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French Jewish Lawmaker Stirs Controversy With Hebrew Prayers — And Focus On Israel

Meyer Habib, who represents in the French Parliament nationals living abroad in eight countries including Israel, stirred a controversy this week after he gave a victory speech in which he thanked God and prayed in Hebrew.

“I can’t stop myself from thanking you and also thanking the All Powerful, because while we are in a secular republic, I am a believer,” Habib, who lives in Israel and is a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in a video.

Habib’s campaign – including the victory speech - departed from norms in France, where officials usually refrain from public affirmations of faith.

“He doesn’t respect voters in the whole of the constituency, promising to do nothing for them, and only focusing on Israel,” said Drory, a member of French President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party.

Habib, who ran on the ballot of the center-right Union of Democrats and Independents, blasted Drory as a “pro-Palestinian candidate” and a backer of “anti-religious state secularism.” The election occurred on Sunday, when French voters cast ballots in the second round of the country’s legislative elections.

Contact Daniel J. Solomon at solomon@forward.com or on Twitter @DanielJSolomon

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French Jewish Lawmaker Stirs Controversy With Hebrew Prayers — And Focus On Israel

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