France is an influential global player in international institutions such as the UN Security Council, NATO, and the G7. It is a leading military and nuclear power, with the second largest diplomatic network globally. It is dominant in Europe, both politically and economically and has significant historic and political links to the Middle East.

Political relations between France and Israel are strong, despite traditional disagreements, mainly on the Palestinian issue. Both countries enjoy robust defense and intelligence ties and have a strong interest in growing economic cooperation. Total bilateral trade amounted to $3.6 billion in 2019, with much upside potential. The French economy is the second largest in Europe and seeks to tap into Israeli innovation, while Israeli companies would benefit from increased market access in France. Geographic proximity and cultural ties play an important role, as France is home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, while Israel one of the largest French Diasporas can be found in Israel. 700,000 French speakers live in Israel, making up close to 8% of the population.

French foreign policy has a significant impact on Israel. As a leading member of the P5+1, France played an important diplomatic role in efforts to prevent Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. France was instrumental in including the military wing of Hezbollah in the EU’s designated list of terrorist organizations and plays an important role in Lebanon and specifically in the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

France and Israel share deep interests in the Middle East, including combating terrorism and extremism, fostering stability, regional cooperation, and peace. The future of Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and role of Iran and Russia in the region are important topics of discussion between the two countries.

ELNET in France

ELNET-France was established in Paris in 2010. It is run by a strong Board of Directors which includes important French political and business leaders. Arie Bensemhoun who leads the French office is the longest serving Executive Director in ELNET. Main operations include engaging senior politicians and officials, research institutes, business and opinion leaders through delegations, strategic dialogues, policy research and publications.

Dr Arié Bensemhoun

Chief Executive Officer, ELNET-France
Dr Arié Bensemhoun has been the Chief Executive Officer of ELNET France since 2011. He is dentist by profession and made his career in the private sector as a consultant in communications, PR and international relations dealing with Middle East and strategic affairs. Dr Bensemhoun plays a crucial role in the French-Israeli relationship through his commitment both at the community and political levels.

Charlotte Gribe

Deputy Director, ELNET-France
Charlotte Gribe formerly worked as a Liaison and Research Officer for the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Paris and a Communication Manager for the European Association of the Friends of the History Museum of Polish Jews. She also served as a representative of LICRA within the UN. She holds an MA in Communication Arts from the New York Institute of Technology.

Jonathan Seror

Communication Officer
Jonathan Seror has been the Communication Officer (Press & Media) at ELNET France since March 2024. Jonathan lived in Canada for nearly seven years, residing in Vancouver (as well as Montreal), where he experienced the apex of North American culture and society. During this time, he spent a significant portion of his career working in communications, marketing, and financing, with international groups such as Publicis, L'Oréal, and Ritchie Bros. Additionally, he is an independent journalist. Jonathan holds a Master's degree in Marketing Consulting and Research from Paris-Dauphine University and is currently completing a second Master's degree in Journalism, Information and Communication at CELSA-Sorbonne (Centre for Applied Literary and Scientific Studies), a French communication and journalism Grande École. He also worked as an Editor at the Israeli Embassy in Paris (culture/lifestyle and sciences magazine). Jonathan is closely interested in international geopolitics and developments in French and European societies, with regard to North American influence.

Alexis Cabello

Junior Project Coordinator,
Alexis Cabello joined ELNET in 2023. Before joining the ELNET France team, Alexis dedicated his efforts to various European associations and served as an Analyst and Middle East Desk Director for a young professionals’ organization known as GorStra Research Group. He holds an MA in Political Science from the Université Gustave Eiffel and an MA in International Relations from the School of International & Political Studies in Paris, in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.

Felix Egea

Public Diplomacy Officer
Felix Egea is the public diplomacy officer of ELNET France since April 2024. He holds a Master's degree in Business Law from Paris Dauphine University. Félix first joined the office of ELNET in Brussels, where he assisted the team in its projects with members of the European institutions. He then joined the Israeli Mission to the EU and NATO as a political and legal consultant. For almost two years, Félix advised and represented Israel before the European Commission and the European Parliament. Following the attacks of 7 October 2023, Félix was in charge of the Mission's communication campaign to combat disinformation.

Executive Board Members

Dr. Michel Bodkier

Dr. Michel Bodkier MD is the co- founder of ELSAN Group, the first private hospitals chain in France, with 2 million patients and 2 billion euros of revenues, turning now to international field. Previously MD, practicing in vascular examinations. Member of the board of philanthropic charitable Eva & Edward Underwood Foundation to help needy students for their scholarships. He serves as senior advisor of Truffle Capital.

Pierre Dassas

Chairman of ELNET-France
Pierre Dassas is Chairman of The Global Governance Foundation (Geneva, Switzerland), Founder and Chairman of ELNET France. He is also Chairman of Africa Alive Foundation (Geneva, Switzerland) and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Hudson Institute (Washington, D.C., USA). Since 1992, Pierre Dassas is a member of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF). He is currently Chairman of the Executive Board of Dassas Advertising & Public Affairs (Paris, France). In 1980, he founded Dassas Communication and ICOM (New York, NY, USA), ranked the world's leading private advertising group since the 2000s. He was previously Marketing Director at Colgate Palmolive in New York and Paris, before joining Société Nouvelle d'Information et de Publicité (SNIP) as Managing Director. Pierre Dassas graduated from both the École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales and the Trade and Industry Chamber of Paris.

Serge Krancenblum

Serge Krancenblum is the CEO of SGG, a leading multi-family office and investor services provider active in 24 countries. He is the Chairman of Gatsby & White, the leading life insurance broker in Luxembourg and Switzerland, and acts as a board member of selected real estate and private equity funds as well as of listed and private companies. He holds master’s in finance from ESLSCA and MBA from the University of Connecticut School of Business. He is the Chairman of the Investment Facilation Forum, of the Luxembourg Family Office Association and of the LIMSA, and Conseiller du Commerce Extérieur de la France.

Hubert Leven

Hubert Leven was CEO of the Leven brokerage firm in Paris, from 1962 until 1999. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Source Perrier mineral water group (established by his uncle Gustave Leven) and as CEO of a number of its subsidiaries. With a long record of community service, Hubert Leven served as President the Rashi Foundation in Israel since its creation in 1984 until 2018 . He presently serves as co-president of Elnet France, on the board of Kol Israel Haverim ( KIAH) in Israel and as Vice-President of Alliance Israelite Universelle in Paris. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from Ben Gurion University, the Technion and Bar Ilan University. Born in 1938, he lives in Paris, is married to Corinne Mentzelopoulos and has 4 children.

Sam Pinto

After a career in the banking world in France, Asia and the USA, mainly in the Edmond de Rothschild Group, Sam Pinto made aliyah to Israel in 2009. After moving to Israel, Pinto decided to devote himself mainly to philanthropic activism including: Baït Ham which helps young adolescents in difficulty, and Kiah-Alliance - Israeli branch of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, the Franco-Israeli high school of Mikve Israel and Agudat Sabah, which supports activities in the Israeli periphery.

Kenneth Weinstein

Kenneth R. Weinstein is currently the Walter P. Stern Distinguished Fellow at Hudson Institute. From 2011 through 2020, Dr. Weinstein served as president and chief executive officer of Hudson. He joined the Institute in 1991, was appointed CEO in June 2005, and was named president and CEO in March 2011. He serves as Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the oversight body for U.S. government civilian international media, including the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting. Weinstein previously served by presidential appointment and Senate confirmation on the National Humanities Council and is a regular guest in media.