French elections can be just as wacky as those in the US. I used to think that only in the US can you find an Anti-Israel candidate courting the Jewish vote. Usually they court the vote by visiting some Shul wearing a cloth “visitor’s Kippah” spiking up in a point—kind of like a cone head. For those who are unfamiliar with medical terminology, this is known as KDD: Kippah Display Disorder. Former Presidential Candidate John Kerry had KDD, when combined with his already long shaped face the Kippah top would be cut off in most pictures.
France usually frowns on public displays of any religion, so French candidates don’t have their picture taken in synagogues with Kippahs. And while they want to court the Jewish vote, the candidates who are anti Israel don’t really want to associate with Jews in their own county it looks bad. So what French candidates do is they go on a “Fact Finding” tour to the Middle East so they can seem even-handed. It was during one of these missions that French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie who wants to be the next French President announced that she wants to shoot down Israeli planes.Candidate, Segolene Royal, is trying a different strategy, first she breaks tradition by refusing to meet with major French Jewish Organizations, as reported yesterday in Haaretz:
Last July, at the height of the campaign for the election of the Socialist Party’s candidate for the French presidency, the heads of the French Jewish umbrella organization, CRIF, invited Segolene Royal to appear before members of the organization. An appearance before the organization has to this day been considered an event that must not be missed, not simply because of the Jewish vote, but because the Jewish community’s influence on life in France goes way beyond its size, which is just 1 percent of the population as a whole. Presidents, prime ministers, government ministers, intellectuals and spiritual leaders have already appeared before the organization’s members and set forth their credos about France, Israel and the Jewish community. However, Royal replied that she was very busy and that she would accept the invitation the moment she was free to do so. After the election campaign ended, the heads of CRIF sent her a reminder. Nearly five months have elapsed since the first invitation was sent, but she still has not come.
“This is unprecedented,” an Israeli diplomat who is serving in France admitted. “That’s right,” agreed CRIF director Chaim Musikant. “All the French leaders apart from Royal have already appeared before us. We have offered her whatever setting she would like, but to my regret, until now, we haven’t heard from her.”
Royal’s strategy is Brilliant, Its the Hillary Clinton strategy. In November 1999, while on a State visit to the Middle East, she publicly appeared with Yasser Arafat’s wife Suha. With Hillary at her side, Suha Arafat made the deliberately false allegation that “Our [Palestinian] people have been submitted to the daily and intensive use of poisonous gas by the Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children.” Mrs. Arafat also accused Israel of contaminating much of the water sources used by Palestinians with “chemical materials” and poisoning Palestinian women and children with toxic gases.
Instead of reacting with outrage, Hillary Clinton sat by silently – and gave her a hug and a kiss when she finished speaking. Later, many hours after the event, and only after a media furor put her on the spot for what many view as a bit more than a mere political “faux pas”, Mrs. Clinton called on “all sides” to refrain from “inflammatory rhetoric and baseless accusations” – including Israel, whose leaders made no such accusations.
This strategy worked great for Hillary, she continues to have wide support from the US Jewish community despite a long Anti-Israel track record.
Now Royal is trying to Implement Hilary’s strategy in the French elections. Yesterday Royal was in Lebanon. As the Haartz reported:
The Socialist Party former family minister is touring the middle east to show voters at home that she can represent France in the international arena. Her trip began Thursday in Lebanon, and it continues through the weekend with visits to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. At a meeting with Lebanese lawmakers Friday …..Hezbollah legislator Ali Ammar took the microphone and compared Israel’s 1982-2000 occupation of south Lebanon to the occupation of France by the Nazis during World War II.
“The Nazism that spilled our blood and usurped our independence and sovereignty was no less wrong than the Nazism that occupied France,” Ammar said, in comments translated from Arabic into French for reporters covering Royal’s trip.
Just like Ms Clinton, the front runner for the Democartic party nomination, Royal had no immediate reaction to the comments on Friday, surprising some observers. And also like Ms. Clinton, she only condemned them when confronted by reporters, blaming bad acoustics, Royal says she said that she didn’t hear that Nazi line. (Hillary blamed the translator–except the press was listening to the same translation as Clinton).
An interpreter translated Ammar’s comments into French for the journalists present, while Royal had her own interpreter who could not be heard by reporters. Several journalists heard Ammar use the word “Nazism” twice.On Friday Royal had to go back on her own comments during the meeting, in which she said she agreed with Ammar on U.S. policy after he denounced the “unlimited insanity of the American administration” Reuters 12/3
So it seems that the US and France may be very similar. We will see in the upcoming elections if standing silently while others make outrageous charges against Israel will get you elected. It certainly worked for Hillary. As did making those charges worked for many of her Democratic party colleagues in the past election. Now we will see if it works in France also.