The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
More Attacks on Jews in France

Even as French Jews are still in shock and mourning after the murder of Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse, fear stalks the community. As the BBC has noted, the beating of another student at a Jewish school by anti-Semitic assailants is only the most notable example:

  • Five bullet-holes were found in a window of the Yitzhak-Rabin music school in Sarcelles, Paris, apparently aimed at a poster advertising a rally outside a synagogue
  • A night club owner in Dijon reported receiving death threats and a demand for money by email from someone claiming to be from al-Qaeda and referring to the Merah killings
  • Three teenage boys reportedly wrote pro-Merah graffiti on an information board opposite the great synagogue in Toulouse
  • Obscene anti-Semitic graffiti was found on a wall in Sartrouville in the Paris area
  • In the southern city of Nice, at least 31 Jewish graves were found desecrated on Friday, with metal Stars of David either torn off or twisted.

It appears that the high-profile attacks in Toulouse have somehow ignited or emboldened anti-Semites across the country to imitate or at least show solidarity with the killer. Yet while France’s Jewish population is bracing itself for further hostility, the New York Times (among other Western media outlets) continues to worry more about the possible repercussions of the attack on Muslims:

The seven brutal killings carried out this month by Mr. Merah — a 23-year-old son of Toulouse, and a professed jihadi — occurred during a divisive presidential race that had already turned toward questions of immigration and Islam. Even though investigators say Mr. Merah was effectively a lone, self-radicalized extremist, his violent ideology fits closely with some French stereotypes of Islam, and Muslims here fear that the tensions brought on by the murders may prove more lasting. . . .

It is certainly true that Muslims face serious discrimination in France and Via Meadia agrees completely that guilt by association is both immoral and unfair. Yet the Jews are clearly the victims here, and with this recent spate of attacks it looks as though they will continue to be at risk. VM is all for attacking religious and ethnic discrimination wherever they are found, but does this really require us to put aside all thought for a small minority now facing a terrible fear? What steps are Jews taking to defend themselves in France? How worried do they feel? Has police protection of Jewish institutions been increased? How are parents explaining this to their kids? Are more French Jews thinking about emigration? What do religious leaders and police authorities say about just how prevalent this climate of hatred is? What makes it so acute in France? These are stories that people would actually read. VM can’t be alone in its curiosity about the impact of these killings on the community most at risk.

Rather than reportage about the obvious (and important) truth that most French Muslims don’t want to kill Jews or anybody else, shouldn’t the press be spending some time on these stories and on investigating the organizations, ideas, publications and financial flows that help nourish a disfiguring hate?

Some serious reporting on the state of anti-Semitism in the Muslim world — not sensationalist, not spaying wild accusations in every direction, grounded in historical analysis, respectful of nuance — would surely be helpful. And on balance it should reduce Islamophobia rather than fanning the flames; facts are better than speculation and rumor, one presumes.

The progressive press has a Lord Voldemort approach to unpleasant realities: talk about them as little as possible and never, ever speak their names. This needs to change.

Published on March 28, 2012 5:00 pm
  • http://inthisdimension.com alex scipio

    Maybe it’d be nice if the Times did so, but look at the reality:

    The NYT has been losing subcribers in droves for years. They are nearly (completely?) bankrupt (I’m talking finanancially – they are beyond bankrupt morally, culturally and civilizationally).

    If they told the truth once in a while, if they actually printed objective NEWS, they’d lose the rest of their subscribers (who are immune to objectivity or they’d read something else).

    And then where would they be?

  • Kris

    “Yet the Jews are clearly the victims here, and with this recent spate of attacks it looks as though they will continue to be at risk. It would be nice if the Times piece had at least mentioned them.”

    Well, not everybody can be as “fanatically philo-Semitic” as you.

    [/sarc]

  • Richard F. Miller

    It’s the problem that dare not speak its name. But fear not, there are no shortage of those who will speak its name–Zionism.

    A not-so-recent leftist trope which has recently gained considerable traction among the epigones holds this: anti-semitism is a product of Zionism. After all, were it not for Israeli depredations, anti-semitism would have ceased years ago. Thus, eliminate Israel and the Jews’ problem is solved.

