Far-Right pundit Zemmour announces presidential run to 'save' France

December 01, 2021

In my previous dispatch on Eric Zemmour, I mentioned that the 63-year-old married father of three had denied having an affair with his 28-year-old chief adviser (and fellow Sephardi Jew) Sarah Knafo (above). Last week, he did not deny fresh media reports that she is now expecting his baby.



[Note by Tom Gross]

(This is a follow-up to my dispatch of October 31: The Jewish "useful idiot"endorsed by Jean-Marie Le Pen appeals to Les Deplorables.)

Yesterday hard right media pundit and intellectual Eric Zemmour officially launched his campaign for the French presidency, seeking to unseat Emmanuel Macron next spring.

"I have decided to take our destiny in my hands,"Zemmour said in a controversial YouTube video released to coincide with the launch. "It is no longer the time to reform France, but to save it,"Zemmour said, claiming that many voters "no longer recognize your country."

Macron currently remains ahead in the polls. Other potential candidates include former EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, and Marine Le Pen, leader of the more established far-right National Rally.

Zemmour has been receiving a lot of media coverage, including in Britain, which he visited last week. You can see an interview with him by the Deputy editor of The Spectator magazine here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ5lw4VeKpo

Below I attach a translation of an essay by French historian Simon Epstein titled "How Zemmour exploits his Jewishness: He uses my work to pour scorn on the Left."

This is followed by the same essay in its original French version published by DDV, the journal of the International League against Anti-Semitism, for those who prefer to read the original.

And finally there is a short piece published yesterday by American commentator and Middle East expert Daniel Pipes titled "What to make of Eric Zemmour?"

Pipes explains why, in spite of disliking Zemmour, he would vote for him were he French, because (says Pipes) Zemmour is unlikely to win but "he is, in a way unparalleled anywhere else among politicians in Western Europe or North America, raising and articulating civilizationist issues that need to be heard and that must, eventually, be addressed."

The first article below makes clear how dangerous many believe Zemmour to be.




How Zemmour exploits his Jewishness
He uses my work to pour scorn on the Left
By Simon Epstein
November 29, 2021


I have a problem with Eric Zemmour. He has the most astounding gall, like a character from a Balzac novel. The books which have made him famous are stuffed with sweeping judgements and cutting assertions. He has a knack for pithy one-liners and has mastered today's art of being harsh and simplistic. He does not know nuance. He flits easily from truth to untruth, with a clear predisposition towards exaggeration and downright falsity. Ever-ready to illustrate what he is saying with examples, he is not, to put it mildly, meticulous in the way he uses them. You feel an urge to pastiche his writing, so peppered is it with historical references, some appropriate and some not.

He likes to quote from two of my books. One follows the unusual fate of Dreyfus supporters who lived long enough to experience the Second World War and the Nazi occupation of France. The second book attempts to understand why so many former "anti-racist"activists from the Left and the far-Left became collaborators and why so many former anti-Semites of the Right and the far-Right took part in the Resistance. Sometimes, Zemmour quotes me accurately. Often, he adds his own selective emphasis to my work and attributes interpretations to me which are his and not mine. On occasion, he will start a sentence with "as historian Simon Epstein says,"before wheeling out a misrepresentation of something I have written or, worse, something I have not written at all.

I haven't registered my disapproval before. Firstly because I didn't really care enough. Zemmour, who I didn't think was such a bad egg, was not alone in using and abusing history for his own ends: this has been part and parcel of intellectual life, and especially of the polemic-obsessed media, for some time. I also used to find it funny - really funny - to see this old Gallo-Roman country, the Church's eldest daughter, rely on a Jew to fulfil the threefold mission of eulogising France's lost greatness, bemoaning its besmirched identity, and proudly raising its old standard once more. At times, it felt Zemmour was the new Joan of Arc. It was he who was holding the sword others had dropped and rallying the troops for battle.

I do not know what mark the man will leave on France's history. Will it be providential or tragic? Or - and this cannot be ruled out - fleeting and benign? Or perhaps even comical? But that is not why I am writing. What I am interested in here is the position he will occupy - and doubtless already does occupy - in the long and tormented history of the Jews of this country. France's Jews, like the rest of the diaspora, know they are exposed to anti-Semitism, an intractable problem which alternates between phases of remission, sometimes short and sometimes long, phases of acceleration, flare-ups, and then further remission. Jews also know that some among them - a minority thankfully - cave under pressure and accept anti-Semitism. In some cases, they even help to propagate it.

