French-Palestinian activist Rima Hassan (L) and party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon (R) attend an European election campaign rally for the hard-left LFI party. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON


French hard-left party draws criticism over ‘Free Palestine’ poster


The French hard-left La France Insoumise Party (LFI) has found itself caught up in an anti-Semitism row.

On April 18, the student organisation Free Palestine is set to hold a conference at the university of Lille on current events in the Middle East but a logo on posters advertising the event is causing an uproar. The symbol depicts a territory encompassing the entirety of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with “Free Palestine” written over it.

LFI party leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Rima Hassan, number seven on the party list for the European Parliament elections in June, are set to speak at the conference.

In effect, critics say, the logo depicts a Palestine “from the river to the sea”, where the State of Israel is destroyed, as is the objective of Hamas terrorists and some Iranian and Islamist groups.

Regarding the posters, MPs from Les Républicains (LR), Rassemblement National (RN) and French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance Party called for the conference to be cancelled.

RN MP Sébastien Chen said on X he expected that “anti-Semitic remarks will probably be made” at the event.

Renaissance MP Violette Spillebout claimed the conference was in effect an EP election meeting in disguise.

She accused the pro-Palestinian activist Hassan, who is eyeing a seat in the Parliament, of equating Hamas to a resistance movement and denying Israel’s right to defend itself while also advocating for its destruction.

“Hate towards Israel has gone viral with a part of the Left and offers a victimhood excuse towards all people who attack Jews in France,” Spillebout stated.

She said LFI had “a very heavy responsibility in the explosion of anti-Semitism in France by stoking the embers in the name of progressivism and human rights”.

LFI defended the logo with Lille MP Nicolas Heyn stating: “It’s an association logo, made by students, we have to stop seeing what we want to put on it,” adding that the controversy was “ridiculous”.

LFI regional councillors noted that the association was “approved” by the Lille university.

Hassan stated: “Censorship is a weapon of those who already lost.”

She has repeatedly denied calling for the destruction of Israel and has condemned the October 7 attacks on the country by Hamas.

According to Hassan, “from the river to the sea” stands for equal rights, “liberating the Palestinians from the oppressions they suffer”.

She further noted that Palestinians “already live from the sea to the Jordan River, they are everywhere in the territory but with different statuses.”

At the time of writing, the University of Lille had not made any public comment on the situation, although two other universities have cancelled similar events.