Francoise Hollande, who was elected president of France yesterday, has been saying all the right things about issues of concern to Jews. He is against anti-Semitism, opposes boycotts of Israel, and talks tough on preventing Iran from building a nuclear bomb. He has never been to Israel, but says he hopes to visit soon.
Nicolas Sarkozy, on the other hand, was famously overheard to complain to President Obama last November that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was a liar and royal pain, and he has been critical of Israel’s settlement policy and the lack of progress in negotiations with the Palestinians.
Why is it, then, French Jews heavily favored Sarkozy in the election, and that 92 percent of French citizens in Israel voted for him?
No doubt because Sarkozy is still considered a friend of Israel, even if not of its prime minister, and as Minister of Interior he cracked down on Muslim youth during anti-Israel riots. His political stance was to the right of Hollande, who is largely an unknown to Israelis and who is not a foreign policy expert.
Much will depend on the new president’s choice for foreign minister.
Probably, though, no dramatic shifts are on store in the Israel-France relationship. But Jerusalem is hoping that Hollande will continue to press hard against Iran, the number one issue for Israel now.