It used to be the far-Left that best illustrated this problem. In the winter of 1953, Jewish communists in the Soviet Union competed with one another to lend credibility to dark conspiracy theories about Jewish doctors. More recently, Left-wing apologists of Islamism have included Jews, who profess a radical hatred for the State of Israel and the Jewish people. These anti-Zionist Jews try to make themselves useful by mildly scolding their fellow activists - who profess to be humanitarians - for chanting "Death to Jews!"at pro-Palestine demonstrations. They explain, gently, that some demands are best kept to oneself, and that these especially should not be uttered in public - for obvious tactical reasons.

What's different with Zemmour is that he is on the far-Right and not on the far-Left. He is akin to Trump-supporting ideologues in the US and their Hungarian counterparts and is, in France, at the forefront of this new way of doing politics. His spin on Dreyfus (who, in his eyes, wasn't really innocent) has a rotten smell. His apology for Petain (who, in his eyes, wasn't guilty really) puts him firmly in the camp of the post-Vichy far-Right. It also positions him on the edge of the neo-Nazi, ultra-far-Right (only the edge, of course; as a Jew, he will never quite belong). The same goes for his opposition to the Pleven and Gayssot laws, without which racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial would be permissible. And then there were his comments about the Jewish children who were buried in Israel after being brutally killed in Toulouse, which were truly despicable.

When Zemmour castigates women, immigrants, homosexuals, socialists, centrists, elites, or metropolitan liberals, he does it out of profound conviction, fascinated as he is with the rhetorical heritage of the far-Right - which he has himself expanded, copiously, with his rants.

Media savviness, too, motivates his skewering of Jews. His historical mission, as he sees it, is to reconcile the patriotic bourgeoisie and the working classes. In concrete terms, this means that he is betting simultaneously - and this is difficult - on both traditional Right-wing voters and supporters of the populist far-Right. The fact that he is Jewish reassures the former group ("he can't be a fascist so we can vote for him!") The fact that he maligns Jews despite being one himself entices the latter ("there's no way he'll be bought off, we can trust him!").

The former bunch appreciate his harking back to author Charles Peguy and his admiration for De Gaulle. The latter like his scorn for Zola and his rehabilitation of Petain. His unconcealed Jewish roots help him plot out a march on Paris which, in a complete ideological mish-mash, passes through both London and Vichy.

If the trend revealed by recent polls is confirmed - in other words, if he manages to definitively capture the two groups of voters he needs to remain a contender - and if he also manages to recruit non-voters by using his swagger to pull them out of their apathy, he will have a supply of votes perfectly sufficient to shake up the 2022 presidential election. Given certain conditions, and with a little luck, he would be in a position to do what both Le Pens failed to do, namely to seduce republican voters without alienating anti-republican voters, and vice-versa. He would be in a position to shatter - or at least crack - the "glass ceiling"which has kept the far-Right out of power for so long. He would achieve this thanks to his patter, his strategic know-how and his stubbornness. But it would also be in part thanks to his Jewishness, which makes it impossible to call him a Nazi or a fascist. It gives him more leeway on everything controversial.

Unlike Henry IV, the French Renaissance King who was born a Protestant, Zemmour won't have to reason that "Paris is well worth a mass."Historically, he is perhaps in the tradition of Arthur Meyer, the editor of the Gaulois newspaper, who converted to Catholicism in 1901. He also borrows from Edmond Bloch, who rubbed shoulders with the French far-Right in the 1930s and also ended up converting to Catholicism. But Zemmour, who aspires to lasting renown where these two predecessors enjoyed only passing notoriety, will not have to follow them to the font. Far from being a hindrance to his irresistible rise, his Jewishness is his trump card. Let's be frank: this is both masterful and unprecedented. As a political observer, I find it fascinating. As a Jew, I must admit I find it disgusting.



Tribune de Simon Epstein: Zemmour d'un point de vue juif

Les travaux de l'historien israelien Simon Epstein ont souvent ete mis en avant par la droite nationalpopuliste, et par Eric Zemmour en particulier, pour discrediter la gauche, l'antiracisme, les dreyfusards, rehabiliter leurs adversaires et reecrire l'histoire. L'auteur, qui n'avait jusqu'alors jamais commente ces usages et mesusages, nous livre son point de vue sur le phenomene Zemmour.

2 novembre 2021
dans Tribune Temps de lecture


J'ai un probleme avec Zemmour. C'est un personnage balzacien, qui fait montre d'un culot immense. Herisses de jugements peremptoires et d'assertions tranchantes, ses livres l'ont rendu celebre. Il a le sens de la formule, il est cassant et reducteur, comme on l'est aujourd'hui. Il ne pratique pas la nuance. Il voltige avec aisance entre le vrai et le faux, avec une predilection marquee pour l'excessif et pour le faux. Il est prodigue en documentation mais n'est pas pointilleux c'est un euphemisme dans l'usage qu'il en fait. On a envie de le pasticher tant il crepite de citations historiques, les unes appropriees et les autres non.

