Pierre Moscovici

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment -

SUN­DAY’S FIRST round vic­tory for the So­cial­ist Fran­cois Hol­lande in the French pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is be­ing seen as a body blow to the in­cum­bent, Ni­co­las Sarkozy. A ma­jor­ity of France’s Jewish com­mu­nity backed Sarkozy over his strong op­po­si­tion to an­tisemitism and be­cause of his Jewish her­itage.

How­ever, the So­cial­ist side also has a prom­i­nent Jew in its na­tional sec­re­tary Pierre Moscovici, Hol­lande’s spokesman and cam­paign man­ager. While Hol­lande em­pha­sises his nor­mal­ity and ru­ral back­ground, Moscovici is his met­ro­pol­i­tan, in­tel­lec­tual coun­ter­point.

The son of dis­tin­guished Ro­ma­nian-born so­cial psy­chol­o­gist Serge Moscovici and psy­cho­an­a­lyst Marie Bromberg, Moscovici ac­quired de­grees in eco­nom­ics and phil­ios­o­phy. He also de­vel­oped a taste for the pol­i­tics of the far left, join­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Com­mu­nist League at uni­vir­sity.

How­ever, by the mid-1980s Moscovici had left that and joined the main­stream So­cial­ist Party, be­com­ing by 1988 an ad­viser to fu­ture Prime Min­is­ter Lionel Jospin.

By 1994 he was an MEP, but re­signed three years later to be­come a deputy in the French Na­tional Assem­bly.

Moscovici, who is 55, was closely as­so­ci­ated with the cam­paign of an­other French Jew, Do­minique Strauss-kahn, for the pres­i­dency in 2006, be­fore his ap­point­ment to run the IMF and sub­se­quent fall from grace af­ter al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct.

Fol­low­ing the elec­tion of Sarkozy in 2007, Moscovic in­ti­mated that him­self he had am­bi­tions to be pres­i­dent. How­ever, in­stead he de­cid- ed to ally him­self with Hol­lande.

If Hol­lande’s suc­cess in the first round of vot­ing came as a sur­prise, it has not been for want of ef­fort or prepa­ra­tion on the part of Moscovici.

Back in 2009, he pub­lished a book en­ti­tled Mis­sion Im­pos­si­ble? How the Left can Beat Sarkozy in 2012. His man­i­festo in­cluded a plan for en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth and a just tax sys­tem.

He sees him­self as a sup­porter of Is­rael and re­jects the as­ser­tion that the French left is anti-zion­ist. At a re­cent meet­ing or­gan­ised by the Jewish-french um­brella group CRIF, Moscovici said: “The So­cial­ist Party has many rig­or­ous men and women of prin­ci­ple who are both friendly and de­mand­ing when it comes to Is­rael. They firmly op­pose an­ti­sem­sitism.”

He added that he was also com­mit­ted to the cre­ation of a Pales­tinian state.

Moscovici puts the So­cial­ist re­nais­sance down, in part, to the fact that the party has con­quered its ten­dency for in-fight­ing, which was a neg­a­tive fac­tor in the last elec­tion. At a re­cent rally he wel­comed pre­vi­ous can­di­date Sé­golène Royal, say­ing: “She is here as a sym­bol of unity — a unity which was miss­ing in 2007. We are re­united now.”

Since the first round of vot­ing, Moscovici has been putting the boot into Ni­co­las Sarkozy, mak­ing the most of the fact he is the first sit­ting pres­i­dent not to lead af­ter the first round. He has been par­tic­u­larly scathing of Sarkozy’s re­quest for three pres­i­den­tial de­bates rather than the usual one. Moscovici said: “Just be­cause he got a bad re­sult, he now wants three de­bates.

“It’s the whim of a naughty pupil, some­one who didn’t get the score he ex­pected. He never wanted that be­fore. And he’s try­ing to make out Fran­cois Hol­lande is afraid.”

There is no doubt that should Hol­lande pre­vail, his trusted and ex­pe­ri­enced lieu­tenant will have a key post in the new ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Home from a won­der­ful Pe­sach in Is­rael with our three de­light­ful great-grand­chil­dren to a pile of mail re­lated to my roles as a Board Deputy, as an ex­ec­u­tive of the Jewish Mar­riage Coun­cil, at Emu­nah, the United Syn­a­gogue mikveh at Kings­bury and in other or­gan­i­sa­tions. My hus­band Her­bert and I are also trus­tees for Zaka, vol­un­teer res­cue ser­vice, so there is much to do.

Although I have to ready my­self to run the London Marathon, I must first pre­pare shi­urim for the var­i­ous syn­a­gogue bod­ies and adult ed­u­ca­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions I teach for. To date, I have com­pleted 24 full marathons; 16 in London, six in Tiberias and two in New York. I speed-walk or jog. From the start, I re­alised that if I wanted to con­tinue, I must not over tax my body. I’ve never been to a gym — my train­ing is the odd walk, climb­ing stairs and walk­ing up es­ca­la­tors. This is my way of en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers: You can do it.

In be­tween “train­ing”, I visit the theatre with my grand­chil­dren, and do the in­evitable shop­ping and gar­den­ing, as well as cook­ing, which I en­joy and find most ther­a­peu­tic. I also spend time vis­it­ing the sick. I am al­ways so hum­bled by the op­ti­mism, de­ter­mi­na­tion and even “joie de vivre” of these brave peo­ple that I come out up­lifted.

We have a quiet, rest­ful Shab­bat, eat­ing plenty of chal­lah, cholent and pota­toes. I have built up my starch in­take — with lit­tle pro­tein — for en­ergy. I only drink water on route as I am never sure which en­ergy drink is kosher. Af­ter Shab­bat there are calls from well-wish­ers, and I en­sure my chip is in place on my shoes, my run­ning num­ber is pinned on, and all my clothes and snacks are ready.

This year, I have the priv­i­lege of start­ing in the celebrity area. I run for Nor­wood Ravenswood, with a per­cent­age for Emu­nah, who help dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren in Is­rael. I was re­cently be­reaved and ran in mem­ory of my pre­cious brother, Nis­sim (z”l), who was born with the chord around his neck, ar­rest­ing the sup­ply of oxy­gen. He was a Ravenswood res­i­dent who loved sport and gained 18 medals in the Spe­cial Olympics and other events. My sweater reads: “Re­mem­ber­ing Nis­sim and Daniel (Sacks)”— two spe­cial men, ath­letes in their own right. It is mov­ing to read such tributes on the backs of other run­ners.

My fam­ily line the route to sup­port me. As al­ways, I en­joy the hype the ex­hil­a­ra­tion of the day. The crowds lit­er­ally carry you. See­ing me walk­ing, they as­sume it is my first marathon and cry: “You can do it.” To make them happy, I start to jog. I al­ways pray to God that ev­ery par­tic­i­pant will reach the goal. I am grate­ful that I again com­pleted it with no ad­verse ef­fects. Sadly the day was marred by one fatal­ity. May her soul rest in peace. What a priv­i­lege it was to par­tic­i­pate in the 2012 London Marathon.

Flora Frank is an adult ed­u­ca­tion teacher


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