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Pierre Besnainou (also transliterated as Besnainnou), was born in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, to a middle-class Jewish family.
He left for France at the age of 20, but has kept in touch with his many Tunisian friends. In February 2005, he organized a meeting between the chief rabbi of France, Joseph Sitruk, and the president of Tunisia, Zine al-Abidin bin Ali. Speaking to Ha'aretz, he said, "Recently, I've heard a lot of talk about the Jews of North Africa immigrating to Israel as refugees. That's a bunch of nonsense. No one forced them to leave North Africa. If they went to Israel it was because they were Zionists. I've been telling my son stories about Jewish-Muslim co-existence in Tunisia and he's amazed. On Yom Kippur we used to walk down the main street in Tunis wearing prayer shawls and skullcaps. Today you can't walk around that way in Paris."
Pierre Besnainou began his career in importing Asian consumer goods – in 1981, he founded the “Groupe Kaisui,” of which he was the President of the Board of Directors until 1995. The “Groupe Kaisui” is an importer of electronic goods and produces television sets in France.
In 1998, Pierre Besnainou founded the group LibertySurf, an internet service provider listed on the Paris stock exchange. He was the President of LibertySurf’s Board of Directors until its sale in February 2001.
Since 2001, Pierre Besnainou has fully devoted his time to the French Jewish Community. “Promotion” and “solidarity” have been the main themes of his work – he founded the association “AMI” to assist the most needy in making their “Aliyah” to Israel. He is also a member of the Board of Governors for the Simon Peres Center for Peace; the Weisman Institute France; the Directing Comity of Unified Jewish Social Fund and the Chamber of Commerce France-Israel.
Pierre Besnainou was elected President of the European Jewish Congress on June 26th, 2005. His priorities during his mandate have been to defend the Jewish State, fight against anti-Semitism and federate the Jewish communities of Europe while reinforcing their links with Israel.
He is a member of the JAFI Board of Governors since June 2005. He Chairs the Israel Diaspora Paradigm Committee.