Fury at French comic's “Heil Israel” jibe

December 08, 2003

* Two Jews were brutally murdered in Paris in apparent anti-Semitic attacks

 

CONTENTS

1. Jews are "so touchy" about the Nazis
2. With his arm raised…
3. "We'll finish Hitler's job"
4. His eyes were gouged out
5. "The next bullet won't come through the mail"
6. Finally, The New York Times reports
7. "Fury at French comic 'Heil Israel' jibe" (Agence France Presse, Dec. 4, 2003)
8. "French comedian equates Israel with Nazism on live TV" (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 6, 2003)
9. "Who speaks for Israel?" (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 5, 2003)
10. "Ritual murders of Jews in Paris" (FrontPageMagazine.com, Dec. 4, 2003)
11. "French Chief Rabbi: Don't wear yarmulkes" (Associated Press, Nov. 19, 2003)
12. "Attacks by Arabs on Jews in France revive old fears" (New York Times, Dec. 3, 2003)



[Notes and summaries below by Tom Gross]

This dispatch is an update to the dispatch of November 18, 2003 titled French schoolbook: "It was an exam day in the occupied West Bank". The text in question has now been withdrawn from the French school curriculum.

 

SUMMARIES

I attach six articles relating to fresh attacks on Jews in France. There are summaries of these articles first:

JEWS ARE “SO TOUCHY” ABOUT THE NAZIS

"Fury at French comic 'Heil Israel' jibe" (AFP, Dec. 4, 2003). "A French comedian who appeared on television dressed as an Orthodox Jew and made the Hitler salute shouting "Heil Israel" has demanded an apology from the programme-makers after they described his performance as offensive. Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala – universally known as just Dieudonne – called a press conference Wednesday night to answer accusations that his appearance on Monday's edition of "You can't please everyone" on state-owned France 3 television was anti-Semitic. "Everyone is so touchy about this issue," he said, threatening to sue France 3 unless it withdrew the charge of anti-Semitism which he said was levelled against him... A presidential candidate in last year's elections, Dieudonne described Osama Bin Laden as the 'most important personality in contemporary history.'"

 

WITH HIS ARM RAISED...

"French comedian equates Israel with Nazism on live TV" (The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 6, 2003). "Hundreds of messages of protest reached the state-run France 3 TV channel following the live broadcast of a stand-up comedian shouting "Heil Israel!" with his arm raised, clad in army fatigues, wearing a hood, a large black hat, and sidelocks mimicking those of Orthodox Jews. Addressing Muslims, comedian Dieudonn said, "I encourage the young people who are watching us in the suburbs to do as I did: Convert! Pull yourself together! Join the axis of good, the American-Zionist axis!" The host of the One Cannot Please Everybody talk show, Marc-Olivier Fogiel, looked flabbergasted and did not respond. Fogiel, a Jew, is usually famous for his skill in repartee. Speaking to the media after his show, he said he "regretted" he did not react in a stronger way to mark his "disapproval of this live hijacking [of the show]... Given today's atmosphere, one cannot allow fanning the flames," said Fogiel, one of the top stars of French TV.

"At the peak of the 2002 wave of anti-Semitic aggressions, [the "comedian"] said: "Abraham created racism. A chosen people! That's the source of racism. What is happening today is the Muslim's answer to that. Jew, Muslim, to me this does not exist; there is no anti-Semitism because there is no Judaism. These are stupid notions." ... Jewish organizations protested several times against Dieudonn's shows, to no avail."

 

“WE'LL FINISH HITLER’S JOB”

"Who speaks for Israel?" (By Caroline B. Glick, The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 5, 2003). "Two Jews were brutally murdered in Paris in the week that followed the torching of the Jewish day school Merkaz HaTorah in the Paris suburb of Gagny. French Jewish novelist Nidra Poller says that the two murders, of a 23 year-old Jewish DJ and of a recently widowed Jewish shopkeeper, were played down by the French press. In the case of the murdered young man, whose throat was slit and whose body was mutilated, the alleged assailant, a young male Muslim, reportedly told his mother after the fact, "Now I can go to paradise. I've killed my Jew."

Poller relates that the French authorities have released the man from custody, claiming that he is insane and therefore unfit to stand trial. There have been no arrests in the case of the Jewish shopkeeper. Her ten year-old daughter and a customer, who hid in the shop's storeroom during the attack, said they saw two North Africans fleeing the scene. Nothing was stolen from the shop. The French authorities have not classified the murders as acts of anti-Semitism... This week, an 11 year-old Jewish boy was brutally beaten by Muslim students at their elite Paris secondary school. While beating the boy, the Muslim students taunted him yelling, "We'll finish Hitler's job."

