public and for making it illegal for French nationals to also have an Israeli passport — steps she said were necessary because of the principle of equality in order to facilitate similar limitations on Muslims.

Le Pen has said radical Islam is a “threat on French culture” and has called on Jews to make certain “sacrifices” in order to fight jihadism.

French presidential election candidate for the En Marche ! movement Emmanuel Macron celebrates at the Parc des Expositions in Paris, on April 23, 2017, after the first round of the Presidential election.  (Eric FEFERBERG / AFP)

Macron, 39, is a former banker who is 18 years younger than the average age of past presidents in France.

Fears over growing radicalization in society and recent upsets within the political establishment have made Macron the best bet among centrists, including many Jews.

Macron has never held elected office, but served as a Cabinet minister under Francois Hollande, a Socialist. He also served as a senior finance official under Nicolas Sarkozy of the Republicans.

Macron’s good looks, profound understanding of the economy, social media skills and unassuming style have helped his campaign despite the fact that no independent candidate has been elected president in France in decades. He has won over many voters with concerns over radical Islam by vowing to act tough whenever it conflicts with French laws — but has courted liberals by promising not to harass Muslims who abide by those laws.

He also supports closer cooperation with Germany and a deepening of France’s role in the European Union.

Blasting Le Pen, Rivlin calls for ‘war’ on new kind of Holocaust denial

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday called for a “war” against a new kind of Holocaust denial taking root across Europe today, and bitterly criticized far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the end of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Rivlin said an attempt by some in Europe to universalize the Shoah is more dangerous than the mere refusal to acknowledge that the mass murder of Jews had taken place.

While traditional Holocaust denial was a fringe phenomenon that convinced few, turning all Europeans into victims undermines the core message of Holocaust commemorations for decades to come and subsumes the unique targeted destruction of the Jewish community by the Nazi regime, he argued.

Without mentioning names, Rivlin criticized Le Pen and other European politicians for shirking their respective countries’ responsibility in having collaborated with the Nazi regime.

In the same vein, Rivlin warned Israel against cooperating with extremist parties on the continent, again clearly referring to Le Pen, who in Sunday’s French presidential elections came in second with 21.5 percent. Le Pen will face off against her centrist rival, Emmanuel Macron, in a second round next month.

“Some two weeks ago a French presidential candidate denied France’s responsibility for the deportation of its Jewish citizens to the Nazi concentration and death camps,” Rivlin said at an event marking the close of Holocaust Remembrance Day at Kibbutz Lohamei HaGeta’ot.

Earlier this month, Le Pen said that “if there are people responsible” for the deportation of French Jews, “it’s those who were in power at the time. It’s not France.”

Le Pen, who has advanced to the second round of the French presidential race, said on April 9 she did not “think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” the 1942 round-up of Jews at a Paris cycling track who were then sent to Nazi death camps.

Far-right leader and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election, Marine Le Pen, cheers supporters on stage after exit poll results of the first round of the presidential election were announced, at her election day headquarters in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, Sunday, April 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

The Israeli government condemned her remark as “contrary to the historical truth, which has been expressed by French presidents who have recognized the country’s responsibility for the fate of French Jews who died in the Holocaust.”

“As a sovereign state that has gained national independence, we have a duty to demand from other nations and states not to evade responsibility,” Rivlin said.

“We must wage a war against the current and dangerous wave of Holocaust denial. We must resist the renunciation of national responsibility in the name of alleged victimhood.”

The event was also attended by former German president Joachim Gauck.

Rivlin said he was uneasy about recent attempts to undermine proper Holocaust remembrance. The responsibility for the systematic murder of Jews Nazi Germany and its allies has recently changed from being a matter of academic study to a “burning political issue,” he said.

Holocaust scholars and others have pointed with increasing alarm to attempts by some in Europe to place the Holocaust in the context of Soviet atrocities, with nationalists in some countries viewing themselves as victims of Communism and honoring anti-Communist fighters who collaborated with the Nazis while downplaying Jewish victimhood.

“The prevalent message arising from recent political statements is uniquely disturbing. And in every place that message is the same: we are not responsible for the Holocaust. We are not responsible for the extermination of the Jewish people which occurred within our borders,” he said.

