French assembly speaker: Hard-left leader ‘put target on my back’ for Israel visit

Yael Braun-Pivet says Jean-Luc Melenchon used antisemitic Holocaust imagery in criticism of her solidarity trip in the wake of the devastating Hamas assault

President of the French National Assembly Yael Braun-Pivet speaks to Israelis at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on October 22, 2023 (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)
President of the French National Assembly Yael Braun-Pivet speaks to Israelis at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on October 22, 2023 (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

PARIS — The speaker of the French parliament accused hard-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon on Monday of having put “a new target on her back” after she made a solidarity visit to Israel this weekend.

Yael Braun-Pivet, 52, traveled to Israel in the aftermath of the murderous Hamas assault on the country this month.

The speaker, who is Jewish, says she has been the target of a number of antisemitic insults and threats over the past years.

On Sunday, Melenchon accused Braun-Pivet, a member of President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party, of “camping in Tel Aviv to encourage the massacre,” referring to Israeli strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

“Not in the name of the French people!” he said on X, formerly Twitter.

Thousands of people rallied in Paris on Sunday, demanding an end to the military operation that Israel launched in Gaza in response to the Hamas attack.

Founder of French leftist party La France Insoumise (LFI) Jean-Luc Melenchon (C) in Bordeaux, on October 11, 2023. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

Speaking to broadcaster France Inter, the speaker of the National Assembly said she was “very shocked” and accused Melenchon of using provocative language to denounce her.

She insisted Melenchon had deliberately chosen the French term “camper” — which she alleged was a reference to concentration camps.

“I am convinced that the word ‘camper’ was not chosen by chance and the claim that I favor massacres is once again a new target being put on my back,” she said. “This is very serious.”

Braun-Pivet said that when she read “certain” tweets or letters, she felt threatened and could not leave home without police protection.

In Israel, Braun-Pivet visited Kibbutz Be’eri in southern Israel as well as the site of a rave party where Hamas terrorists killed more than 260 people. Be’eri was one of the worst-hit communities, where more than 100 residents were killed, including the elderly and small children.

A children’s swing hangs at a house attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023, seen in Kibbutz Be’eri, October 14, 2023. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

“I never said that I unconditionally support the government of Israel, but I unconditionally support the existence of Israel,” she said.

She added that neither the security of Israel nor the existence of a Palestinian state were ensured “today.”

The refusal by Melenchon, the leader of the France Unbowed party, to describe Hamas as a terror group has caused a crisis within France’s left-wing NUPES coalition, which also includes Socialists, Greens and Communists.

Macron himself has expressed concern that the war between Israel and Hamas could create divisions in France, which is home to large Muslim and Jewish populations.

On October 7, Hamas terrorists stormed across the border from Gaza into Israel, launching a raid that killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

Protestors chant as they stand on the Monument a la Republique during a pro-Palestinian rally, at Place de la Republique in Paris, on October 22, 2023. (Photo by Emmanuel Dunand / AFP)

They also seized more than 220 hostages in the worst-ever attack in Israel’s history.

Israel has responded with a bombing campaign aimed at hitting Hamas targets and vowed to eradicate Hamas.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said that more than 5,000 people in Gaza have been killed since the start of the war. The numbers can’t be verified and include those killed in a blast at a hospital, which Hamas blamed on Israel, but which Israel, several Western governments, and the AP said appeared to have been caused by an Islamic Jihad rocket falling on the hospital parking lot.

Israel says more than 550 rockets fired by terror groups at Israel have landed inside the Strip.

Additionally, Israel said it had killed some 1,500 of the terrorists who infiltrated Israel on October 7.

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