The despicable murders in Toulouse, France, on Monday, March 19, 2012 that took the lives of Rabbi Yonatan Sandler (30), his two small children, Aryeh (3) and Gavriel (6), and Miriam Monsonego, the eight-year-old daughter of the Ozer Ha’Torah school’s principal by Mohammed Merah (24), an Arab-Muslim French citizen, has raised anew the question of whether France is a safe place for Jews.
When this writer asked Lyda Peltz, a French citizen born to Jewish parents who came from North Africa, if France is safe for Jews, her response was fast and furious, “France is no longer a safe place for Jews.” Lyda, who moved to Israel several years ago, joined thousands of other French Jews whose accented voices fill the streets of Netanya, Ashkelon, and Eilat. She contends that the influx of millions of Muslims into France enabled the anti-Semitism that already existed to rise above surface and become legitimatized.
A spate of violent anti-Semitic attacks on Jews throughout France during the 2008-09 “Cast Lead” Israeli operation in Gaza, aided in great measure by the French media’s anti-Israel posture, prompted the exodus of thousands of Jews from France. In the aftermath, terrorists crashed two vehicles, one loaded with firebombs, into the façade of a synagogue in Toulouse, France January 6, 2009, while a lecture was going on. Fortunately, there was only physical damage and no one suffered any injuries. This attack was, however, the second serious terrorist attack on Jewish targets in France in less than a week.
A 29-year old Jewish man was attacked on January 4, 2009 at a Paris subway station by a gang of 20 people who yelled “Palestine will win.” They hit the man in the face and filmed the scene. Three days later, a 15-year-old Jewish girl in suburban Paris (Villiers-le-Bel) accused a gang of ten which included three of her classmates, of an anti-Semitic assault. She had been thrown to the ground, kicked, punched, and the attackers told her that they were “avenging Palestinians.” On January 8, 2009, “Death to the Jews” was spray-painted outside a primary school in Nice. On that same day, the ORT Bramson High School in Marseille was attacked by vandals who threw aerosol cans soaked with flammable liquid at the school building.
Prior to last Monday’s calculated murders, the brutal murder of Ilan Halimi, a23-year-old Parisian Jew in 2006, was the country’s most shocking. Halimi had been lured to an apartment by a female gang member, and sadistically tortured to death by Arab and African Muslim Frenchmen. One gang member admitted to having put out a cigarette on Halimi’s face “because he did not like Jews.” The anti-Semitism of this gang of barbarians went much further. According to one witness the torturers recited verses from the Koran while Halimi was tortured.
On August 9, 1982, during the First Lebanon War, Arab terrorists used grenades and machine guns in an attack that targeted Chez Jo Goldenberg, the famous Jewish establishment located in the Marais district of Paris. Six people were killed and 22 wounded.
The work of the French media and academia reveals that a majority of members are not only leftist in their outlook, but anti-American and anti-Israel as well and, elements are allied with radical Islamists. Official policies of the French government since 1967 show they have sought cooperation with the Arab world at the expense of Israel. The actions of the media, academia and the government have all contributed to the rise of anti-Semitism. However, the multi-cultural and political-correct French elites, who have looked the other way rather than face the violent excesses of many of the Arab Muslim immigrants, and have not spoken out against the radical Islamic imams who preach hatred against all non-Muslims and Jews in particular, are ultimately responsible for the harvest of anti-Semitism being reaped in today’s France.
Maria Sliwa’s May 17, 2003 article France and its Jews written during the period when the Second Intifada was being waged against Israel, asserted that of the approximate Jewish population in France of 650,000 (there are 6 million Muslims in France) a quarter “Are considering leaving (France) in the wake of the attacks targeting the country’s Jewish community.” Sliwa quoted Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum as saying, “Anti-Semitism is not new in France. France never purged itself of anti-Semitism, it just hid it.”
The murder of the Jewish children and rabbi on Monday, March 19, 2012, made headlines throughout Europe and the world this week, and the French ambassador to Israel, Francois Bigot addressed the Israeli Knesset’s (Parliament) Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee last Tuesday declaring that “France will not rest until the perpetrator of the atrocity in Toulouse is found.” Bigot added that “Hate crimes went against the larger trend in France, which has seen a drop in local anti-Semitism over the past couple of years. He said that in 2011 there were 380 anti-Semitic incidents as opposed to 900 in 2001.”
On the day of the attacks MK Yaakov Katz (National Union) called on Jews to leave France, declaring “there is no Jewish future in France.” Katz added that only in Israel is there a future for the Jewish people, and that Jews should not entrust their fate to Sarkozy, Obama or other world leaders.
During WWII the pro-Nazi Vichy government of France helped deport 75,000 French Jews to their death in Nazi concentration camps. The French political right that included the Catholic clergy and monarchists persecuted Jewish Captain Alfred Dreyfus in the famous 1894 trial. Numerous expulsions and forced conversions of Jews occurred during the Middle Ages in addition to Jews in certain French provinces being forced to wear a badge following the edict of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. With these events as a partial background, it is no surprise that Jews are sensitive to acts of anti-Semitism in the land of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite (France’s national motto). And, to reaffirm Jewish suspicions, the March 21, 2012 Los Angeles Times referenced results from an ADL survey that compared 2009 and 2012 attitudes towards Jews in France which indicate that nearly half of the French people surveyed hold “classical anti-Semitic notions.”
Former French president Jacque Chirac was reported by Israel Insider to have said on March 1, 2002 that “I would like to say clearly there is no upsurge in anti-Semitism in France.” Similar assurances have been recently made by President Sarkozy. Protecting the Jews of France requires, however, the protection of the Jews of Israel. And, as long as Israel is vilified in the French media, abused in academia, and betrayed by the French government, anti-Semitism will not abate, and Jews will continue to be vulnerable to such despicable attacks such as has occurred this week. And as long as Muslim radicals in France are not dealt with in the severest way, violence against Jews will continue, and France will not be safe for Jews.
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