Denying one’s collaboration with the Nazis attempts to turn all of Europe into victims, the president argued. “This is a denial that seeks to annul the political and moral responsibility that must stand at the heart of memory of the Holocaust for generations to come. Victimization is the most comprehensive and effective note of exemption from responsibility,” he said.

If the Europeans continue to victimize themselves and refuse to accept their responsibility for the atrocities committed on their soil they will be unwilling to assume responsibility to fight modern-day anti-Semitism, xenophobia and increasing nationalist violence, Rivlin said.

Israel “must resist unholy alliances with extreme right-wing elements,” he said.

Some might think that populist parties such as Le Pen’s National Front, Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party and other groups said to be xenophobic and especially Islamophobic, are natural allies with Israel, but “we must recall that there was and will be nothing in common with anti-Semites in any shape or form,” the president said.

Israel’s official stance of avoiding contact with Le Pen’s National Front, which is accused of anti-Semitism, was reaffirmed during the January visit of the party’s secretary general Nicolas Bay.

Le Pen received 3.7% of the votes cast by French nationals in Israel on the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, far behind Francois Fillon (60.4%) and Emmanuel Macron (30.9%).

Rivlin cited similar efforts to shirk responsibility for having collaborated with the Nazis in Poland, Ukraine and the UK. Not all nations are equally guilty, he allowed, adding that Israel demands only of Germany to take full responsibility for the systematic planning and the implementation of the Final Solution.

“But we do call for moral internal reflection from all those who assisted carrying out of the systematic annihilation,” he said. “The denial of responsibility of the crimes committed in the days of the Second World War is Holocaust denial of a new, more destructive and dangerous kind from that we have known until now.”

Traditional Holocaust deniers belonged to the fringes and relied on “quasi-scientific work of so-called historians.” These old-school Holocaust deniers disputed reputable historians’ findings about the Final Solution and its anti-Semitic goals, Rivlin said.

“Their success was minimal,” he added. “Conversely, the denial of the Holocaust which is growing before our very eyes strives towards a more sophisticated goal, and is much more dangerous. This is not a denial of the very existence of the Holocaust, but a denial of the distinction between a victim and a criminal.”

Germans won’t have an identity unblemished by Auschwitz

Gauck, taking the podium after Rivlin, said he was moved to spend Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel and vowed to continue fighting Holocaust denial.

The 77-year-old Gauck, who served as Germany’s president until last month, said he used to be ashamed of being German due to the country’s dark past. “I was unable to like my country. I hated it even. My generation viewed our parents with disgust. They disclaimed all culpability, they allegedly knew nothing. The majority of them still maintained this silence in the 1950s and 60s and refused to accept responsibility for what had happened,” he recalled.

But even future generations of Germans will “not have an identity unblemished by Auschwitz,” he added. “The special and lasting connection between our peoples and Germany’s particular solidarity with the democratic State of Israel will remain part of their identity.”

Why Marine Le Pen (White Feminist, White Freemason, Zionist) is confident she will be France’s next president

Supporters of Emmanuel Macron were not alone in cheering his victory Sunday in the first round of France’s presidential elections.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who finished second in the voting, saw it as excellent news. The two will face off in the final round next month after the centrist Macron won 23 percent of the vote, 2 points ahead of Le Pen.

She has called Macron her “ideal” adversary — Macron is relatively inexperienced and without the infrastructure of an established party, and despite running as an independent is nonetheless widely seen as a continuity candidate of the deeply unpopular government of President Francois Hollande.

“A runoff between a patriot such as myself and a caricature of a diehard globalist like him is ideal,” Le Pen, the leader of the Eurosceptic and anti-establishment National Front party, told the AFP news agency on Jan. 17. “It’s a gift.“

To be sure, the sharp-tongued and gravel-voiced Le Pen has also spoken dismissively of other candidates.

But when it comes to Macron, she is not alone in assessing his perceived weaknesses as a candidate. Nor is she alone in believing that her anti-Muslim party, with its rich record of anti-Semitism, raw nationalism and xenophobia, is closer to the presidency than at any point in its history.

