“Go away, dirty Jew!” the protesters shouted. “We are the people! We are France!” Now in its 14th outing, the movement of the yellow vests has again besmirched itself with anti-Semitism.
On Saturday, a group of protesters in the Montparnasse district lashed out against the French philosopher and academic Alain Finkielkraut, 69. The police had to intervene to protect Finkielkraut from the violent group. The attack was condemned by many politicians, as well as by Emmanuel Macron: “The anti-Semitic insults [Finkielkraut] has been subjected to are the absolute negation of who we are and what makes us a great nation. We will not tolerate them,” the French president said.
Sunday, in Paris, the yellow vest movement celebrated three months of protests—which first started on Nov. 17—with a demonstration that was planned to proceed on the left bank of the Seine. Saturday, “Act XIV” of the protests involved marches in several cities. There were some tense moments in Paris as well, especially on the Boulevard Saint-Michel, and a difficult police operation to disperse the crowds at Les Invalides, involving a group of at least 3,000 protesters.
At Le Mans, a group of protesters vandalized the offices of a deputy from LREM, the governing party. In Rouen, there was an incident involving a car that hit some protesters.
The number of people participating in each successive week of protests has been steadily declining, but the hard core of the movement has no intention of giving up—even though the population’s support for the protests is beginning to show signs of waning: according to one of the latest polls, 56 percent nationwide want the protests to stop (while the agreement with the reasons behind them remains strong).
They have occasioned disturbing tendencies: most notably, the acts of anti-Semitism committed on Saturday. On Feb. 9 the word juden was written on the window of a bagel shop in the Marais and swastikas were drawn on images of Simone Weil in the 13th Arrondissement. And Christophe Chalençon, the same “yellow vest” with whom Italian vice-prime minister Di Maio met in Montargis, a few days ago issued a coup-inciting pronouncement that there were paramilitaries “ready to intervene.”