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.