Macron, 39, a youthful-looking former banker who has never held elected office, has generated a huge following among professionals in France’s more affluent cities and regions. A supporter of corporate tax cuts and competitiveness in the job market, he has appealed to voters with a cosmopolitan worldview. He backs the European Union and promotes tolerance toward minorities while acting against radicalization.

But these very characteristics, as well as Macron’s image as an aloof wunderkind who owes his success to a corrupt establishment, make him deeply unpopular to a class, largely low-income, that feels disenfranchised by immigration, globalization and the European Union. Politically this is a perilous position, as witnessed in the 2016 vote in Britain to leave the European bloc and Donald Trump’s election in the United States.

Conservative writer Guy Millière is a Trump supporter who opposes Le Pen, but says Macron is an “inflatable doll” who, if elected, will guarantee “five more years of Hollande” and a continuation of the rule of a “clique that knows nothing about the difficulties of ordinary Frenchmen,” he wrote Monday on the rightist news site Dreuz. “He’s a candidate made up by billionaires.”

Macron’s supporters say that although he served two years as a Cabinet minister under Hollande, a Socialist, Macron is in fact an outsider to the political establishment and the only candidate who stands a chance to transcend bipartisan divisions in a deeply polarized society. Macron also was inspector of finances in the French Ministry of Economy under Jaques Chirac, a center-right president.

Yet that, too, could be an Achilles heel in a country where no independent candidate has won a presidential election since the 1970s.

Relatively inexperienced in politics and lacking the support of established party mechanisms, Macron is now up against one of France’s shrewdest and most seasoned politicians in Le Pen, a career lawmaker who heads one of her country’s most dynamic and hierarchical parties, and whose life partner and father both have devoted their adult lives to politics.

French presidential election candidate Emmanuel Macron rat the Parc des Expositions in Paris, on April 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Eric Feferberg)

Le Pen’s family legacy, however, may play in Macron’s favor.

The daughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, a Holocaust denier and open anti-Semite who she succeeded as party leader in 2011, she and her party are widely regarded as extremist and borderline neo-fascist despite her efforts to rehabilitate its image.

Francis Kalifat, the president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, has called Le Pen “a candidate of hate.” On Sunday, he called on voters to vote for Macron in the second round, just to keep Le Pen out of power.

Known in France as a “republican front,” such mobilizations, in which voters set aside their differences and vote for the candidate likeliest to keep National Front out of power, have cost the party many elections. In 2002, the only time National Front participated in the second round of a presidential elections, the republican front resulted in Chirac beating Jean-Marie Le Pen with 82 percent of the vote.

Since then, Marine Le Pen has kicked out of the party dozens of members who were caught making anti-Semitic statements – including her father in 2015 after he said a Jewish singer should be put “in an oven.”

But in a remark that critics said echoed her father’s revisionism, she earlier this month said France was not responsible for how its police rounded up Jewish Holocaust victims for the Nazis.

Marine Le Pen has also vowed to outlaw the wearing of the kippah in public, explaining she does not regard it as a threat but will ban it nonetheless to facilitate imposing similar limitations on headgear worn by Muslims, whom she flagged as a “threat to French culture.”

Kalifat said she was a “threat to French democracy” and Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, wrote in a statement Monday that the younger Le Pen is “no less dangerous than her Holocaust-denying father.”

Many in the French political establishment concur, and most of the losing candidates in Sunday’s voting urged their supporters to vote for Macron. On Sunday, both Benoit Hamon of the Socialist Party and Francois Fillon of The Republicans of former President Nicolas Sarkozy urged a united front against Le Pen.

But this year, that front has at least one major gap: Jean-Luc Melenchon, the communist candidate, who is also a Eurosceptic, did not call on his supporters to vote for Macron, whose economic and foreign policies are diametrically opposed to Melenchon’s.

Meanwhile, Le Pen is already attacking Macron on points that resonate with many of her voters. In a speech she made to supporters following the first round, she called Macron “Hollande’s extension,” saying he was guaranteed to continue the president’s policy of “mass immigration.” In Macron’s world, she added, “the rich man reigns.”

