Israel rejects ceasefire call

By Daniella Peled, December 31, 2008

Israel has rejected a French proposal for a 48-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

France had called for a temporary truce to allow humanitarian aid to reach the beleaguered Stri, but an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said that the plan failed to include any guarantees that Hamas would stop firing rockets at Israeli communities.

However, sources said the truce might be reconsidered if its terms were amended.


Sarkozy’s Wiesel award

September 26, 2008

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was given the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity annual Humanitarian Award in New York. The president "has contributed greatly to impoverished countries," said Mr Wiesel, a Nobel prize-winner and Auschwitz survivor.


Essex woman knocked down

August 22, 2008
A Chigwell, Essex, mother of three was badly injured after she was knocked down by a car while on holiday in France. Sharon Bowman, 55, was due to be flown home to the UK this week.


Sarkozy’s son in ‘antisemitic’ satire

By Shirli Sitbon, August 8, 2008

The son of French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been plunged into the centre of a national controversy after he was attacked by a satirist for planning to marry a Jewish woman.

In his article, cartoonist Siné mocked the political agenda of Jean Sarkozy, and implied the young man had decided to wed a Jew and convert to Judaism in order to push forward his career.


Charges in Paris attack

July 18, 2008

French police have filed preliminary charges against three suspects in connection with a serious assault on a Jewish teenager in Paris. The 17-year-old boy was in a coma for two days following the June 21 attack in an eastern neighbourhood just outside Paris.


Paris welcomes Assad — but Syrian leader snubs Olmert

By Shirli Sitbon, July 18, 2008

Syrian leader Bashar Assad was a controversial guest of honour at France’s Bastille Day celebrations — and snubbed his fellow guest, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr Assad was among more than 40 heads of state at Sunday’s launch of the Union for the Mediterranean, a French initiative to bring together the 27 states of the EU with the Balkans and their Arab neighbours.


France elects chief rabbi in US-style vote

By Shirli Sitbon, June 27, 2008

France elected a new chief rabbi on Sunday after a lengthy presidential-style campaign described by one communal figure as “an unprecedented battle between two radically different characters”.

The victor, Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, the 56-year-old rabbi of Paris’s La Victoire Synagogue, beat Chief Rabbi Joseph Haïm Sitruk, 63, who led the French rabbinate for 20 years.


Brutal Paris attack raises new fears for community’s safety

By Shirli Sitbon, June 27, 2008

As the latest young Jewish victim of a violent attack in France woke up from his coma on Monday, debate was reignited on the safety and future of the county’s Jewish community.

Rudy Haddad, 17, was wearing a kippah when he was beaten by between 15 and 30 teenagers of black African origin wielding metal bars. The incident, which occurred on Shabbat afternoon, was initially described by French authorities as antisemitic. 

The attack took place in Paris’s multi-ethnic 19th district, which has large Jewish, Arab and black populations.


Sarkozy gets cosy with Assad

By Shirli Sitbon, June 20, 2008

Jewish institutions and opposition parties have criticised the welcome extended by French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy to Syrian leader Bashar Assad to the summit launching the Med Union on July 13 and to the next day’s Bastille Day celebrations.

“It is not the invitation to the summit itself we are criticising, but the honours given to Assad the next day when he’ll be the nation’s guest at the presidential tribune for the national celebration,” a spokesman for the Jewish umbrella body CRIF told the JC.


French meet Hamas

May 23, 2008

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner confirmed that Paris had held informal talks with Hamas. His statement followed a report in the Le Figaro newspaper in which retired French diplomat Yves Aubin de la Messuziere said he had met Hamas officials a month ago. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri confirmed the contacts, which contravene a Western embargo on negotiations with the group.