Sunday, February 26, 2006

Anti-semitism?

Today the major news in France :
Tens of thousands of people marched through Paris and other French cities on Sunday to denounce racism and anti-Semitism following the torture and killing of a young Jewish kidnap victim. Politicians from left and right joined the marchers under banners declaring "France united against barbarism" to express their shock over the gang killing.
It is a good thing that the French can get together and be united against barbarism and racism. The gang was barbaric indeed. However, I feel very uneasy when I see people call this over and over again an "anti-semitic" crime. Other non-Jewish people were also either targeted or abducted by this so-called gang. It is not clear whether greed or sheer hatred for whomever was not the real motivation.
As the Jerusalem Post cautiously [and rightly] reported:
It remains unclear whether anti-Semitism was the motive for the grisly killing, which may have been part of a suburban extortion racket.

What bothers me is the quick emotional response not only of the Jewish community - that is somewhat understandable - but also of politicians and especially of Interior Minister who is known for his quick and often mistaken remarks :
To know whether they (Halimi's kidnappers) acted with anti-Semitism or partly with anti-Semitism is not important. Because anti-Semitism there was," Sarkozy said Sunday.

Then you also get stupid reports by conservative newspapers such as the Chicago Sun Times which has exposed once again its great ignorance, when it wonders "How many Jews will be living in France in five years' time?". Phu-leez!

Let's remember that France has the largest Jewish community in Europe as well as the largest Muslim community in Europe. If anti-Semitic acts, and acts against Muslims increased in France starting in 2000, reflecting the rise in Israeli-Palestinian violence, the tension has decreased a great deal since then and things go fairly well over all, thanks to constant dialogue between the two communities.
As the Grand Rabbi of France said, "An investigation is underway," so let's not jump to hasty conclusions and agree to see such a terrible crime used for political purposes as Sarkozy does once again.

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