Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    Is diplomacy worthwhile, even if the end result isn’t what we hoped for? That is the question, among many others, posed by the new play Oslo, by J.T. Rogers. Making its New York debut at Lincoln Center, the play examines the secret diplomatic process that led to the historic 1993 peace accords. The character of Shimon Peres makes an appearance onstage — and he, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, tower over the proceedings. But they mainly do so in absentia. Instead, […]

    Read more →
  • Spirituality/Tradition Sports Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    JNS.org – Other than being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Sandy Koufax and Dean Kremer have something else in common: a respect for Jewish tradition. Koufax — who was recently ranked by ESPN as the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history — decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. “I would do the same,” Kremer said in an interview. Last month, the 20-year-old Kremer became […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    The famed lead guitarist of British rock band Queen, Brian May, encouraged Jewish singer-songwriter Adam Lambert to perform in Hebrew during their upcoming joint concert in Israel, an entertainment industry advocacy organization reported on Tuesday. During a recent interview with Israeli television personality Assi Azar, May was played a 2005 video of Lambert singing the popular song Shir L’Shalom, (Song for Peace). May was so impressed by Lambert’s singing of the Hebrew track that he told the American singer, “We have to do that. Let’s […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    JNS.org – Kenyan-born marathoner Lonah Chemtai is expected to compete for Israel at the Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil next month after gaining a last minute approval. “I am very proud [to represent Israel] and I hope to achieve a new personal best time,” Chemtai told Reuters. Chemtai, who grew up a rural village in western Kenya, first came to Israel in 2009 to care of the children of her country’s ambassador to Israel. The 27-year-old runner recently gained […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    To date or not to date? That is not the question for most Modern Orthodox singles in New York. The question is when will they find their future spouses, and when will their families stop nagging them about having babies? Inspired by the success of the Israeli show “Srugim,” Leah Gottfried, 25, decided she would create and star in her own show, “Soon By You.” “Dating is so serious already,” Gottfried said. “We wanted to take a lighter approach and laugh at the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli actress Moran Atias said that playing a Muslim woman in the hit FX series Tyrant has changed her outlook. “Educating myself about a different culture has made me more hopeful and humble, that we’re all the same,” the Jewish actress, 35, said during an interview with AOL Build. Atias plays Leila Al-Fayeed, the strong and politically minded wife of the president of Abbudin, a fictional Middle Eastern country run by a dictatorial family. The Israeli-born former model, who earned the title of Miss Globe International […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Jewish Fashionistas From Around the World to Tour ‘Chic Side of Israel’

    Jewish Fashionistas From Around the World to Tour ‘Chic Side of Israel’

    A delegation of 35 Jewish fashion industry mavens from around the world will travel to Israel later this month to “discover the chic side” of the country, 5 Town Jewish Times reported. The eight-day tour, organized by the Maryland-based Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) and the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, will include visits to key fashion sites and meetings with some of the country’s top fashion designers, merchandisers and marketers. Participants will also attend a JWRP Fashion Week event in Tel Aviv. JWRP said the trip is […]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Granddaughter of Holocaust Survivors Honored to Represent Israel at 2016 Olympic Games

    Granddaughter of Holocaust Survivors Honored to Represent Israel at 2016 Olympic Games

    Pro golfer Laetitia Beck said she is honored to have been selected to represent Israel at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil largely because of her grandparents, who survived the Holocaust. “Everywhere I go, I want people to know where I’m from, my background and where my family came from because of the struggle they had to go through,” she told the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). “Every week when I play and I see the Israeli flag, it brings me a lot […]

    Read more →