In light of the challenges facing Macron, even some of his ardent supporters spoke openly of their concern ahead of the final round.

“I don’t consider today as a victory,” Michael Amsellem, one of Macron’s many Jewish supporters, wrote on Facebook. “Having Le Pen in the second round is a tragedy.”

Citing the abstention of Melenchon and his supporters from the republican front, as well as polarization between “protectionists and internationalists, “we are in a major danger zone from Le Pen,” Amsellem wrote.

“The French people are full of surprises,” he added. “This is not going to be so simple.”

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen Advance in French Election


PARIS — In France’s most consequential election in recent history, voters on Sunday chose Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to go to a runoff to determine the next president, official returns showed. One is a political novice, the other a far-right firebrand — both outsiders, but with starkly different visions for the country.

The result was a full-throated rebuke of France’s traditional mainstream parties, setting the country on an uncertain path in an election that could also decide the future of the European Union.

It is the first time in the nearly 59-year history of France’s Fifth Republic that both of the final candidates are from outside the traditional left-right party structure. Together, they drew less than half the total votes cast in a highly fractured election.

Even before the official tallies were announced, the political establishment was rallying behind Mr. Macron, warning of the dangers of a victory by Ms. Le Pen’s far-right National Front, though few analysts give her much of a chance of winning the May 7 runoff.

Mr. Macron, a former investment banker, abandoned traditional parties a year ago to form his own movement with an eclectic blend of left and right policies. He campaigned on a pro-European Union platform, coupled with calls to overhaul the rules governing the French economy.

“The French people have decided to put me at the top in the first round of the vote,” Mr. Macron told jubilant supporters at a rally in Paris. “I’m aware of the honor and the responsibility that rest on my shoulders.”


How the Election Split France

Detailed maps show sharp differences between the bases of support for Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron.

Ms. Le Pen’s success was a victory for people who oppose the European Union and for those who want to see more “France first” policies to restrict immigration, protect French industry and limit public signs of Muslim faith, including the wearing of head scarves.

“The great debate will finally take place,” Ms. Le Pen said on Twitter. “French citizens need to seize this historic opportunity.”

Political experts said the vote showed a new, profound cleavage in French politics around globalization, as well as France’s relationship with the European Union.

“Fundamentally, this shows that France is going through deep political tensions: clashes over the global economy, the integration of France into the global economy and into Europe,” said Bruno Cautrès, a political analyst and public opinion specialist at the Center for Political Research at Sciences Po, the institute of political studies in Paris.

It is not that the left-right divide no longer matters — after all, voters gave roughly 40 percent of the vote to various versions of the traditional left and right — but that it is now complicated by the crosscutting politics of globalization versus anti-globalization.

With 97 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Macron had 23.9 percent, Ms. Le Pen had 21.5 percent, the mainstream right candidate François Fillon had nearly 20 percent, and the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon had 19.6 percent.

When Ms. Le Pen spoke to supporters in the small town of Hénin-Beaumont in northern France, although the results were not yet definitive, she sounded victorious.

She not only made it to the second round for the first time, but also got a higher percentage of votes than she did in 2012, and a higher percentage than her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, did in 2002, when he made it to the second round as the National Front candidate and faced Jacques Chirac.

Ms. Le Pen said the outcome was “an act of French pride, that of a people who are raising up their heads, that of a people sure of their values and confident of the future.”

That future would be a perilous one under the National Front, others warned. Bernard Cazeneuve, the sitting Socialist prime minister, called Ms. Le Pen’s project “dangerous and sectarian” and said it would “impoverish, isolate and divide” the country.

“It will inevitably lead to the end of Europe and of the euro, and, eventually, to France’s relegation,” he said. “The National Front cannot be the future of our country.”

For now, voters narrowly embraced Mr. Macron’s centrist calls for change over more strident appeals from the far left and the far right for France to fortify itself against immigration and globalization.

His success also suggests that despite multiple terrorist attacks in France recently, a message of outreach to immigrants and acceptance of Muslims, as well as of ethnic diversity, has some currency. Ms. Le Pen campaigned stridently against Muslims and immigration, linking both to security threats, and she may have benefited from a final surge of support after a terrorist attack in Paris on Thursday.

