"Sarco the Sayan" has suddenly emerged as the most infamous accolade of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The influential French daily Le Figaro last week revealed that the French leader once worked for — and perhaps still does, it hinted — Israeli intelligence as a sayan (Hebrew for helper), one of the thousands of Jewish citizens of countries other than Israel who cooperate with the katsas (Mossad case-officers).
A letter dispatched to French police officials late last winter — long before the presidential election but somehow kept secret — revealed that Sarkozy was recruited as an Israeli spy. The French police is currently investigating documents concerning Sarkozy’s alleged espionage activities on behalf of Mossad, which Le Figaro claims dated as far back as 1983. According to the author of the message, in 1978, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin ordered the infiltration of the French ruling Gaullist Party, ‘Union pour un Mouvement Populaire’. Originally targeted were Patrick Balkany, Patrick Devedjian and Pierre Lellouche. In 1983, they recruited the "young and promising" Sarkozy, the "fourth man".
Ex-Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky describes how sayanim function in By Way Of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer. They are usually reached through relatives in Israel. An Israeli with a relative in France, for instance, might be asked to draft a letter saying the person bearing the letter represents an organisation whose main goal is to help save Jewish people in the Diaspora. Could the French relative help in any way? They perform many different roles. A ‘car sayan’, for example, running a rental car agency, could help the Mossad rent a car without having to complete the usual documentation. An ‘apartment sayan’ would find accommodation without raising suspicions, a ‘bank sayan’ could fund someone in the middle of the night if needs be, a ‘doctor sayan’ would treat a bullet wound without reporting it to the police. And, a political sayan ? It’s rather obvious what this could mean. The sayanim are a pool of people at the ready who will keep quiet about their actions out of loyalty to "the cause", a non-risk recruitment system that draws from the millions of Jewish people outside Israel.
Such talk sends chills down spines, especially Arab and Muslim ones. Indeed, the revelation did not go unnoticed in Arab capitals or come as much of a surprise. Paris can be a sunny place for shady people. When it comes to intelligence gathering on behalf of Israel, a question mark is immediately raised on the moral calibre of the person in question. But, how does this scandal influence France’s foreign and domestic politics?
It is of symbolic significance that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was on a state visit to France in the immediate aftermath of ‘Le Figaro’ ’s exposé — ostensibly to discuss Iran’s nuclear agenda and the Palestinian question. Proud and prickly France under its supposedly savvy new president hopes to play a more prominent role in the perplexing world of Middle Eastern politics. On Monday, Sarkozy flew to Morocco, the ancestral home of many of France’s Jewry, soon after his Mossad connection was made public. There is no clear evidence that the revelation is to make France any more unpopular in the Arab world than it already is, especially not in official circles.
On the domestic front, however, there are many conflicting considerations. The Jews of France now display a touch of the vapours, in sharp contrast to the conceited triumphalism with which they greeted his election: "we are persuaded that the new president will continue eradicating anti-Israeli resistance," Sammy Ghozlan, president of the ‘Jewish Community of Paris’ pontificated soon after Sarkozy’s election. France is home to 500,000 Jews, mostly Sephardic Jews originally from North Africa and Mediterranean countries.
Sarkozy’s own maternal grandfather Aron Mallah, hailed from Salonika, Greece, and is said to have exercised considerable influence on his grandson. Even though raised as a Roman Catholic, "Sarkozy played a critical role in moving the French government to do what is necessary to address the ill winds that threaten the largest Jewish community in Western Europe," noted David Harris, the executive director of the ‘American Jewish Committee’. Sarkozy, after all, was a political product of the predominantly Jewish elite neighbourhood of Neuilly-sur-Seine, where he long served as mayor.
France’s Muslim minority was far from surprised by ‘Le Figaro’ ’s revelations, even though some may have feigned disappointment. Others have been more forthright. "France is not run by Frenchmen, but by lackeys of the Zionist International who control the economy," lamented Radio Islam, of militant Islamist tendencies. When Sarkozy was France’s minister of interior and clamped down hard on Muslim immigrants, calling mainly Muslim rioters "scum" in a widely-publicised interview, they retaliated by calling him "Sarkozy, sale juif [dirty Jew]". Obviously there is no love lost between the five million-strong French Muslim community, the largest in Western Europe, and the French president. He has grounds for concern. He assiduously courts the Israelis. That much is known….
France has become fanatically Atlanticist under the presidency of Sarkozy. Although, unlike US President George W Bush, Sarkozy does not make much noise about his own dubious religious convictions. The commonest criticism of Sarkozy is that he is overly conscious of his religious heritage, a trait that is not appreciated by the fanatically secular French political establishment. France is culturally the most irreligious country in Europe, itself the most secular and anti-religious of the world’s continents. …
Sarkozy is obliged to hoist the French tricoleur high in the international arena. Which flag is it to be?
French President Accused of Working for Israeli Intelligence (By Gamal Nkrumah in Al-Ahram/ICH) Commentaar Sarkozy’s scherpe koerswijziging richting Bush cs en zijn dreigementen tegen Iran (‘oorlog’), deden al vermoeden dat hij behoort tot de zionistische (Pro Groot)Israel-lobby.
Hoeveel ‘sayans’ zouden er in Nederland zijn?