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Posts Tagged ‘sarkozy’

French Jewry Leader: Hollande Victory a Boost to Anti-Israel Front

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Following his victory Sunday, the 57-year-old François Hollande shouted himself hoarse, as he had done so often during the campaign, thanking his supporters for electing him president and promising to unite the whole country. “On this May 6, the French have just chosen change in bearing me to the office of president,” he declared before a wildly cheering crowd in his hometown of Tulle, in the rural Correze region.

Richard Prasquier, President of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), the umbrella group of Jewish-French organizations, expressed concerns that one of the changes the Hollande presidency brings is a boost to the anti-Israel left.

Left-wing candidate Hollande has defeated incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday’s runoff election, becoming the first Socialist to win a French presidential election since François Mitterrand in 1988.

Tens of thousands of people descended on the Place de la Bastille in Paris Sunday night, to celebrate the Socialist candidate’s victory.

Hollande has promised bigger government spending and a 75% income tax on the rich. He also wants to renegotiate a European treaty on budget cuts, to avoid any more Greek style debt crises.

In his victory speech at the Bastille Hollande vowed to move away from the “fatalist” concept that austerity was the only way to solve the debt crisis. He offered instead increased productivity as the direction for France’s economy.

France’s Interior Ministry said the left-wing candidate had claimed around 51.7% of the runoff vote to incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy’s 48.3%, with turnout at 81%. Sarkozy, the center-right candidate, was considered the favored candidate among French Jews.

Sarkozy conceded, saying, “Francois Hollande is the president of the republic; he must be respected.”

Sarkozy is the ninth European leader to be ousted since the start of the continent’s debt crisis.

Speaking to reporters Monday  before a meeting at the French Consulate in New York, CRIF President Prasquier said, “We know that some of the parties who are supposed to be partners of the coalition in favor of François Hollande are not friends of Israel. The part they will play we will see.”

Hollande won the backing of centrist François Bayrou, who took nine percent in the first round, and Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon of the Left Front, who took 11 percent.

But Prasquier also said that both Hollande and Sarkozy are friends of Israel and share the same views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But, he added, Hollande is untested when it comes to Iran, and there are closer ties between the Socialist Party and the anti-Israel far left than there are between Sarkozy’s party and the xenophobic far right represented by Marine Le Pen’s National Front.

The problem, Prasquier said, is not with Hollande or the people close to him, but with the adamantly anti-Israel parties that are supporting him.

“I do not expect the far left would be given the position of foreign minister,” he said, “but if they have more visibility there might be an increase in demonstrations against Israel in the public society — BDS and so on — and we will have to face them. But we will have to face the demonstrations, not the government.”

Prasquier said he was not happy about the strong showing by Le Pen, but he does not believe that her support is comprised wholly of anti-Semites. Rather, he said, “the new category of Jew-bashing comes from those who present themselves as being anti-Zionists” – namely, the far left.

“Those people who stigmatize, who vilify on the very precise and unique way the State of Israel instead of stigmatizing the other countries,” he said, are showing “behavior very similar to the behavior used in the past to pinpoint Jews as responsible for everything.”

Prasquier said he does not believe France is an anti-Semitic country. He said the way to prevent attacks like the shooting in March at the Jewish school in Toulouse is to increase security.

“I do not see any possibility of preventing another action of this kind without increasing the level of security,” Prasquier said. “It’s not a question of reaching out. We are trying to reach out as much as possible to the Muslim community. We should not mix up the Muslim community with the awful deeds of this murderer.”

Hollande will be sworn in on May 15. The French parliamentary election will be held over two rounds on June 10 and June 17.

JTA reports were included in this article.

Sarkozy in Neck and Neck Fight with Socialist Challenger

Friday, April 20th, 2012

A sluggish economy and a rising popular hostility to conservative President Nicolas  Sarkozy’s “American” style do not bode well for the French incumbent in the coming Sunday vote. Add to that the grim international view of France’s ability to manage its debt, and it is clear that Sarkozy is in the uphill battle of his political career.

Sarkozy and his Socialist challenger, Francois Hollande, are virtually tied in opinion polls for the first presidential vote round, at about 27-28 percent respectively. But to get the highest office, a candidate must collect more than 50% of the votes, and in the second round Hollande is expected to draw a far greater percentage of the rest of the voters.

