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Iran on Agenda, Hollande Assumes Office

New French president was elected without majority of Jewish support

Marc Tracy
May 17, 2012
François Hollande yesterday.(Pierre Verdy/AFP/GettyImages)
François Hollande yesterday.(Pierre Verdy/AFP/GettyImages)

The main focus on new French President François Hollande, who named his cabinet yesterday, is how well he will get along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and she with him, as they struggle to save the eurozone through some blend of austerity and not-austerity. But Jewish eyes are trained as much on his foreign policy. He’s already attracted the concerned attention of former Bush administration official Elliot Abrams, who finds evidence that Hollande plans to go easier on Iran and explains, “It is difficult to exaggerate how significant a softening of France’s hard line would be. France has been tougher than Russia and China of course, but has also stiffened the position of the ‘EU 3’ by being tougher than Germany and the U.K.” He adds, “If France is now to abandon this stance and simply agree with the UK, Germany, and the United States, the negotiations with Iran are more likely than ever to produce an unsatisfactory result.”

Richard Prasquier, who in these digital pages is known as The French Foxman, was rooting for former president Nicolas Sarkozy and, as Robert Zaretsky reports, only tepidly wished Hollande félicitations before openly fearing the consequences of the empowered Socialists and denouncing the anti-Zionism of the far left (while ignoring far larger showing the formerly anti-Semitic National Front received on election day). “Most observers,” reports Zaretsky, “believe that a majority [of French Jews] voted for Sarkozy, just as they did in 2007.” Surely it’s telling that a stunning 92.8 percent, out of about 10,000, of French Jews who made aliyah voted for Sarko in the election’s second round.

Again, though, Hollande has bigger fish to flambé (yes, even bigger than Iran, if you’re French). His most important adviser might well be campaign manger Pierre Moscovici, duly named finance and economics minister yesterday—”a crucial role,” in the Times‘ words. According to Wikipedia, Moscovici’s father is Romanian-Jewish, while his mother is a pschoanalyst with the given name “Bromberg.” Just sayin’, maybe the Socialists aren’t completely anti-Jewish.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.