[Tom Gross adds: One might draw a comparison between the lack of coverage of these murders by the media, the authorities, and many sections of the Jewish community in France, to the lack of coverage given to the two murders of Jews in Turkey shortly before last month's Istanbul suicide bombs. As Craig S. Smith noted in an article in the New York Times yesterday: "There were no public reports of the two recent execution-style killings of Jewish men here [in Istanbul] until after the bombings in November. Many people say the killings put the city's Jews on edge... a Turkish Jewish writer, said that if Jews 'want to be happy in this country, you don't speak too much in the public space.'"]

 

HIS EYES WERE GOUGED OUT

"Ritual murders of Jews in Paris" (By Alyssa A. Lappen, FrontPageMagazine.com, December 4, 2003). ... But the BBC gave the final word to Vienna's Edward Serotta. "One prominent Jewish leader recently said the climate was just like 1933 – this is absolutely absurd." Oh really? Serotta made this bizarre claim precisely a week after two Paris Jews were brutally murdered and disfigured-because they were Jewish. A minor tabloid, Le Parisien, reported the grisly events. But not a single major French newspaper-Le Monde, Figaro or Libération-covered the stories, according to an interview with a victim's mother, distributed by Rosenpress in Revue-Politique.com. In one case, the police advised the family not to call the crime anti-Semitic.

Sebastian Sellam, 23, was a popular disc jockey at a hot Parisian night club called Queen. At about 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday November 19, the young man known as DJ Lam C (a reverse play on his surname) left the apartment he shared with his parents in a modest building in of Paris' 10th arrondissement near la Place Colonel Fabien, heading to work as usual. In the underground parking lot, a Muslim neighbor slit Sellam's throat twice, according to the Rosenpress interview. His face was completely mutilated with a fork. Even his eyes were gouged out... The alleged murderer's family was well known for rabid anti-Semitism, Mrs. Sellam reportedly told Rosenpress, a point confirmed by the victim's brother. Within the previous year, his mother reportedly said, the family found a dead rooster outside their apartment door with its throat slit, and their Mezuzah was ripped from their door post. Leaving dead roosters is reportedly a traditional warning of impending murder." [For more details, read this piece in full, below.]

"... Something considerably darker than professional jealousy must be at work, however, when a murderer completely mutilates his victim's face with a fork and gouges out his eyes or stabs a 53-year-old mother 27 times in the chest and neck. Indeed, in Sura 8, verse 12, the Qu'ran instructs Muslims, "Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): 'I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them'." Evidently, some Muslims take this literally."

 

“THE NEXT BULLET WON’T COME THROUGH THE MAIL”

"French Chief Rabbi: Don't wear yarmulkes" (Associated Press, Paris, Nov. 19, 2003). "Worried about a surge in anti-Semitic attacks, France's chief rabbi has cautioned Jewish men against wearing yarmulkes in public, suggesting they wear baseball caps instead. "I ask young Jews to be alert, to avoid walking alone, to avoid wearing the yarmulke in the street or in the subway and consequently becoming targets for potential assailants," said Rabbi Joseph Sitruk... On Tuesday, the Paris office of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism said it received a letter containing a bullet and a note reading "Jews get out, the next (bullet) won't come through the mail." The group, which filed a judicial complaint, said it has received threatening letters for months, some containing razor blades."

 

FINALLY, THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTS...

"Attacks by Arabs on Jews in France revive old fears" (New York Times, December 3, 2003). [The New York Times finally reports properly on French anti-Semitism three years after the recent wave of attacks began.]. "The boys hide their skullcaps under baseball caps. The girls tuck their Star of David necklaces under their sweaters. Their school in this middle-class suburb east of Paris has been scorched by fire and fear, and those are the off-campus rules. Early one Saturday in November, unidentified vandals set fire to the new two-story wing of the Merkaz Hatorah School for Orthodox Jews that was set to open as an elementary school in January. The fire prompted President Jacques Chirac to call an emergency cabinet meeting and declare that "an attack on a Jew is an attack against France."

