The socialists were the first to do so in the 2012 presidential election, with a measure of success, or so it seemed, since the candidate who emerged from this innovative consultation, François Hollande, eventually beat the outgoing conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy by 51.64 per cent against 48.36 per cent. Under closer scrutiny, the 2012 primaries portended troubles to come: Hollande, who started his campaign as a moderate and market-oriented social democrat, had no choice, in order to be nominated, but to adjust to the more radical rhetoric of most socialist activists and sympathisers, and to make promises he knew he would never be able to fulfill. Once president, he constantly wavered between his real political views and the fake image of himself he had projected as a candidate.
For all that, the 2012 primaries had been popular, and were repeated this year, not just among socialists but conservatives as well. What the political machines did not foresee was that such consultations were weapons of war against them.
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, who served as editor at Atlantico, a major conservative online magazine, recently remarked that Jews function in many countries as an advance warning system. When Jews get anxious about their condition, it means that something wrong and ominous may be lurking for the nation at large. Can this Jewish standard be appled to the present situation of France? Maybe. Muslim anti-Semitism (with or without the excuse of anti-Zionism) has been a harbinger of more general Muslim antagonism against mainstream French culture. Repeated acts of anti-Jewish terrorism preceded the anti-French terrorism wave of 2015 and 2016.
By this token, the 2017 presidential campaign is not entirely reassuring. Globalisation, the original sin according to both the far Left and far Right, is frequently associated with the United States, the West — and the Jews. Even with Trump in the White House. Trump may be an America Firster, but he is also a friend of Israel, the father of an Orthodox Jewish daughter and the “proud grandfather”, to quote him, “of Jewish grandchildren”. In a different order of things, French Muslims may support indiscriminately IS or Palestinian groups or Iran or Assad’s Syria as expressions of Muslim power, while many non-Muslim French may support Iran or Hezbollah or Assad’s Syria as allies against IS.
As for the rise of Macron, it fits only too well many stereotypes about elites, bankers, cosmopolitism, conspiracies, or what the Americans call “Manchurian candidates”. Again, these stereotypes tend to include Jews as well. A conservative website recently ran a caricature of Macron as a former Rothschild banker that exaggerated some of his facial features, clearly to suggest, against all the evidence, that he was Jewish. It was swiftly withdrawn, but the damage was done.