February 24, 2006

Anti-semitism in France, and my trip to Paris

To think I was just in Paris last month, along my boyfriend Shlomi, a Jew. We be both absolutely loved the place. The city was beautiful, even most of the slums had their own "French charm". We loved the food (except for the tremendous emphasis the French put on pork and seafood). We were both prepared to have to deal with rude people with prejudice views and attitude problems, but instead we did not encounter anything but helpful, friendly people. Infact, it almost felt like a slap in the face to shop at the duty free in Iceland when we were coming back. The empty stares the cashier gave, and the dry tone of voice in which he spoke to me, gave me an authentic feeling of being back in Iceland!

While we were in France, we did not notice any any anti-semitic behavior. People responded positively to Shlomi explaining that he is an Israeli. We visited the "Jewish Museum" in Paris. It was certainly not as packed as the Louvre, but it had several visitors, nevertheless, and some interesting material on display, with information in many languages, including Hebrew.
But I suppose that our touring of Paris did not really tell the whole story. The young man who sat next to us on the plane back to Iceland (a French exchange student in Iceland), said that he is ashamed of the fact that racism is growing in France, but it is a fact that he cannot deny is happening. Stories like these, of Jews getting tortured to death in Paris, simply for being Jews, most certainly makes it even more of a reality.

An old photo of the "Latin Quarter", where we stayed in Paris

Posted by Maria at February 24, 2006 03:11 PM | TrackBacks
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Maria, mami, dear, the next time you decide to take a nice long break TELL US beforehand. Oy, the worry you caused. (dear l-rd, no one let me have kids).

Good to see you back and safe and sound and writing of course!

Posted by: Yael K at February 25, 2006 05:13 PM Permalink

Thanks for the concern sweety, will do :=)

Posted by: Maria at February 25, 2006 10:48 PM Permalink



The gang that kidnapped, tortured and brutally murdered Ilan Halimi, 23, had threatened several prominent businessmen, lawyers and a well-known humanitarian activist, a French newspaper reported Saturday. The daily Liberation reported that the group behind the murder, which authorities have linked to anti-Semitism, tried to extort money from a founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders. Also targeted were the director of the Arte TV channel, a Paris lawyer and the head of a supermarket chain, the newspaper reported, citing police officials.

Police investigating the murder of Halimi earlier this month have made several arrests. The suspected gang leader, was arrested Wednesday in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and France is seeking his extradition. Fourteen people have been placed under investigation - a step short of being charged - in the case, and two more people were detained Friday for questioning.

Ilan Halimi was abducted on January 21 after a woman came into the mobile phone store where he worked and charmed him into a dinner date. The first break in the case came after the police released an Identikit image of the woman suspected of "baiting" Halimi. After turning herself in our of fears that neighbors would identify her, the woman claimed that she was indeed asked to seduce a number of young men, but was unaware of the act's purpose. She identified the apartment where Halimi had been kept.

Halimi was found on February 13, tied to a tree, naked, wounded, handcuffed, gagged and covered with burn and cut marks on 80 percent of his body. Authorities found Halimi near railroad tracks in the Essonne region south of Paris a few days after the kidnappers ended contact with Halimmi's family. He died en route to a hospital.

"They acted with indescribable cruelty," the judiciary police chief leading the investigation said. "They kept him naked and tied up for weeks. They cut him and in the end poured flammable liquid on him and set him alight."

Halimi's family received a series of ransom demands - starting with one for nearly $537,000. Ilan Halimi's mother revealed to the Haaretz newspaper that the police told the family to ignore the gang's attempts to contact them for five critical days, after which Ilan was found near death outside the city. "Five days before Ilan was found, the police told us, 'Don't answer the phone, don't repond to text messages.' We saw dozens of calls and ignored them. On Thursday they found Ilan dead."

"We think there is anti-Semitism in this affair," Rafi Halimi, Ilan's uncle, told the press.

"First, because the killers tried to kidnap at least two other Jews, and second, because of what they said on the phone," Rafi Halimi added. "When we said we didn't have 500,000 euros to give them they told us to go to the synagogue and get it," Rafi said. "They also recited verses from the Koran."

Under questioning by investigators, one of the suspects "made it clear that he had attacked Ilan Halimi 'because he was Jewish, and Jews are rich".

"If Ilan hadn't been Jewish, he wouldn't have been murdered," Ilan's mom said. She accuses the police of ignoring the anti-Semitic motivation in the case in order not to alienate Muslims, Haaretz reported.

According to a recent article on this subject by Caroline Glick, she states, "It appears that Ilan Halimi's murderers had some connection to Hamas. Tuesday, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said that police found propaganda published by the Palestinian Charity Committee or the CBSP at the home of one of the suspects. The European Jewish Press reported this week that Israel has alleged that the organization is a front group for Palestinian terrorists and that in August 2003 the US government froze the organization's US bank accounts, accusing it of links with Hamas."

It is clear that the French authorities remain callous and indifferent when it comes to Jews being murdered on their soil or anywhere else. This attitude was evidenced in their initial denial that anti-Semitism played a role in this murder and their expressed policy of ignoring any evidence of anti-Semitism.

This may be the first act of Hamas terrorism directed against a Jew outside of Israel, but clearly it won't be the last. Everyday, we are being saturated with the anti-Semitic diatribes of an Iranian President named Ahmadnajed, of Hamas leaders and leading intellectuals. We can no longer deny it. Anti-Semitism is in full swing. It can only get worse.

Posted by: FERN SIDMAN at February 28, 2006 03:54 PM Permalink