Anti-Semitism Expert on French Election results: “Macron’s policy may make life easier for Muslim terrorists”

In an exclusive interview with JerusalemOnline, world-renowned anti-Semitism scholar Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld discussed how the French election results will influence the State of Israel and the Jewish world.
Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

In an exclusive interview with JerusalemOnline, world-renowned anti-Semitism scholar Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld explained how the recent French election results will affect the State of Israel and the Jewish world.  According to him, all of the leading Jewish organizations in France as well as France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Corsia supported Emmanuel Macron getting elected President. Gerstenfeld claimed that this was largely due to the fact that far right wing candidate Marine Le Pen’s father is an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier alongside the fact that several of the leading members of her party are still anti-Semitic despite the reforms Marine Le Pen has made to move the party in a more moderate direction: “Macron is certainly a more respectable candidate than Le Pen. Many had a mental barrier to vote for her.”

However, even though Gerstenfeld feels that Macron is the preferable candidate to Le Pen, he claimed that he still is not the perfect candidate for France and the Jewish people: “He is a total outsider, who achieved a huge victory. He has no established party. He has a program, which has a lot of problems. Macron will have problems governing. France is a sick country. First of all, its external debt is equal to its gross national product. Unemployment is over 10 percent. Growth is below the OECD average. The national budget is 57 percent of the GDP. The social economic reality in France is not very good. And Macron has a far too positive view of the reality of France.”

Gerstenfeld explained that Macron wants an open policy, even though a country like France should devalue its national currency in order to become more competitive. But he noted that in the Macron program, France is stuck with the EURO. In addition, Gerstenfeld stressed that Macron wants France to have open borders, which means that immigrants can come in more easily. According to Gerstenfeld, Macron thinks that the issues surrounding absorbing the existing large number of immigrants can be solved via various social programs but Gerstenfeld stressed that such programs can only mitigate but not solve the issue.  He argued that Le Pen was more realistic on the immigration issue, even if broadly speaking, “the people surrounding Macron are more pleasant than the people surrounding Le Pen.”

“If you have open borders, France is an easier target for Muslim terror,” Gerstenfeld stressed. “The most damaging and lethal attacks of the last few years by Muslim terrorists have been in France. The worst attacks on Jews have been in France. They had the Toulouse school terror attack, the Hyper-Cacher terror attack and the killing of Mrs. Lucy Halimi by her Muslim neighbor. There are unprecedented attacks on synagogues in Paris and in Sarcelles. France has the highest percentage of Muslims in Western Europe. They constitute 10 percent of the population. They have created many ghettos. The idea that by just investing money in them, you can solve the problem is not realistic. This is a structural problem you can mitigate but you cannot solve it.”

“His policy may make life easier for Muslim terrorists,” he added. “I cannot forecast how many more terror attacks there are going to be. I don’t know if there are going to be more terror attacks under Macron than there would have been under Le Pen. But he will make it easier for Muslim terrorists to enter France.”

However, when it comes to the State of Israel, Gerstenfeld stressed it’s hard to predict how he will be: “Macron is in favor of the two state solution but admires Israel for its technology. He is against BDS. But we don’t know who will surround him, whether he will have Muslims on his staff and what their views will be. He could have a pro-Israel or anti-Israeli Prime Minister. If he appoints the Prime Minister from among his own people, he controls the government but if he appoints a Prime Minister from another party, he has cohabitation.”

Nevertheless, according to Gerstenfeld, the game is not necessarily over for Le Pen. He claimed that former French President Nicholas Sarkozy had an established political party behind him and much more political experience than Macron but in the end, he disappointed the French people. He argued that Macron as an outsider has an even meeker chance of success in reforming France. Given this, Gerstenfeld feels that there is a good chance that in the future, Marine Le Pen will once again be running against Macron and could even benefit from his failures in the future: “The more problems coming out of the Muslim community over the next five years, the greater the chance we will witness the rise of Marine Le Pen.”

Given this, Gerstenfeld feels that it was unwise for the French Jewish community to come out so strongly against Marine Le Pen and for the State of Israel to ostracize her: “If Marine Le Pen gets stronger, perhaps we should talk to her. They are not prepared for that but it might become a necessity especially if Macron fails and the chances that he will fail are big.”  According to Gerstenfeld, presently, Le Pen has a positive outlook towards the Palestinians in order to emphasize that she only has an issue with the Muslims in France but on the other side of the coin, she wants Israel to legitimize her given her party’s past anti-Semitic affiliations, a legitimization that Israel so far has declined to give her.

“Le Pen is there to stay,” Gerstenfeld emphasized. “From the initial stages, you need to have unofficial contact with Le Pen. That can be done in various ways. For instance, someone who retired from politics can do it. He could maintain contact with the National Front. More than 10 percent of French Jews voted for Le Pen. It’s not like no Jew voted for Le Pen. You could have a Jew being an intermediary. It is not what Le Pen wants but it is better than it is today. Once she is in power, she will be legitimized by the French population and she doesn’t need legitimization from Israel anymore.”

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