April 23, 2002

Le Pen's sympathy for Sharon

Lots of good stuff on Le Pen from UPI. James Bennett's Anglosphere column points out:

The greatest danger with Europe is not from the little Le Pens seeking to return to inward-looking national protectionism and hatred of foreigners. It is from Eurocrats seeking to construct a grand Euro-Lepenisme of inward-looking continental protectionism and contempt for non-"Europeans" [i.e., European Union supporters]...In the search for enemies, it's pretty obvious who will be Candidate Number One. America, already a favorite whipping boy economically, politically, and culturally, will be further elevated as Europe's main rival. As for internal enemies, the European Union is defining a class of "xenophobes" whose xenophobia is evidently exhibited primarily by opposition to the European Union. Ironically, openly Zionist Jews may soon find themselves categorized as "xenophobes."

Veteran analyst Marty Sieff, a former speechwriter for Bibi Netanyahu, predicts that Le Pen could actually win next Sunday:

That 28 percent of [far left] voters who rejected Jospin in the first round because they thought he was going to sell out French national interests to the EU are certainly not going to swing behind Chirac in the second round when they know he embraced those policies all the more enthusiastically. On the contrary, they are far more likely to rally round Le Pen because he has unabashedly championed restoring the French national currency, the franc, and putting national interests ahead of the faceless bureaucrats in Brussels as well as the imagined sinister corporate American masterminds in New York and Washington.

Well, maybe, but I'll predict Chirac will win 66-34. [Shows what I know about French politics!] You have to realize how much the French Left hates Israel (see Chris Caldwell's new cover story in the Weekly Standard). Le Pen is far more sympathetic to Israel they are. Here's what he told the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz:

"In my judgment, there is a basic popular sympathy for Israel in France, but the demonstrative sympathy tends to go to the other side. In the current conflict, the French media is pro-Arab for two reasons: The large Arab and Islamic presence in France combined with the weight of the billion Muslims in the world, and the fact that Sharon is a rightist. The hostility would be less if a leftist prime minister was pursuing exactly the same policy. The government would have preferred not to take a stand, but the constant presence of the Israeli-Arab conflict on our television screens made it an issue that could no longer be avoided. The result is that you [Israel] are now experiencing what we experienced in the war in Algeria: The Israeli government says that it is a victim of terrorist activity, but this activity is less visible than the military strikes. I belonged to the 10th paratroop division that was ordered to destroy the terror in Algiers. This was after a series of terror attacks against civilians in public centers. The division did wipe out terror, and it didn't do this by being gentle with the terrorists. A war on terror is a brutal thing... I completely understand the State of Israel, which is seeking to defend its citizens." - Le Pen

Of course, Israelis are not going to appreciate being compared to France's defense of its huge settlement in Algeria (now extinct), but the comparison seems apt. Further, the Jewish State is something of a model for what Le Pen would like the French State to be. Israel keeps tight control over who gets to immigrate; encourages Jewish culture, religion and the Hebrew language; privileges Jews over non-Jews in terms of property rights (most of the land of Israel is off-limits for purchase by its Arab citizens) and political rights (the unwritten law has been that Arab MPs can't be used to form a majority in the Knessett); unilateralist in foreign policy; and so forth. Finally, as I've mentioned before, Le Pen and Sharon are men cut from the same rugged cloth. One difference between Sharon and Le Pen, though, is that the Frenchman has no obvious territorial ambitions.

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