... If a Jew goes into an Arab Muslim neighborhood, he says, "You have to carry an umbrella to protect yourself from the stones that fly."... By contrast, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said in a television debate recently: "All those who explain the resurgence of anti-Semitism by the conflict in the Middle East say something that is false. Anti-Semitism existed before the existence of Israel." ... Mr. Sarkozy added that the horror of the Holocaust meant that anti-Semitism had to be treated differently than other forms of racism in Europe. That is a challenge when many of the young Arab Muslim youths who wander the streets have no understanding of the Holocaust."



FULL ARTICLES

FURY AT FRENCH COMIC “HEIL ISRAEL” JIBE

Fury at French comic 'Heil Israel' jibe
Agence France Presse
December 4, 2003

A French comedian who appeared on television dressed as an Orthodox Jew and made the Hitler salute shouting "Heil Israel" has demanded an apology from the programme-makers after they described his performance as offensive.

Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala – universally known as just Dieudonne – called a press conference Wednesday night to answer accusations that his appearance on Monday's edition of "You can't please everyone" on state-owned France 3 television was anti-Semitic.

"Everyone is so touchy about this issue, but I claim the right to take on sensitive subjects," he said, threatening to sue France 3 unless it withdrew the charge of anti-Semitism which he said was levelled against him.

"The ones who are really suffering from racism are not the Jews, but blacks and Arabs. It is easier to make fun of Muslim fundamentalism than Israeli fundamentalism," he said.

Earlier the presenter of the show Marc-Olivier Fogiel as well as the board of France 3 issued statements declaring themselves "shocked and scandalised" by Dieudonne's performance, without directly accusing him of anti-Semitism. Fogiel said the comedian's remarks – which went out live – had taken them by surprise.

"We were trapped. We are culpable for being over-trusting. Today we feel betrayed and insulted by his words," he said.

The 37-year-old son of a French mother and a Cameroonian father, Deidonne has made himself a name for his often controversial humour. Last year an appeal court acquitted him of slander after he described white Catholics as racist slavers.

A presidential candidate in last year's elections, he described Osama Bin Laden as the "most important personality in contemporary history."

"He has succeeded in changing the balance of power and the method of fighting. He is alone against the biggest power in the world. Inevitably that inspires respect," he said.

 

FRENCH COMEDIAN EQUATES ISRAEL WITH NAZISM ON LIVE TV

French comedian equates Israel with Nazism on live TV
By Michel Zlotowski
The Jerusalem Post
December 6, 2003

Hundreds of messages of protest reached the state-run France 3 TV channel following the live broadcast of a stand-up comedian shouting "Heil Israel!" with his arm raised, clad in army fatigues, wearing a hood, a large black hat, and sidelocks mimicking those of Orthodox Jews.

Addressing Muslims, comedian Dieudonn said, "I encourage the young people who are watching us in the suburbs to do as I did: Convert! Pull yourself together! Join the axis of good, the American-Zionist axis!"

The host of the One Cannot Please Everybody talk show, Marc-Olivier Fogiel, looked flabbergasted and did not respond. Fogiel, a Jew, is usually famous for his skill in repartee. Speaking to the media after his show, he said he "regretted" he did not react in a stronger way to mark his "disapproval of this live hijacking [of the show]... Given today's atmosphere, one cannot allow fanning the flames," said Fogiel, one of the top stars of French TV.

Thursday, the management of France 3 and Fogiel issued a joint statement: "We deplore and regret what has been said by Dieudonn on our channel. In troubled and complex times, his words have particularly shocked us all. Our awareness has been increased. France 3 wishes to present you all its apologies."

Dieudonn , the stand-up comedian, is known for his controversial anti-West statements. He once described Osama bin Laden as "the most important personality in contemporary history... He has succeeded in changing the balance of power and the method of fighting. He is alone against the biggest power in the world. Inevitably that inspires respect."

The 37-year old comedian was born Dieudonn M'Bala M'Bala to an African father and a French mother. Former protests did not deter Dieudonn from repeating his act.

Dieudonn started his career by teaming up with Elie Semoun, a Jew of North African origin. The tall outspoken black and the short and shy Jew were a success until the two decided to part.

Dieudonn then tried his hand at politics in 2002 and entered the presidential race. At the peak of the 2002 wave of anti-Semitic aggressions, a local newspaper, Lyon Capitale, interviewed him on the rise of anti-Semitism among the French Muslim youth.

"Abraham created racism. A chosen people! That's the source of racism. What is happening today is the Muslim's answer to that. Jew, Muslim, to me this does not exist; there is no anti-Semitism because there is no Judaism. These are stupid notions. No one is Jewish. Or everybody is Jewish. I don't understand this story.

