French group bars Zeitounis from annual dinner

CRIF says parents of Israeli victim run over by French citizens might disrupt annual event.

February 8, 2012 16:45
1 minute read.
Hit-and-run victim Lee Zeitouni

Hit-and-run victim Lee Zeitouni 311. (photo credit: Courtesy: Facebook)


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France’s top Jewish organization on Wednesday barred the bereaved parents of an Israeli killed in a hit-and-run involving French citizens from attending its annual dinner.

Richard Prasquier, president of Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France, the umbrella group for French Jewry better known by its acronym CRIF, told the parents of the late Lee Zeitouni that he would not let them into the event that President Nicolas Sarkozy was expected to attend.

“I write to you directly with all the empathy that I have to the Zeitouni family: You shall not attend the [CRIF] dinner,” Prasquier wrote in a letter addressed to Lee Zeitouni's father, Itzik.

Prasquier said he suspected the Zeitounis might use the opportunity to protest against the country’s laws that prevent the extradition of her suspected killers in front of Sarkozy. He said changing criminal legislation was not part of the CRIF’s mandate “no matter how painful the issue at hand.”

Lee Zeitouni, 25, was run over in Tel Aviv by a car rented by Claude Issac Khayat and Eric Rubin, two French Jews vacationing in Israel, in the early morning hours of September 16, 2011. The driver fled the scene without informing authorities, leaving Zeitouni to die. Khayat, Rubin and their families hastily boarded a flight hours later back to France, which has no extradition agreement with Israel. Since then, the bereaved family has fought to bring Khayat and Rubin to be tried in Israel, but the two object saying they would not get a fair trial.

The Zeitounis have approached French politicians and personalities including Carla Bruni, the wife of Sarkozy, asking them to intervene.

Prasquier finished his letter with a stark warning to the Zeitounis.

“It is my obligation to prevent you from entering. If you decide to show up without being invited then I assure you that you shall bear the responsibility towards France, the French justice system, the French Jewish community and Israel and the memory of your precious Lee,” he wrote.

A group campaigning to extradite Khayat and Rubin to Israel lashed out against Prasquier, saying his position was immoral.

“This is a surprising, painful and mean letter sent by the chairman of the organization,” it said. “The letter sheds light on his personality, morals, principles and conduct.”

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