A significant turnout of tens of thousands marked the “great civic march” in Paris on Sunday, stretching from the Quai d’Orsay on the Left Bank to the Luxembourg gardens in central Paris. The demonstration aimed to denounce the alarming increase in antisemitism in France, intensified by Israel’s ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne took to X (formerly Twitter) to announce her participation in the march, emphasizing the importance of this “combat” for national cohesion. Borne, whose Jewish father experienced deportation during WWII, stressed the significance of standing against antisemitism.
The protest drew representatives from various political spectrums, including left-wing parties and the far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Security measures were robust, with 3,000 police troops deployed along the march route.
Although French President Emmanuel Macron did not attend the march in person, he expressed support for the cause, urging citizens to unite against the “unbearable resurgence of unbridled antisemitism.”
The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has contributed to a surge in antisemitic acts in France. The Interior Ministry reported 1,247 incidents since the conflict began on October 7, nearly three times the number recorded throughout 2022.
The march has introduced a political shake-up, notably with Marine Le Pen’s far-right party in attendance. The party, historically associated with antisemitism during WWII, is undergoing an image overhaul under Le Pen’s leadership. Despite this, concerns linger, with Politico noting Le Pen’s electoral strategy targeting the anxious Jewish community.
Marine Le Pen, daughter of the founder of the far-right party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has distanced the party from its past by expelling her father and rebranding it from the National Front to the National Rally.
In contrast, the leader of the far-left France Unbowed party, Jean-Luc Melenchon, refrained from participating in the march. Last week on X (formerly Twitter), he stated that the march risked becoming a platform for “friends of unconditional support for the massacre” in Gaza. Melenchon’s party has avoided labeling Hamas as a terrorist group.
France, with the largest Jewish population in Europe, is navigating complex political dynamics amid the dual challenges of addressing antisemitism and responding to the Israel-Gaza conflict.