The family saga at the heart of France’s far-right National Front (FN) dragged on Wednesday, as party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen insisted that reactions to an alleged anti-Semitic comment were “illegitimate”.
Le Pen said he was preparing to publish an open letter to his daughter Marine (the FN’s official leader since 2011), after a remark he made about a Jewish actor resulted in his video blog being removed from the party website.
“To criticize a Jew, or to respond to a Jew’s criticism, is not anti-Semitic,” he told French daily Le Monde. “They are citizens like anyone else. When they attack you, you retaliate without fear.”
The scandal broke over the weekend, when Le Pen Senior, a FN Member of the European Parliament, came out with the arguably anti-Semitic comment on a video blog posted on the party’s website.
Jewish actor to go in 'ovenload'
Asked about Jewish performer Patrick Bruel, a critic of the party, Le Pen Senior said that people like the artist should be put in an “ovenload”, a comment that is taken by many as an oblique reference to the crematoria in Nazi death camps.
He said in French, “Next time we will make an ovenload [of them]." Le Pen used the word "fournée", which means “ovenload” or “batch for the oven”.
The video was hastily removed, and on Tuesday the FN announced that it would no longer be hosting Le Pen’s video blog "for legal reasons".
His daughter Marine Le Pen called her father’s comments “a political mistake that will cost the National Front”, but she has been criticized for failing to call it a “moral mistake”.
Louis Aliot, vice-president of the FN as well as Marine Le Pen’s partner, also sought to distance the party from her father’s comments, describing them as “politically stupid and deplorable”.
Le Pen in fighting mood
Jean Marie Le Pen, who has been convicted a number of times for his anti-Semitic diatribes – he once called the Holocaust “a mere detail” of the Second World War – is not one to take such a snub lying down.
The former Foreign Legionnaire, known for his hatred of political correctness, told Le Monde his planned open letter would be a “peace offering” – but he didn’t mince his words.
“Removing the video was not a legitimate action,” he said. “There is no reason why I should tolerate it.”
“There are groups of people looking for the slightest error in what we say,” he added, in reference to a number of French Jewish and anti-racism organizations. “The FN seems to be living in fear of being accused of anti-Semitism.
“I am not a court darling. I react to these things in my own way, with my own temperament.”
The open letter, he said, would be published on Thursday.
Date created : 2014-06-11