(JTA) – A left-wing politician in France who was endorsed by the founders of the country’s Anti-Zionist Party handily defeated Prime Minister Manuel Valls in the Socialist presidential primaries. Benoit Hamon, who has called for his party to support Palestinian causes to increase its appeal to Muslim voters, beat his hard-line challenger Jan. 28 with 58 percent of the vote in the second and final round of the balloting.
Last week, the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala and the far-right author Alain Soral – who along with founding the Anti-Zionist Party both have multiple convictions for Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred against Jews – endorsed Hamon publicly. Hamon disavowed Soral and Dieudonne. Soral wrote on his website that voting for Hamon was necessary to “knock Valls out of the race” because he is “a candidate who swore allegiance to the CRIF and to Israel be it through policy, media exposure, judicial means or by deploying the police.” CRIF is the umbrella group of French Jewish communities. Soral and Dieudonne cited Valls’ commitment to defending Jews against antisemitic violence. Valls is married to Anne Gravoin, a Jewish musician. In 2011 he said his marriage connected him “in an eternal way” to Israel and the Jewish people. He is also the only French prime minister who has said publicly that anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism.
Hamon will contend in the presidential elections in May against the hard-line candidate Francois Fillon of The Republicans party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, a centrist independent.
The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism called on Hamon to react to the endorsement, prompting Hamon to publish a statement about it two days later. Hamon said he “opposes the deceit of the far-right and the conspiratorial and antisemitic streams” the two represent. Both Hamon and Valls have expressed their opposition to attempts to boycott the Jewish state, which are illegal in France. Hamon has criticized Valls for “giving in to Israel.”
CAP: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls