Jews Are Being Murdered in Paris. Again.

April 3, 2018

It’s no rare thing for the Israeli prime minister to enrage the Jews of the diaspora. But three years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech that won him near-universal condemnation.

In the aftermath of several deadly attacks in European cities like Paris and Copenhagen, Mr. Netanyahu called on Jews to leave Europe. “Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country. But we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home,” he said, echoing comments he had made more subtly the month before at Paris’s Grand Synagogue.

Mr. Netanyahu’s suggestion of “mass immigration” was “unacceptable,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the European Jewish Association. Abraham Foxman, then head of the Anti-Defamation League, suggested such a policy would “grant Hitler a posthumous victory.” Denmark’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, said he was “disappointed.” Smadar Bar-Akiva, the executive director of JCC Global, said “the calls for French Jews to pack their bags” and move were “disturbing and self-defeating.”

François Hollande, then president, echoing a chorus of European leaders, pushed back hard, appealing to his country’s Jews: “Your place is here, in your home. France is your country.”

Is it?

This is a question worth seriously asking following the barbaric murder last week of Mireille Knoll.

Ms. Knoll, 85, believed Mr. Hollande. France was her place, her home, her country. And Paris was her city.

She believed this despite the fact that it was also the city where, when she was 9 years old, the police rounded up 13,000 of the city’s Jews, 4,000 of them children, and crammed them into Vélodrome d’Hiver, a cycling stadium, before shipping them to their deaths at Auschwitz. Ms. Knoll narrowly escaped this largest French deportation of Jews during the Holocaust and fled to Portugal with her mother.

After the war, she married a man who had survived Auschwitz. She returned to her native land where she built a home and raised a family. French to her core, she stayed in Paris even as her grandchildren moved to Israel.

She remained in her apartment in the 11th arrondissement when, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, she was stabbed 11 times. Her apartment was then set on fire. Firefighters found the burned body on Friday night.

Parisian authorities are investigating the murder as being motivated by the “membership, real or supposed, of the victim of a particular religion.” But euphemisms should have no place in describing the nature of Mireille Knoll’s death. She was murdered by men apparently animated by the same hatred that drove Hitler.

Two suspects, a 29-year-old and a 21-year-old, have been arrested. The older man is a neighbor Ms. Knoll has known since he was a child. The younger, according to reports, is homeless. One of the suspects told the investigators that the other had shouted “Allahu Akbar” while killing Ms. Knoll, according to Le Monde. (A lawyer for the Knoll family, Gilles-William Goldnadel, confirmed that in a phone call.) On Tuesday, Gérard Collomb, the interior minister, told Parliament that one of the attackers had told the other: “She’s a Jew. She must have money.”

In fact, Ms. Knoll was “poor,” according to her son, Daniel. She’d lived most of her life in the same apartment in the subsidized housing project where she was killed.

It’s a neighborhood that has already borne witness to a nearly identical crime. Almost exactly a year ago, a 65-year-old Jewish widow named Sarah Halimi was murdered by her neighbor, 27-year-old Kobili Traoré. Other neighbors said they heard Mr. Traoré scream “Allahu Akbar” as he beat Ms. Halimi, a retired doctor, to near death in the early hours of April 4, 2017. He then threw her body into the courtyard below.

It took months for Ms. Halimi’s murder to be categorized as an anti-Jewish hate crime. “It was scandalous,” said Mr. Goldnadel, the lawyer, who also represented the Halimi family.

This time, French authorities have been quick to call the crime by its proper name. On Monday, President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “I would like to express my shock at the appalling crime committed against Mrs. Knoll. I reaffirm my absolute determination to fight anti-Semitism.” On Wednesday, he said that she was murdered “because she was Jewish” at a tribute to a police officer killed in an Islamist attack. Mr. Macron has been widely praised by the country’s Jewish community for his moral clarity in describing anti-Zionism as a “reinvented form of anti-Semitism.”

Anti-Semitism was supposed to be a disease of the far right. But the people actually killing Jews in France these days are not members of the National Front. They are Islamists.

“The major crimes against the Jewish community — Ilan Halimi, the Toulouse killings, the Hyper Cacher killings, Sarah Halimi — all of them have all been carried out by radicalized Muslims,” Robert Ejnes, the executive director of CRIF, an umbrella organization of French Jewish groups, told me in a call from Paris. “These young people have French identity cards, but they hate what France stands for. This is the nature of the problem we are facing. And it’s very hard to talk about.”

