(JTA) – The leadership of the far-right National Front party in France replaced its pick for interim president following reports he had denied aspects of the Holocaust. Jean-François Jalkh, who took Marine Le Pen’s place at the helm this week temporarily, ahead of the May 7 runoff in the presidential elections, was replaced on April 28, two days after his appointment. On April 27, the Le Monde daily reported that Jalkh is disputing the veracity of quotes attributed to him in an interview from 2000 in which he was quoted as questioning the use of the Zyklon B poison by Nazis during the Holocaust to kill Jews. “Personally, I think that it is impossible from a technical point of view to use for mass extermination,” he said of the use of Zyklon B in gas chambers. Claims based on bogus science and chemistry especially is a tactic of Holocaust deniers, notably David Irving of the United Kingdom.
National Front’s founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has several convictions for denying aspects of the Holocaust, as well as for inciting racial hatred against Jews. His daughter, who succeeded him in 2011 as party leader, has attempted to rehabilitate the party’s image, condemning the Holocaust and distancing herself from her father’s antisemitic rhetoric. But last month she said that “France is not responsible” for its authorities’ actions during the Nazi occupation, when French police officers helped Nazis round up Jews and send them to be murdered.
Under Marine Le Pen, the National Front has seen a purge in which dozens of members were kicked out of the party for making antisemitic statements or expressing revisionist views about the Holocaust. She kicked her father out of the party in 2015 for making antisemitic statements.”
CAP: Jean-François Jalkh, left, has been replaced at the top of France’s far-right National Front party by Steeve Briois, Henin-Beaumont’s mayor and a European Parliament member. (Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images)