In contrast, Mr. Macron, in his address to supporters as the returns were still being tabulated Sunday night, emphasized that he wanted to be the president of all of France. He promised “to bring together the French people,” clearly recognizing that if he wins the runoff, as is expected, he will have to lead a politically fractured country.

Four candidates with markedly different views came within a few points of one another in the vote on Sunday, suggesting that the fight about what vision of France will dominate the future is far from over.

Both Mr. Macron’s supporters and those of Ms. Le Pen were cheering madly at their respective candidates’ headquarters, with Ms. Le Pen’s loyalists dancing in the street outside the place where she was speaking in Hénin-Beaumont.

The two finalists could hardly be more different on the big questions facing France: globalization, immigration and French identity. Beyond that, they represent completely different faces of France.

Ms. Le Pen’s voters want a government that protects them from the vicissitudes of the marketplace and closes its borders to outsiders, re-establishing the frontiers that have been largely erased by the European Union.

Voters at a polling station in Paris on Sunday during the first round of the French presidential elections.CreditJerome Delay/Associated Press

Although Ms. Le Pen has younger, more high-tech voters, she also represents the France that feels left behind: the workers whose jobs have moved to cheaper countries, such as those in Eastern Europe and Asia.

She represents young people who have to go to work early in life to help support their families, and who do not have the advanced degrees that afford them a good income. And she represents people who feel threatened by the immigrants thronging to Europe.

Marine will fight for the young people — for their future, for their freedom, for their job, for their family,” said Aurore Lahondes, a resident of the central-west city of Angers. She called Mr. Macron, a onetime investment banker at Rothschild & Company, “the candidate who is the most far away from the people.”

“He is the candidate of the financial part of the world,” Ms. Lahondes, 19, said in an interview at a bar that had been rented out by the local National Front federation. “He is the candidate of the European Union.”

Mr. Macron represents a more educated and cosmopolitan France. His voters are not all privileged by any means, but they believe that looking beyond the country’s borders will enrich them in every way, economically and culturally. Mr. Macron’s challenge will be to convince more of the French that globalism has as many rewards as it does costs.

“Globalism has positive effects, but it also increases precariousness and inequalities,” said Thomas Guénolé, a political-science professor at Sciences Po.

French soldiers patrolling near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Sunday.CreditLudovic Marin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The vote on Sunday came after a bruising campaign in which the public repeatedly rejected candidates who were expected to be winners. In the mainstream right primary, the mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppé, was expected to handily best Mr. Fillon. Instead, Mr. Fillon trounced him.

The left suffered similar upheaval, with the expected winner of the Socialist primary, former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, losing to Benoît Hamon. Mr. Hamon floundered during the campaign and received less than 7 percent of the vote, a cratering of support for his party.

On the right, Mr. Fillon initially looked like a potential winner, but a nepotism scandal — in which he was accused of embezzling public funds by paying his wife and children to work as his assistants, although they appear to have done little work — defeated his efforts to make it to the second round.

“The obstacles put on my path were too numerous, too cruel,” he said, conceding defeat Sunday night.

In the meantime, Mr. Macron appears to have been in the right place at the right time, with mainstream candidates falling on either side and a far-right candidate whom many in France cannot imagine having represent the country.

That does not mean that people favor him, but rather that he was the “least worst” vote: an especially weak position for a candidate with no real party base behind him.

“I chose a ‘useful vote’ for the first round, and it really breaks my heart — it’s the first time I’m doing this,” said Monica Craignou, 40, who works in digital development in Paris.

Others saw in Mr. Macron the possibility for France to keep up with global changes. “We need someone young,” said Karine Filhoulaud, a 45-year-old web editor, who was at Mr. Macron’s victory party and danced alone long after the crowds had left. “He lives the transition: the environmental one, the digital one, the societal one.”

Russian chief rabbi says Jews should leave France if Marine Le Pen elected

(JTA) — Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar called on French Jews to leave their country if the far-right politician Marine Le Pen is elected president next month.

