(...) The communal representatives of French Jews and Muslims mobilized almost without exception for Macron. In both communities, even clergy abandoned their carefully cultivated nonpartisanship in an unusual effort, the likes of which had not been seen in at least 15 years.
On Friday, French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia co-authored, with the president of the Protestant Federation of France and a Muslim faith leader, a statement endorsing Macron. Tellingly, the Catholic Church of France, by far the largest Christian denomination in the country, sat out the declaration.
“Fully aware that our roles require us to be nonpartisan,” the three clergymen wrote, “peace supersedes all other things and only a vote for Emmanuel Macron guarantees” it.
The rare statement followed efforts by French Jews to prevent a Le Pen victory on “a scale that was last witnessed in 2002, ahead of the runoff led by her father,” according to Philippe Karsenty, a Jewish Macron supporter and deputy mayor of the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine.
Originally supportive of Francois Fillon, the Republicans candidate who lost in the first round last month and stands significantly to the right of Macron, Karsenty joined the Macron camp not because he believes in the candidate’s policies, but “to block Le Pen from ruining France,” as Karsenty put it in an interview with JTA Saturday.
CRIF, the federation of Jewish communities of France, called on all Jews and non-Jews to vote for Macron, describing Le Pen as a “danger for democracy.” And the Union of Jewish Students of France held a string of rallies Friday against Le Pen, including a concert “against fascism.”
While these efforts served as a show of unity within French Jewry and with other faith groups, they also cast a partisan light on French Jews and Muslims, which leaders of both communities have worked hard to avoid. And that has the potential of highlighting a distinction, favored by many Le Pen supporters, between these minorities and the general population.
At the same time, this may also reinforce stereotypes held by many French about Jews and Muslims – presenting Le Pen and her party as the archenemy of groups that conspiracy theorists in France like to describe as cabals working in unison.