Mass rallies were yesterday planned in Paris and other French cities Tuesday to denounce a flare-up of anti-Semitic acts which culminated in a violent tirade against a prominent writer during “yellow vest” anti-government protests last weekend.
Political leaders of all stripes called the rallies after a protester was caught on video calling the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut a “dirty Zionist” and telling him that “France belongs to us.”
Finkielkraut had initially supported the yellow vest movement, before criticizing the violence carried out against police forces by a fringe of suspected far-right and far-left demonstrators.
Protesters also launched anti-Semitic abuse at Ingrid Levavasseur, who tried to lead a yellow vest list for coming European Parliament elections, in Paris over the weekend.
French President Emmanuel Macron called the insults “the absolute negation of who we are and what makes us a great nation. We will not tolerate it.”
His office said he would not take part in the rallies, though French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was to be among several government officials at a Paris march starting at 7pm at Place de la Republique.
The yellow vest protests began as a march against high fuel taxes and rising costs of living blamed on Macron’s policies, which critics say favor the well-off.
However, officials accuse the grass-roots movement of helping unleash a wave of extremist violence that has fostered anti-Semitic outbursts among some participants.
“This is the response to the national wake-up call we urged last week,” said Francis Kalifat of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish organizations.
He was referring to a spate of anti-Jewish vandalism and graffiti discovered in and around Paris in the days following another Saturday of yellow vest protests.
Graffiti on the headquarters of French daily Le Monde used anti-Semitic tropes to refer to Macron’s former job as a Rothschild investment banker.
In another incident, the words “Macron Jews’ Bitch” was written in English across a garage door in the city center, and the phrase “Jewish pig” was sprayed onto a wall in the northern 18th arrondissement.
Several yellow vests had said they plan to participate in the marches, but a recent IFOP poll of “yellow vest” backers found that nearly half questioned believed in a worldwide “Zionist plot” and other conspiracy theories.
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