Thursday, February 23, 2006

What's Up With France?

Chirac at a French synagogue

Last week, a Jewish man was tortured and burned to death right outside Paris. Many people immediately suspected that antisemitism played some sort of role in Ilan Halimi's kidnapping and murder, but I wasn't so sure. I wanted them to be wrong; I was hoping the fact that Halimi happened to be Jewish had nothing to do with what happened. It was already a sad enough story. Well, it turns out they were right.

His captors knew he was Jewish and killed him because of it. They targeted Ilan because they think all Jews are rich, that we all have thousands of dollars stashed away somewhere in case someone kidnaps us, and that Ilan's family would pay the 500,000-Euro ransom the were demanding. Or that if they couldn't come up with it themselves, someone in the Jewish community would. And antisemitism motivated at least one of the captors to tortue Halimi.

Yet, the prosecutor in charge of Halimi's case had the audacity to insist that there were absolutely no antisemitic undercurrents to the crime, even thought it was obvious that there were. Why wouldn't he admit it? Probably because he was afraid of sparking the sort of violence from the Muslim community there that left Paris in flames late last year. I guess that's understandable, but you have to wonder what lengths the French (and the rest of Europe, for that matter) won't go to in order to avoid the wrath of radical Islam.

Ilan Halimi.

Instead of confronting the Muslim community head-on, France has chosen to let its Jewish community suffer. And this is yet another chapter in France's long history of ineptitude when it comes to confronting antisemitism. It helped the Nazis wipe out France's Jewish population in the '40s, let Saddam's Iraq build a nuclear reactor on its dime before the Israeli Air Force turned it to dust, enthusiastically backed a ridiculous amount of rabid anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N., treated Arafat like a hero, and then blasted Ariel Sharon for daring to suggest that France wasn't a safe place for Jews while it coughed up legislation intended to bar Jewish kids from wearing anything that might identify them as such. And now, the French law-enforcement system won't even call a spade a spade and suggest that Muslims with antisemitic motives might be involved in Halimi's murder because they think it'll stop Muslims with antisemitic motives from doing the same in the future. Nice logic.

Before I end this post, I'd like to point out to everyone that, upon hearing about what happened to Ilan Halimi, there were no acts of wanton violence by Jews against France or French interests elsewhere. We didn't torch anyone's embassies or go around killing people in protest. And the murder of an innocent man is much worse than someone publishing some stupid drawing in a newspaper.

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