A national union impossible? The “great civic march” against anti-Semitism, desired by the President of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, and by the President of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, comes up against controversies over the presence of the National Rally at this demonstration, which will take place this Sunday, November 12, and the refusal of La France insoumise (LFI) to participate.
To the point of asking questions about whether or not Emmanuel Macron will come this Sunday. “He is thinking,” confides the entourage of the Head of State, visiting this Wednesday at the headquarters of the Grand Orient of France. In front of the Freemasons, the president warned those who “claim to support our compatriots of the Jewish faith by confusing the rejection of Muslims and the support of Jews.” One thing is certain: the participation of Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella makes the president's advisers grimace. “We’ve had more salespeople,” whispers one of them. The Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, has, for her part, decided: she will be there.
This is because the presence of one has clearly eclipsed the absence of the other. More than the decision of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his troops not to go demonstrate between the National Assembly and the Senate, it is the decision of the RN to be one which is causing the presidential camp and the left to react.
“In my opinion, the National Rally has no place in this demonstration,” declared government spokesperson Olivier Véran at the end of the Council of Ministers. “The RN tries to be respectable, with a smiling and republican face. It is abhorrent to hear them present themselves as the best defenders of Israel or the Jewish community today. The heirs of Jean-Marie Le Pen have no place in this type of mobilization,” said the Minister of Transport, Clément Beaune, in Le Figaro. Before adding: “When we think that Jean-Marie Le Pen is not anti-Semitic, it is because we have a big problem with anti-Semitism – which remains, as always, at the heart of the extreme right.”
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“I solemnly call on the organizers as well as the political parties who will participate not to be complicit in the trivialization of a party founded by anti-Semites,” says Stéphane Séjourné, boss of Renaissance. Within the presidential party, there was initially an effect of surprise. “We didn’t expect Jordan Bardella to jump into the event so quickly. The RN has no place behind a Republican barrier at our side,” we argue. The anxiety of the majority is intended to be real: “It will not be necessary to show that the president's party was on this date complicit in the last stone of the trivialization of the RN.”
In a joint press release, the PS, the PCF and the Ecologists announced that they intended to create “a republican cordon” in the procession to “distinguish in the demonstration a procession bringing together all the republicans and progressives on the one hand and the National Rally and the far-right forces on the other hand. They also ask the two organizers, Yaël Braun-Pivet and Gérard Larcher, “to publicly declare that far-right forces are not welcome”, while specifying that they will be present this Sunday.
All this leaves Marine Le Pen “moveless”, slips one of her lieutenants. The former RN presidential candidate decided “the moment she learned of the open letter” from the two presidents of Parliament to be at the demonstration. In reality, underlines one of his relatives, “it would have been unthinkable that we were not at the march”.
Guest of RTL this Wednesday morning, the leader of the RN deputies even called “all of our members and our voters to come and join this march”. She assures that she is ready to parade “at the back of the procession”, if her presence bothers her. Did she feel that the controversy was starting to swell? “If Marine Le Pen has to find herself at the end of the procession, she will at least be among the French, where she belongs,” says Renaud Labaye, her right-hand man in the National Assembly.
At the RN, we refuse to believe that Jordan Bardella's edge fault last Sunday is at the origin of the political reactions. “I don’t believe that Jean-Marie Le Pen was anti-Semitic,” he declared on BFMTV, provoking an eyebrow. In the entourage of the president of the RN, we rail against truncated comments. In an interview with JDD, he in any case returned to this episode: “Jean-Marie Le Pen was condemned for comments that I condemn, and which are unacceptable,” he said.
The controversy surrounding the presence of the RN at the “great civic march” will have helped the Insoumis. In a press release sent to the press on Wednesday morning, the Mélenchonist movement and its group in the Assembly confirmed that they should not be counted on for this march. The Insoumis do not wish to join in their footsteps with those of the elected representatives of the National Rally.
“Fighting against anti-Semitism and against all forms of racism is impractical alongside a party which finds its origins in the history of collaboration with Nazism,” they want to denounce. Adding: “And what hypocrisy to claim to denounce anti-Semitism alongside political leaders who constantly use everyone’s religion as a pretext to make it a subject of shameful discrimination!”
On Wednesday evening, some rebels were pushing for the organization of an “alternative initiative”. In view of Jean-Luc Mélenchon's recent positions, no one was, in the meantime, surprised that the leader of the Insoumis refused to participate in Sunday's rally.
In a tweet posted Tuesday evening, the former presidential candidate even considered that the fight against anti-Semitism was only a “pretext” for organizing what he perceives as the “meeting” of “friends of unconditional support for the massacre” in the Gaza Strip.
Unsurprisingly, this new release provoked, once again, a new wave of indignation within the entire political class. Notable element: his tweet was also barely relayed by the first Mélenchonist circle. “Before, everyone immediately picked up Jean-Luc’s tweets. Now, when he turns around, he sees that no one is there to support him. This is something new at La France insoumise,” observes an MP. This time, the RN stole the show.