(JTA) — Two left-leaning Jewish groups in France said they are filing a complaint to police about targeted campaign ads sent to Jews by Éric Zemmour, the right-wing politician who fell short this week in his presidential bid.
The Union of Jewish Students of France and an antisemitism and human rights watchdog group called J’Accuse said they are taking legal steps against Zemmour in connection with text messages sent Sunday, Le Monde reported Tuesday.
The messages, which went out the night of the first round of the elections, read: “Hello, I’ve written a text for you: Will we be able to live much longer in peace in France? Sign up on EZ2022.fr your children are counting on you.”
According to the two groups taking legal steps against Zemmour, a firebrand who has been convicted of hate speech for saying most drug dealers are Arabs or African in France, the message appeared mostly on cellphones of Jews. The complainants are alleging that Zemmour had illegally obtained a list of French Jews.
Approached by Le Monde for a comment, Zemmour’s campaign denied any wrongdoing. The campaign neither denied nor confirmed the group’s allegations, saying only that the recipients for that text came from a targeted marketing firm. Among other sources, the firm collected the data that led to the addressing of text messages to the recipients’ phone number from mining publicly available data on forums devoted to fighting antisemitism, the campaign said.
Zemmour shook up the last days of the race by revealing that the family of a Jewish man who died after being hit by a tram in February believed that the incident stemmed from an antisemitic attack. While French Jewish groups opposed his candidacy, he fared well among French Jews living in Israel, winning a majority of votes among the 10% of eligible voters who cast ballots.