Claude Goasguen, a Republican deputy and long-time right-wing Parisian figure, died Thursday morning of a heart attack brought on by coronavirus, his family told AFP.
In intensive care for the past 22 days because of coronavirus, the former mayor of Paris’s 16th arrondissement was said to have been in a “much better condition and was walking again,” but subsequently experienced cardiac complications and died at 9:00 a.m.
A supporter of an “uninhibited” right, Goasguen was chairman of the France-Israel parliamentary friendship group and was a long-time supporter of Israeli policies. In 2017, he called to transfer the French embassy to Jerusalem, aligning with the United States.
He repeatedly expressed his rejection of anti-Semitism and participated in numerous events held by the Parisian Jewish community.
“I am in total solidarity with Israel, my great regret is that I am not a Jew myself,” he said last year.
In 2016, Meyer Habib, a French Jewish lawmaker, and Goasguen were filmed wearing skullcaps in the corridors of the National Assembly, after a Jewish community leader from Marseille called on Jews to remove their kippahs as a security measure, following a spate of anti-Semitic stabbings in the southern city.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on Goasguen’s death, calling him a “wonderful friend” to Israel.
“I would like to send deep, heartfelt condolences for myself and on behalf of the citizens of Israel to the family of French MP and former minister Claude Goasguen who passed away after falling ill with corona [sic],” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Claude was a wonderful friend of the State of Israel who bravely fought against anti-Zionism. He supported us even in the most difficult moments. I mourn the passing of a great friend of our people and a personal friend of mine. We will remember him always.”
Many Jewish community leaders also mourned Goasguen’s death, including the Chief Rabbi of France, Haïm Korsia and the head of the CRIF, the umbrella organization of French Jewry, Francis Kalifat.
“It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Claude Goasguen, a personal friend and a staunch supporter of the struggles for justice, peace and the truth about Israel,” Korsia wrote on twitter.
“We have lost a great friend, an unwavering defender and supporter of the State of Israel. His voice is already sorely missed,” tweeted Kalifat.
Goasguen visited Israel in 2012 when he was part of a delegation that paid condolence calls on the family members of the victims of an attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse.
“All that we [can] do is show our support to the families. We will never forget and we will do our best to restore a real image of Israel,” said Goasguen after the visit to the family of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler in Jerusalem, who was killed along with his sons Arieh, 6, and Gavriel,3.
A pugnacious orator, the deputy for Paris was State Reform Minister in the first government of Alain Juppé in 1995.
He acted as a political adviser to Rachida Dati in the recent Paris municipal elections.
In the National Assembly, the French lower house of parliament, Goasguen was on the Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of several study groups, notably on Middle Eastern Christians, anti-Semitism and the Kurds.
A Knight of the Legion of Honor and the National Order of Merit, Goasguen was married and the father of two children.