On October 7, French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to declare his solidarity with, and support for, Israel as it began its war to root out Hamas from Gaza. Three weeks later, his tone had changed, and he has now been lecturing Israel on the need to “stop bombing,” which, if Israel were to agree to do so, would constitute a victory for Hamas and a defeat for Israel.
An Israeli official, who does not want to be identified, has said that Macron’s change in attitude toward Israel’s campaign in Gaza was the result of “domestic politics.” By that he meant the pressure on Macron from the five million Muslims in France to end his support for Israel in Gaza, and to start getting tough with the Jewish state. More on this can be found here: “French Jews worry Muslim unrest could see Macron flip on Israel, putting them at risk,” by Canaan Lidor, Times of Israel, November 14, 2023:
Philippe Karsenty, a French-Jewish media analyst and former deputy mayor of the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, was more specific. “Macron is seeking to avoid a civil insurrection by Muslims. He doesn’t want another French intifada, so he’s betraying Israel,” said Karsenty.
Karsenty is exactly right. There are only 500.000 Jews in France, but nearly five million Muslims, or ten times as many. When the Jews march, as they do so very seldom, they do so, in quiet and dignified fashion, only to express their alarm over antisemitism, and their solidarity with the embattled Jewish state. There is no yelling, no violence, no setting fire to cars, no attacks on police stations and mayoral offices.
But when the Muslim mobs form, they yell their hatred of Jews and of the French, smash shop windows, set thousands of cars on fire, ignore police orders to stop their vandalism and disperse, and even fight with the police — an entirely different affair from the Jewish marches. And if a Muslim is injured or killed by the police when fleeing, all hell breaks loose throughout the Hexagon.
Remember in 2005, two Muslim teenagers were electrocuted while hiding from police in an electrical substation. This accident was depicted as a deliberate murder; there were riots all over France; shops were looted, several thousand cars were torched. Early in 2023, there were again riots after a Muslim named Nahel Marzouk was shot dead after a traffic stop. A a policeman had been leaning into the driver’s window, his gun pointed downward. When the driver stepped on the gas and the car suddenly lurched forward, the policeman’s hand jerked upward, and his gun discharged, while aimed at Marzouk’s chest. Marzouk was killed. After Marzouk’s death — he was a delinquent already known to the police — there were again riots in a dozen cities all over France. Six thousand cars were set on fire, one thousand buildings were damaged and some destroyed, including a town hall and several police stations. Macron knows that these Muslim riots can be prompted by anything — a word or deed — deemed to have been directed against Muslims. That includes, of course, any expression he might offer of solidarity with Israel in its war with Hamas.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on October 12 issued a nationwide ban on rallies against Israel, citing concerns that they risk exacerbating a surge of antisemitic incidents. Since October 7, the CRIF umbrella of French Jewish communities has documented more than 1,000 antisemitic incidents — more than double the 2022 tally.
Macron addressed the ban in a televised address on October 13. “Let us not bring ideological adventures here by imitation or by projection. Let us not add national fractures… to international fractures,” Macron pleaded. “Let us stay united.”
“Let us stay united,” insists Macron. But France is not united. Its large Muslim population despises the Infidels among whom those Muslims, by the millions, now live, and whose welfare benefits those Muslims receive as their due, without gratitude, as a kind of proleptic jizyah. Not just the Jews, but all the French non-Muslims, are despised by for the Muslims for being “the most vile of created beings.” Muslims do not accept the authority of the French state, nor the legitimacy of laws created by Infidels. Macron would have done better to recognize that division in French society instead of pretending it does not exist, and to have urged that those who cannot be integrated into French society should think about leaving. He might have said “I will not countenance rallies by those who preach or practice race hatred on our soil, especially the ‘oldest hatred’ of antisemitism. Those who do so, if they are not yet citizens, should be deported from France. And even those who have acquired citizenship should ask themselves if they can truly integrate into a determinedly secular society like ours.”
Thousands of protesters have flouted the ban [on rallies against Israel], resulting in several violent clashes with police amid fears of a repeat of one of the periods of civil unrest that have engulfed France in recent years, sometimes in connection with Israel, and often featuring large numbers of demonstrators in or from heavily Muslim neighborhoods.
