The question, "So whom should we support?" has been heard time after time of late. "Which of them is good for the Jews?" is the other version of the same question. The "them" are French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his rival, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.
"We" are on the other side of the equation. "The Jews." Synonyms. And of course there is the "good," the exact opposite of the "bad." Two completely subjective terms that have become pure, absolute, almost scientific in their usage here.
The assumption behind the equation is of a zero-sum game: The better it is for us, the worse it is for our enemies - the Palestinians/Arab nations/Iranians and their ilk. It is possible to philosophize over the identity of "the Jews": The Jews everywhere? The Israelis? The Netanyahu government? The Zionists/nationalists/peace camp?
As for the enemy, is the Palestinian Authority the same as Hamas? Are the Arab nations those that are breaking free, those threatening our stability, or those old dictatorships that provided us the pleasures of sunbathing on the beaches of Sinai and allowed us to ski on the slopes of Mount Hermon?
And are these Iranians Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ali Khamenei, or maybe those who loved "us" on Facebook?
If we ignore all this and indulge in stereotyping, it is possible to say Sarkozy is the ultimate "good": There has never been a president in the Elysee Palace who was so warm and supportive of Israel. A president who put an end to 40 years of pro-Arab and anti-American diplomacy; who sees in the establishment of the Jewish state "the most important event of the 20th century"; and who has declared, "We will never compromise on Israeli security."
Sarkozy is the most determined leader in the Western world in the battle against a nuclear Iran; a leader who fought without rest for the freedom of Gilad Shalit; and who expanded bilateral relations and dialogue with Jerusalem. Most recently, he turned the murder of a rabbi and three Jewish children in Toulouse into an event to be inscribed in the French collective memory.
On the other hand, the kashrut supervisors have not forgiven him for his many "screw-ups": The tent Muammar Gadhafi set up in Paris in 2007; the honor Sarkozy bestowed on Bashar Assad in a 2008 Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysees; his harsh criticism of the settlements and the comparison he made between Avigdor Lieberman and Jean-Marie Le Pen. Not to mention his "grave treason" expressed in his support for Palestine joining UNESCO, and the frequent revelations of his deep disgust for Netanyahu "the liar."
And Hollande? At the end of January he hosted the leaders of the French Jewish community in his headquarters. They reported that the current leading candidate for president considered Israel a "great democracy." He claimed "the Socialists included the greatest number of friends of Israel and the Jewish people," and committed himself "to fight decisively against acts of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism."
Like Sarkozy, Hollande also chose the right words and demonstrated deep empathy in the face of the murder in Toulouse. He suspended his campaign, went to synagogue in Paris and appeared at the site of the murders.
But even with all this, after an exacting investigation of him, flaws were found: He is running for president as "the great unifier of the Left," which includes the radical camp, partly anti-Zionist, and the Greens who support boycotting Israeli goods. The Socialists themselves adopted a document in June 2011 stating "the colonialization in the territories must end." Former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, the leading candidate for foreign minister, wrote the international section of the Socialist Party's platform: "We will put an end to the extreme concessions of the French government concerning Israel and tell the government there that it must evacuate colonized territories quickly."
In September, 182 of the 195 Socialist members in parliament supported a declaration calling on France to support the Palestinians' unilateral bid for recognition in the United Nations.
But making foreign policy is a "domaine reserve" - the exclusive jurisdiction of the French president. And in the end, it seems the differences between Sarkozy and Hollande regarding Israel and the Middle East are mainly in tone and emotion.
Is that "good?" It depends on whom one is referring to by "the Jews."
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