July 15, 2024

Hundreds of thousands of people marched through France Sunday, and for once they weren’t chanting anti-Israel slogans and waving Palestinian flags. No, this time, demonstrators were actually protesting rising antisemitism around the world since the Jewish state went to war with Hamas over their October 7 terror assault.

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More than 180,000 came out in force, including an estimated 100,000 in Paris alone:

The interior ministry said at least 182,000 people marched in several in French cities in response to the call launched by the leaders of the parliament’s upper and lower houses. No major incident has been reported, it said.

Paris authorities deployed 3,000 police troops along the route of the protest called by the leaders of the Senate and parliament’s lower house, the National Assembly, amid an alarming increase in anti-Jewish acts in France since the start of Israel’s war against Hamas after its Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel.

France has the largest Jewish population in Europe, but given its own World War II collaboration with the Nazis, antisemitic acts today open old scars.

The European Jewish Congress, which describes itself as a “representative umbrella organisation of European Jewry, uniting 42 national Jewish communities and 2.5 million Jews across Europe,” posted video of the huge crowds:

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“Thank you,” they posted alongside a heart emoji. 

Also participating were family members of some of the 40 French citizens killed on October 7 as well as those still missing or held hostage. One notable absence was French President Emmanuel Macron, although he did praise the marches:

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, representatives of several parties on the left as well as far-right leader Marie Le Pen attended Sunday’s march in the French capital amid tight security. President Emmanuel Macron did not attend, but expressed his support for the protest and called on citizens to rise up against “the unbearable resurgence of unbridled antisemitism.” 

He may praise the marches, but he’s also called for a cease-fire for humanitarian reasons and accused the Israelis of bombing “babies, ladies, and old people.” He also said there was “no legitimacy” to Israel’s counter-attack against Hamas.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the far-left France Unbowed party, chose not to participate, tweeting beforehand that the march would be a meeting of “friends of unconditional support for the massacre” in Gaza.

But others were proud of France and her citizens, including the managing director of the American Jewish Committee Europe, Simone Rodan-Benzaquen:

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With all the pro-Hamas activities we’re seeing at U.S. colleges and at protests around the world, it’s nice to see people actually supporting the Jewish people and not celebrating terrorists for a change. It would be even nicer if we saw anti-hate protests like these spread to other cities around the world.

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