World Jewish News
File picture: Richard Prasquier (L), President of CRIF, with Francois Hollande, who was elected new President of France on Sunday. He defatead incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy
French Jewish leader confident: 'Hollande will act against anti-Semitism and will continue to be a friend of Israel '
08.05.2012, Jews and Society
The leader of CRIF, the umbrella representative group of French Jewry, said he is sure that President-elect Francois Hollande "will take a strong stance against anti-Semitic acts in France."
"He always has been a friend of Israel and I’m sure he will continue to be so," Richard Prasquier told EJP.
Socialist Hollande defeated incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy in the runoff election on Sunday.
"I would like to congratulate Mr Hollande for his very clear victory and I look forward to working with him in his capacity as President of the French Republic," said Prasquier.
On Sunday, immediately after the announcement of the vote results, CRIF sent "warm and respectful congratulations” to the new President, stressing in its message his "long-time horror of anti-Semitism and racism."
Prasquier’s optimism regarding Hollande’s position towards the Jewish community and Israel comes somewhat in contrast to a recent column the Jewish leader wrote in Israeli newspaper Haaretz in which he appeared to express concerns about the possible influence of violently anti-Israel leftist parties on the new President.
Prasquier later denied having implied support for one candidate over another and claimed his only concerns lay in the anti-Israel attitudes of the far left parties who had pledged support for Hollande between the first round and the runoff election.
"It is too soon to predict whether the extreme left will flourish under this administration. Whether the left or right prevails, whichever party forms a government, the extreme left will continue to be active against Israel. We must wait and see what impact the Socialist party victory will have on this development," Prasquier told EJP.
The French Jewish leader just returned from New York where he met with a variety of different American Jewish organisations to discuss the status of anti-Semitism in Europe, particularly in light of the Toulouse school shooting in March.
"We continue to work very closely with like-minded organisations in the US. They expressed concerns over the perceived rise of anti-semitism in Europe," he explained.
He has refuted that France is an anti-Semitic country or that anti-Semitism is prevalent in Europe. "Different countries have different problems and different perceptions."
Hollande will be sworn in on May 15. The French parliamentary election will be held over two rounds on June 10 and June 17.
Former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, the son of a Jewish art dealer, is tipped as possible Foreign Minister in a future government. Hollande sent him to Israel last month to meet Israel’s leaders. Fabius reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that France would continue Nicolas Sarkozy's tough line against Iran in the European Union.
Regarding the Palestinians, Fabius voiced opposition to settlement construction and called upon Israel to advance the peace process.
Hollande himself has never visited Israel and, in general, never meddled with foreign policy during his political career.
He told a French Jewish news website that he plans to visit Israel after his election.
On Monday, Netanyahu telephoned Hollande to congratulate him personally. In a statement, the Israeli Prime Minister said : "Relations between Israel and France were always friendly, and will remain such. I look forward to a meeting with him to continue this important relationship -- important bilaterally and internationally."
by: Shari Reyness