Nigel Farage, head of Britain’s UKIP, has flatly rejected an alliance with France’s Front National. While granting FN president Marine Le Pen’s courage and perspicacity on some crucial issues, Farage says she has failed to rid the party of its endemic anti-Semitism. Coupled with an earlier decision announced by Søren Espersen of the Danish People’s Party, this effectively dashes Marine Le Pen’s hopes of presiding over an influential 7-country Eurexit group at the EU Parliament.
A review of material readily available in French lends credibility to Farage’s evaluation.
Midway between the Municipal and the European elections, Front National VP Florian Philippot says the FN is France’s number one party and Marine Le Pen will be president in 2017. For all the ballyhoo over the FN’s inexorable ascension, the party won a small handful of municipalities, none of its bigwigs were elected (including Philippot who ran for mayor of Forbach), and the opposition UMP inflicted an unprecedented defeat on the Socialists without any FN alliances. Philippot, chairman of the European campaign, promises they’ll send 15 to 20 deputies to the EU Parliament where they’ll lead a strong Eurexit coalition and liberate France from the EU and the euro. While other parties will certainly indulge in opportunistic euroskepticism during the campaign, says Philippot, “We have ideas and convictions.”i Polls are showing a too close to call race for 1st and 2nd position, with the Socialists in third place.
Is the Front National a political party… or a posture? Founded in 1972, the FN was a fringe group with virtually no experience in government, indelibly colored by the foul mouth of its leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen. The election of heir apparent Marine Le Pen as president in January 2011 earned overnight legitimacy for the long decried Front National. The cordon sanitaire was spliced. No political broadcast is complete without an FN voice snidely dismissing the two major parliamentary parties—UMP and PS—as a Siamese twin UMPS that never keeps its promises. The FN is a double-edged sword. Issues like national identity, security, laïcité, or defense against Islamization are labeled “FN.” If the UMP tackles those issues, it is accused of “Lepenization” And the FN, claiming ownership of these issues, draws voters away from the UMP. This contributed largely to the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2012 re-election bid.
While the notoriously provocative father has remained honorary president of the FN, the daughter claims to have banished unsavory ideas and elements that—unfairly–justified its “demonization.” Cleansed of anti-Semitism, negationism, racism and other reprehensible traits associated with the “Far Right Populist” strain of postwar European politics, the Front National poses as the only line of defense of the West against Islamization, EU tyranny, globalization, cheap Chinese merchandise, rampant capitalism, the banks, the international oligarchy that exploits the hardworking little man… and what other evils?
According to an investigation published in January 2014 by Frédéric Haziza, Vol au-dessus d’un nid de fachos [Flight over a nest of fascists]ii the Front National gravitates in a “Populist Far Right” constellation that includes the skinhead Serge Ayoub, the intellectual Alain Soral, the ex-comic Dieudonné, the PR wizard Frédéric Chatillon, and assorted like-minded personalities. Members and leaders of these groups fall in and out with each other, conveniently allowing them to disavow specific reprehensible acts or associations, but their core principles are largely compatible: Third Reich nostalgia, negationism, obsessive hatred of Jews/Zionists, rejection of capitalism and parliamentary democracy. Historically and currently, these groups maintain close financial and ideological ties with Arab-Muslim powers: Jean-Marie Le Pen was a friend and ally of Saddam Hussein, today’s National Socialists [a more accurate designation, in my opinion, than “populist Far Right”] are tied to the Iranian and Syrian regimes, Hezbullah, and their ilk… They speak out against immigration and Islamization, hang out with homegrown jihadis, and woo banlieue youth to their cause. The convergence of these ideas, emotions, and ambitions was manifest in the Day of Wrath on January 26th.iii And in the huge crowds that rush to attend Dieudonné’s “shows” (in fact Jew-hating rallies) plus the millions who click on his Youtubes.
