French Jewish Leader Concerned With Socialist Hollande Victory in France

May 2, 2012 10:00 am 2 comments

Photo: Ron Agam.

Assuring that he had no intent of exerting undue influence on the French Jewish community’s vote in the upcoming presidential election, Dr. Richard Prasquier, president of the Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), indicated his clear concern about the direction a France led by Socialist candidate Francois Hollande might take.

CRIF is a body similar to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. On his way to Washington to meet with U.S. congressional legislators and American Jewish leaders, Prasquier discussed the Jewish community’s status, its need for heightened security, and his position concerning the upcoming French election at a press conference at the French Consulate in New York City on Monday.

He assured reporters that his trip was not prompted by the recent tragedy in Toulouse, and responded to questions focused on the position of the Jewish community in the upcoming French presidential election.

Prasquier said he does not believe France is an anti-Semitic country. He said the way to prevent attacks—like Muslim extremist Mohammed Merah’s March shooting of a rabbi and three children at the Otzar HaTorah Jewish school in Toulouse—is to increase security.

He said Jews in France “will vote mostly according to their interests—the interests they have for the economic issues.”

“There is a fear of unemployment—a fear [similar to that] in many countries,” said Prasquier. Returning to his position statement, Pasquier said, “I do regret that the economic issues were not treated as primary” in the initial campaign.

Prasquier, who made statements in an April 25 Haaretz column appearing to indicate his voting preference for incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy over Hollande said the column “should not to be construed as an endorsement.”

“The article did not state any interest,” Prasquier said. “It was not intended to give voting advice; I would never have done that… I have always been careful to remain neutral.”

Prasquier said he “wanted to give [Israelis] an idea of what are the fears and the wishes of the French Jewish community as I know them.” He was adamant that his remarks were “intended for an Israeli audience.”

Challenged that the CRIF representative might be placing a “gauze” over the real fears of the community, Prasquier was asked at what point is Jewish communal security not only warranted, but even demanded. Prasquier answered in a later conversation, saying France was “completely appalled by what happened in Toulouse.” He called the reaction of the presidential candidates “extraordinary,” saying that all the political contenders stopped their campaigns for two days.

Sarkozy “is a friend of the Jewish community,” said Pasquier. He remarked that “we do not expect any major change” in the attitude towards Israel after the election and the “need for the two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, no matter which candidate is successful.

Two candidates are now in contention for the French presidency—Hollande and Sarkozy—and throughout Pasquier’s briefing, concern over the position that might be taken by the Socialist candidate was clear. “The most problematic part,” said Pasquier, “is that the man who is in charge sets the policy in the French government. The President of the Republic is directly responsible for the majority of French policy decisions.”

Prasquier indicated that he believed a Hollande government would allow far more influence by left-leaning parties, including those holding strong anti-Israel positions. He said, “We do expect that people in the party who may be partners in the coalition are not friends of Israel. Our concern is with those parties with which we could not have relations, [being that] they are so adamant in their anti-Israel position, who may become part of the coalition.”

The Jewish community in France, while significant in influence, is in actual numbers far smaller than the growing Arab and Muslim populations. “Fortunately, there are not so many anti-Semites in French society,” said Pasquier.

“What I know is the new category of Jew bashing comes from the position of anti-Zionism, from those who stigmatize, [those] who vilify the State of Israel,” he said.

Pasquier stressed that the French president must recognize that “the narrative of the story of the Middle East is not saying [that] only the Israel-Palestine conflict is responsible. Most conflicts in the Muslim world have no relation that conflict.”

Marine Le Pen, the far-right French presidential candidate of the National Front, received 18 percent of the vote to come in third in the April 22 first round. Sarkozy, of the Union for a Popular Movement party, trails Hollande by between 6 and 10 percent in various polls.

Asked by JointMedia News Service whether the growing influence of the far right in Hungary—voted for by 70 percent of the population in recent elections—could influence politics and policy in France, Pasquier became somewhat defensive. “We have nothing to do with Hungary,” he said. “Every country in Europe is seeing an increase in populist parties—most are far right.” He noted that Sarkozy had also taken a position against “uncontrolled immigration and illegal immigration.”

Some voices in the French Jewish community have suggested that a Jewish voice be heard in the National Front. Michel Thooris, who once worked for CRIF, is running for parliament as a member of the National Front. Thooris told Haaretz that “my belief is that it’s natural to turn to [Marine] Le Pen when you’re Jewish. She fights crime and Islamism and that means she defends Jews.”

“People’s attitudes have changed because the National Front has changed,” Thooris said, referring to the Le Pen family’s anti-Semitic past. “Marine Le Pen expressed her horror at the Holocaust. Jews know that.”

The specter of the tragedy in Toulouse was active in the room on Monday. Questioned about the murders, Prasquier said all of France should be responsible. “I do not see any possibility of preventing another action of this kind without increasing security,” he said.

“There is a small minority who are potential murderers,” Prasquier said. “We know that they are not alone. We know that there are those who indoctrinate a small minority and may lead to terrible consequences.”

“[Merah] was not a crazy man,” he continued. “He was an indoctrinated man, indoctrinated by hate ideology… an indoctrinated jihadist. When you have a man able to hold a child by the hair and to murder her by a bullet at the temple, this means that this man is totally indoctrinated.”

Pasquier add that, “It’s not a question of reaching out. We are trying to reach out as much as possible to the Muslim community. We should not mix up the Muslim community with the awful deeds of this murderer.”

The Algemeiner newspaper delivers breaking news and insightful commentary from Israel, the Middle East and Jewish communities around the world | Host to an international Jewish interest blogger community covering Zionism, Israeli politics, Middle East security, terrorism, Jewish tradition, Jewish art, Jewish culture, Jewish music, Jewish activism, Jewish family and spirituality, interviews, profiles, features, video and much more. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

2 Comments

  • I have never tried this one before, so perhaps I’ll try it tonight after a nice hot meal.

  • Somehow my gut feeling tells me that with Francois Hollande at the helm now the newly elected Socialist President will bode ill for the Jews of france and even worse for ‘The State of Israel’ Hollande was endorsed by the ultra-leftists who hate the Jews and Israel.
    If i would be a French-Jewish-Citizen under the new socialist administration I would start packing up my bags now. I see further assaults on the Jewish community in France now. I would also consider purchasing a Black Russian Terrier Dog. This loyal canine protector/bodyguard can weigh up to 70kg sometimes more and stand to his shoulders at around 80c/m sometimes up to 86c/m. owning a fantastic dog like this will certainly protect you against being attacked by arabs or the extreme-left. I know because I have two of these wonderful dogs, and the last time i was attacked by two arabs (North-Africans) when visiting my elderly uncle in Paris, those two thugs ended up in hospital for six months and they were lucky to still live. When you play with fire you get burned.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Education Haredim and Bedouin: A Tale of Two Communities Transformed by Vocational Education

    Haredim and Bedouin: A Tale of Two Communities Transformed by Vocational Education

    JNS.org – Low enlistment rates in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). High rates of poverty. Communal resistance to traditional schooling. Difficulty finding employment or a lack of motivation to be employed. These conditions are shared by two sectors of the Israeli population that the casual observer likely wouldn’t group together: haredi Jews and Bedouin. Through its operation of schools for each population, however, the Israel Sci-Tech Schools Network seeks to give haredim and Bedouin a brighter future in the Jewish [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.