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October 22, 1993 - Image 66

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-10-22

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

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French Jewish Groups
Involved In Feud

Paris (JTA) — A feud has
erupted between two leading
figures of the Jewish com-
munity in France that in-
cludes Sephardic-
Ashkenazic undercurrents
and arguments over affilia-
tions.
At the core of the dispute is
the question of who will rep-
resent French Jewry on a
variety of issues. Pitted
against each other are Jean
Kahn, head of CRIF, the
umbrella political body rep-
resenting French Jewry, and
Jean-Pierre Bansard, presi-
dent of the Consistoire Cen-
tral, the organization caring
for the community's re-
ligious needs.
Six years ago, the Con-
sistoire removed itself from
CRIF because of a dispute
about affiliation with the
World Jewish Congress,
which is seen as an Ameri-
can-dominated group.
CRIF, an acronym that
stands for Representative
Committee of Jewish In-
stitutions in France, is a
member of the European
Jewish . Congress and its
parent body, the WJC. Mr.
Kahn is president of both
CRIF and EJC.
Mr. Bansard was elected to
head the Consistoire last
year and promised to rejoin
the WJC. But he did not take
the promised step.
He has made no secret of
his displeasure with the way
CRIF is run, describing it to
the Jewish Telegraphic
Agency as "a one-man
operation."
There are an estimated
700,000 Jews living in
France.
Mr. Bansard earlier this
year proposed a kind of
triumvirate to represent the
French Jewish community.
It would include himself, Mr.
Kahn and the head of Fonds
Social Juif Unifie, the
largest Jewish charity and
Jewish lay organization.
But Mr. Kahn called the
suggestion "totally un-
workable and unethical."
"The president of CRIF is
democratically elected for
three years by the General
Assembly, in which the Con-
sistoire Central has six
seats, meaning six voices. If
they do not fill them, it is a
great pity, but it is their
decision," said Mr. Kahn.
"The Jewish community in
France must speak in one
voice, and the president of
the Consistoire Central

must respect the rules
enacted long before he came
to head this institution," he
said.
Decades ago, there were
few interorganizational
rivalries because, for most of
the time, the heads of the
three organizations belong-
ed to the same family, the
Rothschilds.
Since Mr. Bansard was
elected to the Consistoire, he
has been outspoken on
various political issues, and
his statements have in-
furiated Mr. Kahn.
Mr. Bansard said he would
be willing to rejoin CRIF,
"but under one and only one
condition, that I keep my
freedom of speech."
The clash between the two
leaders erupted when a
French weekly
newsmagazine, the centrist
L'Evenement du Jeudi,
published a long story about
how the recent mutual rec-
ognition pact established
between Israel and the
Palestine Liberation Organ-
ization was achieved as a

Mr. Bansard earlier
this year proposed a
kind of triumvirate
to represent the
French Jewish
community.

result of the strong desire
among Sephardi Jews for
peace.
The article spoke of the
reluctance of Ashkenazi
Jews, at least in France, to
see any agreement reached
with the PLO.
The article, signed by a
Jewish reporter, was critical
of Mr. Kahn, who is
Ashkenazi, and laudatory of
Mr. Bansard, a Sephardi.
What really set matters on
a collision course was the
fact that the anti-Kahn arti-
cle was written by a jour-
nalist who works for Radio
Shalom, a Jewish radio sta-
tion broadcast from Paris.
The fact that Mr. Bansard
was about to acquire a large
chunk of shares of Radio
Shalom induced some to
think that the article was
largely inspired by Mr. Ban-
sard himself. The Bansard-
Kahn dispute received wider
coverage when the respected

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