After Toulouse, More Attacks on Jews (COMMENTARY MAGAZINE) Jonathan S. Tobin 06/04/12)
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When four Jews were killed in an apparent terrorist attack in
Toulouse, France, in March, interest in the story quickly evaporated
when the shooter turned out to be a Muslim extremist rather than a
neo-Nazi, as it was first believed. But though the international
press hasn’t done much follow up about the connection between the
current wave of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment sweeping over
Europe and violence against Jews, it appears the problem continues to
grow. As the Times of Israel reports today, attacks on French Jews
are becoming more frequent.
The beating of three Jewish men in Villeurbanne, outside of Lyon, by
ten assailants believed to be of North African extraction is just the
latest incident alarming French Jews.
Joël Mergui, president of the Central Consistory, an umbrella
organization working to coordinate local Jewish communities, said the
country’s Jews were under constant attack. “Not a week passes without
anti-Semitic assaults in France. I refuse to believe Jews will be
forced to choose between security and their Jewish identity.”
The chief rabbi of the Grand Synagogue in Lyon, Richard Wertenschlag,
called the atmosphere “unbearable.”
“These incidents are becoming more and more frequent, so much so,
alas, as to make one take them for granted,” he said.
While French authorities talked about a crackdown on Muslim
extremists after Toulouse, the Representative Council of Jewish
Institutions in France (CRIF) told Le Figaro that incidents such as
the one in Villeurbanne are becoming commonplace, noting that in the
month after the incident, more than 140 attacks on Jews were
perpetrated. But the problem is not just the scale of these assaults
but also the unwillingness of many to confront the source of the
Though attacks against Jews in Western Europe seem to be the province
of Muslim immigrants, it is a mistake to view this violence as solely
the result of the importation of Middle Eastern attitudes.
The flow of raw hate speech against Jews from Cairo and Tehran and
other Arab and Muslim capitals is not to be underestimated, but the
willingness of European intellectuals to lend their support to the
demonization of the Jewish state has given these sentiments a patina
of undeserved legitimacy.
The notion that there is a clean distinction between street violence
and the effort to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist and defend
itself cannot be sustained. European intellectuals may think they
operate on a different level from street thugs. But the logical next
step from the hounding of Jews on the editorial pages and in academia
is clear. So long as Israel is singled out for unfair treatment and
economic and academic boycotts of the Jewish state are treated
as “human rights” causes, we should not be surprised that violence
against Jews is on the upsurge.
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