Protesters mass in France, Israel, UK to demand justice for Sarah Halimi

April 26, 2021

In France, some 25,000 demonstrate against court decision that Jewish woman’s killer was too stoned to be held criminally responsible
Protesters gathered in Paris, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and London on Sunday to demonstrate against the ruling of France’s highest court that the killer of a Jewish woman in the French capital was not criminally responsible because he had smoked marijuana before the crime.
Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman, was pushed out of the window of her Paris flat to her death in 2017 by neighbor Kobili Traore, who shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic).
But in a decision earlier this month, the Court of Cassation’s Supreme Court of Appeals upheld rulings by lower tribunals that Traore cannot stand trial because he was too high on marijuana to be criminally responsible for his actions.
Some 25,000 protesters, many of them Jewish, gathered in Paris to demand justice for Halimi.
Under the banner of “Justice for Sarah Halimi,” the rally at Trocadero Square overlooking the Eiffel Tower reflected the widespread indignation of many French Jews at the April 14 ruling by their country’s highest court.
It was held under tight security arrangements in a cordoned-off enclosure where the Jewish umbrella group CRIF played a video on a giant screen in which French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia demanded another “trial of facts,” even if it ends without sentencing of Traore.
The rally Sunday was the first time in decades that a large number of French Jews gathered to protest against organs or actions of the French state.
“The clamor has risen and hope has returned. That hope is all of you here,” Halimi’s brother William Attal told a crowd of several thousand at the Trocadero esplanade in Paris.
The MP who leads Macron’s Republic on the Move party, Christophe Castaner, addressed the protest, which was also attended by opposition leaders and by several well-known actors.
Jacques Essebag, a French-Jewish comedian who is known by the stage name Arthur, in a video message said he has “decided to start using drugs because in France you can do whatever you want, even kill your neighbor if you don’t like her, if you use drugs.” He then added: “What has become of this country?”
Former French first lady Carla Bruni, wife of Nicolas Sarkozy, also appeared at the Paris rally, as did Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who said the city would soon name a street in Halimi’s memory.
“It will also be a way of doing her justice,” Hidalgo said.
However, the video message from Hidalgo, a Socialist politician, provoked whistles and booing from many protesters at the event, which did not feature live speeches due to COVID-19 measures.
Organized by the CRIF umbrella of French Jewish communities, the rally was called “to show our astonishment at a decision that conforms to the law, but not to justice,” CRIF said.
The event featured many French and Israeli flags, and those of the far-right Jewish Defense League.
More than 20,000 people demonstrated in Paris, and up to 2,000 took part in a march in the Mediterranean city of Marseille, police said, while around 600 gathered outside a synagogue in the eastern city of Strasbourg.
Three protests were also held in Israel, all taking place at 3 p.m. in order to coincide with the demonstration by the Jewish community in Paris. The main demonstration was in front of the French Embassy on Herbert Samuel Street in Tel Aviv.
The Jewish community in the United Kingdom also demonstrated in front of the French Embassy in London on Sunday at 1 p.m., in solidarity with the community in France. Attendance was limited because of COVID-19 restrictions.
In addition to the rally in Paris, protest rallies were planned to take place on Sunday in Marseille, Strasbourg and Lyon. Abroad, rallies were scheduled to be held in Washington, DC, Los Angeles and Miami in the United States as well as in Rome, Italy.
Some Jewish organizations have used harsh language about the case, including the conservative Europe-Israel group, which called it “the new Dreyfus Trial.” It’s a reference to the anti-Semitic treason charges leveled at a French-Jewish soldier in 1894, and which many to this day believe showed that French society and European societies, in general, were too anti-Semitic to allow Jews to truly integrate.
Israel blasted the decision of the French court last week.
“Sarah Halimi was murdered for clearly anti-Semitic motivations, for the sole reason that she was a Jew,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Hayat told The Times of Israel. “This was a despicable murder that harmed not only the victim herself and her family, but also the entire Jewish community’s sense of security.”
“The way to confront anti-Semitism is through education, zero tolerance, and heavy punishment,” Hayat continued. “This is not the message that the court’s ruling conveys.”
Sarah Halimi was beaten before she was thrown off her Paris apartment building’s roof in April 2017. (Courtesy of the Halimi family)
Critics of the ruling cited apparent composure by Traore, an immigrant from Mali who was 27 when he killed Halimi, a physician in her 60s. Traore, whom a lower court said targeted Halimi because she was Jewish, called her a demon as he pummeled her in her third-story apartment, which he entered by force.
He then threw her out the window and shouted: “A lady fell down from the window!” to cover up his actions, witnesses said. He left the scene, allegedly to escape it, and was arrested on a nearby street.
Others argue that even if Traore was psychotic, he was criminally liable when he took the drugs that made him psychotic and should therefore stand trial. He has no documented history of psychiatric problems.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said he would advance legislation to prevent criminals from avoiding trial by using an insanity defense for actions committed under the influence of drugs.
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Additional Articles