Frédéric Chatillon (former president of GUD Groupe Union et défense)iv is a close advisor of Marine Le Pen. His PR firm, Riwal [http://www.riwal.fr/], handles communications, events, and other FN campaign operations. Through the Front’s micro-party “Jeanne,” Riwal makes interest-beating loans and sells (obligatory) campaign kits to FN candidates. Through another branch of Riwal [http://www.riwalsyria.fr/contact.htm ] Chatillon handles PR for the Syrian government, generating annual income of some €150,000. An additional Riwal site [INFOSyrie [http://www.infosyrie.fr/] counters disinformation about the Syrian regime.v Chatillon’s friendship with the Syrian General Mustapha Tlassvi and his son Manaf is common knowledge.vii When Manaf defected, Chatillon published a harsh note accusing him of betraying Bashar and the troops killed in combat.
Questioned about her association with Chatillon,viii Marine Le Pen snapped back, “Frédéric Haziza, is a monomaniac, he sees Nazis everywhere, there’s no Nazi problem, none!” She says Frédéric Chatillon is a friend and a very competent professional. She admits he was on the Far Right when he was in his 20s. Adding, “Who wasn’t? Or the Far Left?” What does she think of the Anelka affair? She thinks it’s number 1,013 on the list of priorities for French people. Florian Philippot says Manuel Valls (then Interior Minister) is obsessed with Dieudonné; the FN doesn’t defend Dieudonné, it defends freedom of speech and condemns the censorship of Dieudonné’s country-wide tour. Nicolas Anelka, fined by the FIFA and kicked off the Woolwich soccer team after celebrating a goal with a quenelle, says Valls is influenced by his wife [who is Jewish.]ix
Chatillon is quotedx as saying the quenelle is “… amusing, it means ‘up your ass,’ It’s the new anarchism.” On Soral, who walked out of the FN in 2011 because he wasn’t given the place he wanted on the electoral list: “When we talk about Jews he doesn’t say anything anti-Semitic, he’s like me, against the lobby and against Israel.” (Soral claims the Mohamed Merah affair is a Franco-Zionist plot to sully Islam; a sort of “cut-rate 9/11.”)
Youthful excess? Chatillon, says Haziza,xi hangs out in Iranian circles and is an agent for Hezbollah. He met personally with Sheikh Nasrallah. (This is confirmed by reliable sources). In 2006 Chatillon brought Dieudonné, Alain Soral, Thierry Meyssan, and Ahmed Moualek (president of “La Banlieue s’exprime”) to meet with his friends in Syria and Lebanon.xii The trip was in large part financed by the Tlass family. Subsequently Dieudonné made four trips to Iran, and also hooked up with Khadafi in Libya. Soral, Meyssan, Chatillon, and Jean-Marie Le Pen were photographed with Dieudonné after enjoying the show at his theater. Syrian funds financed the publication by Chatillon of revisionist texts subsequently translated into Arabic and distributed in the Middle East. In 2007, says Haziza, Chatillon and Alain Soral invested in “Local,” the bar/HQ of Serge Ayoub, chief of Jeunesses Nationalistes Révolutionnaires and Troisième Voie, dissolved by orders from the Interior Ministry after the killing of Clément Méric.xiii
Philippe Peninque, also former GUD, who handles finances for the Front National, co-founded “Egalité et Reconciliation” with Alain Soral in 2007. He is working on a strategy to attract banlieue youth to the FN for the 2017 presidential campaign. Axel Loustau, in charge of security for the FN, is also a former member of GUD.
Daniel Bensoussan-Bursztein, who has been researching and writing (Cahiers Bernard Lazare) on the Front National for years, traces (hypocritical) efforts by Marine Le Pen to attract Jewish support based on the notion of a common enemy—radical Islam. One episode concerns relations with the LDJ [Ligue de defense juive] After an FN delegation invited itself to a march in memory of Ilan Halimi,xiv an LDJ delegation appealed to Marine Le Pen, in vain, for an aggiornamento. On the contrary, she declared (in an interview with the European Jewish Press) that the victory of Hamas is not necessarily a bad thing, and Dieudonné is not a bad guy; she wanted to dialogue with him, not condemn him. Months later, some LDJ members checked out the FN’s Bleu Blanc Rouge Fête, only to see Dieudonné arrive as a VIP surrounded by supporters and FN bodyguards. A JDL fellow shouted at him: “anti-Semite.” One of the FN bodyguards retorted: “Go back to Israel.”