"To my opinion, Jews are a sect, a fraud. The most dangerous one, because it is the first. Some Muslims are going the same way, reviving the notion of holy war."

Anti-racist organizations sued Dieudonn for these statements. The case was thrown out of court. Jewish organizations protested several times against Dieudonn 's shows, to no avail.

Meanwhile, Dieudonn convened a press conference, and said he would sue France 3 and Fogiel if they did not apologize for calling him an anti-Semite.

A group of members of the French Union of Jewish Students disrupted the press conference, handing out leaflets with a quote of Martin Luther King: "Anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic, and ever will be so." When Dieudonn went up to the group, the students gave him a book, Zionism Explained to our Pals, and left, saying: "There is nothing to discuss with anti-Semites."

CRIF, (Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France), stated its "dismay at the mediocrity of someone who pretends to entertain the French. Dieudonn 's posture is nauseating because he plays with the limits of what is bearable. CRIF expects the public authorities and the anti-racist organizations to react on legal grounds to condemn such statements."

 

WHO SPEAKS FOR ISRAEL?

Who speaks for Israel?
By Caroline B. Glick
The Jerusalem Post
December 5, 2003

Two Jews were brutally murdered in Paris in the week that followed the torching of the Jewish day school Merkaz HaTorah in the Paris suburb of Gagny.

In an interview with Boston's Jewish Advocate, French Jewish novelist Nidra Poller says that the two murders, of a 23 year-old Jewish DJ and of a recently widowed Jewish shopkeeper, were played down by the French press. In the case of the murdered young man, whose throat was slit and whose body was mutilated, the alleged assailant, a young male Muslim, reportedly told his mother after the fact, "Now I can go to paradise. I've killed my Jew."

Poller relates that the French authorities have released the man from custody, claiming that he is insane and therefore unfit to stand trial. There have been no arrests in the case of the Jewish shopkeeper. Her ten year-old daughter and a customer, who hid in the shop's storeroom during the attack, said they saw two North Africans fleeing the scene. Nothing was stolen from the shop. The French authorities have not classified the murders as acts of anti-Semitism.

This week, an 11 year-old Jewish boy was brutally beaten by Muslim students at their elite Paris secondary school. While beating the boy, the Muslim students taunted him yelling, "We'll finish Hitler's job."

Although the headmaster says he has filed a lawsuit against the Muslim youth, they have yet to be expelled and no criminal charges have been brought against them. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, the headmaster explained, "The issue is very complex. There is obviously a victim that should be protected, but there are no admissions and no witnesses willing to testify. We're in a dead-end."

In a speech before diplomatic correspondents in Tel-Aviv this week, the EU's ambassador to Israel said that he was "not willing to agree" that there has been a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe. At the same time, Ambassador Giancarlo Chevallard said he did know for a fact that there has been a rise in attacks against Muslims.

Chevallard's remarks gibe with the EU's refusal to publish its own commissioned report on anti-Semitism in Europe. That report raised the hackles of the EU bureaucracy by showing that the main source of anti-Semitic violence in Europe is the Muslim community, and that the mainstream press encourages anti-Semitism through its distorted coverage of the Palestinian terror war against Israel.

How does Europe defend itself against the growing evidence that the Continent has reverted to its pre-Holocaust levels of anti-Semitism? Aside from denying the truth, it relies on the good offices of sympathetic Israelis. In doing so, Europe is guilty of a kind of subversion.

This is not to say that foreign governments aren't free to make their views of Israeli politics known to Israelis, just as Israeli politicians are welcome to make their views of foreign governments known to foreign audiences. But it's a very different matter when these governments seek to manipulate our politics by funding, publicizing and lending their prestige to the work of Israelis sympathetic to their views.

This is all the more illegitimate given that Yossi Beilin, along with Amnon Lipkin Shahak, Nehama Ronen, Avrum Burg and Amram Mitzna, are all failed politicians. They have all been rejected by the voters, repeatedly. Their constituencies are as imaginary as their "peace treaties." They are as comparatively marginal to the political landscape here as, say, the Free Democrats are in Germany.

It would be interesting to know how German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder would react if the Bush administration (as part of its commitment to free-market economics, of course), began funneling millions to front groups connected to that party. One guess is that the Chancellor would be screaming bloody murder.

