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September 24, 2002

French lawyer Klarsfeld becomes Israeli and heads to U.S. campuses

High-profile French lawyer and pro-Israel activist Arno Klarsfeld has taken Israeli citizenship and is about to embark on a tour of U.S. college campuses to try and convince American students of the justice of Israel’s cause. “The time had come for me to become a part of the collective experience of the Jewish people,” Klarsfeld, 36, told The Report on his return to France from Jerusalem, where he was granted Israeli identity papers, although he will continue to reside in Paris.The fiery, flamboyant Arno, son of Nazi-hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, took Israeli nationality even though Interior Ministry officials refused to registerhim as a Jew since his mother, detained in the past in Syria, South America and her native Germany for pro-Jewish activities, is a nonpracticing Lutheran. “They wanted to register me as a Protestant but I refused. I am a member of the Jewish people,” said Klarsfeld, who once ended up black-and-blue after single handedly jumping on stage at a rally of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s extreme-rightist National Front party to denounce it as anti-Semitic. (Klarsfeld gained fame as a lawyer for Holocaust victims in the trials of French collaborationists Maurice Papon and Paul Touvier and also

campaigned for the creation of the international courts now trying the perpetrators of genocide-like massacres in Rwanda and Kosovo.)

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