Il lui arrive, a ce sujet, de faire reference a deux de mes livres. L'un, qui retrace le destin insolite des dreyfusards qui vivront assez vieux pour conna?tre la Seconde Guerre mondiale et l'occupation de la France par les Allemands. L'autre, qui tente de comprendre pourquoi on trouvait tant d'ex"antiracistes"(venus de la gauche et de l'extreme gauche) dans la Collaboration et tant d'exantisemites (venus de la droite et de l'extreme droite) dans la Resistance. Zemmour me cite parfois a bon escient. Il me cite souvent en accentuant mon propos et en m'attribuant des conclusions qui sont siennes et non pas miennes. Il brandit de temps en temps un "comme l'ecrit l'historien Simon Epstein"pour enoncer quelque chose que je n'ai pas ecrit comme il le dit, ou pis encore, que je n'ai pas ecrit du tout.

Je ne m'en suis pas formalise. Avant tout, parce que "frankly my dear, I don't give a damn"1. Ensuite, parce que Zemmour, dont je pensais qu'il n'etait pas un mauvais bougre, n'etait pas seul a brutaliser l'Histoire : c'etait coutumier dans la vie intellectuelle en general et dans les debats politicomediatiques en particulier. Enfin, parce que je trouvais dr?le, vraiment dr?le, que "ce vieux pays galloromain"2 qui est aussi "la fille a?nee de l'Eglise"3 ait confie a un Juif eh oui la triple t?che de chanter sa grandeur d'antan, de pleurer son identite outragee et de hisser, a nouveau, sa vieille banniere. Zemmour avait remplace Jeanne. C'etait a lui, desormais, de ramasser "le troncon du glaive"4 et de "sonner la charge"5.

Je ne sais quelle marque (providentielle ou funeste, ou bien, ce qui n'est pas a exclure, fugace et inoffensive, ou bien meme, desopilante) il laissera dans l'histoire de France. Ce n'est pas l'objet de ces lignes. Je m'inquiete ici de la place qu'il tiendra, et qu'il tient sans doute deja, dans la longue et tumultueuse histoire des Juifs de ce pays? Les Juifs de France, comme ceux de toute la Diaspora, savent qu'ils s'exposent a l'antisemitisme, ce phenomene irreductible qui alterne ses phases de remission, parfois courtes et parfois longues, ses periodes de hausse, ses flambees d'exacerbation, puis de nouveau ses phases de remission. Les Juifs savent aussi que certains d'entre eux minoritaires, heureusement ne resistent pas a la pression et composent avec l'antisemitisme. Dans certains cas, ils participent a sa propagation.

C'etait souvent l'extreme gauche qui illustrait ce principe. J'evoquerai pour memoire l'hiver 1953, quand les communistes juifs rivalisaient de servilite pour fletrir le noir complot des medecins juifs sovietiques. Plus recemment, dans les mouvances islamogauchistes, on trouve des Juifs professant une haine radicale de l'Etat d'Isra?l et du peuple juif. Ces Juifs antisionistes sont charges de faire la lecon aux manifestants "humanitaires", soumis ou insoumis, qui crient "Mort aux Juifs !"dans les defiles pour la Palestine. Ils leur expliquent, avec toute la douceur qui s'impose, qu'il est des revendications qu'on doit se garder, pour d'evidentes raisons tactiques, d'exprimer en public.

La difference avec Zemmour est qu'il est a l'extreme droite et non a l'extreme gauche. Il s'apparente aux "trumpistes"americains et a leurs homologues hongrois et autres, et il est, en France, la figure de proue de cette nouvelle maniere de faire de la politique. Ses petites phrases sur Dreyfus (qui, a ses yeux, n'etait pas vraiment innocent) ont une mauvaise odeur de moisi. Son apologie de Petain (qui, selon lui, n'etait pas vraiment coupable) le localise dans l'extreme droite postvichyssoise. Elle le positionne aux lisieres (qu'il ne franchit pas, car Juif, il y serait mal recu) de l'ultradroite neonazie. Il en va de meme pour sa repudiation des lois Pleven et Gayssot, ces lois dont la suppression laisserait le champ totalement libre au racisme, a l'antisemitisme et au negationnisme. Quant a s'en prendre aux enfants juifs massacres a Toulouse, et qui reposent en terre d'Isra?l, c'est tout simplement abject? Lorsque Zemmour fustige les femmes, les immigres, les homosexuels, les socialistes, les centristes, les elites, les bobos, il le fait par conviction profonde, fascine qu'il est par cette rhetorique d'extreme droite qu'il a luimeme enrichie, fort copieusement fautil dire, d'elucubrations nouvelles.