Here are some facts that are very hard to talk about: Jews represent less than 1 percent of the population in France, yet in 2014, 51 percent of all racist attacks were carried out against them, according to the French Interior Ministry. A survey from that year of about 1,000 French respondents with unknown religious affiliation and 575 self-identified Muslims, conducted by the AJC Paris and the French think tank Fondapol, found that the Muslim respondents were two or three times more likely to have anti-Jewish sentiments than those from the random French group. Nineteen percent of all respondents felt that Jews had “too much” political power. Among Muslims, the number was 51 percent. As for the idea that Zionism “is an international organization that aims to influence the world and society in favor of the Jews,” 44 percent of Muslims surveyed approved of this statement. The rest of the survey is just as devastating.

For years now, France has deployed armed troops to protect Jewish synagogues and schools. But the violence on the streets — a 15-year-old girl wearing the uniform of her Jewish school slashed in the face; an 8-year-old boy wearing a kippah assaulted; teenage siblings called “dirty Jews” before being beaten — hasn’t abated. On Wednesday, hours before a march in honor of Mireille Knoll, the office of the Union of French Jewish Students at the Sorbonne was ransacked and defaced with graffiti like “Viva Arafat” and “death to Israel.”

Whatever else the investigation of Ms. Knoll’s murder might reveal, this much we know for certain: The men who are accused of killing her were living in a culture in which Jews are reviled on the far right and, increasingly, on the far left; in which sensitivity toward cultural differences have driven too many for too long to ignore the spread of an ancient hatred in a vicious new form; in which attacks on Jews have been explained away as politically motivated by events in the Middle East. In such a culture, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some would come to the conclusion that Jewish blood is cheap.

In the wake of Ms. Knoll’s murder, all of the usual lines are being repeated. Anti-Semitism is the hatred that never dies. Violence that begins with the Jews never ends with them.

All of this is true. What’s also true is that anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred in the world because individual people have sustained it in every generation. It cannot be defeated until we look these people and their ideologies in the face.

Every French Jew — like millions of Jews throughout history — will have to make their own choice about whether to leave their homes for safer shores or to stay and fight for their rightful place in a country that prides itself on being a beacon of liberty and fraternity. But perhaps the better part of wisdom is with one of Mireille Knoll’s granddaughters, Noa Goldfarb. Following her grandmother’s murder, she wrote in a Facebook post from Israel: “Twenty years ago, I left Paris knowing that neither my future nor that of the Jewish People is to be found there.”

The article was published on The New York Times
 

Additional Articles

“You All Say ‘Never Again’, Make It So”, Urges Rabbi Menachem Margolin

AHEAD OF MUNICH AUCTION TOMORROW, EUROPEAN JEWISH CHIEF CALLS ON GERMAN POLITICAL LEADERS TO BAN SALE OF NAZI MEMORABILIA
AND PUT BUYERS ON WATCH LIST
“You all say ‘Never Again’, make it so”, urges Rabbi Menachem Margolin .
At 10am today morning (CET) a major Munich based auction house Hermann Historica is conducting an online sale of personal items such as cutlery sets, jewellery and signed letters and photographs belonging to the leadership of the Nazi Party – Himmler, Goring and Hitler himself among them.
European Jewish Association (EJA) Chairman Rabbi Menachem has written to the leadership of all of Germany’s mainstream political parties to put in place legislation that will ban the public sale of such items and - in the meantime - compel sellers to divulge the names of buyers so that they can be kept on government watch lists in the interests of public safety.
In his letter to all the political leaders, the EJA Chief suggested that the authorities would want to know who was buying the personal items of Osama Bin Laden, Anders Breivik or Stephan Ernst for public safety reasons, and those glorifying, sentimentalising or adulating the Nazis are every bit as dangerous.
Rabbi Margolin wrote,
“Almost every week we at the European Jewish Association are having to respond to attacks on community buildings and more worryingly still, physical or verbal attacks on Jews themselves. Alarmingly, it is Germany that leads Europe in the sheer volume of reported anti-Semitic incidents.
“Selling such items should be no different to selling the personal items belonging to Osama Bin Laden, or Anders Breivik. The argument of historical interest is pure semantics. As political representatives concerned with the wellbeing and safety of your citizens, we cannot help wonder if you would not want to know who was buying Bin Laden’s fruit bowl or Stephan Ernst’s photographs and why they would even want them.
“In waiting for a ban to be put in place, we urge the German authorities to compel auction houses to divulge the names of those who are buying such material, in order to know whose hands they have fallen into. The names should then be put on a government ‘watch’ list, for public safety.
“Six Million Jewish lives were lost during the Nazi regime. Today an increasing number of Jewish lives are being lost and more are threatened because of the “oldest hatred”.
“Politicians are wont to say ‘never again’. We urge you to make it so.”

