Dominique Strauss-Kahn: Shock… and silence


The head of France's Jewish community has expressed personal concern over the sex charges facing Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund and the Socialist candidate in the country's upcoming presidential elections.

Richard Prasquier, head of CRIF, the umbrella body that represents French Jews, said: "As a French citizen, I am shocked and I feel sorry for his family. Let us not forget that until and if he is formally convicted, Strauss-Kahn should not be considered guilty."

The embarrassment of the French Jewish community was obvious in the total absence of any comment on the news on any of its websites, including that of the CRIF.

Mr Prasquier said: "The fact that Strauss-Kahn is Jewish has nothing to do with the charges against him; his political career and his position are in no way linked to the community."

In France, a person's religion is regarded as a private matter and is seldom discussed in public. While Mr Strauss-Kahn has made no mystery of the fact that he is Jewish, it has not been a political issue for him. Anti-Zionists have nevertheless regarded him as a Zionist because he reportedly said in 1991 during the Gulf War: "Every diaspora Jew, wherever he is, and this includes France, must help Israel. This is the reason why it is important for Jews to take political responsibilities. In my position and in my daily life, I modestly try to help to build Israel."

With further sex-related accusations surfacing against him and the fact that the New York lawsuit is unlikely to conclude before candidates are due to declare their intention to run in the next elections, Mr Strauss-Kahn's political career is almost certainly over and his Socialist party will be badly weakened.

Commentators have suggested that the immediate beneficiary of the downfall of Mr Strauss-Kahn will be National Front leader Marine Le Pen.

With a stand-in Socialist candidate now likely to be eliminated in the first round of voting, a second-round contest would pit Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy against Ms Le Pen. While Mr Sarkozy, who is deeply unpopular, is likely to get a majority, Ms Le Pen's tactic of denouncing the "decadent" Left and Right could gain considerable traction among swing voters.

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