British screenwriter David Baddiel is fond of saying, when it comes to the entertainment industry, that “Jews don’t count” because conventional rules regarding inclusivity, sensitivity,and representation are suspended when it comes to the Jewish people.

The French elections have made it undeniable that this applies equally to global politics.

The far-left socialist Jean-Luc Melenchon now leads the largest party in the French National Assembly, La France Insoumise. Criticism of Melenchon, and of a France that empowers figures like him, has come fast and hard from the Jewish community. Rabbi Moshe Sebbag, who leads the Grand Synagogue of Paris, lamented, “it seems France has no future for Jews.”

Avigdor Lieberman, long one of Israel’s most prominent immigrant politicians, was unequivocal: “I call on the French Jews to leave France and immigrate to the State of Israel. No time.”

But the most serious and important criticism came from a spokesman for the European Jewish Congress. It is this point above all others that deserves to be amplified, and which serves as an accurate judgment not on French left-wingers but on those who advertise themselves as the reasonable center.

“The decision of other left-wing parties to align with the LFI in these elections represents an abandonment of French Jews at a time when they are increasingly threatened by the far-left in the public sphere,” the EJC spokesman said.

The post-election discourse, especially in the US, has been dominated by a celebratory attitude among pundits who know or care only about one participant in French politics: Marine Le Pen. With the right-wing coalition of parties taking the leading in the early round of voting nine days ago, the center and left united to strategically outnumber Le Pen and her followers on Sunday. There was nothing underhanded or unfair about this, and in fact some version of this coalition building takes place during and after every French parliamentary election.

Yet this time, in order to stop Le Pen, the coalition empowered not the bland centrism of Emmanuel Macron but an authoritarian populist who wears his disgust for Jews on his sleeve. It might have been an impossible choice—it is not as though French Jewry would’ve been at peace with a Le Pen victory—but it evinced as thorough a display of political hypocrisy as one will find.

“Very clear road map for Democrats,” announced Democratic Twitter enthusiast Rachel Bitecofer. At the Washington Post, Max Boot spoke for many of his ideological peers when he declared the lesson to be “the need for the center left and center right to work together to thwart extremists.”

What? Extremists weren’t thwarted. No, one extremist was thwarted through the elevation of a politician no less extreme. It’s just that the extremist supported by all the “moderate” commentators luxuriates in the kind of Jew-baiting that is practiced in the classrooms and the cafes and op-ed pages of mainstream publications. Before the second round of voting, the American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner implored the center and left “to cooperate” in just this way.

Who and what are we all celebrating here? London’s Jewish Chronicle has a snappy playlist of this atrocious man’s hits:

In June 2020, Mélenchon dismissed reports of chants of “Dirty Jews” at a left-wing demonstration in Paris. He alleged the reports were fabricated by police, who he accused of “peddling gossip about antisemitism”…

Since October 7, the far-left leader has repeatedly refused to condemn Hamas. LFI’s initial statement on the terror attacks called them an “armed offensive by Palestinian forces” that came “in the context of the intensification by Israel of the policy of occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem”. Mélenchon doubled down in response to a backlash, failing to condemn his deputy Daniele Obono, who called Hamas a “resistance movement”.

The left under Mélenchon has focused on the Palestinian cause. In his concluding speech in the first round of elections, the leader stood next to Rima Hassan, a prominent figure in LFI. A French-Palestinian lawyer, Hassan has called the October 7 attacks a “legitimate action.”

There was also, of course, that time Melenchon coolly asserted in an interview that the Jews killed Jesus. He vociferously defended his friend Jeremy Corbyn, the UK left’s most prominent anti-Semite (who won his own election last week), by insinuating that shadowy networks of Jews had been behind the character assassination of poor Jeremy.

Where French domestic and foreign policy goes from here depends on how power is shared among this left-and-center coalition, but it is unlikely to be an improvement. Melenchon’s distaste for confronting Vladimir Putin is no secret, and his hostility to Israel is deep-seated. The willingness of those in France to partner with Melenchon, and those in the West to advocate for such an alliance, was revelatory: one kind of extremism was defeated only by raising up and mainstreaming another kind, the latter simply more palatable to elites by virtue of his acceptable brand of anti-Semitism.

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