“Where is the left? » The indignant voice of the historian and essayist Marc Knobel rises in the Colbert room of the National Assembly. A silence is required. Some eyes focus on the imposing painting representing Jean Jaurès on the podium addressing Clemenceau. Then, under the stern gaze of Jaurès, Marc Knobel continues solemnly: “Any compromise on this subject would be marked with the seal of infamy. » He is generously applauded by the 200 people who came to attend, Monday September 11, this conference on the “new clothes of anti-Semitism” organized by Renaissance deputies Mathieu Lefèvre and Caroline Yadan.
These two hours of discussions, punctuated by three round tables – “conspiracy and hatred of Jews”, “hatred of Israel and hatred of Jews” and “Islamism and hatred of Jews” – offer a fairly complete picture of the progression of anti-Semitism in France. They also serve as a reminder, with precise figures and supporting factual data, that a shift has occurred: the “Corbyn left” seems to have supplanted the “Jaurès left”. As a reminder, English MP Jeremy Corbyn was expelled from the Labor Party, of which he was the leader, due to his complacency regarding anti-Semitic remarks in his own party.
“Anti-Semitism has long no longer been the prerogative of the extreme right,” points out Caroline Yadan, MP for Paris. According to the news, the anti-Semitic clothes of the present are draped in anti-Zionism, Islamism, conspiracy, and are put on by political parties who have decided, now without any restraint, to favor what they think is theirs. electorate rather than what builds their honor. » And to be very firm on Medina, “Islamist and anti-Semitic rapper, fan of quenelle, Muslim Brotherhood and double talk, friend of Tariq Ramadan and Dieudonné, admirer of Alain Soral and author of a pun dehumanizing his Jewish victim.” The invitation of this rapper is symptomatic, according to the elected official, of the “evil rooted in the Corbyn left”. Anti-Semitism, carried by the Maurrasian extreme right at the end of the 19th century, “has become encysted on the extreme left,” she concludes.
Recent studies highlight in any case that far-left voters are more sensitive to anti-Semitic plots than the rest of the population. The latest edition of the x-ray of anti-Semitism in France – produced in 2022 by Fondapol and the American Jewish Committee – is, for example, very enlightening. The statement that “Jews have too much power in the economy and finance” is shared by 33% of Jean-Luc Mélenchon voters, compared to 26% in the general population.
30% of Insoumis voters consider that using old anti-Semitic prejudices to designate Israelis is a legitimate criticism rather than an opinion amounting to anti-Semitism, compared to 16% of French people as a whole. Another poll carried out by Ifop for Marianne in 2019 revealed that 20% of LFI voters agreed with the following statement: “Jews today use in their own interest the status of victims of the Nazi genocide during the Second World War. »
While “the anti-Jewish obsession evolves”, Rudy Reichstadt, director of Conspiracy Watch, believes that the far left bears “a heavy responsibility” by confusing, in the name of the principle of “intersectionality of struggles”, anti-racism and anti-Semitism. “These two notions are fundamentally opposed since anti-Semitism is based on a feeling of inferiority, clearly more dangerous than the feeling of superiority. » Emmanuel Debono, historian invited on the occasion of this conference, went to try to explain it at the summer universities of La France insoumise, near Valence. In vain. “LFI does not understand Muslim anti-Semitism,” he concluded. Or perhaps he understands it perfectly, replied the sociologist Bernard Rougier, author, in particular, of The Conquered Territories of Islamism.
The academic recalled that anti-Semitism had “a strategic function in the suburbs”, where hatred of Israel and Islamism can mix. “It’s coded anti-Semitism, poorly identifiable, but very effective,” he summarized. On the one hand, Houria Bouteldja, co-founder of the Republic Indigenous Party, bluntly asserts that “one cannot be Israeli innocently”; on the other, anti-Semitic prejudices are promoted in Salafist and Brotherhood circles. The two complement each other. To support his point, Bernard Rougier cites a final figure: according to the aforementioned Fondapol survey, 15% of Muslims admit to feeling antipathy for Jews, a proportion 10 points higher than that measured in the the entire French population. At the end of the conference, everyone leaves by looking at Jaurès one last time and thinking of the famous sentence pronounced by the socialist in his “Speech to Youth”: “Courage is seeking the truth and telling it. »