National Front reaches out to Jewish community

By Michel Zlotowski, March 24, 2011

France's extreme-right National Front party is seeking to rebuild its connections to the Jewish community.

The National Front's vice president Louis Aliot said that his party must "reactivate" the "National Circle of Jewish Frenchmen to fight against the discrimination organized by CRIF and some lobbies".

The statement came after the Jewish independent radio station Radio J cancelled an interview with the Front's new leader, Marine Le Pen. Radio J bowed to heavy pressure from community leaders and especially the CRIF, the representative body of French Jewry.

"Numerous Jewish members of the Front called us and said 'we must react'. We should support Marine against CRIF and we should not allow it to be said that the NF is a party excluding Jews. One can be of Jewish faith and belong to the NF," said Mr Aliot.

The National Circle of Jewish Frenchmen was created in 1986 by a French Jew, Robert Hemmerdinger. A former Resistance fighter and member of the Free French, he eventually joined Le Pen's National Front.

"Le Pen never recognised Yasser Arafat. He demanded the closure of PLO's representation in Paris. The enemies of my enemies are my friends,"
Hemmerdinger said in 1986.

Then boasting over 1,000 members, the National Circle never had any political impact. It fell into oblivion after Hemmerdinger's death in 2004.

Last updated: 12:56pm, March 24 2011