Tens of thousands of people march in Paris at a rally against antisemitism that is being led by the heads of the lower and upper houses of the French parliament and two former presidents.
Marching at the head of the event are Yaël Braun-Pivet, president of the French National Assembly, whose father is Jewish, and Gérard Larcher, president of the Senate, who initiated the event following the proliferation of anti-Jewish assaults in France following Hamas’s onslaught against Israel on October 7 and the ensuing war.
Politicians and political parties from across the spectrum are participating in the march, ranging from the Socialist Party of former president Francois Hollande, who is marching, to The Republicans of his right-wing predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also attending.
Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Rally is marching, but the far-left party of Jean-Luc Melenchon, La France Insoumise, is boycotting the event, calling it a reunion of “friends of unconditional support for the massacre” of Palestinians in Gaza, as he describes it.
Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip following the October 7 onslaught, in which about 3,000 Hamas terrorists killed some 1,200 people, has resulted in the death of more than 10,000 people in the Gaza Strip, according to Hamas officials in the enclave. The figure cannot be verified and is questioned by Israel and others.
President Emmanuel Macron, who has condemned both antisemitism and anti-Zionism, is not attending, but he says in a statement that he “respectfully welcomes the those who march for the Republic, against antisemitism and for the liberation of the hostages.”
His absence is widely understood to be part of an attempt at a more balanced approach toward Israel, which Macron visited last month on a solidarity visit in which he offered to help Israel defeat Hamas. Macron is not attending because “it’s too late and too partisan,” Christophe Barbier, a former editor of l’Epxress daily, says on BFMTV about the march. “We’re a month after the tragedy of October 7, we’re past the emotional stage, we’re in the political one,” Barbier says.
Earlier today, Macron called President Isaac Herzog to say he does not believe Israel is targeting civilians and that he recognizes its right to defend itself, in a clarification on his remarks to BBC Saturday in which he said: “Civilians are bombed – de facto. These babies, these ladies, these old people are bombed and killed. So there is no reason for that and no legitimacy. So we do urge Israel to stop.”
The 1,000 antisemitic incidents that have been recorded in France over the past four weeks surpass the annual tally for such cases recorded in the whole of 2022, Braun-Pivet and Larcher wrote in an op-ed published last week announcing the march.
“Fear is setting in and threatens to become a daily reality unless we act,” they wrote.