It was August 9, 1982, in the Pletzl (Paris Jewish quarters). I remember when the French media announced that the Jewish Deli Jo Goldenberg had been attacked by terrorists. I was in my early twenties. Two men had entered the restaurant, thrown a grenade and then indiscriminately emptied their machine guns onto the patrons. Six people died and 22 were wounded in what was soon to be recognized as the worst Jewish death toll in France since World War Two. It had been less than 40 years since the six million had perished in the camps and much of the civilized world was regaining faith in the goodness of mankind. In the fresh aftermath of the Holocaust, Jewish hatred was still a non-subject. Antisemitism was the stigma attached to the Nazis and since they were no more, logically antisemitism should have ceased to exist.
But if we can learn anything from antisemitism, it is that it defies logic. The giant volcano of hatred appeared dormant for a while. To be sure, nobody ever believed that it was completely extinct but simply dormant.
So, an act of vandalism against a Jewish institution here and a couple of graffiti there, never really alerted the Jewish community to what was coming. But it picked-up momentum, as more acts of antisemitism began to be reported monthly, then weekly, then almost daily all over France and most of Europe as well.
In 2003, a Jewish disc jokey, Sebastien Sellam was brutally murdered by a “friend” of his who claimed: “I have killed my Jew”. The killer was arrested, declared insane and put into a psychiatric hospital for a few years. The French government decided to keep the whole affair very quiet for fear of reprisals. They claimed that this had to be an isolated incident and not an act of antisemitism! But what part of “I have killed my Jew” isn’t antisemitic?
Then in 2006, a Jewish man by the name of Ilan Halimi was seduced, kidnapped, tortured and murdered by the “Barbarians”, a gang in the Paris region. Originally, members of the gang called his family and his rabbi to ask for a ransom, but they eventually dumped his body by the nearby railroad tracks with burns over 80% of it. He would die soon after. The Jewish community of France started to wake-up and a surge of emigration to the USA and Israel was noticeable at that time. It appeared that France was increasingly becoming dangerous for Jewish people.
Fast forward to 2012, in the south of France where a 24-year-old man by the name of Mohammed Merah killed three armed forces men in Montauban, and then a rabbi and three Jewish children at Ozar Hatorah Jewish school.
It was only two years ago today that Mohammed Merah committed his crimes, and even though there has been no more killing of Jewish people in France since, the atmosphere is extremely tense.
The Toulouse massacres were the worst killing of Jews since the restaurant bombing of 1982. What took place after Merah’s actions was unexpected. The very monster who had gone on a killing spree at a Jewish school was seen as a martyr by many. One such man who painted Merah as a victim was Tariq Ramadan, a Geneva-born Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford. He stated that: “Merah was a misguided youngster in whose thought there were no values of Islam or racist and anti-Semitic ideas.”
and further added that Merah was “a poor guy, guilty and to be condemned undoubtedly, even if he himself was a victim of a social order which had already condemned him and millions of others to a marginality and a non-recognition of his statute of citizen with equal rights and chances.”
Ramadan wasn’t the only one to victimize Merah. There was also a report of a French teacher who asked for a minute of silence in his memory, and even though she was suspended, the question remains: “what would lead people to spin such a story to minimize the Jewish victims and idolize the perpetrators”?
France is waking up to two realities. Two different realities, yet two connected realities!
Reality number one: Many French people, native-born or Muslim immigrants simply hate the Jews and want them gone, at any price including their death. A recent street march in Paris had people yell:”Jews get out, France is not for you”. It is only a matter of time before we see more killings and you can mark my words on this one!
Reality number two: Jewish people are no longer safe in France. Period! Most Jews will not let their Yarmulkes be visible when they are in public for fear of retaliation. As a matter of fact, the Jewish leadership in Toulouse is advising young Jews to make Aliyah to Israel. French Jews are starting to make plans for a departure and rightfully so!
While I ache for what my brethren are going through in the world and especially in France, allow me to hit the enemies of my people with one more reality, and that is the fact that God will never allow for the destruction of Israel (Jeremiah 31:35-37) and will greatly bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who curse them (Genesis 12:3). Israel has a glorious future ahead and so do those who love my people from whom Messiah Yeshua came (Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 52:13-53:12)!