Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Sarkozy's future

By Andrew Rosemarine, July 22, 2011
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Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF Managing Director before his arrest in New York for alleged rape, was the most popular politician in France. Many expected him to beat incumbent President Sarkozy in the next French presidential elections. But DSK’s arrest has put an end to his hopes of the highest office.

Many Frenchmen sympathize with him, some believing that DSK’s political enemies set him up in the Sofitel, others that the Americans humiliated him, by forcing on him a barbaric perp walk in front of the world’s media. The French name for the IMF is FMI (Fonds Monétaire International), and macho males here joke that DSK thought that IMF stands for “Femmes de Ménage inclus” (chamber maids are included) !

More sensitive souls are saddened by the whole sordid affair. Others are outraged. French Jews share all of these views.In Presidential elections, they very often vote according to the Party Leaders' statements and actions on Jewish and Israel questions. Both Sarkozy (who had a Jewish grandfather, and whose son Jean recently married a Jewish heiress) and DSK (who is Jewish, and vociferously Zionist) are generally popular with Jews, because of their openly pro-Jewish and pro-Israeli views. By way of contrast, Jews often disliked Chirac and de Gaulle because of their strong pro-Arab preferences. Indeed de Gaulle imposed an arms embargo on Israel. It lasted until last week, when Sarkozy's France decided to buy Eitan drones.

Even if all charges are dropped against DSK, it is now too late for him to represent the Socialist party in the elections, although many Socialists still wanted this, strange as it seems, to advocates of the Rights of Women and to more puritan Anglo-Saxons. The Socialists’ six candidates for that role have just been selected.
Most French Jews are Sefardi and traditionalist. Coming themselves from Arab countries, sceptical of Arab attitudes towards Israel, many strongly prefer pro-Zionist candidates. French Ashkenazim tend to be more assimilated and more varied in their politics. Jewish intellectuals, however, represent a gamut of “mainstream” views from right-wing philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy (a friend of both Sarkozy and DSK) to Socialists and Communists of various hues. None of the current Socialist candidates for the Presidency are widely known as judophile or pro-Israeli. Monsieur Sarkozy is so pro-Zionist that he even tells Arabs that he loves Israel.

Most French Jews appear at this stage, to be likely to vote for Sarkozy, once again. Now that Madame Sarkozy, Carla Bruni, is expecting their first child, le Président de la République leads the polls for the first time in a long time, and thanks the Lord for DSK.

Andrew M Rosemarine is a multilingual international lawyer, and a commentator on French and Middle Eastern affairs.

Last updated: 11:13am, July 25 2011