The day following the French presidential election, I received a phone call: “This is the Haaretz newspaper, Tel Aviv. Apparently,” said a man speaking Hebrew, “you are a friend of François Hollande?”. “I know François Hollande for over twenty years”, I replied to him. “So,” asked the voice, “can you tell us if his election is good or not for the Jews?”
I burst out laughing: “You remind me of my grandfather Abraham when, during pre-war Poland, he once opened the Yiddish paper Der Haynt, and read that a lion had escaped from the Warsaw zoo. The first thing he was worried about was whether it was good or not for the Jews!”
I think Nicolas Sarkozy does not deserve the hostility he is overburdened with. Even if I believe that a democracy should change political parties once in a while, which is healthy.
“The main purpose of politics is to create friendships between the members of the City”, said Aristotle in the fourth century B.C.E. What’s more, after a while, politicians wind up thinking more about close friendships than about the City, which may seem human.
Will François Hollande have better politics for the Jews and Israel than Nicolas Sarkozy? Whatever the case, it will not be less amicable. In regards to the Jews of France in particular, they are largely represented in the new French government: Pierre Moscovici (Finance), Vincent Peillon (Education), Laurent Fabius (Foreign Affairs) and even Manuel Valls (Home Affairs) who is not Jewish himself but is married to a Jewish woman – a well-known violinist – and is a good friend of Israel. Not to mention the personal advisors of François Hollande like David Kessler or Nicolas Revel, grandson of the famous French novelist Nathalie Sarraute (née Tcherniak), a Russian Jew.
Today, and even more so after the assassination of the Jewish children by a fanatical Muslim that took place in Toulouse in March 2012, nobody in France will dare to attack the Jewish community. Not even the extreme-right of Marine Le Pen.
As for the Middle-East conflict, the political support of Israeli security and the simultaneous push for the creation of a Palestinian state will be maintained. Nevertheless, on the day of the presidential inauguration, taking advantage of my proximity to the new Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, I suggested to him that the doctrine “Two nations, two States” should demand direct negotiation between the parties.
We will soon see if my advice was taken into account.