Jewish, Muslim women launch campaign to challenge hatred together

LONDON: More than 250 Jewish and Muslim women have made a commitment to being #ActiveAllies and take firm and united action against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, after declaring that “the time for talking is over” and “we are in this together”.
The women, of all ages and backgrounds and from all parts of the UK, launched the campaign at the Nisa-Nashim Annual Conference — Europe’s only such gathering of Jewish and Muslim women, which took place at the University of Westminster on Sunday, according to a press release issued here on Monday.
Nisa-Nashim’s co-chairs Laura Marks OBE and Julie Siddiqi said: “For too long in both of our faiths communities we have seen insular thinking when it comes to tackling hatred. The time for talking is over, now it’s time for us to take united action together.
“We know that both our communities are the targets of hatred and, largely, by the same type of people — people who are intolerant and despise difference. We need to face this challenge together and by standing up for each other.
“We recognise, as women in Nisa-Nashim, that both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise. The devastating attacks on innocent people in both Pittsburgh and Christchurch have strengthened our resolve and we commit to be #ActiveAllies. It’s not enough, nor is it right, to only stand for ourselves. We are in this together, as Jewish and Muslim sisters — especially when the hatred is targeted at women.”
Over 250 delegates at the conference, along with other Nisa-Nashim members around the UK, have signed up to the #ActiveAllies charter vowing to call upon every political party in Britain to review their processes for preventing, exposing and dealing with both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism within their party.
The conference — titled Faith and Friendship, Shaping the Future Together — also featured a number of keynote speeches, on stage interviews, sessions and workshops. Speakers and presenters included Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, Countdown star and anti-Semitism campaigner Rachel Riley, London Deputy Mayor Debbie Weekes-Bernard and the Deputy Director of Hope Not Hate Jemma Levene.
The article was published on The News

“Some Things Simply Should Not Be Traded” writes EU Jewish Head to Munich Auction House Ahead of Nazi Memorabilia Sale.

“Some Things Simply Should Not Be Traded” writes EU Jewish Head to Munich Auction House Ahead of Nazi Memorabilia Sale.

As Europe marked the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Chairman of the European Jewish Association Rabbi Menachem Margolin has had to write to a Munich Auction house asking them to cancel the sale of items belonging to infamous Nazis Hess, Goring, Himmler and Hitler himself.

Hermann Historica will be holding an auction on the 20th November that includes a number of pieces for sale from the Nazi leadership including framed photographs, silver dinner services, plates, letters and Jewellery belonging to Goring’s wife.

In his letter to the Auction House, Rabbi Margolin said:

“I am writing to respectfully ask you to withdraw the auction. This is not a legal appeal to you, but very much a moral one. What you are doing is not illegal, but it is wrong.

“I need not remind you of the many millions of lives lost as a result of national socialism, nor of the approximately six million Jewish lives that were lost due to mindless antisemitic hatred. This is history.

“Yet today, across Europe and including Germany (which now has the highest recorded cases in Europe), antisemitism in on the rise, and we believe the sale of such memorabilia has little intrinsic historical value but instead will be bought by those who glorify and seek to justify the actions of the greatest evil to affect Europe. The trade therefore in such items should simply not take place.

“In Israel recently there was a case of a letter written by a child murdered in the holocaust that was put up for sale. This went to court, and the ensuing public pressure resulted in the cancelling of the sale. The message from society was clear and unambiguous: some things simply cannot be traded.

“It is in this spirit of understanding that I ask you again to withdraw the Nazi auction items, again not because of any illegality, but instead to send a message that some things particularly when so metaphorically blood soaked, should not and must not be traded.” 

Rabbi Margolin letter:

Some of the items on sale can be viewed here

Germany: Dozens of Jewish graves destroyed in ancient cemetery in Worms

Ancient Jewish cemetery in Worms, Germany vandalized, with dozens of graves shattered and desecrated.
The Jewish community in Germany is in shock after unknown individuals vandalized and desecrated dozens of gravestones in the ancient Jewish cemetery in the city of Worms, leaving many of the grave markers shattered.
Thousands of Jewish worshipers visit the Jewish cemetery every year, considered one of the oldest in Europe. Among the desecrated tombs was also the tomb of the Maharam of Rothenburg who served as one of the chief Ashkenazi rabbis in the Middle Ages (1220-1293).
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association, and the Rabbinical Center of Europe, condemned the ongoing rise of anti-Semitism across the continent.
"There is no doubt that the corona crisis has brought with it a sharp rise in antisemitic discourse on the Internet, and now that most of the closures have been lifted, we unfortunately see how the toxic discourse on social media is turning into physical attacks on Jewish institutions and symbols. "We expect the German government to act swiftly not only to renovate the cemetery but to formally declare the acceptance of the comprehensive program to combat anti-Semitism that that we initiated, which includes a substantial change in the curriculum in the state education system."
Rabbi Joseph Havlin, the head of the Frankfurt court near Worms, expressed shock at the desecration of the cemetery, noting: "We are witnessing, and not for the first time, desecration of German cemeteries alongside a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in the entire public sphere. We call on the German government to declare an uncompromising fight against anti-Semitism to ensure that such acts do not repeat."
The article was published in Arutz 7

Anti-Zionist group demands colleges reveal staff ties to Israel

An anti-Zionist group in the Netherlands is using a freedom of information request pressure Dutch universities into revealing whether any of their staff members have ties to Israel.
The freedom of information request was filed by "The Rights Forum" group, and also seeks to identify what ties and staff relations exist with Jewish communities and organizations such as the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
The Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands, Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi (NL), who also heads up the European Jewish Association’s Committee for Combatting Antisemitism, condemned the The Rights Forum, saying the information request “reeks of antisemitism”.
“The Rights Forum is well known to me. Let us be clear, they want to know any Israeli, any Israeli link and any Jewish people in universities in Holland. The clear inference is that some shadowy Zionist or Jewish cabal is operating in the Dutch university system. This reeks of antisemitism, but it comes as no surprise to me given this group’s reputation.”
“No. What really concerns me is the number of universities that were so compliant with such a transparently antisemitic request. It reminds us that most mayors cooperated during the occupation to pass on the names of their Jewish citizens to the Germans.”
“The difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism is now wafer thin. In all my many years in Holland I can seldom remember such a toxic environment for Jews. This is an appalling submission to the base instincts of an openly hostile group towards Israel, the world’s only Jewish State.”

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