Can the Left’s Coalition Embrace Jewish Voters?


Left: “June 9th, 2024, The Shadoks against the RN. Big gathering against the extreme right. ‘Israel murders, Glucksmann is an accomplice'” Right: “Is there a way to beat the racists without allying with the antisemites?” – “Stop nitpicking.”© Joann Sfar

The recent European elections have shown the hard truth of the ever-more growing support for right-wing extremism and their political parties across the continent. In France the far-right party “Rassemblement National” (RN) single-handedly received 31.4% of the votes with the other centrist and left-wing parties having received much lower numbers in the voting booths. Following the election results, France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced he would be dissolving the National Assembly and has now called for early elections at the end of June. In the French political sphere that was already deeply divided, with antisemitism featuring strongly on both sides of the political spectrum, it begs the question for many Jewish voters who their votes should go to or where they can even find representation.

Europe is decidedly no longer that of the post-1945 era. Xenophobic nationalist parties have re-emerged as powerful political forces, and they are beating back the voices of progressivism everywhere, weakened and unable to promote the principles of social justice and the defense of democratic rights that guided them in the aftermath of the war. And yet it was from this impetus that the Europe in which we live was born, the Europe that was built on the rejection of the trends that had led to war and the Holocaust, the Europe that successfully completed decolonization and made the rights of minorities one of its cornerstones. Now, as things stand, it is precisely the rights of all minorities, without exception, that are under threat. The period of retrenchment and regression that has been looming for some time now seems to be consolidating and translating into institutional politics, which we fear will undo what has been so hard to build.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure we can live very well in a country governed by the right-wing extremism, whose opposition accepts anti-Jewish voices.” – “You think so?” – “No.” © Joann Sfar

Admittedly, the junction between a republican right and the extreme right – which is characterized by an antisemitism culture it would have us believe it has got rid of – is still being prevented at the time of writing, but prejudices are becoming increasingly blurred. On the other side of the political spectrum, during the European elections, we saw how LFI’s antisemitism-tinged populism was exacerbated, making the union of the lefts impossible. Yet it was only a few hours after the astonishing announcement of a President of the Republic who no longer knows what he dreams for France, that the call for a union of the left was heard, wiping the slate clean of this recent past.

Let’s be clear: if the union of the left is desirable, it’s on the condition that it is purged of its antisemitic tendencies, even when they are cloaked in anti-Zionism. Otherwise, it may be called “united”, but it will no longer be truly “left-wing”. If the legislative elections confirm the division of the national public sphere between an alliance of the right around the RN and an alliance of the left around LFI, a trap will have closed on the Jews of France and, with them, on all citizens for whom democracy, the rule of law and social progress, in a united Europe, constitute an ideal.

“If the RN passes, it will be your fault!!!” – ” ‘You’, do you mean me? Or all the Jews?” -‘The famous stubbornness’© Joann Sfar

At K., we believe that the answer to Europe’s crisis lies in revisiting the Jewish question, updating it in the light of the post-colonial question, but also, and reciprocally, revising it in the light of the singular destiny of the Jews. We believe that today’s Europe can only break the deadlock of nationalism, the inevitable victorious counterpart of left-wing populism, if it reinvests this problematic knot. On both sides of the political spectrum, aren’t Jews an obstacle to alliances with the extremes? And yet, on both sides, the desire for union runs the risk of overcoming this obstacle. This is why we leave these European elections and enter these legislative ones with the conviction that our work is more essential than ever, for Europe and for the voice of European Jewry.

The Editors
Thanks to Joann Sfar for sharing his drawings with us.

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