France's far-right National Front plans to bring its campaign for next year's French elections to Israel, the party's vice-president has told the JC.
In the first Israel visit by a NF official, Louis Aliot, who is partner of leader Marine Le Pen as well as second-in-command in the party, spent two days this week in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
No elected politicians agreed to meet him, though he said that apparatchiks in some parties did on the condition that their identities were not revealed. The main focus of the trip, however, was to establish a connection between the party and French expatriates.
The National Front is trying hard to shake off its reputation for antisemitism and xenophobia. Jean-Marie Le Pen, party founder and father of the current leader, is famous for his comment that Nazi gas chambers were a "detail" in Second World War history.
Mr Aliot said that he briefed 50 French expatriates in private meetings. "It allowed us, for the first time, to explain to them the message of Marine Le Pen and the response was positive," he said. In his view, changes in Arab countries present a "danger for Israel", and fears about these developments have proved to be a "real point of agreement between us and Jewish people."
"He met a negligible section of our community and the party's appeal here is tiny - most of us realise it's the same entity it always was," said Evelyn Cohen, a former Parisian who lives in Netanya.