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    French party leader says daughter ‘put a knife in my back’

    Feud on far right follows alleged anti-Semitism

    PARIS — A tempest has been unleashed upon the House of Le Pen, the seat of France’s rising far right, with the wounded patriarch and founder of the National Front lashing out at his political heir and daughter in a feud about an anti-Semitic smear.

    A public dressing-down of Jean-Marie Le Pen shows how far his daughter, Marine Le Pen, will go to make the party a cornerstone of the French political landscape and loft her into her dream job, the presidency.

    ‘‘My daughter has put a knife in my back,’’ Jean-Marie Le Pen, 85, said after being banished from the anti-immigration party’s website and entombed behind a wall of silence by party officials, including his daughter.


    ‘‘If I piss them off, they have only to kill me,’’ Le Pen told a cultural publication, Les Inrockuptibles. ‘‘I will not commit suicide.’’

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    The drama began after Le Pen made a remark in a video on his weekly blog widely interpreted as an allusion to the Holocaust. Referring to artists who’ve said they won’t perform in towns run by the National Front — namely actor-singer Patrick Bruel, who is Jewish — Le Pen said, ‘‘We’ll put a batch in the oven the next time.’’

    Marine Le Pen called the remark a ‘‘political mistake.’’ For critics, it was a light reprimand for a man who has been cited numerous times for anti-Semitic statements and racism. But Tuesday night, a top party official, Wallerand de Saint Just, announced that Le Pen’s blog would no longer appear. He risks posing an ‘‘important danger’’ to Marine Le Pen, Saint Just said. ‘‘We are taking precautions,’’ he added.

    Le Pen denies his remark was anti-Semitic and said those who think so are ‘‘political enemies or imbeciles.’’

    On Wednesday night, he said he planned an open letter on Thursday to his daughter, seeking a return to the status quo.


    In an interview with the daily Le Monde, he said the sanction was ‘‘illegitimate.’’

    ‘‘To criticize a Jew, or to respond to him, is not being anti-Semitic. They are citizens like others,’’ he said, adding that party officials ‘‘fear being accused of the absolute crime of anti-Semitism.’’

    Marine Le Pen, 46, National Front leader since 2011, aspires to the presidency and is working to put together a powerful extreme-right group in the European Parliament. She led the anti-EU party to victory in elections last month. It made significant gains in municipal elections two months earlier.

    Her successes have been due in part to transforming the National Front from a pariah, whose supporters often lied about voting for it, into an acceptable political alternative to the governing Socialists and conservative rivals. She rants against Muslim immigrants but has come down hard on references to anti-Semitism.

    The elder Le Pen has spent the past half-century as France’s most controversial political leader but has strong support. He was easily reelected to the European Parliament.


    In a dig at his daughter, he derided a National Front group she created, the Blue Marine Rally, as a ‘‘strange formation without substance.’’ It has served as a conduit for voters not ready to be card-carrying party members.

    Marine Le Pen has called out the troops to explain what party vice president Florian Philippot played down as an ‘‘artificial argument.’’

    Ever defiant, Jean-Marie Le Pen said he’ll simply transfer his blog to his personal site, and insists that as the party’s honorary ‘‘president for life,’’ he cannot be forced into retirement.