Mais quand il etrille les Juifs, il le fait aussi par ingeniosite mediatique. Sa mission historique, telle qu'il la concoit, est en effet de reconcilier la bourgeoisie patriotique et les classes populaires. En langage decode, en politique de terrain, cela signifie qu'il mise a la fois, ce qui est difficile, sur les electeurs de la droite republicaine et sur ceux de l'extreme droite populiste. Or qu'il soit luimeme juif, voila qui rassure les premiers (il n'est pas un fasciste, on peut voter pour lui). Et qu'il soit juif tout en malmenant les Juifs, voila qui aguiche les seconds (il n'est pas un "vendu", on peut compter sur lui). Les premiers apprecient qu'il invoque Peguy et encense de Gaulle. Les seconds go?tent qu'il denigre Zola et rehabilite Petain? Son origine juive, dont il ne fait pas mystere, l'aide a programmer une marche sur Paris qui, en toute plasticite doctrinale, passerait a la fois par Londres et par Vichy.

Si la tendance revelee par les derniers sondages se confirmait, en d'autres termes, s'il parvenait a fideliser durablement les deux apports electoraux dont l'assemblage est essentiel a sa percee, et s'il leur adjoignait les abstentionnistes que son esbroufe a tire de leur apathie, il disposerait d'une masse de suffrages amplement suffisante a bouleverser la presidentielle de 2022. Sous certaines conditions, et avec un peu de chance, il serait en mesure de faire ce que les deux Le Pen, chacun en son style, n'avaient pas reussi a faire, a savoir seduire les votes republicains sans perdre les votes antirepublicains, et reciproquement. Il serait a meme de briser, ou tout au moins de fissurer le fameux "plafond de verre"qui, depuis de longues annees, faisait obstacle a l'extreme droite francaise. Ce resultat, il le devrait a son bagout, a son savoirfaire strategique et a son opini?trete. Il le devrait, aussi, a son origine juive, car "il est difficile de le qualifier de nazi ou de fasciste. Cela lui donne une plus grande liberte?6.

Zemmour n'aura donc pas a se demander si "Paris vaut bien une messe"7. Historiquement, il est de la lignee d'Arthur Meyer, le directeur du Gaulois, qui se convertit au catholicisme en 1901. Il prolonge aussi Edmond Bloch, qui frequenta l'extreme droite francaise des annees trente et qui, lui aussi, finit par se convertir au catholicisme. Mais Zemmour, qui aspire a un destin national quand ses deux devanciers n'avaient joui que d'une notoriete passagere, n'aura pas a les suivre jusqu'au benitier. Loin d'etre un handicap dans sa "resistible ascension"8, sa judeite lui sert, en quelque sorte, de joker imparable? C'est du grandart et du jamaisvu, reconnaissonsle. Au plan politique, c'est passionnant a observer. Au plan juif, "j'avoue que je suis epouvante"9.


[1] Comme disait Rhett Butler.
[2] Comme disait Xavier Vallat.
[3] Comme disaient les rois de France.
[4] Comme disaient Paul et Victor Margueritte.
[5] Comme disait Paul Deroulede.
[6] Comme disait Jean-Marie Le Pen, tout recemment.
[7] Comme disait Henri de Navarre.
[8] Comme disait Berthold Brecht.
[9] Comme disait Leon Blum.



What to Make of Eric Zemmour?
By Daniel Pipes
November 30, 2021


His last name in Arabic means, perhaps suitably for an intellectual, honking, as what ducks and car horns do. His parents fled Algeria and he openly identifies as a Jew but presents himself as the representative of traditional Catholic Deep France and the scourge of immigrants and Islam. He adopts positions on Jewish issues so extreme that France's Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia called him an antisemite. He's been twice found guilty of hate speech and wears these condemnations proudly. His anti-feminist positions are antediluvian. He's pro-Russian and anti-American.

I experienced this last first-hand in Budapest in March 2019, when he and I attended the same conference. Seeing him a couple tables away at the breakfast room, I approached him and introduced myself in a decent French. With the classic Parisian disdain of a cafe waiter dealing with a boorish foreign customer, he snubbed me, quickly ending the conversation and leaving me slighted.

Despite my many criticisms, large and small, of Zemmour, I would vote for him were I a French citizen. That's because he grasps an essential truth, that France faces a scourge from immigration, that the country needs more babies, and that the elements which made France great are in peril of being overwhelmed by alien cultures. He speaks these realities eloquently and fearlessly, hoping thereby to revive a country that otherwise is heading toward a self-imposed crisis.

Zemmour's chances of reaching the second round of the presidential election are poor and his chance of prevailing in that second round are even smaller. In short, he is highly unlikely to become France's next leader. But he is, in a way unparalleled anywhere else among politicians in Western Europe or North America, raising and articulating civilizationist issues that need to be heard and that must, eventually, be addressed. Therein lies his role and his importance.


* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you "like"this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.