Thursday, January 4, 2007

Voting for Sarkozy or against Royal?

It has become common knowledge that Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy will win the majority of the French Jewish vote. Not only is he himself part Jewish, but he has taken strong stances in support of Israel and against Islamic extremism. Yet for some French Jews, a vote for Sarkozy is really a vote against Socialist Segolene Royal.

"Usually I don't vote, but this time I am registering and then I will vote for Sarkozy," said Michael Sebban, 38, a high school philosophy teacher and author of several novels. "But I am really voting against Segolene Royal and the Socialist Party because her grasp of international politics is bad for Israel."

Simy Bendahan, 45, a clothing manufacturer in Paris' heavily Jewish garment center, says "everyone I know is voting for Nicolas Sarkozy, and I'm going to do the same."

"Usually I vote Socialist Party," Bendahan said, "but Segolene Royal knows nothing about foreign policy (...) the Middle East, for example."

There is also a small but unique camp of Jewish support for Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has been accused of anti-semitism.

In a strange twist, far-right leader Jean Marie Le Pen, by virtue of his statements against Arabs in France, has attracted a small number of Jewish voters, who have been victims of violence in certain suburbs.

"For the Jews who say they're voting National Front," Sebban said, "that just proves that even among us Jews there are a few idiots."

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