French Jews welcome Sarkozy

French Jews welcome Sarkozy
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Sarkozy, the grandson of a Jew immigrant, beat Ségolène Royal in the polls last Sunday by 53 to 47 per cent.

The Union of Popular Movement party member has been seen as a hardliner by rivals, promising to get tough on law and order, xenophobia, immigration and anti-semitism.

The result was hailed as good news for the country’s relations with Israel and the Jewish community.

Roger Cukierman, president of French Jewish umbrella group, the Representative Council of French Jews, wrote a letter of congratulations to Sarkozy.

He wrote: “Your position statements during the electoral campaign carry much hope for a France that needs to be reconciled with itself. 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 allows each of its citizens to find his and her place in a framework of values that respect every individual and leave no room for intolerance, racism and anti-Semitism.”

Sarkozy, currently the Interior Minister, has promised closer relations between France and the United States, seen by some as a sign that he will also make the country more supportive of Israel.

David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee said: “We have long admired Nicolas Sarkozy as a political leader deeply committed to France’s democratic values, his readiness to confront threats to those principles, and his dedication to strengthening trans-Atlantic relations.

“At a time when French Jews felt directly threatened by the rise in violent anti-Semitism 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.”

Sarkozy, who lost 57 family members in the Holocaust, also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, he said: “I am a friend of Israel and Israel can always rely on my friendship.”

He will officially succeed current President Jacques Chirac at an inauguration on May 16th.

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