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