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October 17, 1975 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1975-10-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


October 17, 1975 21

Minister Simone Veil; France's 1st Woman Cabinet Member


(Copyright 1975, JTA Inc.)

PARIS — Mme. Simone
Veil, France's Minister of
Health, is unusual in many
ways. She is the first — and
only — woman to reach
Cabinet rank in France. She
is the only Jew with full
ministerial responsibilities.
She is a former Auschwitz
inmate with the number
78651 tattooed on her fo-
Mme. Veil has become
France's most popular polit-
ical figure. Recent public
opinion polls gave her a six
percent edge over Premier
'Jacques Chirac and two per-
cent over opposition leader
Francois Mitterand.
In a recent interview,
Mme. Veil spoke about what
it was like to be a woman
Cabinet minister, a Jew
with strong sentimental ties
to Israel and a member of a
government whose attitude
toward Israel, while more
friendly than in the recent
past, is still ambiguous to-
ward the Middle East and
which has recognized the
Palestine Liberation Organ-
ization as a representative

Mme. Veil has been a
frequent visitor to Israel in
"a private capacity." Her
three sons have all visited
Israel and have studied
Hebrew at ulpanim there.

She joined the govern-
ment in 1974 after the Fran-
co-Israel rift on the arms
embargo was mended, al-
though Israeli diplomats
and many Jewish organiza-

tions in France are still not
happy with the govern-
ment's Mideast policy.
She was asked if she felt
more a minister or more a
"There is no, there can be
no such problem. I am
French and a member of the
French government. Emo-
tionally I feel close to Israel
and to Jerusalem both as a
Jew and as a former depor-
tee but there can be no ques-
tion of a double allegiance.

"Israel is something
special to me and to my
family but there is a clear
distinctive line between
sentimental involvement
and concrete political fac-
tors," she said.

Mme. Veil does not like to
speak about her concentra-
tion camp experience.
Sometimes the subject
crops up unexpectedly.
During the debate in the
French National Assembly
last fall on her bill legalizing
abortion in France, a Dep-
uty shouted at her: "You
'want to send our unborn
children to the cremation
Mme. Veil, whose parents
and brother died in Ausch-
witz, slumped forward in
her chair and her eyes filled
with tears.


Simone Veil was born to
an assimilated Jewish mid-
dle class family. Her father,
Andre Jacob, was an archi-
tect; her mother Yvonne
Steinmetz, a chemist. Old
friends recall that the fam-
ily was assimilated to such a
degree that her brother,
who was later to die at
Auschwitz, was not circum-
cized, and no Jewish holi-
days were observed.
In spite of their assimila-
tion, the family declared it-
self Jewish at the time of
the Nazi occupation. Mme.
Veil was arrested in 1944 by
a German patrol. Her par-
ents, her brother and sister
were arrested two days
later. They were all de-
ported to Auschwitz and
only the two daughters sur-
After the war she re-
turned to France and stud-
ied law at the Sorbonne in
Paris where she met her
husband, Antoine Veil, to-
day president of African Air
Lines, a state-owned com-
pany and a senior civil serv-
She worked as a magis-
trate from her graduation
until she was appointed to


the Cabinet by President
Valery Giscard d'Estaing.

Mme. Veil is a member
of no political party and
her appointment came as a
surprise. Many thought
that Giscard d'Estaing
was mainly interested in
keeping his election prom-
ise to appoint a woman to
Cabinet rank if elected. He
chose Mme. Veil as fitting
the role, probably una-
ware at the time, that one
year later she would
emerge as France's main
political personality with,
observers say, ambitions
of her own.

makes good and eventually
replaces Chirac as Prime
Minister, they will have lit-
tle additional influence in
French government circles.
Always distant from or-
ganized Jewish life, Mme.
Veil has drawn even further
away since her appointment
as minister. The only ap-
pearance she made at a Jew-
ish gathering was at a re-
cent meeting of the Alliance
Israelite Universelle, consid-
ered here as the most
French of Jewish organiza-
tions and the least involved
with Israel and Zionism.
This does not prevent her
youngest son, Jean Michel,
from planning to revisit Is-
rael and perhaps settle '
there one day.



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Jewish observers fear,

drivers would not be allowed
to enter religious quarters
in Jerusalem.
The committee argues
TEL AVIV — The Com-
mittee for Holiness of Israel, that women drivers in pub-
which consists of a small lic buses injure the feelings
group of extreme religious of religious people. The reli-
observers headed by Rabbi gious law forbids women to
Shimon Turnheim in Jeru- manage public affairs.
salem, has appealed to the Some of the women drivers
Israeli bus company Egged wear short skirts or trou-
not to employ women driv-. sers and open blouses. Reli-
gious people are not allowed
The committee warned to come in close contact
the company that if this with women or to look at
appeal would not be heeded, other women than their
religious Jewry would ask own.
the Minister for Transport
According to the religious
to grant it permission to es- law it is forbidden that a
tablish its own bus com- man should be alone with a
pany. Buses with women married weigan, and it of-
ten happens that there is
Druze Baker
only one male passenger in
a bus. In this case, if there is
Ends 'Mission'
woman driver, he has to
in West Germany a leave
the bus immediately
TEL AVIV (JTA)—Sheik and is unable to reach the
Abu Rushdi Natour, a station where he intends to
Druze from Daliyat Al-Car- go.
mel village near Haifa, just
returned from a one-man Yeshiva U. Picks
technical assistance mission Law School Head
to West Germany.
The Sheik, a baker by
NEW YORK — Monrad
trade, taught bakers in G. Paulsen, dean of the Uni-
Munich how to make pitta, versity of Virginia School of
the round, flat bread of the Law, has been appointed
Middle East.
vice president for legal edu-
He went to Munich at the cation at Yeshiva University
invitation of German inves- to head Yeshiva's new Ben-
tors who have since estab- jamin N. Cardozo School of
lished a pitta bakery there. Law. The school is planned
According to Abu Rushdi, to open in fall 1976.
the demand for pitta and fa-
Prof. Paulsen, a native of
lafel is on the rise in Ger- Clinton, Iowa, is a graduate
of the University of Chicago.


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t at Ihe .444 peace.

The Assembly President
asked her if she wanted a
recess but she replied,
cooly, "No, this will not be
necessary," and the de-
bate continued. Late in the
night, when the vote was
taken she had won and
France became the first

Israel Women Bus Drivers
Seen as Danger to Religious

Jewish News Special
Israel Correspondent

however, that even if she

Catholic country to legal-
ize abortion.

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