The authority of the Republic needs to be imposed. Those who violate the French government’s ban on marches and rallies against Israel, which immediately descend into the crudest antisemitism, and take part in such events, need to be arrested and prosecuted. Such defiance of the state cannot be tolerated in any well-run democracy. If Muslims find they can get away with ignoring such bans without consequences, their defiance of the law will only increase. Those who came to France in order to batten on whatever benefits the generous welfare state has on offer, but are unable, or unwilling, to integrate into a non-Muslim society, and to respect its laws, should not be given citizenship, lest the authority of the government crumble.
Macron on October 19 acknowledged in more explicit terms that he’s worried that the conflict between Israel and Hamas might spill into France unless it’s handled correctly. “If we handle this poorly, this could become an element of division,” he told a journalist during a meeting with young adults.
In June and July, a deadly wave of protests rocked France for weeks following the death of a 17-year-old Muslim killed by police, reportedly after failing to pull over when driving without a license. Rioters wounded hundreds of security officers, torched nearly 6,000 vehicles and vandalized at least 1,000 buildings in clashes that resulted in the arrest of some 3,500 suspects and the death of two of them….
These are the violent riots that Macron hopes to avoid by backing away from his initial support for Israel.
On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people marched against antisemitism in Paris at a rally organized by the presidents of the lower and upper houses of the French parliament. Former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande also marched, but Macron was conspicuously absent.
Macron, a passionate speaker whom supporters praise for his empathy, offered an unemotional explanation for this when an interlocutor, Yaël Perl Ruiz, used a handshake encounter to quiz the president on his sitting out the march.
“I don’t attend demonstrations of any kind,” Macron told Perl Ruiz, a granddaughter of Alfred Dreyfus, a French soldier whose 1898 wrongful conviction for treason has made him a symbol of antisemitism in France. “If I did, I’d have to spend every day at rallies,” he added in the exchange, which television reporters filmed….
An insulting response. This was not just one rally among so many that he would then “have to spend every day at.” It was the largest demonstration against antisemitism in French history. It was organized in response to the huge increase in antisemitic acts, almost all committed by Muslims migrants. It was an occasion, at a time when French Jews are feeling extreme anxiety, and with reason, for political leaders, and especially the head of the country, to show up and march in solidarity. Two previous prime ministers, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, did join the march. Macron did not care enough about the alarm of French Jewry to march in solidarity with them. Or was it that he was afraid of what Muslims in France would think of him if he seemed to be siding with Jews engaged in a silent and dignified protest against antisemitism?
Karsenty, a public figure who many recognize on the street in Paris, has also adapted his life to living with the threat of violence by Muslim extremists and criminality, he said. “Frankly, I hardly leave the nice neighborhoods. I’m not taking any risks and besides, I don’t have the taste for it,” he said about the prospect of visiting some of Paris’s heavily Muslim areas. “I’m staying in my own environment. It doesn’t make me immune. Anything can happen. But right now I feel kind of protected,” Karsenty said.
Karsenty feels “kind of protected” only because he has had to modify his life. He no longer goes out; he stays put in Neuilly-sur-Seine. Many parts of Paris are now off-limits to him. Similarly, Veronique Chenla has had to hide her mezuzah on the inside of her door so that Muslims don’t know she is Jewish. And she refused to have a building crew of Egyptians, doing renovations inside the apartment building where she lives, inside her apartment, for fear they might find out that she is Jewish and she’s worried about what then might happen.
In that kind of atmosphere, and with the number of antisemitic incidents skyrocketing in France, Macron should have maintained his initial support for Israel. He should not be seen capitulating to the threat of Muslim violence. He ought to have joined the rally against antisemitism, to reassure the anxious Jews of France that he, representing the Republic, and à titre personelle, understands their fears and stands with them. He’s missed this chance. He should make up for his absence at the march by addressing the nation on the subject of antisemitism. Not “antisemitism and Islamophobia.” Antisemitism, tout court. He should speak of the “oldest hatred” both in France — describing the kinds of attacks Jews have had to endure in France in recent years, and also in the wider world, as demonstrated by the intolerable sympathy shown by so many to the murderers of Hamas. Fais un petit effort, Emmanuel.