Both Sarkozy and Hollande have been pandering to the extreme right and left, respectively, and accused of offering few concrete solutions to France’s economic woes. Sarkozy is pushing an antiquated brand of protectionism in a global economy, while Hollande is promising an increase to 75% in the tax rate for earners of more than 1 million euros ($1.31 million) a year. Neither solution has had much of a track record in rescuing ailing economies.

After Dust Settles, French Security Failure in Toulouse Unequivocal

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Friday’s French newspapers want an answer to one simple question: How was a known Islamic extremist allowed to murder seven people, including three children, in three separate attacks?

The Communist “L’Humanite” demands full disclosure of how closely France’s intelligence services had been following Merah before his attacks. The gunman had been arrested numerous times and had been to Afghanistan – someone should have been keeping a tab on him.

“Liberation” wanted to know how presidential politics – and the upcoming vote – influenced the bizarre way Police managed the capture, taking 32 hours and then, essentially, botching the job, as the suspect was killed.

“Le Figaro” was more cautious, warning against a rush to judgment. After all, the police on the spot were aware of much more detail than those intellectuals and politicians on the left and on the right “who never lose a chance to cry scandal.”

The Catholic “La Croix” also suggested Monday morning quarterbacks should wait for the full police account. But it demanded a full account, nevertheless..

Veteran police officer Christian Prouteau, who founded the GIGN — one of France’s elite police units — said in an interview with “Ouest France” that he wanted to know why police had not used tear gas to flush out Merah, and said he was astonished that they had failed to take him alive. “How come the police’s best unit did not manage to arrest a lone gunman?” he asked.

President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a televised address that he would crack down on extremism, and wanted legal action against people who regularly visit Jihadist websites or travel to suspect destinations.

But French politicians are asking how French intelligence officers had failed to interrupt Merah’s killing spree, when they were keeping a dossier on him as a Muslim extremist.

Police failure will certainly bolster the chances of Sarkozy’s main challenger, Socialist Francois Hollande, who, at a Thursday rally announced that “questions will have to be asked.”

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told Europe 1 radio that intelligence officers had recently questioned Merah. Juppe agreed their failure to stop him in time would have to be investigated.

The al-Qaida linked Jund al-Khilafah, claiming responsibility for Merah’s murders on Jihadist websites, stated “the Frenchman carried out an operation that shook the foundations of the Zionist Crusaders. Israel’s crimes will not go unpunished.”

Killer Cam: Toulouse Murderer Likely Filmed Jewish School Shooting

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Surveillance footage from the security cameras at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse indicate that a video camera may have been strapped to the chest of the shooter, who calmly killed a rabbi, his two children, and the daughter of the school’s principal on Monday.  The murderer then escaped on his moped.  He is still at-large.

The unknown attacker shot Rabbi Yonatan Sandler and his young sons Aryeh (6) and Gabriel (3), before chasing 8 year-old Miriam Monsonego into the school’s courtyard, grabbing her by the hair, and shooting her in the head.  A 17-year old, unidentified boy was seriously wounded in the attack.

The anti-Semitic killing has been linked to two recent shootings of French paratroopers of Arab and black backgrounds.  A .45-caliber automatic pistol was used in all of the attacks.

The killer is believed to be a member of a neo-Nazi group of former French soldiers.  Three of the four soldiers attacked were members of a regiment from which those neo-Nazis had been court-martialed, according to a report in the New York Times.

A minute of silence was observed at 11am at schools throughout France for what President Nicolas Sarkozy called a “national tragedy”.  The president stationed police officers and guards at Jewish and Muslim schools and places of worship until the perpetrator is apprehended.

Rabbi Sandler and his family came to Toulouse from Jerusalem for a teaching position in July.  Their remains will be flown back to Israel for burial, in accordance with the wishes of the family and with the assistance of Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

Toulouse houses one of France’s largest Jewish communities, and is estimated to include 20,000 members.  Some 550,000 Jews are estimated to live throughout France, representing Europe’s largest Jewish community.

J.E. Dyer: Syria – Going, going, gone?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

It’s not clear how much longer the US will have discretion in what – if anything – to do about Syria.  While the Obama administration pesters Russia and China in the UN, Russia and China are shuttling diplomats around the Arab world, coming up with separate plans.  The Syria crisis has become as much about a contest for leadership between East and West as it is about the terrible death toll in Syria – and there is little time left for the West to act decisively.