    I connect this trope with the Times’ story in this way: there is an element of “the Jews have/had it coming” to the failure to properly weight the Toulouse killings while simultaneously elevating the a statistically non-existent threat to Muslims.

    To paraphrase Tom Wolfe, the dark night of violence against Muslims is always descending on the West but somehow only seems to land in Cairo, Libya and Iran.

    Meanwhile in the U.S. and (if the EU isn’t suppressing the numbers), most likely in Europe, the real violence is against Jews.

    But I suppose to Pinch Sulzberger, that’s just “dog bites man.”

  • Jeff

    “What makes it [anti-semitism] so acute in France?”

    The post-war, secular “milieu,” bien sûr.

    “The progressive press has a Lord Voldemort approach to unpleasant realities: talk about them as little as possible and never, ever speak their names. This needs to change.”

    E.g. Mr. Mead’s unwillingness to talk about the Qur’an’s treatment of the Jewish question.

  • WigWag

    Professor Mead is right to call for some serious reporting on anti Semitism in the Muslim world. One of the most serious offenders is a nation that Via Meadia has suggested should be admitted into the European Union.

    Here is a description of the behavior of Prime Minister Erdogan that was recently reported on in the Daily Beast;

    “A fortnight ago, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, accused Israel of committing “genocide” against the Palestinians. Speaking before members of his AK Party, the Islamist party that has ruled Turkey since 2002, Erdogan said that the “children of the Holocaust”—the Israelis—had for a century been “systematically” carrying out a campaign of genocide
    against the Palestinian people.”

    This is really remarkable; a nation that denies committing genocide against a million Armenians and has killed in the past 20 years dramatically larger numbers of Kurds than Palestinians killed in the Israeli-Arab imbroglio claims that Israel is committing genocide against a population that is growing faster than almost any other population in the world.

    If there is a more obvious example of Muslim Jew-hatred than the invective of the Turkish Prime Minister it is hard to know what it is.

    Yet President Obama calls Erdogan a friend and if press reports are to be believed, Obama consults Erdogan more than almost any other political leader.

    Via Meadia more than once has suggested that the West is making a serious mistake by not welcoming Turkey into the EU.

    Given the anti Semitism of the Turkish Government and the increasing violence against Jews committed by European Muslims wouldn’t admitting Turkey as a card carrying European nation just make an already bad situation worse?

  • Michel

    A progressive, modern, free world does not include the rhetorics of a cult group like the muslims. They seek to bully the world, jump up and down demand attention like a spoiled, insulant child. From what I have seen they teach their children to hate the world and control and dominate their women. What a barbaric tribe. The world needs to wake up this is not a peaceful religion. They have expressed their hate towards the Jewish people, but much like the lessons from WW2….it could be you next. Send them all back to their own homeland. Stop buying oil all together as I hear we now have a man-made product that is just as good. Cut them off from the civilized world and leave them peacefully to their own demise.
    The Only Solution

  • chiello marco

    The real problem is that many people don’t know the happiness and in this period “the Great Depression” is the cause (sometimes) of madness.

  • ari

    Jeff, you are right that Islamic doctrine is a source for anti-Semitism, but I think WRM’s post here is right on. He doesn’t delve into the details of the roots of the issue but his scope is fixed on current events. In fact, he is calling for a real investigative approach to this phenomenon which would include debating how Jew’s are depicted in Islam doctrine and society.

  • Wifman

    One of the problems is, of course, that anyone pointing out the large number of sympathisers among the Muslims for violence and terror is immediately labeled “islamophobe” (a word, by the way, created by Ayatolla Khomeni, so really, you may as well be quoting Goebbels).

    An example: on the 12th Sept 2001 I went back to work here in Germany, as we all did. Our first employee came in to pick up his task for the day, and greeted us with the words: “Isn’t it a wonderful day? Finally America got what it deserved!” Needless to say that he was a Muslim.

    You are underestimating the radicalism in the Muslim world. Even in this current case you can see how they do not see non-Muslims even as humans. States an aquaintance of Merah: “We are all really shocked, especially that he would kill north Africans.” Obviously, it does not bear being shocked that someone would shoot an 8-year old straight in the face. After all, she was just a kuffar, worse, a Jew.

