While the media accuses the French right of anti-Semitism, the only serious presidential candidate to have approved of violent attacks on Jews is the favorite candidate of the left. Melenchon is being cheered at lefty outlets like Vox and the Guardian.
The Communist candidate is pro-Islamist and is likely to pull in a significant number of Muslim votes in the election. He's courted Muslim voters in a very familiar way.
Speaking in Grenoble less than a month after nine synagogues were attacked amid a wave of violent and unauthorized protests against Israel over its war with Hamas in Gaza that summer, Melenchon praised the protesters. He also condemned French Jews for expressing solidarity with Israel in a support rally in front of its embassy.
“I want to congratulate the youth of my country who mobilized in defense of the miserable victims of war crimes in Gaza,” Melenchon said in the speech at a general assembly of his Left Party. “They did so with model discipline when they were pushed to extremes on all sides. They knew how to remain dignified and embodied better than anyone the founding values of the French republic.”
Melenchon did not mention the synagogue attacks and the wave of anti-Semitic assaults that followed the protests. But he did go on to criticize thousands of French Jews over their support for Israel.
“If we have anything to condemn, then it is the actions of citizens who decided to rally in front of the embassy of a foreign country or serve its flag, weapon in hand,” he said.
It doesn't escape French Jews that Melenchon's core demographic is responsible for violence against French Jews on an ongoing basis. Or that as bad as Hollande has been, he at least has made some effort to provide protection to Jewish institutions. It is not difficult to imagine that a Melenchon government would turn Muslim attacks on Jews into pogroms with the complicity of the authorities.
Melenchon is not a unique phenomenon. Think of him as a Gallic Galloway. But growing instability in the West means that extremists increasingly have a pathway to power. And that's bad news for everyone. Jews just tend to be the canary in the coalmine for leftist fascists like Melenchon, Ellison or Corbyn.