Europe: Preparing for Passover in the shadow of Corona Crisis

Alongside logistical challenges European Jews face anti-Semitic propaganda that attributes the Corona epidemic to a “Jewish conspiracy.”
In the shadow of the Corona crisis, and much like most of the free world, European Jews have also been in quarantine for a number of weeks and have been trying to preserve a Jewish lifestyle as much as possible as well as prepare themselves for Passover with a growing shortage of kosher products. But alongside the logistical challenges and the impact on the daily life by the required isolation practices, European Jews are also facing anti-Semitic propaganda that attributes the Corona epidemic to a “Jewish conspiracy”.
In France, posts on social networks with anti-Semitic cartoons portraying the Jewish former French health minister, Agnès Buzyn, as responsible for the Corona epidemic have gone viral among far-right groups in the country. The Jewish community in Belgium is also reporting an increase in anti-Semitic discourse on the social networks.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association (EJA): "Unfortunately, the usage of international crisis to promote anti-Semitic agendas is nothing new. The EJA Virtual situation room, which we established at the beginning of the epidemic, receives daily reports of logistical difficulties from Jewish organizations and community leaders, but unfortunately also anti-Semitic voices that attributing the virus to a Zionist-Jewish conspiracy."
Rabbi Margolin also mentions that despite the difficulties and the closure of much of the borders, the EJA managed to send over 100,000 kits of matzah and kosher groceries for Passover to hundreds of Jewish communities across the continent: "Despite the severe crisis, Jews are responsible for one another and practice “arvut hadadit”. There are hundreds of students and volunteers - members of Jewish communities from all over Europe who are purchasing food and medicines for those in need and distributing it in their communities.
Naturally, the Jewish community in Italy has experienced the greatest difficulties so far. David Liscia, The President of the Jewish Community of Florence and Simone Santoro, member of the Jewish Community of Turin, Italy, point out that: "Due to the precarious and difficult situation in Italy, each of us, from the Jewish communities stays at home. With that, we make efforts to ensure that Jewish life is continued in the best possible way. In the morning kindergarten teachers gives live lessons to the children, while in the afternoon there are Talmud, and Torah lessons as well as Passover lessons in order to be able to maintain a proper Seder in isolation. Some of the smaller Jewish communities do not have a kosher supermarket or special stores for Passover. We usually buy all the commodities in bulk and sell them to community members. This year of course it was not possible - so we try to arrange groceries for everyone, which is not easy. We also deal with the problematic economic situation like the rest of the country."
In Spain, which stands next to Italy as the country most severely affected by the Corona virus so far in Europe, the Jewish community, which has been quarantined for three weeks, works hard to preserve Jewish life. The President of the Jewish Community in Madrid, Leon Benelbas says: "The Jewish community in Spain is working to strengthen community solidarity. The Jewish School in Madrid continues to work through digital platforms that allow students to continue studying history, Judaism, and Hebrew. We also use the ZOOM platform for collective prayers and rabbinic classes, at least twice a day. At the same time, the “EZRA” organization organizes grocery deliveries to all the Jewish families who are in need, and it is important to note that the “Kadisha company” continues to perform burial ceremonies according to Halacha requirements, and so far we are taking all precautions according to the administration's instructions.
The Jewish community in the Netherlands is also facing difficulties as a result of the quarantine. Anne Ornstein, member of the Amsterdam Jewish community: "Older people can no longer receive visits in order to prevent infection - a directive that profoundly affects those people in the Jewish community and we are organizing groups of young members from our community to help the elderly by volunteering. Like every other city in Europe, the synagogues are closed, and someone told me that this is the first time since World War II that this is happening. We are also preparing ourselves for Passover with the "Make Seder yourself" initiative of Chabad and other Jewish communities in the Netherlands to make sure that people who lives alone or families in need will everything they need for Passover Seder. "
Oliver Bradley, an activist in the Jewish community in Berlin: "The Jewish community in Berlin is not suffering like all other Jewish communities in Europe because there is still no full closure and no long queues at the supermarket. The Jewish supermarket in Berlin has been full of kosher products for Passover two weeks ago, and many Jews have already stocked up with supplies for the holiday season. You can't tell what will happen in the future. Of course, schools are closed, most kindergartens are closed (open only to children whose parents work in necessary jobs), but as mentioned, that can change at any moment. "
The article was published on Arutz 7

