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      With Upcoming French Elections, Sarkozy Bids for Jewish Support

      It remains doubtful as to whether Sarkozy will receive broad Jewish backing, as many unhappy with state of economy and Mid-East policies.
      By Rachel Hirshfeld
      First Publish: 2/13/2012, 4:58 PM

      While French President Nicholas Sarkozy has yet to officially declare his candidacy in the upcoming French elections, he is, nonetheless, attempting to garner Jewish support. 

      On February 8, Sarkozy met with released Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, who holds dual Israeli-French citizenship.

      Polls indicate that Sarkozy is trailing Francois Hollande of the Socialist party, by 32 percent to 25 percent, with Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, at 15 percent, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported.

      Both Sarkozy and Hollande are viewed as supporters of Israel and were both in attendance at the annual dinner of the main French Jewish umbrella organization, CRIF.

      “Sarkozy as interior minister during the second intifada was widely credited for cracking down on the wave of anti-Semitic attacks in France at the time -- a national effort that continued into his presidency,” the JTA noted.

      However, it remains doubtful as to whether President Sarkozy will receive broad Jewish support, as many are unhappy with the state of the French economy and some, remain unpleased with his policies regarding the Middle East. 

      While President Sarkozy has affirmed that, “France won't compromise on Israel's security because Israel is a miracle,” he has nonetheless expressed great support for the “Palestinian” cause.

      Addressing a Jewish audience, he remarked, “We also wanted to tell the Palestinians that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that they too could be taken into consideration and listened to… I know that by taking that position I could have troubled some of you, but if a friend of Israel doesn’t do it, who will?”

      He has also expressed the need to deal with Iran “diplomatically,” and opposes military actions against the regime.

      Yet, the JTA states, “Perhaps more than his record on Israel, France’s economic woes are diluting support for the president among Jews.”

      However, as the JTA continues to explain, “While many Jews may gravitate to the Socialist candidate in the upcoming elections, few are likely to vote for Le Pen, whose far-right party is seen as hostile to Jews despite her attempts to distance the party from its anti-Semitic past and its founder, her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.”