It’s promising news that Sarkozy wants to bring Israel into the monde francophone. Given the rates of French Jewish emigration, someone’s bound to write a super-important Israeli novel in French, one worthy of lengthy discussion on one of those intellectual TV shows for which France is renowned. If such a book already exists, by all means let me know.
This, along with Sarkozy’s involvement in the case of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, whose French citizenship was up till now considered a minor detail, is a sign that the new administration is willing to acknowledge a new, if ambiguous, French-Israeli identity, rather than forcing France’s Jews to choose either-or. That one could be both French and Israeli, not just according to paperwork but also culturally and linguistically, challenges what it means to be either in some interesting ways. French, because of France’s aversion to hyphenation, and Israeli, because what does it mean for the Zionist idea of aliyah if you can spend half the year in Paris?
From the European Jewish Press:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy assured Richard Prasquier, head of CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish organizations, that he would continue to strive to enter Israel into the International Organization of French-speaking countries.
Prasquier had a meeting with the president earlier this week at the ElysÃ©e palace.
The Paris-based 63-member Organization of Francophone Countries, or Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, is headed by Senegal’s former President Abdou Diouf since 2002.
After serving as a politician in his native country for more than 40 years, the 71-yar-old Diouf replaced Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt.
The next summit meeting of the organization will be held in Quebec, Canada in 2008.
Most of the organization’s members are former French colonies in Africa and the Caribbean, though it has expanded in recent years to countries in Eastern Europe that have traditional or cultural ties to France, like Romania, Bulagria and Macedonia.
Some 400,000 French-speaking live in Israel.
Sarkozy also confirmed that he has invited Israeli President Shimon Peres to Paris in March 2008 in the framework of the opening of the 28th book fair. Israel will be the guest of honour at this annual event.