Tens of thousands of French people, both Jews and non-Jews, gathered on Sunday in Paris to organize a march against anti-Semitism, at the invitation of the presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate.
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It was a dense crowd that started from the Place des Invalides, at seven o’clockH Paris region, Sunday, November 12, shortly after 3 p.m. At the invitation of the presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate, Yael Braun-Bivet (RN) and Gérard Larchet (LR), tens of thousands of French people gathered in the early afternoon, despite rain that threatened a “great civic march” against anti-Semitism.
In the crowd, Sivan, a 40-year-old Israeli with round glasses who went into exile in France with her husband and two children after the October 7 Hamas attack, had to wheel around in a stroller: “Seeing that warms the heart.” “All these French people support us. We came with the children because we didn’t think there would be so many people,” she said, smiling.
Sivan, a 40-year-old Israeli, fled Tel Aviv and the war with her husband and two children on October 30 to find refuge in Paris: “It’s very emotional, I didn’t expect to see so many people, it’s almost difficult.” Walking with strollers! »@France24_fr pic.twitter.com/jvRgTB8B4I
– Louis Chahuneau (@LouisChahuneau) November 12, 2023
“It is necessary to be there for peace, so that communities remain united,” believes Gerard, 57, a Jewish business executive, sitting on a stone parapet with a hat pressed to his head. In the face of rising anti-Semitic acts – more than 1,150 since October 7, according to the Interior Ministry – political leaders can consider themselves satisfied. “Yes, I am worried, but I notice that our people are waking up and saying stop anti-Semitism. We must not import the conflict between Israel and Hamas into France, we are only asking to live in peace,” adds the fifty-year-old man. Old in beret.
In the audience this afternoon, many families, the elderly and some young people said: “We have come to show the solidarity of the national community in the face of anti-Semitism. We are also accustomed to feeling alone in the face of this phenomenon and we “I hope that we will not find ourselves only among the Jews,” she declared to the audience. The Assembly Sarah Wakil, vice president of the Federation of Jewish Students in France and part-time sales representative.
“I hope the Jews are a very large minority,” insisted Paul, a 69-year-old Jewish retiree. Several political figures, such as Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne or Solidarity Minister Aurore Bergé, and public figures such as actress Natalie Portman or writer Mark Levy, also participated in the march.
And the tolerance of the National Assembly
Before the start of the demonstration, the presence of the National Rally Party and the absence of the Proud France Party were the subject of intense controversy among the participants. “Today, the National Rally Party is the only party that defends the Jews,” said a 50-year-old man who was sheltering under the balcony of a building. Historian and lawyer Serge Klarsfeld, who attended with his association Sons and Daughters of Jewish Deportees from France, was quite happy with the position of Marine Le Pen’s party: “It’s good news, we trust them to continue with this voice,” taking it as an example of this condemning the arrest of Phil Dave. By the woman who now heads the National Front group in the assembly.
For his part, Paul, who is retired, prefers to put these two parties in a row, “and they are anti-Semitism. I will not demonstrate with the National Front, but I see that the Proud France party is in a state of provocation. I am the one who always voted for it.” “Left, I will not have the opportunity to do this from now on,” declared the business leader, shocked by Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s statements. On November 7, the party leader tweeted about the march, saying: “Friends of unconditional support for the massacre gather,” sparking outrage from other parties.
The same echo comes from Goretti, 59, of Portuguese origin: “I have fought the extreme right for a long time, but currently the position of proud France is shameful.” On Sunday, Jean-Luc Mélenchon reiterated his refusal to participate in the demonstration.
The entire right and far-right, although united, have failed to reproduce the mass mobilizations of the past.
Rejection of anti-Semitism is more widespread in France. They stopped it and made it mysterious. The French people will remain united despite their leaders.
– Jean-Luc Melenchon (@JLMelenchon) November 12, 2023
“Jews feel trapped between the National Front and the Liberal Front.”
The rebels boycotted the demonstration, and organized the laying of a wreath in front of the Vél d’Hiv on Sunday morning, to commemorate the July 1942 arrests, an intervention that was eventually boycotted by Jewish activists. Sarah Wakil commented: “It’s a way of saying that in the end they prefer dead Jews. Today, the Jews feel trapped between the National Rally and proud France. They are fed up.” To get around this ban without marching with the National Rally, LFI deputies François Ruffin, Alexis Corbière, Clémentine Otane and Raquel Garrido went to a large civic march in Strasbourg.
Emmanuel Macron’s absence from the Parisian procession was also criticized: “It would have been better for Macron to be present, like François Mitterrand in 1990, instead of sending a message,” responded lawyer Serge Klarsfeld. The President of the Republic had announced the previous day that he would participate “with heart and mind” in the march against anti-Semitism. He added: “My role is rather to build the unity of the country and stick to the values,” and “to make decisions, say words when they need to be said, and act. Otherwise, I can demonstrate every week.” Other demonstrators did not hold against him, believing on the contrary that it was not necessarily the place of the head of state to participate in the demonstration.
The demonstration took place peacefully, in a good atmosphere, even if young people were not the best represented demographic. The French national anthem was heard several times, and applause was also heard. Some demonstrators also raised the flags of France, Belgium, Corsica and Canac.
Finally, dozens of Freemasons from the Grand Orient in France wore their turquoise ties: “Our presence today is exceptional because it is about defending human values and combating anti-Semitism,” said Catherine. The 69-year-old French-Jewish woman recalls that during the demonstration held in honor of the victims of terrorism in January 2015, “we did not wear our headscarves.” The demonstration then gathered 4 million people across France, including 1.5 million in Paris.