One month ahead of the presidential election, the French political class wanted to both draw on the emotional impact of the killings and avoid gaffes or politically incorrect statements. All presidential candidates expressed their shock and anger about the deliberate killing of Jewish children. Most attended Jewish services in Paris and Toulouse. President Sarkozy suspended his campaign for three days and his rivals did the same. On the other hand, Sarkozy warned against “amalgamating” the “peaceful and law abiding Muslim community” with jihadists and other radicals, or “calling for retribution.” Many other candidates, or national leaders, said the same.
Such attitudes displease French Jews. For one thing, they know that if all Muslims are not jihadists, jihadism and other extremist movements still spread among French Muslims, especially the younger, French-born, generation. Conversely, they believe that their own global image and condition have steadily deteriorated for years and that this explains at least in part the torturing and killing of Ilan Halimi in 2006 and the Toulouse massacre today.
According to Sammy Ghozlan, a former police superintendent and the head of a French antisemitism monitoring group, street violence against Jews is increasing, and is largely perpetrated by Muslim thugs. (Just one week ago, a Jewish high school student was beaten at Porte de Bagnolet in Paris, until he was rescued by horrified witnesses.) The so called BDS campaign (anti-Israel boycott), while illegal, gains ground and grows more violent. It is not uncommon for BDS activists to “occupy” stores that sell Israeli products or bookshops that sell pro-Israel literature and to dump or damage the items, a practice reminiscent of the SA, anti-Jewish boycott in the 1930s. One hears “Death to Jews” mottos frequently in Muslim-populated areas. Such cries sounded last month in Champigny, near Paris, upon the release of a comedy about Sefardi Jews, La Vérité si je mens 3.
French radio and TV indulge routinely in Israel-bashing and even, more recently, Jew-bashing programs; a laxity encouraged, French Jews surmise, by the rampant anti-Zionism of many government agencies and initiatives (like granting sovereign state status to the Palestinian Authority at UNESCO). Last but not least, Prime Minister François Fillon crossed a red line three weeks ago when he bluntly decried both hallal and kosher slaughtering as irrational “ancestral customs” and President Sarkozy failed to reassure when he advocated “voluntary tagging” for ritually slaughtered food.