French far-Left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon has sparked uproar by claiming Jeremy Corbyn should never have apologised over “churlish” anti-Semitism accusations, which he claimed were trumped up by the chief rabbi and Israeli Right.
Mr Mélenchon, who came fourth in France’s 2017 presidential election, claimed that the UK Labour leader lost a part of the electorate during his election campaign by showing “weakness” over such allegations.
In a blog, he said: ”(Corbyn) had to endure, unaided, churlish anti-Semitism claims from England’s chief rabbi and various influence networks linked to Likoud (the hard Right party of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu”.
“Instead of riposting, he spent his time apologising and making pledges. In both cases, he showed weakness, which worried popular sectors (of the electorate),” he said.
The Labour defeat “must serve as a lesson”, said Mr Mélenchon, an MP who leads the France Unbowed party.
“Corbyn spent his time being insulted and stabbed in the back by a handful of Blairite MPs. Instead of riposting, he took it on the chin.”
Earlier this month, Mr Corbyn was personally accused of 11 acts of anti-Semitism in an extensive leaked dossier detailing an alleged "cover-up" within the Labour Party over its treatment of Jews. The submission compiled by the Jewish Labour Movement alleges Mr Corbyn "has repeatedly associated with, sympathised with and engaged in anti-Semitism".
But Mr Mélenchon dismissed such allegations and said that in France he would never let himself "be influenced by lobbies of any sort – be they financial or from a sectarian community.”
He then went on to slam what he called the "arrogant and sectarian dictates" of the Crif, France’s Jewish umbrella group.
The Crif slammed the claims, saying they were reminiscent of "Vichy rhetoric about the Jewish conspiracy”.
They were, it said, “a shocking and surprising hotchpotch: what link is there between the Crif and the British elections?,” asked Crif president Francis Kalifat.
The “media-hungry” Marxist’s "conspiracy theory drift speaks volumes about his thought processes”.
The French government condemned Mr Mélenchon’s comments, with education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer branding them “foul” and liable to “fuel anti-Semitism”.
Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, called them “shocking and inappropriate”.
After winning almost 20 per cent of the vote in the first round of France’s 2017 presidential elections, Mr Mélenchon’s popularity has nosedived following a string of controversial outbursts.
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Last week, he was handed a three-month suspended prison term and an €8,000 (£6,700) fine for intimidating officials investigating his funding.
In October 2018 prosecutors launched searches of his party offices and home.
Mr Mélenchon was filmed shouting "I am the Republic!" at a police officer and shoving him. With colleagues he then tried to break into the party HQ.