  • hepzeeba

    WRM wrote: Yet the Jews are clearly the victims here….

    William Pfaff, over on the New York Review of Books blog, in a post titled “The Middle East Conflict Comes to France,” seems not to agree with you. He sees that the Jews have been been victimized, but he says that so long as matters remain unresolved in the Middle East, the Jews—collectively—are “inviting terrorist attention”:

    ” … Jews historically have been a focus of collective hatred, and in the present international situation invite international terrorist attention so long as the Palestinian rights issue is unresolved and remains a grievance throughout the Muslim world and elsewhere. …”

    The statement is buried in the seventh paragraph of a ten-paragraph piece, but the notion infuses the entire post, not to mention the thinking of a lot of people who should know better.

  • WigWag

    Thank you for pointing out the Pfaff article, hepzeeba (#10 @ March 29, 2012; 11:24 am)

    There was a time that reading an essay like his in the New York Review of Books would have seemed astounding; now, unfortunately, it’s predictably mundane. Let’s not forget that NYRB has been ground zero for Jew-hatred by the leftist intellectual set for some time now. It’s not just Pfaff who soils the pages of that periodical; it’s the likes of Timothy Garton-Ash and Ian Buruma who we were discussing on another thread recently. Most notably it was the biggest bigot of them all, the late, self-loathing, Tony Judt.

    Blaming Jews and Israel for inspiring violence and murder of Jews is by now, such a tried and true trope of leftist anti Semites that one hardly knows what to say about it. In a certain way, Pfaff is refreshing; at least he wears his anti Semitism on his sleeve for all to see. Is there any doubt that the Roger Cohens, Andrew Sullivans, Robert Wrights, and MJ Rosenbergs of the world agree entirely with Pfaff but just don’t have the guts to admit it in terms that are quite as unambiguous?

    Most totalitarian movements have intellectual apologists working overtime to rationalize the otherwise incoherent and bigoted worldview espoused and made operational by the movements’ soldiers. The Nazis had Alfred Rosenberg (and fellow travelers like Knut Hamsun), today’s radical Islamists have Tariq Ramadan and modern day leftist Jew-haters have William Pfaff.

    It has been said many times before, but one cannot help but wonder whether commentators like Pfaff would ever hold any group other than Jews to the same standard. Does he think that the lynching of blacks in the American south in the 1950s was inspired by the behavior of African Americans? To use a more contemporary example, does he believe that the shooting of Trayvon Martin can be explained away as the logical conclusion of the state of black America?

    As mundane as leftist disdain for Jews has become, that doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. It seems to me that the time has arrived for intellectuals of influence to call out their leftist colleagues for what they are; purveyors of hate. Hiding behind the canard that calling anti Semitism by its true name stifles debate or the equally disingenuous notion that there is a difference between hating Israel and hating Jews merely gives a pass to those who are trying to bring us back to the day when Jews were deemed responsible for all of the discrimination and violence directed against them.

    Thank goodness we have a First Amendment that allows anyone to say what they want no matter how vile it is. But that doesn’t mean that Tariq Ramadan shouldn’t be labeled as the terrorist sympathizer that he is and it doesn’t mean he should be granted a visa to enter our country to spew his bigotry.

    Similarly it doesn’t mean that Pfaff’s article shouldn’t be described accurately as what it is; an attempt to blame Jews for any pogrom directed against their community.

  • Jason

    Since the media are having a hard time putting the death of young black male allegedly murdered by a white Hispanic in perspective with the much,much larger problem of black on black violent crime,I’m not holding my breath.

  • hepzeeba

    Thanks, WigWag @11.

    The NYRB declined to publish the comment I posted this morning (perhaps someone took offense when I concluded my short remarks by telling Mr. Pfaff that he was part of the problem, not the solution, for suggesting that, yes, the Jews are collectively guilty for everything that happens in the Middle East).

    Marc Tracy of Tablet has taken a whack at Pfaff, though.

    Cheers, and on to other subjects!

  • hepzeeba

    apologies to all for a broken link above @13

    Let me take another stab at that link to Marc Tracy’s post on Tablet

  • Jim.

