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Monday, May 07, 2007

Sarkozy, Israel and the Jews

For those of you living in a cave, Nicolas Sarkozy was elected the President of France last night by a 53-47 margin. Sarkozy is widely seen as being "good for the Jews" and for Israel. He certainly couldn't be much worse than Jacques Chirac has been!

The Australian Jewish News is reporting that French Jews are 'celebrating' Sarkozy's victory.
The former interior minister was seen by Jewish voters as a friend to Israel and an important figure in the fight against antisemitism. Soon after his opponent conceded, Jewish groups came out with their good wishes.

"At a time when French Jews felt directly threatened by the rise in violent antisemitism in Paris and elsewhere across France a few years ago, Sarkozy played a critical role in moving the French government to finally recognise the gravity of the problem and to do what is necessary to address the ill winds that not only threaten the largest Jewish community in Western Europe, but, as we know from history, would ultimately pose a threat to wider French society," American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris said in a statement.

The AJCommittee recalled that Sarkozy during that period was instrumental in stepping up police protection around Jewish buildings and schools, and arresting and prosecuting those who committed anti-Semitic acts. He told the group in a Washington address in 2004 that he would "consider any insult against Jews an insult against France."

CRIF, the French Jewish community's umbrella group, addressed its "warmest and most respectful congratulations" to Sarkozy in a Sunday statement.

"Your position statements during the electoral campaign carry much hope for a France that needs to be reconciled with itself," President Roger Cukierman wrote. "I was touched by what you said and I understand that you intend to be a standard bearer of the French values we so cherish, those of a republic that... respects every individual and leaves no room for intolerance, racism and antisemitism."

In a race that offered a clear choice between conservative and liberal policy, the voters gave Sarkozy, 52, a clear mandate for his economic and social reforms when he takes office May 16.
Sarkozy is described as "the grandson of a Greek Jew and the son of a Hungarian aristocrat," but as Meryl Yourish points out, there's more to it than that:

No wonder the “youths” are rioting. Nicolas Sarkozy has Jewish roots. And understands the pull of Israel to most Jews.

In an interview Nicolas Sarkozy gave in 2004, he expressed an extraordinary understanding of the plight of the Jewish people for a home: “Should I remind you the visceral attachment of every Jew to Israel, as a second mother homeland? There is nothing outrageous about it. Every Jew carries within him a fear passed down through generations, and he knows that if one day he will not feel safe in his country, there will always be a place that would welcome him. And this is Israel.” (From the book “La République, les religions, l’espérance”, interviews with Thibaud Collin and Philippe Verdin.)

And I liked him before I knew all this.
But if you follow the link in Meryl's post, there's even more to it:
Sarkozy’s sympathy and understanding is most probably a product of his upbringing; it is well known that Sarkozy’s mother was born to the Mallah family, one of the oldest Jewish families of Salonika, Greece. Additionally, many may be surprised to learn that his yet-to-be-revealed family history involves a true and fascinating story of leadership, heroism and survival. It remains to be seen whether his personal history will affect his foreign policy and France’s role in the Middle East conflict.

In the 15th century, the Mallah family (in Hebrew: messenger or angel) escaped the Spanish Inquisition to Provence, France and moved about one hundred years later to Salonika. In Greece, several family members became prominent Zionist leaders, active in the local and national political, economic, social and cultural life. To this day many Mallahs are still active Zionists around the world.

Sarkozy’s grandfather, Aron Mallah, nicknamed Benkio, was born in 1890. Beniko’s uncle Moshe was a well-known Rabbi and a devoted Zionist who, in 1898 published and edited “El Avenir”, the leading paper of the Zionist national movement in Greece at the time. His cousin, Asher, was a Senator in the Greek Senate and in 1912 he helped guarantee the establishment of the Technion – the elite technological university in Haifa, Israel. In 1919 he was elected as the first President of the Zionist Federation of Greece and he headed the Zionist Council for several years. In the 1930’s he helped Jews flee to Israel, to which he himself immigrated in 1934. Another of Beniko’s cousins, Peppo Mallah, was a philanthropist for Jewish causes who served in the Greek Parliament, and in 1920 he was offered, but declined, the position of Greece’s Minister of Finance. After the establishment of the State of Israel he became the country’s first diplomatic envoy to Greece.

In 1917 a great fire destroyed parts of Salonika and damaged the family estate. Many Jewish-owned properties, including the Mallah’s, were expropriated by the Greek government. Jewish population emigrated from Greece and much of the Mallah family left Salonika to France, America and Israel. Sarkozy’s grandfather, Beniko, immigrated to France with his mother. When in France Beniko converted to Catholicism and changed his name to Benedict in order to marry a French Christian girl named Adèle Bouvier.
Adele Bouvier's daughter Andree Mallah was Sarkozy's mother. And while he is not halachically Jewish (Jewish under Jewish religious law), his parents' marriage ended in divorce and he was very close to his (halachically) Jewish maternal grandfather.

The Arabs are not pleased about this - to put it mildly. Naharnet reports that Hezbullah expressed its hope that French policy towards Lebanon is 'balanced' - Sarkozy is known to favor the government of Fouad Saniora, with whom, left to his own devices without being terrorized by Hezbullah and Syria, I believe Israel could do business.

And then there's the little matter of the 'youths' Muslims rioting across France last night which got Sarkozy elected in the first place. (Hat Tip for video - and she has links to more of them - Atlas Shrugs).

But unless non-Muslim French start having more children, it may just be a matter of time until France goes down the tubes anyway.


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