1. A turning point in French attitudes to Jews?
2. His mother, Ruth, sat in front of the body, crying softly
3. Torturer was the son of an Egyptian newspaper correspondent
4. In Russia, five teens jailed for killing a Jew with a cross
5. Croat sentenced for Jewish school attack in Vienna
6. Elie Wiesel accosted by Holocaust denier in San Francisco
[Note by Tom Gross]
This is an update to Ilan Halimi: Tortured and killed in Paris because “the Jews have money” (Feb. 23, 2006).
The body of Ilan Halimi, the 23-year-old working-class Parisian Jew who was held hostage, horrifically tortured, and eventually killed by a Muslim gang in Paris last year, was re-interred in Jerusalem on Friday. This comes exactly one year after his death according to the Hebrew calendar.
The murder of Halimi, who had worked as a store clerk, was the most brutal in a string of hundreds of violent attacks on Jews in France in recent years. It also marked something of a turning point in official French attitudes to Jews and the way in which the French media demonizes Israel.
Although the problem of slandering Israel through falsified media reports continues in France, there has been a reduction over the last year in such incitement, and as a result there has also been a reduction in physical and verbal assaults on Jews. This contrasts with other countries, such as Britain, where the rate of anti-Semitic attacks continues to rise, often spurred on by outright lies told about Israel by certain journalists and news organizations.
HIS MOTHER, RUTH, SAT IN FRONT OF THE BODY, CRYING SOFTLY
At the memorial service for Halimi at Paris’s main synagogue after his death last February, for the first time the entire French political establishment, including President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and the archbishop of Paris, attended. (They had failed to attend funerals or memorial services for other French Jews murdered in acts of anti-Semitic violence in recent years.)
Halimi’s reburial, in the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem, was covered by the Israeli press and some international news agencies. It was also covered by Le Monde, but only in five paragraphs (www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0,36-865594,0.html). I was unable to find it in Le Figaro yesterday. (I noted in my article on Halimi written in the aftermath of his murder that “Le Figaro carefully avoided mentioning Halimi was a Jew.”)
Both Ha’aretz and Reuters said “hundreds” of people attended Halimi’s re-interment. The Associated Press said “dozens”.
Halimi was reburied in Jerusalem at the request of his parents. The ceremony on Friday was attended by France’s chief rabbi, Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi, and France’s ambassador to Israel, Jean-Michel Casa, who said that Halimi’s murder had shown that “anti-Semitism was a force that all of France must come together to defeat.”
According to the website of the International Herald Tribune, his mother, Ruth, sat in front of the body, crying softly.
TORTURER WAS THE SON OF AN EGYPTIAN NEWSPAPER CORRESPONDENT
Halimi was tortured while his captors demanded a ransom from his family, who they taunted with anti-Semitic abuse. Three weeks later, they dumped Halimi naked, handcuffed and covered with burn marks in the Essonne region south of Paris, where he was found on Feb. 13. He died on the way to the hospital.
The French police officer leading the investigation said the gang “kept him naked and tied up for weeks. They cut bits off his flesh, fingers and ears, and in the end poured flammable liquid on him and set him alight. It was one of the cruelest killings I have ever seen.”
The gang phoned the family several times and made them listen to verses from the Koran while Ilan screamed as he was tortured in the background. One of the gang was the son of an Egyptian newspaper correspondent in France. Another gang member told police his accomplices took turns to stub out cigarettes on Ilan’s forehead while voicing hatred for Jews.
Last February, I wrote an article about Halimi’s murder. This article, complete with a fresh introduction, photos and a cartoon, can now be seen here.
IN RUSSIA, FIVE TEENS JAILED FOR KILLING A JEW WITH A CROSS
Also last Friday (Feb. 9, 2007), five teenagers in Russia were jailed for killing a Jew with a cross. The teenagers identified a 21-year-old man as Jewish, beat him, dragged him to a Christian cemetery and fatally stabbed him with a metal cemetery cross, a court official said.
The Yekaterinburg Regional Court convicted the five of murder motivated by reasons of ethnic and racial hatred. Four of the murderers were sentenced to terms ranging from 5-7 years and one to 10 years in a prison colony, court secretary Yekaterina Maslennikova said. The murder took place on Oct. 1, 2005.
CROAT SENTENCED FOR JEWISH SCHOOL ATTACK IN VIENNA
On Thursday (Feb. 8, 2007) a 24-year old Croatian man was sentenced to 15 months in prison by an Austrian court for vandalizing a Viennese Jewish school.
He smashed and destroyed all 126 windows, doors and furniture at the Lauder Chabad School on Nov. 26, 2006, causing $190,000 worth of damage.
The man, who had come to Vienna as a tourist, reportedly told police that he felt compelled to damage the school because “there were too many Jews in Austria.”
The court said the man’s anti-Semitism was a contributing factor in determining his sentence.
ELIE WIESEL ACCOSTED BY HOLOCAUST DENIER IN SAN FRANCISCO
Elie Wiesel, the Auschwitz survivor, Nobel Prize winner and the author of more than 40 books, was dragged out of a San Francisco hotel elevator by a Holocaust denier who had reportedly been tracking him for weeks.
The incident occurred on February 1, after Wiesel participated in a panel discussion at a peace conference at San Francisco’s Argent Hotel.
According to police, the suspect accosted Wiesel in the hotel elevator at around 6:30 p.m. as he was leaving the conference, saying he wanted to interview him. Wiesel said he would do the interview in the lobby. At that point, the attacker violently pulled the elderly Wiesel out of the elevator, San Francisco police said.
In a posting on the anti-Semitic Web site ZioPedia, a writer using the name Eric Hunt takes credit for the attack: “After ensuring no women would be traumatized by what I had to do (I had been trailing Wiesel for weeks), I stopped the elevator at the sixth floor. I pulled Wiesel out of the elevator. I said I wanted to interview him.” Wiesel grabbed at his chest and yelled for help, according to the posting. “I told him, ‘Why don’t you want people to know the truth?’” Later in the posting, the website (which claims to be anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic) calls the Holocaust a “myth”.
Police said that the suspect tried to force Wiesel into one of the rooms, but ran away when Wiesel started yelling for help and hotel security staff ran to his aid.
The incident, which happened a week ago, was only reported publicly in The San Francisco Examiner on February 9.
For more on Elie Wiesel, see the fifth article in the dispatch The Holocaust’s Arab heroes (& Polish righteous Gentile recommended for Nobel Prize) (Oct. 11, 2006).
And also the third note in the dispatch Soros plans an alternative to AIPAC (& other news items) (Oct. 20, 2006).
-- Tom Gross