Lazar, a Chabad rabbi who was born in Italy and has lived in Russia for 25 years, made the remark on Friday while attending a conference on Jewish learning near Moscow organized by the Limmud FSU association.

“If Marine Le Pen is elected president of France, the Jews must leave,” Lazar said, according to a transcript of his address at the conference provided by Limmud FSU. Lazar was a keynote speaker at the event, which drew 2,500 participants — a record attendance since Limmud FSU began holding conferences across the former Soviet Union.

Polls ahead of Sunday’s first round of the presidential elections suggested the centrist independent candidate Emmanuel Macron is in a tight race for the lead with Le Pen, leader of the National Front party and the daughter of its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has multiple convictions for Holocaust denial and incitement of racial hatred against Jews. Macron and Le Pen each have about 22 percent of the vote in an Ifop poll from April 19.

Le Pen recently called for banning the wearing of the kippah in public and for making it illegal for French nationals to also have an Israeli passport — steps she said were necessary because of the principle of equality in order to facilitate similar limitations on Muslims.

Le Pen has said radical Islam is a “threat on French culture” and has called on Jews to make certain “sacrifices” in order to fight jihadism. She has softened the rhetoric of her party after taking over from her father in 2011 and has kicked out of the party dozens of members over anti-Semitic rhetoric — including her father.

National Front’s best showing in a presidential election was in 2002, when Jean-Marie Le Pen made it to the second round and received 18 percent of the vote in it, losing to Jacques Chirac. In France, the winner of the first round of voting runs against the second-place candidate in the second and final round.

Many French Jews regard Marine Le Pen as dangerous, and the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities has called her and the far-left communist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon “candidates of hatred.” CRIF President Francis Kalifat on Friday said that Le Pen and Melenchon’s growing popularity is “a real danger to our country’s democracy.”

Melenchon has risen from fifth place in the polls in February with 9 percent of the vote to third with 19 percent. Francois Fillon, the center-right candidate of the party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, has 19 percent. In 2014, during a speech about the Gaza Strip, Melenchon condemned French Jews who support Israel, saying: “France is the opposite of aggressive minorities that lecture to the rest of the country.”

Lazar during his address at Limmud FSU said: “The situation there [in France] is very worrying. Not only because of immigrants, but also because the general population is heading toward radicalization. The best example of this is the rise of extreme-right parties.”

Lazar’s analysis of the situation in Western Europe echoes previous statements by Kremlin officials that sought to discredit European governments critical of the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, including the outlawing of literature on homosexuality, the abuse of judiciary for the elimination of political rivals and the introduction of severe limitations of free speech. Under Putin, Lazar’s Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia has become the largest Jewish organization in Russia.

Lazar praised Putin during his address Friday, saying: “Putin was the first president to publicly speak out against anti-Semitism and did the most for the Jews in Russia. There is no institutional anti-Semitism in Russia.”



TOULOUSE – Under tight security, the people of France will begin voting for a new president on Sunday after debating for more than a year what the future of their country should look like.

The options before them offer starkly different visions and reveal deep fault lines within French society over issues of race, nationalism and their country’s role in forging an inclusive and united Europe. Four candidates lead the pack – a democratic socialist, a far-right nativist, an establishment republican and a young, independent newcomer.

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Russian chief rabbi: France’s Jews should leave if Le Pen wins election

Those candidates – Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Marine Le Pen, François Fillon and Emmanuel Macron, respectively – are all polling within points of one another, set to garner roughly 20-24% of likely voters. The top two candidates will proceed to a runoff scheduled for May 7.

The race is so tight that, unlike in previous years, some local news channels are warning viewers not to expect an announcement of results promptly at 8 p.m., when the polls close.

Surveying and campaigning ended two days ago in accordance with French law. But events may still affect the results. A terrorist attack on Thursday night against law enforcement on the Champs Elysees, the capital’s main thoroughfare, was claimed by Islamic State, in an apparent attempt to influence voters jittery over security after a series of devastating attacks in recent years.

Le Pen (National Front) and Macron (En Marche!) are slightly ahead of their two rivals. Should they advance to the second round, it will be the first time under the Fifth Republic (1958–present) in which neither of the two major parties – the Socialist Party and the Republicans and its predecessors on the center-right – is represented in the final leg of the race.

