The Franco-Israelis elect their first political representative

According to all Israeli politicians, the Franco- Israelis are certainly the most Zionist Jews on earth. They love the State of Israel more than anyone. And despite the flood of anti- Zionist hatred in France, and anti-Semitic crimes, they also love France. They like to watch French TV (to criticize it better), to read books in French, to eat French bread, to drink French wine, and to teach French to their children.

But now, unlike the newly arrived Russian population in Israel, that became united to obtain rights, the Franco-Israelis are sometimes the image of France: in continual disagreement.

You probably know the joke of the Jew lost on a desert island. When a boat arrives and discovers two huts, the Jew explains: “On the left is my synagogue, and on the right is the one in which I would never set foot!” If, in addition to being Jewish, this shipwrecked man were French, in front of the second synagogue, there would be a protest sign calling for revolution!

All that to say that the Franco-Israelis were, until now, never united. But things seem to be changing.

One strong leader for nearly 200.000 French living in Israel. 

In the last parliamentary elections, 20 candidates represented the French of Israel (France is the only country in the world that has MPs in parliament who represent the French overseas).

This Sunday, for the first time, there will be consular elections to choose a representative of the French residing in Israel. Only three lists of candidates remain in Tel Aviv (Tel-Aviv is “all Israel”  but there is another election just for Jerusalem).

These elections will allow the French established in Israel to have local elected representatives, connected to the embassy, the consulate, and to the two chambers of parliament. But these officials will represent the French vis- à-vis Israeli politicians as well. They are the ones who will come into contact with Israeli officials, in order to improve the rights of Franco-Israelis and to plan to better integrate the new immigrants.

Franco-Israelis want also to be heard by the Israeli government. This will be the job of the new political leader that will be elected on sunday. 

Thus, on Sunday, the French will have to choose competent and politically oriented representatives. When France makes a mistake – as when the diplomat slapped an Israeli soldier – these elected officials will now have to express their discontent and anger. But those representatives will also have to find funding for expatriates who need to make a living, to find schools for their children and to facilitate relations with the entities that manage pension funds. Hence, the importance of having elected officials who are not afraid to speak out.

For the very first time in the history of the Franco-Israelis, the right and the center are united behind a leading candidate, Jonathan-Simon Sellem. In the last parliamentary elections, it was he who finished first of all the Franco- Israeli candidates. Thanks to the parties that gave him the nomination, the UMP (of Nicolas Sarkozy) or the UDI (from which comes the most Zionist among the French deputies, Meyer Habib), we can be confident that the Franco-Israelis will be well represented. We can be sure that this young leader, only 31 years old, owner of various media, known for being the first to have successfully fought against the anti-Semite Dieudonné, will be worthy of his position.

This union of the right and the center, called “Les Français avec Israël”, has a total of 14 candidates backing Jonathan-Simon Sellem. They are all between 30 and 75 years old, they live throughout the State of the Israel. They are entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, retirees, real estate agents, and more. They are French. Franco-Israelis. Zionists. And tomorrow, I hope, they will be my representatives.

This article was first written in French by Ariel Melles and published here with his agreement. 

About the Author
Jonathan-Simon Sellem was elected (in 2014) Representative of the French people living in Israel and is currently journalist. Former newscaster who made alyah in 2006 as war reporter during the 2nd Lebanon War, he is now the editor-in-chief of the main Israeli-French speaking media outlet, JSSNews.