Clearly divided global leaders

The confrontations in the UN have been emblematic of the Asian-Atlantic divide over Syria, but perhaps not as much as a less-publicized sequence of events.  In the hours after Russia and China vetoed the Western-sponsored UN resolution in February, Nicolas Sarkozy proposed the “Friends of Syria” vehicle for coordinating international action.  The US and Turkey quickly joined forces on the Friends of Syria effort, and a first meeting was scheduled for 24 February in Tunisia.

Russia and China both declined to participate.  And their non-participation has taken the form of competing efforts to put a plan together to resolve the Syrian crisis.  On 10 March, at a meeting in Cairo – shortly before this week’s UN confrontation with the US – Russia and the Arab League announced a set of agreed principles for ending the conflict.  One of those principles is that both sides – the Assad regime and the insurgents – must lay down their arms.  Russia will not buy into any proposal that has Assad’s forces observing a unilateral ceasefire.

The Arab League’s agreement on Russia’s “five principles” is a milestone in the effort to get some kind of coalescence around a way forward.  Arab League agreement is not universal; it won’t surprise Middle East-watchers that Qatar – home of Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi and recent host of the anti-Israel “Jerusalem conference” – called last week for a military solution in Syria, with Arab troops in the lead.  But the Arab League agreement with Russia tends to highlight Qatar as an outlier in that regard.

It appears that Qatar is hoping to urge the West to intervene in Syria, in combination with military forces from Arab partners; i.e., replicate the action in Libya last year.  From a Muslim Brotherhood standpoint, wresting Libya from Qadhafi opened the country up to shariazation.  But the Arab League as a whole is publicly agreeing with Russia rather than backing Qatar’s play.  (And this in spite of Arab League participation in the Friends of Syria meeting in Tunisia.)

China chimed in a few hours ago with supportive comments about the Russia-Arab League agreement.  (Beijing has also gone Russia one better with a six-point plan.)  The Chinese had an envoy in Syria last week talking to both the Assad government and the insurgents in an effort to broker a ceasefire, and they are dispatching diplomats around the region to “explain China’s position” and affirm the need for a political solution.

Meanwhile, Turkey plans to host the second Friends of Syria meeting on 2 April.  (The dilatory schedule mimics the US-EU approach to Libya in 2011.)  Nothing much came out of the first one, and the second meeting is already haunted by the report – denied by Turkish authorities – that Sarkozy had not been invited to it because of the recent French resolution condemning the World War I-era slaughter of Armenians as a genocide.

The lack of momentum for Western-brokered proposals is a serious problem.  While it would be too much to say that the Russia-Arab League agreement has momentum at this point, it would also be too much to say that anything put forward by the West is a credible challenge to it.  The Arab League doesn’t have the unity to deal with Syria by itself, and has been looking for a strong horse to run with.  There is no guarantee at this point that the strong horse will be the US and EU.

Turkish press opined this weekend that the reelection of Vladimir Putin would induce a notable warming trend in Russian-Turkish relations.  Putin is a personal friend of President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan; this prediction is solid, although of course it will not eliminate all of the natural sources of friction between the two nations.  What it may well do, however, is change the dynamic in which Turkey has found it convenient to throw in with the US on the Syria problem.

If the US is not going to back decisive action in Syria, Turkey may quietly migrate to an accord with Russia on ending the conflict  (If Ankara can present this as Russia migrating toward Turkey, so much the better for Erdogan; but Moscow has the agreement in hand with the Arab League.).  What we may count on with both Turkey and Russia is a desire to wield the primary influence over the process of establishing a new government in Syria.  With the current US administration, the utility of the United States as a patron for this Turkish purpose may not be as great as that of Russia.

French Parliament Passes Bill Outlawing Denial of Armenian Genocide; Erdogan Furious

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted the French Parliament’s approval of a bill Monday that makes it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide, saying that it was the culmination of “racist and discriminatory” French attitudes toward Turkey.

Erdogan also threatened that Turkey would enact additional sanction if French President Sarkozy signs the bill into law.

The bill had already been a source of cooling relations, with Turkey breaking off economic, military, and political ties with France, and recalling its ambassador last month when when the lower house approved the bill.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/french-parliament-outlaws-denial-of-armenian-genocide-erdogan-furious/2012/01/24/

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