Are Israeli-French second class citizens ?

Open Letter from Jonathan-Simon Sellem to the Consul General of France in Jerusalem, Frederic Desagneaux.

Jonathan Simon Sellem is a candidate from the center-right in the French legislative elections on May 26th, 2013 (district of Israel, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, San Marino, Turkey and the Vatican).

Mr. Consul General of France in Jerusalem in relation with the Palestinian Authority,

At the Parliamentary elections in 2012, several French-Israeli citizens visited your consulate in order to vote and were refused to do so: they were not allowed to vote in their capital Jerusalem, and had to go to Ramallah. Many of those people argued that they haven’t received any notification regarding a change of polling.

Being yourself in charge of the French relations with the Palestinian entity (and not with Israel despite the fact that your offices are located in the united and indivisible capital of the Jewish State), you can’t ignore that for an Israeli or a Franco-Israeli, it is illegal to enter into the territories administered by the Palestinians, particularly because of high risk of terrorist attack.

And even if an authorization were issued, everyone remembers the lynching of Israelis by Palestinian raging hordes.

In order to avoid a media scandal, and the threat of cancellation of the elections for obstructing a citizen’s vote, in June 2012, you put your personal vehicle, as well as your bodyguards, at the disposition of some Franco-Israeli voters to escort them safely to Ramallah so that they can fulfill their civic duty.

Is this unique situation likely to reoccur?

Is your consulate preparing to set up armored, secured buses, escorted by the French army, in order to protect French citizens of Israel, like in Mali for example, and to enable them, if they live in the Disputed Territories of Judea and Samaria, to vote in Ramallah?

Would it not be wiser (and cheaper) for their safety, to allow those French who live in the settlements (which are legal according to the International law as you know), and who until now depended on the Consulate in Jerusalem, to vote in your own offices, like before?

I received, during the second week of April 2013, from two French citizens living in the settlement of Ofra, letters addressed to them. These letters, received on 11 April 2013, explained that they were “removed from the electoral lists of Jerusalem unless they re-register before March 20, 2013.” The letter added that if they wish to launch an appeal to contest this decision, they should address the Tribunal d’Instance de Paris.

In other terms, France is currently purging French citizens from her electoral lists and deprives them almost completely of any opportunity to contest this reality.

By denying the Jews the right to live in the Disputed Territories, France is granting herself the right of illegitimate interference in the internal affairs of a tierce country (in case you don’t understand this, imagine Israel encouraging Separatist Corsicans).

The fact that France, who deported her Jews 70 years ago, does not protest when the Palestinians want to do the same in Judea and Samaria (the Germans called it a Judenrein territory – cleansed of Jews) is already inacceptable. But in addition, the fact that the country of Human Rights removes from its expatriate or bi-national citizens the right to vote, according to no government decision whatsoever, seems to me illegal.

According to the Constitutional Council, this could lead to the invalidation, not only of the previous elections, but of the partial legislative elections planned for the end of May 2013, because it is more than certain that one of the defeated candidates will point to this irregularity.

Mr. Consul, I am not a diplomat, and I do not have to use a diplomatic language: you have the right to dislike Israel and its Franco-Israeli inhabitants, even though, may I remind you that they pay your salary and that you are at their service. Please respect the rule of law, and have at heart to protect their right to vote. If elections are often masquerades within the entity you interact with, both for Israel and France, democracy is extremely important and deserves to be respected.

Your duty is not to enable, but to facilitate, assist and advise the Franco-Israeli citizens, wherever they live in our district, to go to the polls.

You should cancel any radiation from the electoral lists, especially since they have reached the recipients after the deadline you set, and because you personally disagree with the fact that Franco-Israelis live in Judea and Samaria, you shouldn’t deny them the right to vote, peacefully and safely, in Jerusalem.

Your neutrality is your mandate.

Jonathan Simon Sellem –
This Op-Ed is also available in French at Union-Républicaine website.

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.