French Jewish Body Elects New President

The representative umbrella body of French Jewish organizations, CRIF, will elect a new president on Sunday.

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synagogue in Paris
synagogue in Paris

The representative umbrella body of French Jewish organizations, CRIF, will elect a new president on Sunday to succeed Richard Prasquier, who completed two successive terms of three years.

Three candidates are running for the votes of the 152 representatives in CRIF’s General Assembly, according to the European Jewish Press (EJP).

The candidates include: Roger Cukierman, president of CRIF from 2001 to 2007 and a former manager  within the banking group Edmond de Rothschild; François Guguenheim, delegate of CRIF in Poitou-Charentes CRIF; and Arie Bensemhoun, dentist and president of the Jewish community in Toulouse.

The main priority of the three candidates is the ongoing fight against the rising rates of anti-Semitism in France.

"The danger is more real now and it is growing, we need to convince the leaders of our country and of Europe, to take real measures in education, justice and police fight against what can be called our main battle,'' said Francois Guguenheim, according to the EJP.

According to Arie Bensemhoun, "there is a need to  develop partnerships with the French government, but also with mosques, prisons, unions and all the secular  representatives of our society. Anti-Semitism is not only a matter for Jews but also for the French Republic. The fight against anti-Semitism is through education of our youth, information, but also through enforcement of judiciary sentences."

While Guguenheim and Bensemhoun have asserted their beliefs that the government must do more to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community, Roger Cukierman has stressed that the fight against anti-Semitism is primarily a matter of education.

''We have no choice but to fight against anti-Semitism always and everywhere in the same way that the Israelis are fighting a hostile environment,'' he said.

Arie Bensemhoun goes further in denouncing what he called the progression of “Naziislamism” around the world", EJP reported.

The three candidates do not want the CRIF, whose mission is to represent all the institutions that compose it and take care of the Jews of France, to be considered as a “second embassy of Israel in France”, as it has been sometimes described.

"Support for Israel is not a support for the Israeli government whatsoever," said Roger Cukierman.

"CRIF is totally behind Israel but its primary mission is the fight against anti-Semitism in France," he added.