Is Marine Le Pen's attempt to appeal to Jewish voters a cynical ploy or an attempt to re-frame the controversial far-right party in modern politics?
Marine Le Pen has called on all voters of the National Rally (RN - formerly the National Front) to join an upcoming march against antisemitism.
The demonstration is set to take place on Sunday. It's been organised by the presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate to protest against the increase in anti-Semitic acts in France since the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October.
“I call on all of our members and voters to come and join this march,” Le Pen, a former far-right presidential candidate, said on RTL radio.
“It is time for the French people... to express their absolute and total rejection of the spectacular increase in visible acts, in fact, of antisemitism,” she said.
‘It has been a very long time since our compatriots of Jewish faith have been confronted with acts of this type,” Le Pen added, also claiming that, “entire neighbourhoods have been emptied due to the advance of an ideology that I have always fought with a lot of energy - Islamist ideology."
This support of the Jewish community is seen as a staggering about-turn by political commentators.
Founded by Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie, the RN in both its iterations, has long been associated with antisemitism.
Jean-Marie has been convicted for the practice on several occasions over the years but, just this week, the president of the RN Jordan Bardella reiterated the former party leader is not antisemtiic.
It’s unlikely he will be at Sunday’s march, but Marine insists she will be.
Experts say she is positioning herself politically to appeal to France’s fearful Jewish community ahead of upcoming elections.
The county’s hard left has refused to describe Hamas as a terrorist organisation, something which has horrified French Jews.
The community has seen an increase, too, in antisemitic offences, ranging from graffiti on Jewish shops to death threats.
This behaviour opens up a new avenue for Le Pen, who seems to be seising on an anti-Islamist agenda.
Others say the move is not just a blatant play for votes from the world’s third biggest Jewish community but also a step by Le Pen to attempt to normalise the party and break from its bad reputation and its controversial past. Jean-Marie Le Pen was notorious for his antisemitic ‘jokes’ and for calling the Holocaust a ‘detail’ of history.
France remains a divided nation politically.
The far-left France Unbowed party has continually called Hamas “a resistance movement” and often implied Israel is to blame for the attacks - something Le Pen will likely use to her advantage in attracting voters.