Torah For TodayBy Rabbi Zvi Solomons

What the Torah says about: The rise of the French far Right

Anyone watching events in Europe will currently be concerned. The media has made much of the rise of the far right in the run-up to the European Elections. Particularly worrying is the inexorable rise of Jobbik in Hungary and the seeming rehabilitation of the Front Nationale in France under Marine Le Pen, the charismatic daughter of Jean-Marie.

When I see Jews joining the EDL or forming their own extreme organisations suc as the JDL, I despair. These nationalists play to people’s weaknesses. Just as the Egyptians said of us Jews, so they say of the immigrants and the Jews of today: (Exodus I, 10) “Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.”

Today the language may be different, but the complaints are the same – there is an invasion of Muslims, or the immigrants take our jobs, or it’s not our country any more. The target is moveable and Jews are always in the frame, if not in the sights.

It’s not for nothing that the Torah repeatedly tells us to treat the stranger fairly and not to hate the Egyptian. We are told that in our own land of Israel we must act even-handedly and equitably towards everyone – there should be one law.

If this is true of Israel, all the more so of other countries where we have made our homes. When confronted with hate or xenophobia, it is a Jew’s duty to oppose and expose it. This applies wherever we are, and it is not accidental that Jews are at the forefront of fighting fascists in Europe.

We ourselves have memories stretching back to the battle of Cable Street and beyond, in our own country. When we look across the Channel at France, where LePen may well triumph in the elections, we must support French Jews in their desire for security in the face of the new fascism.

It is no accident that so many French Jews are leaving – some for Israel, others for the 10th largest French city, London. As for dealing with this resurgence in hate, we need to band together with the other potential victims and support them. In the Gemara, Talmud Bavli, Sanhendrin 72a, our rabbis tell us that when our enemy comes to kill us we should get up and kill them first.

Not for us meek acquiescence. And when we see someone like Nick Griffin or Marine Le Pen trying to be our friend, we need to recognise them for who they are and deal with the hate. For the hate of Jews, Muslims or Africans are different sides of the same hatred.