As in the US, French Jews until recently generally voted left and generally supported liberal immigration policies. Lately, however, an important part of the Jewish vote has shifted right in response to continued mass immigration and persistent tensions in the Middle East.
Not coincidentally, France also has Europe's largest Muslim population. For quite a few French Jews, yesterday's policies no longer fit today's realities.
Alain Finkielkraut is a prominent case in point. A leading French-Jewish intellectual and much denounced "new reactionary", Finkielkraut recently made headlines with remarks at a Tel-Aviv think tank. There, he is reported to have said (Yair Sheleg, Haaretz, "A Racist Attack"):
"There is a future for Jews in France only if France is a nation, but there is no future for Jews in a multi-cultural society, because then the power of anti-Jewish groups is liable to be greater."
Finkielkraut's remarks nicely illustrate what I take to be a central aspect of the immigration debate: with rare exceptions, the politics of immigration is an exquisitely positional affair. Mass immigration can change the political balance in unexpected and sometimes undesired ways and a policy that once seemed to advance group interests can, given a little time, just as well undermine them.
It's something that America's leading Jewish organizations, for the moment united behind open borders, may wish to consider.