Yet this is precisely what the Europeans involved in the Geneva initiative are now doing vis-a-vis Israel. Indeed, they are doing worse. Employing the rhetoric of peace, they are working steadily to undermine the legitimacy of Jewish statehood.

On the specious ground that "the whole world has a stake in Mideast peace," they are purchasing a seat at the Israeli cabinet table. Who put them there? Certainly not the Israeli electorate. Instead, they are creating a virtual constituency consisting of the media, foreign leaders, the UN, Left-wing NGOs and a handful of unpopular Israelis to shape the terms of our government debate.

The problem, however, goes deeper than European interference. There is also the problem of our willingness to let them interfere. Ever since we won our statehood 55 years ago, successive Israeli governments have failed to grasp that Israel is truly sovereign. We hear competing voices among the Jewish people, both in Israel and the Diaspora, and often fail to internalize the fact that these voices, however well funded, do not represent the collective will of the Jewish people embodied in the sovereign decisions of the Jewish state. They do not speak for us. As our collective voice, the government has the sole right to set our policies and defend our rights.

And defend us it must. Over the past three years, it has become absolutely clear that any thought we might have had that the establishment of the State of Israel would be the death knell of millennia of anti-Semitism was misplaced. Two thousand years of Christian Judeophobia and 1400 years of Muslim hatred did not dissipate in 1948. We see this in the daily libels against Israel in the European press and at the UN General Assembly. And we see it in the constant incitement to the annihilation of the Jewish people throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds. The fact is inescapable: Anti-Semitism remains one of the most potent forces in the world today.

Whether he knows it or not, Beilin serves anti-Semites in Europe and the Arab world as a fig leaf. It is he who allows them to advance their anti-Israel agenda with immunity. And this is nowhere as important as in the US. It is in Washington, where traditions of anti-Semitism never took firm root, where Beilin and his colleagues seek to advance their aims. And they are succeeding.

Within the administration, Beilin is being received by the State Department and – more remarkably – by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

Then there are the Democrats. With next year's presidential election before them, US Senators such as Diane Feinstein and Frank Lautenberg and US Congressmen such as Rahm Emmanuel and Darryl Issa are seeking to turn the Geneva initiative into their party's official Middle East agenda. In other words, they are using the fig leaf of Beilin to adopt one of the most anti-Israel documents in recent memory into their ostensibly pro-Israel party platform.

As the surge of anti-Semitism in what was until recently considered civilized Europe shows, much has not changed since 1948. Now, as then, there are millions of people who believe that their interests are advanced by anti-Semitism. Now, as then, Jews are under attack not because of anything that they have done, but because they exist.

But at the same time, something did fundamentally change 55 years ago. We Jews are no longer powerless. We have our government now to defend us. By setting the record straight on who speaks for the Jews, and by going on the offensive against our enemies, our leadership can protect us and strengthen our fellow Jews under attack in Europe.

Yossi Beilin may speak for Europe. He does not speak for Israel. It is past time for those who do to make themselves heard.

 

RITUAL MURDERS OF JEWS IN PARIS

Ritual murders of Jews in Paris
By Alyssa A. Lappen
FrontPageMagazine.com
December 4, 2003

frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=11062

After a European Union poll found that nearly 60% of Europeans consider Israel the greatest threat to world peace, the British Broadcasting Corp. on November 26, asked if anti-Semitism is really increasing. "There was outrage and shock over the recent EU poll," observed Robert Wistrich, director of Jerusalem's Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of anti-Semitism. Many Israelis consider mainstream labeling of "Israel as a Nazi state" a sort of anti-Semitism.

But the BBC gave the final word to Vienna's Edward Serotta. The increasingly "shrill" debate often "paints the entire European continent as a cesspool of hatred for Jews," griped the Central Europe Center for Research and Documentation director. "One prominent Jewish leader recently said the climate was just like 1933 – this is absolutely absurd."

Oh really? Serotta made this bizarre claim precisely a week after two Paris Jews were brutally murdered and disfigured-because they were Jewish. A minor tabloid, Le Parisien, reported the grisly events. But not a single major French newspaper-Le Monde, Figaro or Libération-covered the stories, according to an interview with a victim's mother, distributed by Rosenpress in Revue-Politique.com. In one case, the police advised the family not to call the crime anti-Semitic. [1]

Sebastian Sellam, 23, was a popular disc jockey at a hot Parisian night club called Queen. At about 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday November 19, the young man known as DJ Lam C (a reverse play on his surname) left the apartment he shared with his parents in a modest building in of Paris' 10th arrondissement near la Place Colonel Fabien, heading to work as usual. In the underground parking lot, a Muslim neighbor slit Sellam's throat twice, according to the Rosenpress interview. His face was completely mutilated with a fork. Even his eyes were gouged out.

