Uproar over Crif 'support' for Sarkozy

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 3, 2012
President Nicholas Sarkozy: endorsed by the Jewish community?

President Nicholas Sarkozy: endorsed by the Jewish community?

A column last week in an Israeli newspaper by a French Jewish leader has caused a furore in Paris over what is being seen as a tacit Jewish endorsement of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Richard Prasquier, head of Crif, French Jewry's umbrella body, wrote in Ha'aretz about the challenges facing the Jews of France under a new president.

While he noted that front-runner, Socialist Francois Hollande, "has always been clearly friendly" towards Israel, he raised the concern of influence that might be exerted by politicians "who have negative views towards Israel's policies" in a Hollande presidency.

"Beyond the socialists, but still in Hollande's camp, are the leftist parties and Greens who express a deep hostility towards Israel and are at the forefront of every anti-Israel demonstration, declaration and petition."

His conclusion: "I expect a surge in leftist and Communist manifestations of anti-Zionism."

The article was attacked in the media for what was interpreted as an endorsement of President Sarkozy, who came second in last week's first round vote and is trailing Mr Hollande in the polls towards the run-off on Sunday.

He was also criticised for not seeming to be concerned with the success of the National Front's Marine Le Pen, who received 18 per cent of the votes.

One of the most quoted critiques, titled The Morals of Crif Stop at the Gates of the Ghetto was written by Jewish journalist Claude Askolovitch, who accused Mr Prasquier of "certifying the ghettoisation of the community leadership, unable to think of France and the world in political or moral terms, without reducing them to its own issues and fears." He wrote that the chairman of Crif had made Ms Le Pen seem "normal", ignoring the fact that the National Front was spreading hatred of immigrants.

Mr Prasquier released a statement insisting he had tried "to draw attention to the positions of some traditional partners of the Socialist Party who have been the most hostile toward Israel".

Last updated: 2:02pm, May 3 2012