Upon returning from his planned visit to the US, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich will pay France a visit, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Smotrich, who has faced criticism from mainstream and progressive Jewish organizations in the US, as well as from the Biden administration, will visit France to participate in a memorial service for Jacques Kupfer, a vocal and influential Likud activist who passed away at the age of 74. Kupfer was one of the leaders of the Beitar organization – essentially the youth movement of the Likud party.
He also represented the Likud in the World Zionist Congress and was supposed to run a department on behalf of the party, but passed away shortly after the last congress took place.
His daughter is Nili Kupfer-Naouri, a social activist in the right-wing political sphere in Israel. Smotrich is close to Kupfer-Naouri and sees the connection with the French-speaking community in Israel as a potential electorate for his Religious Zionist Party.
A spokesperson on behalf of Smotrich said that he wouldn’t comment on the visit to France since the schedule is still being built. In addition, since he will be visiting on a Sunday, there won’t be any Jewish day schools to visit.
There is also the fact that a majority of community heads will be in Israel during these days in order to participate in a special event of the Consistoire, the religious umbrella organization of French Jewry. As opposed to the American Jewish community, most of the Jewish organizations will probably not speak out against Smotrich’s visit, with the exception of smaller progressive Jewish organizations that are not fully representative of the community.
Is KKL-JNF allowing Bezalel Smotrich to have an event in France?
Dans ma colère de voir @KKLdeFrance affiché sur un évènement français avec Bezalel Smotrich, j'ai publié cette affiche en les interpellant pour savoir si oui ou non, ils etaient organisateurs ou sponsors. J'ai supprimé ce message. Pour la raison suivante:— Noémie Issan (@noemie_issan) March 6, 2023
Jewish-French philosopher Noémie Issan tweeted the ad of the memorial event of Kupfer that Smotrich is intending to participate in, criticizing JNF-KKL in France that is sponsoring it. “Hello KKL de France, your logo appears on this poster,” she wrote. “Are you really organizers or sponsors of this event which will receive minister Bezalel Smotrich who called a few days ago to ‘erase Huwara’?”
KKL-JNF is one of four national institutions and is run by a board, which is political, which is why Smotrich is represented there. It is likely that they would support his event, just as they would support an event organized by a left-wing party.