Following the crime, Rosenpress correspondent Alain Azria reported, Sellam's mother said the Muslim perpetrator mounted the stairs, his hands still bloody, and announced his crime. "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven," he reportedly said. The alleged murderer's family was well known for rabid anti-Semitism, Mrs. Sellam reportedly told Rosenpress, a point confirmed by the victim's brother. Within the previous year, Sellam's mother reportedly said, the family found a dead rooster outside their apartment door with its throat slit, and their Mezuzah was ripped from their door post. Leaving dead roosters is reportedly a traditional warning of impending murder.

The homicide especially traumatized the Paris Jewish community: According to Rosenpress, another gruesome murder, also allegedly committed by a Muslim, occurred earlier that evening. Chantal Piekolek, 53, was working in her Avenue de Clichy shoe store when Mohamed Ghrib, 37, stabbed her 27 times in the neck and chest.

Piekolek's 10-year-old daughter hid in the storeroom behind the shop with a girlfriend and heard the entire crime. There was no evidence of sexual assault, according to Rosenpress. Paris reporters believe the cash remained in the shop's register, but this detail remained unconfirmed at press time.

A report apparently based on Le Parisien story, also appeared in France's biggest Jewish newspaper, Actualité Juive, but added little. The report strangely named the DJ's alleged murderer only by his first name. No surname was given. A reliable Paris journalist says the story is correct.

Initial reports in small news outlets naturally terrified and confused the French Jewish community. Intense anti-Semitism has been building for more than a decade, according to Nidra Poller, an American expatriate in Paris for several decades. Anti-Semitic crimes frequently go unreported in the major press, she said, suppressed by French authorities, victims fearing retribution-and news agencies. Jewish community members thus usually learn of attacks as they did during previous centuries in North African and Eastern European ghettoes-by word of mouth.

In 2001, a rabbi in Poller's neighborhood was kidnapped and held hostage in a car for two hours. Another religious Jew was kidnapped in similar fashion, Poller reported. A Jewish woman and her husband, whom she had just picked up at a local hospital, were abused and threatened with murder for several hours by their Muslim taxi driver, she said.

The charged, anti-Semitic atmosphere in France engenders panic each time a Jewish community member suffers an attack. Crimes typically include harassment, kidnapping, assault, rock-throwing, arson and other abuse, Poller said. Victims usually report the incidents to officials, families and friends. Stories thus spread like wildfire, terrifying people, she noted. Just as frequently, authorities refuse to investigate. Reports are then followed by official and other denials-stoking the community's fear. People don't know what to believe, Poller said. Desperate for verifiable data, they attempt to trace reports through sources back to the victims. But those seeking information are generally told to back off. "They are left wondering whether their sources are correcting wild rumors or covering up dastardly anti-Semitism," said Poller.

French Jews live in constant fear, Poller said. Everyday activities, such as taking a taxi, going to synagogue or shopping can bring attacks. The entire community is traumatized. This pattern was effectively repeated with the November murders in Paris after initial reports indicated that both cases were anti-Semitic crimes.

Then the respected Guysen Israel News clarified essential details. It seemed, the news service claimed, that Piekolek was not Jewish, although her husband was. In a subsequent editorial, Guysen opined that while Sellam's murderer was a known anti-Semite, he was also mad and jealous of the successful DJ he had known since boyhood. The news agency insists that it would label the crimes anti-Semitic if they really were. But other reporters and agencies disagree, and label the murders anti-Semitic.

Parisian Jews are frightened and confused, Poller said. If Sellam's murderer was mad, why wasn't he previously committed to psychiatric confinement? Were initial Rosenpress and Revue-Politique reports on Piekolek correct? Was her murder verifiably not an anti-Semitic crime? Or are subsequent denials based on terrified rejection of facts? (Her husband was Jewish, so it was not "anti-Semitic.") Are Paris Muslims really starting to slaughter Jews?

"In Paris, a lot of Jews already had to leave countries in North Africa," Poller said. "Now, they are told not to talk about anti-Semitism. And they are going to have to flee again."

Alas, it is easy to believe the worst. A few days earlier, an anti-Semitic arson attack hit the Jewish Merkatz Hatorah boys' school on the outskirts of Paris. Prime-Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin later said he hoped to identify "those who carried out this shameful attack."

