On Saturday, Paris’ Place de la Nation saw two rallies of totally different political characters superimposed onto each other. One was made up of workers and youth who wanted to continue their struggle against the genocide in Gaza. The other was dominated by right-wing feminist organisations and allied pseudo-left groups who support or are indifferent to Israel’s genocide.
This contradiction exposed the fundamental political conflict at the heart of French politics amidst mass opposition to the Macron government, that between the union bureaucracies and their political servants on one side, and the masses on the other.
After more than 20,000 Palestinian deaths and as Israeli leaders openly prepare to escalate their genocide against Palestine after fraudulent “humanitarian pauses,” French pseudo-left groups and the trade union bureaucracies expressed their indifference to the ongoing massacre in the Gaza strip by dissolving this weekend’s anti-genocide protest into a Macron government-sponsored feminist rally on Saturday.
The “anti-feminicide protest” was led by the #NousToutes and Grève féministe organisations as part of an international day of mobilisation against gendered violence. According to the organisers, 80,000 people marched in Paris and smaller demonstrations occurred in other French cities.
The protest received support from French President Emmanuel Macron, who tweeted a video underlining his support for #MeToo and for the campaign to put an end to gendered violence. All the major French trade unions and the pseudo-left parties including the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA), the Morenoite group Révolution Permanante (RP), Unsubmissive France, the French Communist Party and the Greens sent large delegations.
The national union bureaucracies, the Macron government and pseudo-left parties are not concerned with alleviating dire social conditions in France or putting an end to imperialist slaughter. Instead, they consciously promote middle-class identity politics to whip up support for imperialist war and attacks on democratic rights.
The demonstration exposed the far-right and pro-imperialist character of the #MeToo movement, which has been backed by every pseudo-left group since its inception. #MeToo’s method of using unproven allegations of sexual crimes to intimidate political opposition was this time practiced by Zionist-feminists who came to the protest to rally support for Israel’s genocide against Gaza as part of a recently formed Zionist feminist organisation called “7 Octobre.”
The group sought to support Israel’s genocide against Palestine by amplifying Zionist propaganda around the events of October 7, claiming that women were “raped, mutilated and murdered” by Hamas and describing the Al-Aqsa Flood operation as a “mass feminicide.”
They carried signs with slogans such as “What are you waiting for to condemn and act?” And “#MeToo unless you are a Jew,” accusing anyone opposed to the Israeli state’s genocidal policy of being antisemitic and a rape apologist.
One member of the organisation told LePoint, “[We] want to force feminist associations to all take a clear position. Let them either say: ‘Jewish women are not victims like the others,’ or ‘Yes, we condemn the feminicides carried out by Hamas.’”
She added that the killing of Israelis was of more concern than the current genocide in Gaza because, “Unlike the Israelis, the Palestinians were not targeted precisely because they were women.” From this follows the racist implication that any women casualties during the revolt against historic Israeli oppression were due to a set of innate misogynistic beliefs of Palestinian fighters, not because of decades of state-sanctioned murder and blockade against the Gaza Strip.
Nothing in the anti-Marxist middle-class feminism promoted by the pseudo-left is incompatible with ultra-nationalist Zionism or the vilification of Muslims. Saturday’s degraded political spectacle saw the reactionary method and political content of #MeToo leveraged to support an ongoing genocide. To insist on the higher value of Jewish women whilst hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children die every day only takes the ultra-subjective middle-class feminist world-view to its logical conclusion.
The 7 Octobre group is an unholy marriage of the pseudo-left promoters of identity politics and the far right. According to LePoint, the Israeli organisers included members of SOS racism, a group with ties to the leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, which is a consistent supporter of American imperialism and embroiled in a corruption scandal involving hundreds of millions of dollars of money donated to fight against police violence. Multiple notorious members of the far-right Jewish Defense League were also identified among the 7 Octobre group by eyewitnesses at the rally.
The Zionist protesters were joined by a group of pro-Ukrainian protesters supporting the NATO war against Russia with placards denouncing “the rapists of Putin” alongside the Zionist contingent.
In stark contrast to the bankrupt politics and these nationalist and feminist milieu were a group of determined pro-Palestinian protesters who came to Saturday’s protest to oppose the genocide and the bourgeois media’s campaign to promote fraudulent “humanitarian pauses” unknowing they would be faced with groups supporting Israel's genocide against the Gazan people.
The WSWS spoke to Sara, who explained, “We are protesting because it is not fair to kill innocent people and to support a genocide on the basis of fake news and Israeli propaganda. I don’t support any of the governments at this point whether it is Macron, the prince of Saudi Arabia, they have all exposed themselves and shown they don’t care about peoples’ lives.”
She explained that she didn’t realise the protest she was attending was primarily called by feminist groups, “Honestly, when I decided to come I didn’t know they were having two combined protests. I support the rights of everyone but I am not a feminist.”
Sara also condemned the fraudulent nature of the “humanitarian pauses” promoted in the international press: “It’s a game. You cannot pause a genocide, you can only end it. There is no such thing as a humanitarian pause. I don’t know what that means. The pause for four days only allows Gazans to gather the dead people from their families and try to bury them. They are still killing people in the West Bank. I think it is just pure bullshit.”
The WSWS also spoke to Bouajila, who attended the protest with his wife Samantha. Reacting to the presence of a pro-Israeli organisation promoting propaganda about October 7 to justify the genocide, Bouajila stated, “I think the events on October 7 were military, it’s just another chapter in the story of a revolt against the prison guards. It was a response from the oppressed. And in a historical sense the Gazan fighters had a lot of baggage.”
“The claims of rape, they are not true. It’s bullshit. In the current war it is not Hamas who are the terrorists but Israel.”
Aymane, a French-Algerian youth, pointed out that while evidence of the genocidal crimes of Israel in Gaza is widespread, the pro-Zionist protesters did not have evidence to back up their claims, “We see corpses of Palestinian children every day. Corpses of parents, women, etc. Not [through] third parties, we see them firsthand every day. But of the corpses of Israelis, I am talking about children and women, because there are necessarily deaths on the Israeli side among men and among people who wage war. War, but on the citizen side, woman, child, we don’t see any corpses.”
Aymane added that to understand the genocidal Israeli campaign, “You have to know why, you have to educate yourself, you have to know the history.”
As the WSWS has recently explained regarding the events of October 7, “eyewitness testimonies drive a horse and cart through the official Israeli narrative… Far from protecting Israeli civilians, the Netanyahu government and the IDF used them as cannon fodder in pursuit of a policy of Israeli expansionism and Jewish Supremacy.”
Almost two months after the events of October 7, there is no publicly available evidence that Palestinian militants raped or mutilated women, as claimed by Zionist protesters on Saturday.
The comments of the Palestinian protesters expose the class gulf that exists between the masses of people who want to fight against the genocide in Gaza and the indifference of the trade union bureaucracies. This indifference extends to the bureaucracies’ pseudo-left political backers, who seek at all costs to avoid an international mobilisation of the working class independently of these nationalist and pro-capitalist forces. Amidst an ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people, their promotion of middle-class identity politics and the anti-democratic #MeToo movement has earned them the deserved political company of Zionist forces supporting a genocide.
Workers and youth who are determined to struggle against the ongoing genocide in Gaza must decisively break with these anti-Marxist and nationalist forces and join the Parti de l’égalité socialiste, the French section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, which fights for an independent mobilization of the international working class against imperialist slaughter.