Hugh Fitzgerald: The “Marche Blanche” For Mireille Knoll, Jean-Luc Melenchon, and Marine Le Pen


Despite the many kindnesses over many years she  showed to her Muslim neighbor, Mireille Knoll was a Jew, and therefore, in her neighbor’s mind, guilty of every sort of evil. He chose to believe not his “lying eyes” that showed Mireille Knoll — even after being stricken with Parkinson’s, and wheelchair bound — as still kind, still welcoming toward him, but instead, those verses in the Qur’an that condemned all Jews including, of course, his 85-year-old, kindly, trusting neighbor, Mireille Knoll.

The silent march in honor of Mireille Knoll was organized by CRIF, the umbrella organization of French Jews, which disinvited two political figures, Jean-Luc Melenchon, from the far left, and Marine Le Pen, from the far right, as being “antisemitic.” When both did appear, nonetheless, they were booed by some in the crowd until they took themselves out of the march. One of Mireille Knoll’s sons said that he disagreed with this; he thought that anyone who wished to pay respects by joining the marche blanche should be permitted to do so.

My objection to the booing of the two political figures, who then left the march, is a different one. It is untrue that Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon are equivalent antisemites. Melenchon is a hard-left figure, with close ties to a group called “les indigenes de la republique,” who are anti-white racists (though many of their members are themselves French and white), and also virulently antisemitic. They are also, of course, pro- “Palestinian” and anti-Israel. Their “platform,” such as it is, declares that “the United States, in particular, but also the European Union and the State of Israel now constitute the main political centres where global colonial domination resides.” They resentfully natter on about “colonialism” being practiced inside France, by “white people” (and “les Juifs” too) against all those who belong to a colonized people. Who are these “colonized” people inside France? It is mainly Muslim Arabs (though they also include some black Africans), who are supposedly being treated in France as a “colonized” people.

In truth, it is the other way round: in France, Muslim Arabs have arrived to settle by the millions, just like the French “colons” who went to Algeria, and like all colonizers, they take economic advantage of the “natives” (in this case, the French). They exploit the French taxpayers economically, by taking advantage of all conceivable benefits — free or heavily subsidized housing, free education, free medical care, unemployment payments (even when there has not been any employment to speak of), and family allowances, the amount received depending on family size (Muslim Arabs tend to have much larger families than the French).  Even though it has been 65 years since the last French pied noir left Algeria, les indigenes de la Republique insist that the “white French” are still exploiting the North Africans, both in France and in North Africa. It’s a crazy, through-the-looking-glass world, for these leftists, where the Muslim Arab recipients of French government generosity are indignantly described as “exploited” by the “colonialists” (that is, the French in their own country, France). The deep anti-white and antisemitic malice is on display here.

This is the company that Jean-Luc Melenchon keeps. He is, of course, an enthusiastic supporter of BDS, the boycott-and-divest movement — boycott Israeli goods, divest from Israeli stocks — that right now is the main focus of anti-Israel animus in the West. Melenchon has also, unsurprisingly given his far-left views on everything, consistently defended Islam. He refused in 2017 to admit that there was even the slightest  problem at all with Islam, stating in a televised debate with Marine Le Pen  that “il n’y a pas de probleme avec l’Islam en France.” (“There is no problem with Islam in France”).

But Marine Le Pen is a different matter. She does not share, but is appalled by, her father’s dismissal of the Holocaust as a “minor detail” of World War II and his other antisemitic remarks. In fact, she has been at war with him for years, and finally had him expelled from the party he founded, for precisely such views. She has repeatedly declared her support for the state of Israel. She has, however, said one disturbing thing that her CRIF critics can focus on: she does not consider that the government of France should be held responsible for the Vel d’Hiv roundup of French Jews in 1942, because she believes that the legitimate government of France at the time was the one in London, that of the Free French under De Gaulle. For Marine Le Pen, the Vichy regime was illegitimate, not making decisions on its own, but taking its orders from the German occupiers. Is that view, which exculpates France while still indicting the collaborationist Vichy regime, enough of a reason to prevent her from participating in the march in memory of Mireille Knoll, which was also a chance to express, silently, outrage at Muslim antisemitism and at the failure of the French authorities to adequately defend French Jews? Did it make sense for CRIF to prevent the participation in the march of a political figure who has become one of the most consistent defenders of Israel and of French Jews and, also, one of the chief critics of Islam and of Muslims in France? French Jews now need all the allies they can get. Marine Le Pen is one of them. Jean-Luc Melenchon is not.

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