Given intense and worsening anti-Semitism in France and Europe, there seems little hope that the government will actually investigate the arson, much less prosecute the perpetrator if it finds one. After all, EU officials deny the severity of the problem. Last week, they shelved an EU report on the subject for fear of antagonizing Muslims, who were behind many of the incidents examined.

Two Muslim students at Paris' well-regarded Lycée Montaigne recently beat an 11-year-old Jewish classmate while reportedly yelling at him, "We'll finish Hitler's job." Headmaster Jean-Marie Renault sued the accused aggressors and plans "a debate on the dangers of xenophobia" next term. Complaints rarely produce criminal sanctions, however. Many anti-Semitic crimes are never even reported, Poller said-especially in the housing project cités that ring Paris, where residents are one third North African Muslims. "La Zone is foreign country," writes Theodore Dalrymple.

But is it? Poller left France for a U.S. speaking tour in November with one week's news publications to read on her flight-two weekly magazines and three major newspapers. All of them, she said, were "reeking with hatred [for Jews]." They also sympathized extensively with terrorists. News reports are not factual. "They are sermons," Poller said. A profile of philosopher Gilles Deleuze in the weekly Nouvel Observateur, for example, praised his defense of the Palestinians, citing an article he wrote on "le grandeur de Arafat," despite his personal responsibility for more than 1,000 civilian murders.

EU officials may not want to admit it. But attacks on Jews have been mounting since the terrorist war on Israel began in September 2000. In the last year, however, anti-Semitic attacks in France have grown increasingly bold. In January, Paris Rabbi Gabriel Farhi was attacked several times. In April 2002 alone, the French Interior Ministry recorded nearly 360 anti-Semitic crimes against Jews and Jewish institutions, according to Washington Times reporter Al Webb. [2] In May 2002, a mysterious fire erupted at the Israeli embassy in Paris.

"Yes, a synagogue was burned," Frenchmen routinely admit, according to Poller. "But how do we know this was anti-Semitic?" Sellam's murder was handled in much the same way, she said, although 2,000 mourners attended the popular young disc jockey's funeral. Le Parisien, according to Poller the only print newspaper to report the crime, noted that Sellam was Jewish and his alleged murderer Muslim, but explained the crime as an outburst of jealousy by a lifelong friend. "Sebastian was successful and his murderer was unsuccessful and jealous."

Something considerably darker than professional jealousy must be at work, however, when a murderer completely mutilates his victim's face with a fork and gouges out his eyes or stabs a 53-year-old mother 27 times in the chest and neck.

Indeed, in Sura 8, verse 12, the Qu'ran instructs Muslims, "Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): 'I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them'."

Evidently, some Muslims take this literally. The theme repeats in Sura 47, verse 4: "Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks." Citing this verse, Shafi'i jurist al-Mawardi (d. 1058) prescribes exactly such behavior. When Allah gives Muslims victory over mushrikun in "The Amirate of Jihad"-the non-Muslim region of war, or Dar al-Harb-he advises, "their women and children are taken prisoner, and their wealth is taken as booty, and those who are not taken captive are put to death." [3]

Meanwhile, in Germany, neo-Nazis were arrested in September for planning an arson attack on a Munich synagogue to commemorate Hitler's November 9 Kristallnacht of 1938, in which thousands of Jewish homes and shops were destroyed, hundreds murdered and thousands arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Right. And two grisly ritual murders last week in Paris, France were not anti-Semitic.

Notes
[1] Digital video film interview by © Alain Azria / Avi Rosen / Rosenpress Agency
For further information: redaction@rosenpress.com
[2] Al Webb, "Synagogues Burn as Europe Rages," Washington Times, Apr. 23, 2002
[3] Abu'l-Hasan al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah: The Laws of Islamic Governance (Ta-Ha, 1996), p. 76.

 

FRENCH CHIEF RABBI: DON’T WEAR YARMULKES

French Chief Rabbi: Don't wear yarmulkes
The Associated Press
November 19, 2003

Worried about a surge in anti-Semitic attacks, France's chief rabbi has cautioned Jewish men against wearing yarmulkes in public, suggesting they wear baseball caps instead.

After a weekend arson attack on a Jewish school, Rabbi Joseph Sitruk urged young men to be extra cautious, saying they could become targets of violence if they wear the yarmulke, or skullcap.

