French Jews' growing support for the anti-immigration National Front was brought into focus after a community chief said Monday that the party's leader Marine Le Pen was "beyond reproach."
Although the Jewish Council's president, Roger Cukierman, said he didn't share Le Pen's "moral values" and that the National Front was a party to avoid, the remarks made waves. The comments come less than a month before local elections that may put Le Pen's party in the top spot and about seven weeks after attacks in and near Paris by self-proclaimed Islamists claimed 17 lives, including four at a kosher grocery.
Opinion polls like Ifop show Cukierman's comments reflect a growing reality. Between the last two presidential elections in 2007 and 2012, Jewish voters supporting the FN, the party's acronym, more than tripled. The shift came after Marine Le Pen took over the helm in 2011, steering clear of her party-founder father Jean-Marie Le Pen's anti-Semitic stance. In a comment to Bloomberg on the side lines of a conference in Paris Tuesday, Marine Le Pen made common cause with France's Jews.