In January 2011, Louis Alliot (companion of Marine Le Pen and co- VP of the party) set up the Union des Français Juifs, directed by two contributors to the anti-Islamization site Riposte Laïque– Stéphane Shinazi, who helped organize Marine’s visit to the US, and Michael Ciardixv (who has since turned against the FN). Alliot made a visit to Israel, with special attention to residents of Judea-Samaria. At the same time, a notorious anti-Zionist, Edouard Ferraud, was serving as Marine’s international relations advisor. In the run-up to the 2012 presidential elections, Marine Le Pen made frequent statements in favor of Israel while heavily emphasizing the anti-Islamization arguments: Muslim street prayers, halal canteen meals, women in hijab, proliferation of mosque construction, insecurity… Bensoussan-Bursztein says Jews are making a big mistake if they think the FN is on their side. It is more acceptable today to profess anti-Islamization than to be openly anti-Semitic he says, but it’s window-dressing. Marie Le Pen’s de-demonization strategy is not a change of policy, values, or affinities; it is a change of image. Whatever small progress Marine Le Pen had made if, in fact, she truly intended to rid the party of its worst elements, is lost, says Bensoussan-Bursztein. Now she’s going in the other direction.
In any event, he says, the anti-Islamization discourse doesn’t prevent friendship with FN activists like the Islamist Nouari Khiari, who delighted in the 2002 defeat of Socialist Lionel Jospin, “friend of the Jews and Israel.” Farid Smahi, who slammed the door in 2011, accusing the FN of being “one of those nationalistic right-wing parties financed by Israel to practice anti-Islamism,” was recently convinced by Alliot and Jean-Marie Le Pen to reintegrate the party.xvi
(In another bizarre twist, Ludovine de la Rochère, current leader of the Manif’ pour Tous [mobilization against same sex marriage] was an honored guest at the Congress of the UOIF, France’s Muslim Brotherhood branch.)
Was the anti-Islamization discourse a club to beat Sarkozy’s UMP? Front National leaders clearly expressed their intention to destroy and replace the conservative opposition. Today, when François Hollande’s approval rating has sunk to 12%, the Front National is courting disgruntled Leftists, the unemployed, small businessmen, tradesmen, the little guys who think they’re getting a raw deal, impoverished pensioners, Eurexit nationalists… Without losing her grip on the anti-jihad vote, Marine Le Pen denies any hint of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia behind the Front National’s “French-first” employment policy: “Naturalized immigrants are French, they will benefit just like any others.” Some will think she is skirting the issue. Others will remember the party’s strategy of wooing banlieue youth.
The interlocking affinities sketched out here can be verified from multiple sources. They suggest, at the very least, a confusion of values and interests in the heart of a party that claims to be the sole rampart against the destruction of French sovereignty and, by extension, the natural leader of the defense of Europe. Where is the bridge between these claims, brandished by dozens of unsavory fringe groups left in the wake of World War 2, and anti-jihad movements spawned in the ruins of the WTC?
List of References:
i Le Talk Figaro Orange
ii Haziza, Fréderic. Vol au-dessus d’un nid de fachos/ Dieudonné, Soral, Ayoub et les autres. Paris 2014. Fayard.
iv http://contresubversion.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/lautre-fn-de-frederic-chatillon/ According to this source, it was Chatillon who influenced the GUD to become radically anti-Zionist
v Idem : “He expressed support for Bashar al Assad : ‘The Zionist lobby (that gives orders to the French press) dreams of destabilizing your magnificent country. Those who participate directly or indirectly in those demonstrations are accomplices of the lobby.’ (We Are Syria Facebook page, 26 March 2011).”
vi Author of the blood libel saga The Matzoh of Zion
viii Ruth el Krief, BFM TV, 27 February 2014
x Haziza, p. 163, interview with Frédéric Chatillon , 4 October 2013
xi Idem p 114
xii Idem p. 93, http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/la-revolte-syrienne/20120711.OBS6760/syrie-les-precieux-liens-francais-du-deserteur-tlass.html
xiv Cahiers Bernard Lazare N°321 December 2010
xv [personal conversation] Ciardi told Marine Le Pen she should visit Israel; it would stifle doubts about her commitment to ridding the party of remnants of anti-Semitism. She replied that she couldn’t do it yet.
xvi Cahiers BL N°336 March 2012