French politicians, especially French presidents, rarely quote from the Bible, and this is just one way they stand apart from their American counterparts, who often do use scriptural citations as rhetorical flourishes. Rather, French politicians, when they deliver speeches, generally cite classic French literature, or French philosophers, for literary effect. It was thus unusual to hear French President Nicolas Sarkozy quote the Bible on two occasions during his speech to the Knesset on Monday. The second time Sarkozy quoted from the Bible was at the end of his speech, when he was talking about the possibility of peace, and he grafted together a few verses from Isaiah 65: "And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying," he said. "And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them ... They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth in confusion." It's natural to cite Isaiah when talking about a future vision of peace in Jerusalem, so even the French president could be excused for this Biblical reference. But what was most unusual, and even exceptional, was the citation he quoted in the first part of his speech. Quoting Numbers (27:12), Sarkozy said, "And the Lord said unto Moses: 'Get thee up unto into this mountain of Abaraim, and behold the land which I have given unto the children of Israel.'" Hearing the president of staunchly secular France quote from the Torah about God promising Israel to the Jewish people is not an everyday occurrence. It is also, probably, not the part of Sarkozy's speech that the striped suits in the French Foreign Ministry wrote for him, for this quote will not win Sarkozy or France many friends in the Arab world. But he said it anyhow, knowing full well what it meant, and what the implications were. And Sarkozy said this, it seems obvious, as a sign of genuine warmth and friendship to Israel and the Jewish people. This friendship was clear throughout the first part of his speech, when Sarkozy spoke about the Jews' longing for a state of their own, and their historical right to such a state. This is also no small thing for the president of France - a country which in a few days will take over the rotating presidency of the EU - to say at a time when more and more voices in Europe are wondering aloud whether Israel really does have a right to exist. Sarkozy had an answer to those who would deny the Jews a right to a state: "The State of Israel is the answer to the injustice which was the lot of the Jewish people for such a long time. That injustice is a challenge to the universal conscience." Israel, Sarkozy said, giving powerful voice to the impact that the Holocaust and traditional European anti-Semitism has had on his thinking, is the "only place in the world where everyone is sure that Jews will never have to wear a yellow star, where Jews will not be prohibited from riding buses, going to cinema or theater or holding certain jobs, where they will not be forced to live only in Jewish neighborhoods or only go to Jewish restaurants, stores or schools." Those are powerful words for a French president, who seems to be saying that those things - the yellow star, the ghettos, the prohibitions on places of employment and entertainment - could recur elsewhere in the world. And that was all in the first half of Sarkozy's speech. The second half, the half that dealt with the Palestinian conflict, was more predictable and included the standard diplomatic fare: Israel must immediately halt the settlements, reach a solution to the refugee problem, agree to a Palestinian state roughly along the 1967 lines, and share Jerusalem as a capital. This was the half of the speech that could have been written by the French Foreign Ministry, and the part of the speech that will allow France's ambassadors in the Arab world to deflect the anger over the first half of Sarkozy's speech. It was also reminiscent of what former French president Jacques Chirac said time and time again when speaking of the conflict and what needed to be done to resolve it. But there was a major difference. When Chirac talked about a Palestinian state, or stopping the settlements, or dividing Jerusalem, Israelis felt the words were coming from the arrogant leader of an imperfect country that held no affection for Israel and was coming here to preach. Sarkozy gives off a completely different sense. His warm words of friendship and his understanding and empathy with the Jewish narrative make his words about the diplomatic situation more palatable, and give the sense that his suggestions are coming from a man who genuinely does care about the future of this state.