That Marine Le Pen will not inhabit the Elysée Palace is good news for all who think intolerance bad news. But there is a dark cloud to the silver lining: She won more than a third of French votes. Five years ago, she won less than a fifth. Yes, voters still chose Europe and inclusion by a comfortable margin, but the numbers don’t lie and the direction of political travel is painfully clear.
Le Pen’s hard line on Muslim immigrants has been at odds with her constant efforts to reassure French Jews that she has no problem with them, that they in fact share a common enemy – militant Islam. What she’s never grasped, however, is that Jews are worldly-wise, and know that while these days it may not start with the Jews, they usually feature at some point.
As former Israeli parliamentarian Einat Wilf said: “It is never really about the Jews. Hatred of Jews is about those who hate, not about those who are hated.”
Likewise, for today’s intolerant European politicians – who focus on Islamic extremism, condemn anti-Semitism and profess a love of Israel – hatred of Muslims is about those who hate, not about those who are hated. At its core, it boils down to hatred of ‘the other’, within which definition Jews are included.
So we wish Emmanuel Macron well, but moreover, we hope Europe as
a whole rediscovers that a mix of people of all kinds and creeds makes for a better society. Jews tend to look outside and invite outsiders in.
Europe’s politicians could do with doing the same.
Sir Mick has left a gap, but Jonathan’s got credentials
Few communal leaders have polarised opinion quite like Sir Mick Davis. But that he leaves the organisation and Anglo-Jewry far stronger than when he began his JLC role is not in doubt. Commissions on schools and youth have led to transformative steps forward in these sectors.
While some have claimed he overstepped a line in his outspoken concerns about Israeli policy, his passion for the country was a driving force behind some of the largest celebrations of Israel on the streets of the UK – while he continues to be one of the most significant backers of Israeli causes. Jonathan Goldstein has big shoes to fill, but arrives in the hot seat with the credentials and the plan to take the Jewish Leadership Council and Anglo-Jewry to even greater heights.