And that would be just one of several historic firsts in a race featuring candidates with extreme differences. Le Pen will have taken her party into the mainstream after it for years faced accusations of racism, antisemitism and xenophobia. The success of her brand of hyper-nationalism – fueled by fears of immigration from Muslim lands and increasing terrorist threats against the country from within – has been compared to the unexpected political rise of Donald Trump in the United States.

Trump weighed in on the campaign on Friday, suggesting that the previous night’s attack in Paris would “probably help” his populist counterpart.

The nation may alternatively select its youngest-ever president in Macron, 39, who has never previously run for elected office. The former finance minister ran a center- left campaign and represents the most pro-European candidate in the race.

Macron’s rise has been credited in part to the precipitous fall from grace of Fillon (Republicans), who has been mired in scandal over public payments made to his family members. Fillon bled significant support as a formal investigation was launched into the scheme, but he has perhaps maintained enough support from moderate voters who consider Macron too young and inexperienced an alternative.

And Mélenchon, who founded a communist party not long ago, has surged in the polls in recent weeks, based in large part on young supporters. Victory for Mélenchon would make for an upset, likely at the expense of Macron, who is relying on this constituency to advance into the second round.

Polling in the election reveals a relatively even divide between the four among likely voters, but there is a caveat: Up to a third have not yet decided how they will cast their ballots. Widespread indecision has confounded French pundits and adds to uncertainty entering the first round on Sunday.

The election is considered a referendum in Western Europe’s second-most populous nation on whether the EU project can survive a wave of populism crashing ashore, after the earthquake that was America’s 2016 presidential election.

Le Pen, who was seen in Trump Tower in New York during the US presidential transition period and who has accepted campaign funds from Russia, appears to have the support of both. In January, a mutual friend of Trump and Le Pen, Italian businessman George Lombardi, described France’s election as a critical test.

“We call it the Normandy landing,” he said.

Marine Le Pen (White Freemason, White Feminist, Zionist): Far-right heir hopes to become France’s first female president

PARIS (AFP) — Far-right leader Marine Le Pen wept for joy when her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, the bogeyman of French politics, made it to the final of the 2002 presidential election.

But while Le Pen senior never seemed to truly covet the top job, his charismatic daughter is convinced that, come May 7, France will have its first woman president.

Over the past six years, her rebranded “party of patriots” has gone from strength to strength, propelled by the kind of anti-globalization, anti-establishment fury that drove Britain’s vote to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s election in the United States.

But she never strayed far from her National Front’s (FN) stock themes of immigration and Islamic fundamentalism — hot-button issues after a string of jihadist attacks that have killed 239 people since 2015, including a policeman shot dead on Paris’s Champs Elysees avenue three days before the election.

“With me there would never have been the migrant terrorists of the Bataclan,” Le Pen told supporters in the final days of the campaign, referring to the Paris concert hall where dozens were killed in the November 2015 attacks.

Police officers block the access to the Champs Elysees in Paris after a shooting on April 20, 2017 (AFP Photo/Ludovic Marin)

As president, she says she would bring in an immediate moratorium on long-term migration until a quota system could be introduced.

Her hardline remarks marked a shift in her long-running campaign to purge the FN of the anti-Semitism and overt racism that were the party’s hallmarks under her father.

Le Pen launched a drive to detoxify the party’s image on taking over the party leadership in 2011 — a canny move that swept the party to victory in European elections in 2014.

French presidential election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party Marine Le Pen reacts at the end of a campaign meeting on April 19, 2017, in Marseille, southern France. (AFP PHOTO / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT)

But on the campaign trail, she returned to the party’s fundamentals, saying France bore no responsibility for an infamous round-up of 13,000 Jews in Paris during World War II by police acting on orders from the collaborationist Vichy regime.

Her remarks inevitably drew comparisons with the revisionism of her father, whom she kicked out of the party in 2015 for describing the Holocaust as “a detail of history.”

A wounded Jean-Marie refused to go quietly, dragging the FN before the courts.

