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An Israeli minister has endorsed Marine Le Pen for French president, saying she would make an “excellent” leader for the country as her right-wing party seeks significant gains in the current election. 

“It is excellent for Israel that she will be the president of France, with 10 exclamation marks,” Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli said Tuesday, later indicating that his view may be shared by other members of Israel’s leadership. 

“I think I and Netanyahu are of the same opinion,” he said when asked whether the Israeli prime minister shared his view, according to The Times of Israel. The outlet stressed that it remains unclear what had prompted Chikli to discuss Le Pen. 

Le Pen’s National Rally outperformed expectations in the European parliamentary elections, trouncing French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party and prompting him to call a snap election as he felt it created tension in the country if the electorate no longer believed in his party and their policies. 

FRANCE’S RIGHT-WING NATIONAL RALLY LOOKS TO SEIZE ON RECENT ELECTORAL GAINS

Likud Diaspora Affairs

Israel Minister of Diaspora Affairs Amichai Chikli speaks during The Israeli American Council (IAC) 8th Annual National Summit on January 19, 2023, in Austin, Texas.  (Shahar Azran/Getty Images)

The gamble has thus far played into National Rally’s hands, and it has continued to perform well in the first round of its parliamentary election, just as it did in the European elections. The second and final round of the country’s parliamentary elections started Sunday.

Le Pen has unsuccessfully run for president three times – in 2012, 2017 and 2022, improving her rank and share of the vote each time during that decade. Her most recent run saw her win 41.5% of the vote against Macron. 

Some speculate that the cultural issues at the heart of the election will propel National Rally – and potentially, in the 2027 presidential election, Le Pen – to control of the country. Immigration has proven a strong issue for right-wing parties across Europe, as well as the pushback those parties have shown to recent antisemitic protests and attacks.

RIVALS MOVE TO BLOCK FRANCE’S RIGHT-WING NATIONAL PARTY’S ELECTION MOMENTUM

French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party's leader and member of parliament Marine Le Pen speaks to the press at the party's headquarters after the first results in the second round of the French regional elections in Nanterre on June 27, 2021.

French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party’s leader and member of parliament Marine Le Pen speaks to the press at the party’s headquarters after the first results in the second round of the French regional elections in Nanterre on June 27, 2021. (Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP via Getty Images)

Serge Klarsfeld, a renowned Nazi hunter, last week announced that he would throw his weight behind National Rally, telling French outlet LCI that if choosing between “an antisemitic party and a pro-Jewish party, I would vote for a pro-Jewish party,” referring to National Rally, according to Le Monde

Antisemitism has taken sharp focus in the election after the alleged gang rape of a 12-year-old Jewish girl that many have cast as a hate crime. Two adolescent boys arrested in a Paris suburb were hit with preliminary charges in relation to the crime, with prosecutors alleging that the rape had been religiously motivated, ABC News reported

Rabbi Moshe Sebbag of the Grande Synagogue in Paris said that the election has indicated to him that French Jews have “no future” in France, telling The Jerusalem Post that he urges “everyone who is young to go to Israel or a more secure country.” 

MACRON ON EDGE AS FRANCE’S RIGHT-WING NATIONAL RALLY PARTY GAINS MOMENTUM IN FIRST ROUND OF ELECTIONS

Serge Klarsfeld Election

Nazi hunters Serge Klarsfeld, left, and Beate Klarsfeld arrive to attend a national tribute at the Pantheon to late Holocaust survivor Simone Veil and her late husband, Antoine Veil, in Paris on July 1, 2018. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)

Sebbeg argued that even if the far-right National Rally has voiced support for Israel’s defense against Hamas following the Oct. 7 attack, the party’s roots come from a place of antisemitism that continues to trouble him. 

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Jean-Marie Le Pen has repeatedly been convicted of antisemitic hate speech and made statements downplaying the Holocaust, according to The Guardian, which prompted Marine Le Pen to distance herself and the party from its founder – her father. 

“Many Ashkenazi Jewish families here since before World War II couldn’t think to vote for National Rally, yet the Left has been antisemitic in recent times,” said Sebbag. “The Jews are in the middle, because they don’t know who hates them more.”

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