Head of EJA Blasts Grotesque and Disgusting Antisemitic Aalst Carnival Flot – Seeks Assurances from City Mayor

The Chairman of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin today blasted the organisers of the Carnival in the Belgian city of Aalst for allowing a float to take part depicting Hasidic Jews with grotesque hooked noses standing on chests of money, and asked the mayor Christoph D'Haese for a full explanation of how this was allowed to happen.
Rabbi Margolin expressed his incredulity as to how such an image, reminiscent of the worst anti-Semitic tropes and propaganda, was allowed to form part of a celebration in Belgium in 2019.
In his letter to the mayor, Rabbi Margolin said,
“When I first saw the images I thought it was a sick joke. I simply find it hard to believe that a carnival float could replicate the most disgusting and prejudiced stereotypes of Jews that are regularly conjured up by right wing extremists, Nazis and fascist sympathisers.
“I write to express not only the deep disgust of our association, that represents Jews from across the continent, but to ask you, as the Mayor - a public servant representing all faiths, colours of society -how this float was even seen on the street, let alone as part of a celebratory carnival.
“I need not explain the deep distress and hurt to Jews not only in Aalst, in Belgium but all over Europe, caused by this grossly offensive depiction of Jews. I sincerely hope and trust that this was a gross oversight, and that not only an apology from the organisers will be forthcoming, but also an assurance from you that all floats will be properly vetted in future and that such a float has no place in someone’s garage, nevermind a public carnival.
“I have long made the case for educational programmes to be put in place in Belgium that combat such negative and patently false stereotypes, the float at the carnival in Aalst are a clear demonstration that this is now a matter of pressing urgency.”

‘How can there be Jews in Europe if you keep bringing in laws against us?,’ asks Jewish leader after Greece rules to ban slaughter without stunning

Jewish freedom of religion is under direct attack across Europe from the very institutions that have vowed to protect our communities, said European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin following Greece’s Supreme Court’s ruling that ritual slaughter without stunning violates EU law, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.
The ruling is an immediate consequence of a ruling by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg last December that member countries may ban the practice of ritual slaughter in order to promote animal welfare, without infringing the rights of religious groups.
The December ruling said that the EU’s animal slaughter regulation “does not preclude member states from imposing an obligation to stun animals prior to killing which also applies in the case of slaughter prescribed by religious rites”, but encouraged member states to find a balance.
"It is now clear that a number of member states are zealously applying the former whilst ignoring the latter," said Rabbi Margolin in a reaction to the Greek decision.
The Brussels-based European Jewish Association represents hundreds of communities across the continent.
“We warned in December about the downstream consequences that the European Court of Justice ruling carried with it, and now we see the outcome. Jewish freedom of religion is under direct attack. It started in Belgium, moved to Poland and Cyprus and now it is Greece’s turn.
“These direct attacks are coming from many of the same governments and institutions who have sworn to protect their Jewish communities. What we are witnessing is rank hypocrisy," said the EJA leader.
He added: "When it comes to antisemitism, governments and institutions rightly stand behind us. But when our faith and practice is assailed left and right by laws, they are nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be found."
“What use is it to protect Jews while legislating fundamental pillars of our religion out of existence?,’’ he asked.
He said his group ‘’will urgently making representations to the highest levels of the Greek government to get direct answers to this simple but fundamental question: How can there be Jews in Europe if you keep bringing in laws against us?’’
Under freedom of religion, which is protected by the European Union as a human right, EU legislation allows exemption on religious grounds for non-stunned slaughter provided that they take place in authorized slaughterhouses. Jewish kosher religious practice requires livestock to be conscious when their throats are slit.

‘How can there be Jews in Europe if you keep bringing in laws against us?,’ asks Jewish leader after Greece rules to ban slaughter without stunning

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