"I ask young Jews to be alert, to avoid walking alone, to avoid wearing the yarmulke in the street or in the subway and consequently becoming targets for potential assailants," Sitruk told Radio J this weekend.

In another interview, Sitruk spoke more bluntly.

"I ask them to replace the yarmulke with the baseball cap," he told Radio Shalom on Monday.

"It hurts me" to make such a recommendation, he said. "But I say that to protect our young people."

Sitruk's office said he wanted to remind Jewish men that wearing a skullcap isn't obligatory because they can keep their heads covered, following tradition, by wearing any type of hat.

In the last two years, France has suffered a wave of violence against Jewish schools, temples and cemeteries that coincided with new fighting in the Middle East. Many of the attacks have been blamed on young Muslims.

The violence seemed to be waning recently. But on Saturday, arsonists attacked a private Jewish school in the Paris suburb of Gagny. There were no injuries, but the building was gutted.

On Tuesday, the Paris office of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism said it received a letter containing a bullet and a note reading "Jews get out, the next (bullet) won't come through the mail."

The group, which filed a judicial complaint, said it has received threatening letters for months, some containing razor blades.

 

ATTACKS BY ARABS ON JEWS IN FRANCE REVIVE OLD FEARS

Attacks by Arabs on Jews in France revive old fears
By Elaine Sciolino
The New York Times
December 3, 2003

The boys hide their skullcaps under baseball caps. The girls tuck their Star of David necklaces under their sweaters. Their school in this middle-class suburb east of Paris has been scorched by fire and fear, and those are the off-campus rules.

Early one Saturday in November, unidentified vandals set fire to the new two-story wing of the Merkaz Hatorah School for Orthodox Jews that was set to open as an elementary school in January.

The fire prompted President Jacques Chirac to call an emergency cabinet meeting and declare that "an attack on a Jew is an attack against France."

It also intensified an agonizing debate over the definition and extent of anti-Semitism today in France, and indeed all of Europe, and forced the French government to redouble its efforts to combat it.

But even as they praise their government for acting swiftly, some French Jews, particularly working-class and middle-class Jews of North African origin, are convinced that France is not entirely safe for them. They say the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the American occupation of Iraq have morphed into a battleground for French Arab Muslims to attack Jews. "We Jews in France are paying the price for the events on the ground in the Middle East that are seen from morning to night here on satellite television," said Marc Aflalo, a printer who proudly wears a skullcap and whose three children go to Merkaz Hatorah, a private school of 800 elementary and high school students.

If a Jew goes into an Arab Muslim neighborhood, he says, "You have to carry an umbrella to protect yourself from the stones that fly."

This is not a revival of the old anti-Jewish hatred of the right that infused Europe before the Vatican reconciled with the Jews in the 1960's, but a playing out of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the streets and salons of France.

France is home to about 600,000 Jews – the world's largest Jewish population except for those of Israel and the United States – but also as many as 10 times that number of Muslims of Arab origin, the largest such population in Europe, many of them young, poor and unemployed.

Complicating matters, public opinion throughout Europe is broadly critical of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. A recent public opinion poll of European Union countries found that most citizens believed that Israel was the greatest threat to world peace, followed by Iran, North Korea and the United States.

The poll itself added to the debate about anti-Semitism in Europe. But it is in France, where the burden of the wartime government in Vichy's collaboration with the Nazis still casts a shadow over the political landscape, that the debate is the shrillest and the charges of anti-Semitism the harshest.

Mindful of demographic realities and the strains of anti-Semitism in their country's past, French officials are struggling to denounce and punish acts of anti-Semitism without fueling racism toward France's ethnic Arab Muslim population.

Telling Parliament in November that the Middle East conflict "has entered our schools," Education Minister Luc Ferry said France was facing "a new form of anti-Semitism" that was "no longer an anti-Semitism of the extreme right," but one of "Islamic origin."

By contrast, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said in a television debate recently: "All those who explain the resurgence of anti-Semitism by the conflict in the Middle East say something that is false. Anti-Semitism existed before the existence of Israel."

For that reason he has called for a plan of affirmative action to help integrate Muslims into French society, a highly controversial idea in a country that officially does not identify its citizens according to race, religion or ethnicity.

Still, Mr. Sarkozy added that the horror of the Holocaust meant that anti-Semitism had to be treated differently than other forms of racism in Europe. That is a challenge when many of the young Arab Muslim youths who wander the streets have no understanding of the Holocaust.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.