    Part of the problem, and what makes the problem so complicated, is envy.

    Other minorities envy Jews for their success, largely earned from their cultural assets like literacy, education, and participation in business. So, attempts to single them out or put the spotlight on them for any reason — even well-meaning efforts to understand why people hate them — can backfire badly.

    Did the teacher’s pet *ever* find his grief reduced, by virtue of his position?

    Oftentimes, changing the subject is part of the solution.

  • Joe Blow

    What was that fake headline Tim Blair wrote a few years ago? “Muslim Leaders Fear Backlash After Tomorrow’s Bombings”?

  • Herb

    I am glad you are writing about this, but you are underestimating the problem. You yourself have reported on polls that show that the percentage of Muslims across the Islamic world who have a favorable view of Jews is about 2%. It is not hard to guess what the other 98% think, and there is not much nuance to be found. Sad to say, contrary to your optimism, if people in the West would learn about this, it would not reduce so-called Islamophobia, a nonsense term to begin with.

  • UnoMee

    Perhaps the jews should start giving it back times ten. You can either make excuses, be a victim all your life, or at some point, make an example that the enemy will remember.

  • http://www.pacrimjim.com PacRim Jim

    France has never accepted the concept of the West, either in principle of in action.
    Charles Martel needn’t have bothered.

  • Marty

    That NYT quote is unintentionally hilarious.

    “Even though investigators say Mr. Merah was effectively a lone, self-radicalized extremist, his violent ideology fits closely with some French stereotypes of Islam…”

    Well, he actually did it so maybe those stereotypes are not entirely unfair, and have some factual basis. D’oh.

    I really don’t understand why anyone reads the NYT or WaPo or watches any of the major network news offerings, they no longer even try to get it right, and reading so-called news pieces that are really just ill-informed and poorly written Op-Ed screeds… what a waste of time.

  • Cybrludite

    “Muslim community leaders fear backlash from tomorrows bombing”

  • Cunctator

    I think we should be very frank and admit that the problem is Islam, a violence-prone religion that has waged war (on and off) against Jews and others since the time of Mohammed. It does not matter if the majority or only a proportion of Muslims in France do not want to kill Jews. The problem is a religion that condones (and sometimes encourages) the killings. Once we start to face the fact that Islam is the problem, and say so openly, then we will finally put the onus on Muslims to deal with the problem. So long as we keep offering every excuse possible, then there is no reason for them to own up to the issue at hand and (if they sincerely want to) deal with it.

  • Cunctator

    To add to my last comment, every time I hear someone tell me how tolerant and peaceful Islam has always been, I simply ask “Where are the Jews of Medina?”

  • teapartydoc

    I have a “friend” from Algeria. When I am in his presence, I mainly just let him do all of the talking, which he is happy to do. I must add that the only reason I have his acquaintance is professional. When he begins to speak disarmedly (sic?) he can say the darnedest things. It is a bit difficult for me to understand how people can have such blind hatred for entire peoples they have had almost no contact with, and whose contacts with that group have no resemblance at all with the prejudices they hold. However, knowing this person has, I think, given me perhaps a small amount of insight into how the primitive mind of the Muslim works. Now, now, are you going to tell me that this is a blind prejudice?

  • laka

    To paraphrase Zvi Rex, europe will never forgive the Jews for the actions of people like Merah.

  • Neo

    You know that your are doing nothing more than trying to “push a string” when the people involved are happy to become their own worst stereotype.

  • Carol Pfeiffer

    “the obvious (and important) truth that most French Muslims don’t want to kill Jews”

    You’re positive about that, are you? Has a poll been taken?

  • kcs

    Odd that the NYT doesn’t show similar concern about an anti-American backlash occurring in Afghanistan, when one of troops commits some atrocity there, whether real or imagined.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    @ WigWag – “Blaming Jews and Israel for inspiring violence and murder of Jews is by now, such a tried and true trope of leftist anti Semites”

    I’m late to this debate but would like to make a point: blaming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for Muslim anti-Semitism is not the same thing as blaming Israel or the Jews. I happen to think Europe is responsible for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but I also think (in fact know) that that conflict is behind most of the anti-Semitism in the Muslim world.