Family drama

The split marked a turning point in the career of Marine Le Pen, who developed a tough shell after a tumultuous childhood.

When she was eight, a bomb ripped through the Paris apartment building where the family lived, slightly injuring six people but sparing the Le Pens.

Eight years later, her mother Pierrette walked out on her husband and three daughters, sensationally resurfacing shortly afterwards posing nude in Playboy magazine.

“It was a huge shock,” Le Pen, who did not see her mother for 15 years, told an M6 television interviewer last year.

France's former far-right National Front party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen (R) and his daughter and current party leader Marine Le Pen (L) on November 29, 2014 (Jeff Pachoud/AFP)

Now herself a twice-divorced mother-of-three, she keeps her private life out of the spotlight, appearing rarely as a couple with her partner, FN vice-president Louis Aliot.

The politician with the gravelly voice and flair for sharp putdowns started out as a lawyer defending illegal immigrants facing deportation as a state-appointed attorney.

Despite that experience she blames migration — and the European Union — for France’s economic woes.

Le Pen has predicted the EU “will die” and has vowed to take France out of the euro and hold a referendum on membership of the union. The proposal has caused alarm, with most polls showing the French against a “Frexit” or a return of the franc, fearing economic chaos.

Le Pen has downplayed the risks, accusing sceptical rivals and economists of scare-mongering.

French first

The FN has come a long way since it was launched in 1972 as a refuge for paramilitaries who opposed France granting independence to Algeria.

It also drew apologists for the wartime Vichy regime’s collaboration with Nazi Germany and ultra-conservative Catholics.

Protesters against far-right National Front leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen hold a banner reading 'fascist' during a protest march from suburban Aubervilliers to Paris, Sunday, April 16, 2017. (AP/Francois Mori)

Under Marine Le Pen, the party has shown a more progressive face, promoting openly gay politicians and showing unmasked racists the door.

Critics, however, point to the role of several Le Pen aides who were once part of violent nationalist student groups — and the recurring chant of “This is our land” at FN rallies — as evidence that it still attracts hardliners.

Like Trump, Le Pen is proposing to pull up the drawbridge and restore French glory with a policy of “economic patriotism”.

Besides leaving the euro she wants to pull out of Europe’s Schengen border-free area, adopt a French-first policy on jobs and public housing and tax products from French companies that offshore factory jobs by 35 percent.

In the last presidential election in 2012 she finished third on just under 18 percent.

Trump: French far-right presidential candidate Le Pen is ‘strongest on borders’

Marine Le Pen

(JTA) — President Donald Trump said the attack that killed a police officer in Paris would “probably help” French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen since she is “strongest on borders.”

Trump told The Associated Press on Friday that he was not explicitly endorsing Le Pen, a member of the conservative National Front party, but that he believed the previous day’s attack would likely boost support for her. The Islamic State took responsibility for the attack, in which a gunman killed the officer and wounded two others.

“She’s the strongest on borders and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France,” Trump said. “Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election.”

Earlier Friday, the president wrote on Twitter that the attack “will have a big effect” on the election, which has its first round of voting on Sunday.

Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!

Also Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the president did not have a preference for a candidate in the election.

As of Friday, Le Pen was only 2 percentage points behind the front-runner, Emmanuel Macron, a centrist candidate and former banker at the prestigious Rothschild investment house, according to Paris Match. The top two vote-getters are expected to proceed to a second ballot in May.

Many French Jews are deeply worried about the rise in the polls of Le Pen and the National Front, which advocates pulling out of the European Union, stopping immigration from Muslim countries and imposing limitations on religious freedoms, as well as harsh punishments for violence and incitement.

Le Pen has made efforts to distance her party’s image from the open racism of her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who previously led the party and whom she kicked out in 2015 following his latest conviction for inciting racial hatred against Jews.

However, earlier this month she drew fire from Israel after saying that “France is not responsible” for the deportation of thousands of Jews to death camps in 1942. She had been asked about the roundup and deportation of 13,152 from the Vel d’Hiv stadium in Paris on July 16-17, 1942.

She added: “I think generally, and in very general terms indeed, if anyone is responsible, then it is those in power at the time, not France as such. It wasn’t France.”