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France elects Jew as president

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    KEEPING KOSHER France elects Jew as president Sarkozy s Jewish roots By RAANAN ELIAZ European Jewish Press Tuesday, 8 May 2007 NICOLAS SARKOZY: France s new
    Message 1 of 1 , May 10, 2007
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      KEEPING KOSHER
       
       
       
      France elects Jew as president
       
       
        
      Sarkozy's Jewish roots
       
       
        
      By RAANAN ELIAZ
       
      European Jewish Press  Tuesday, 8 May 2007

       

      NICOLAS SARKOZY: France's new president beats out shabbos-goy.

      PARIS — 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."

      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.

       
      Comes from long line of Jewish and Zionist leaders
       

      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
       
      1930s 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.
       
       
        
      Grandfather converted to Catholicism
       

      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.

      Adèle and Benedict had two daughters, Susanne and Andrée. Although
       
      Benedict integrated fully into French society, he remained close to his
       
      Jewish family, origin and culture.

      Knowing he was still considered Jewish by blood, during World War II he
       
      and his family hid in Marcillac la Croisille in the Corrèze region, western
       
      France.

      During the Holocaust, many of the Mallahs who stayed in Salonika
       
      or moved to France were deported to concentration and extermination
       
      camps.

      In total, 57 family members were [allegedly: ed.] murdered by the Nazis.
       
      Testimonies reveal that several revolted against the Nazis and one, Buena
       
      Mallah, was the subject of Nazis medical experiments in the Birkenau
       
      concentration camp.
       
       
        
      Family collaborated with wartime terrorists
       

      In 1950 Benedict's daughter, Andrée Mallah, married Pal Nagy Bosca y
        
      Sarkozy, a descendent of a Hungarian aristocratic family. The couple had
       
      three sons – Guillaume, Nicolas and François.

      The marriage failed and they divorced in 1960, so Andrée raised her three
       
      boys close to their grandfather, Benedict.

      Nicolas was especially close to Benedict, who was like a father to him.
       
      In his biography Sarkozy tells how he admired his grandfather, and through
       
      hours spent of listening to his stories of the Nazi occupation, the "Maquis"
       
      [criminal terrorists in France during WWII: ed.], De Gaulle and the D-day,
       
      Benedict bequeathed to Nicolas his political convictions.

      Sarkozy's family lived in Paris until Benedict's death in 1972, at which point
       
      they moved to Neuilly-sur-Seine to be closer to the boys' father, Pal
       
      (who changed his name to Paul) Sarkozy. Various memoirs accounted Paul
       
      as a father who did not spend much time with the kids or help the family
       
      monetarily.

      Nicolas had to sell flowers and ice cream in order to pay for his studies.
       
      However, his fascination with politics led him to become the city's youngest
       
      mayor and to rise to the top of French and world politics. The rest is history.

      It may be a far leap to consider that Sarkozy's Jewish ancestry may have
       
      any bearing on his policies vis-à-vis Israel.

       
      Close friendship with Benjamin Netanyahu
       

       
      However, many expect Sarkozy's presidency to bring a dramatic change
        
      not only in France's domestic affairs, but also in the country's foreign policy
       
      in the Middle East.

      One cannot overestimate the magnitude of the election of the first French
       
      President born after World War II, whose politics seem to represent a new
       
      dynamic after decades of old-guard Chirac and Mitterrand.
       

      There is even a reason to believe that Sarkozy, often mocked as "the
        
      American friend" and blamed for "ultra-liberal" worldviews, will lean towards
       
      a more Atlanticist policy.

      Although Sarkozy's family roots will not bring France closer to Israel, the
       
      presidents' personal Israeli friends may. As a Minister of Interior, Sarkozy
       
      shared much common policy ground with former Israeli Prime Minister,
       
      Benjamin Netanyahu.

      The two started to develop a close friendship not long ago and it is easy to
       
      observe similarities not only in their ideology and politics, but also in their
       
      public image. If Netanyahu returns to Israel's chief position it will be interesting
       
      to see whether their personal dynamic will lead to a fresh start for Israel and
       
      France, and a more constructive European role in the region.
       
        

       
        
      Raanan Eliaz is a former Director at the Israeli National Security Council

      and the Hudson Institute, Washington D.C. He is currently a PhD candidate
       
      at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and a consultant on
       
      European-Israeli Affairs.
       
       
        
      http://www.ajn.com.au/news/news.asp?pgID=3162
       

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