Pro-Palestinian rallies took place in Paris and in Marseille, Montpellier and Avignon on Saturday.
In southern Paris, 11,500 protesters (according to police, but 20,000 according to the event’s organizers) marched between Place Denfert-Rochereau and Les Invalides.
Since the first violent demonstration in the capital on July 13, police have not allowed such events in the northern areas, near synagogues and other Jewish institutions.
Nevertheless, in a separate event, thousands defied the interdict and were present at Place de la Republique, in northern Paris, where no specific incident was reported.
In the Paris march, participants shouted the usual anti-Zionist slogans and brandished the usual placards and flags, including those of the organizers – the groups responsible for the current wave of demonstrations against Operation Protective Edge in Gaza – namely, the Greens, the French Communist Party, the New Anticapitalist Party, the General Confederation of Labor union and the Party of the Indigenous of the Republic.
Among the participants were two famous Jews: the comic Guy Bedos and the Trotskyist Alain Krivine, who asserted: “We are witnessing a real revolt, in the middle of the month of August, which is truly an unusual phenomenon.”
Krivine said he supports “with all [his] heart the Palestinian people and the politics of Hamas, which fights in a regular way, not attacking the weak, as does the IDF.”
“I am French and never have been so disappointed by France as I am this time,” he added, referring to the “support” given by French President Francois Hollande and his government for Israel’s right of self-defense.
No clashes with police were reported, but after the demonstration some 50 participants were arrested at the Saint-Paul metro station, on their way to Rue des Rosiers, the main Jewish street of the Le Marais quarter.
“They were probably trying to provoke clashes. Some were masked and shouted hostile slogans, which is what brought the police to fear a possible confrontation,” Radio Europe 1 reported on Sunday.
Thursday evening, a pro-Israel demonstration took place in front of the Israeli Embassy, near the Champs Elysees.
It was organized by the CRIF Jewish umbrella organization, the United Jewish Appeal and the Union of Jewish Students of France, and was marked by heavy security measures: the whole area was closed off and participants were asked to open their bags and be checked.
The slogans and the placards read “Israel will live!” “Israel will win!” “Hamas murderer!” “Thank you IDF!” “Gaza hostage of Hamas!” “Hamas = al-Qaida!” and “More humous, less Hamas!” At the end of rally, the 4,500- 6,000 participants sang “La Marseillaise” and “Hatikva.”
Meanwhile, Friday, the economic newspaper La Tribune published a poll, conducted by the French Institute of Public Opinion, that will please Marine Le Pen, the leader of the Front National far-right party.
According to the poll, in the first round of the next presidential elections, Le Pen will win 26% of the votes; her Union for a Popular Movement right-wing challenger, former president Nicolas Sarkozy, will get 25%; and President Francois Hollande – or another candidate of his Socialist Party, such as Prime Minister Manuel Valls – only 17%.
The poll indicates that in the second round, Sarkozy will run against Le Pen.