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Blog by Dr. Shimon Samuels published in The Times of Israel
20 September 2021

Mr. President,

France’s recent terrorist history is marked from the 1980 Copernic synagogue bombing to the 1982 Goldenberg restaurant massacre, the Carpentras 1990 Jewish cemetery exhumation of a corpse hung on an umbrella, the 2006 torture to death of Ilan Halimi, the 2012 Toulouse Jewish school attack the 2015 Hyper Kosher supermarket killing hostages, the 2017 murder of Sarah Halimi and in 2018 of Mireille Knoll and countless other victims of antisemitism.

Add to these, the non-Jewish targets of terrorism, among which Charlie Hebdo, the stabbing of a priest, the killing of policemen and soldiers while off duty, the beheading of a school teacher, the ramming massacre of pedestrians in Nice and the 2015 terror attack on the Stade de France, Paris restaurants and the Bataclan theatre, currently on trial…

Whether the victim is Jewish or indiscriminate, the perpetrators are predominantly Islamist Jihadis. This common denominator breaks down, however, in the juridical treatment of the attackers.

Some magistrates, may have been influenced by their law professors, active in the May 1968 uprising, who thus seemed unable to believe that disadvantaged Muslim youth, victims of racism, could become its perpetrators. Some attacks on Jewish individuals or institutions have seen “silk gloved” sentences, or what I call “revolving door rulings”.

Among the worst cases to date, is that of Sarah Halimi’s murderer, screaming “Allahu Akbar” while throwing her from a balcony to her death. The case was “dismissed” as the perpetrator was “under the influence of narcotics”.

Toulouse acts as the headquarters of the French BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions singling out Israel), deemed illegal but never judged… Toulouse was also where Mohamed Merah, on his motorbike, killed – among other victims – a rabbi-teacher-father with his two small boys and then pulled an 8-year-old girl by her hair before shooting her at point blank range.

My colleague, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and Director for Global Social Action of the Centre, and I, had met with the Muslim leadership to seek common ground to defuse antisemitism.

Sadly, last week’s exoneration of a Toulouse Mosque Imam, who had called to kill Jews in the name of Mohammed, is a grim signal. Yet again, French justice has opened the gates for incitement to hate and violence.

Mr. President, you have announced the creation of a “French Islam”, respectful of the rule of law and towards the diversity of this country’s society. Now is the time for its birth.

Most respectfully,

Shimon Samuels is Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He has served as Deputy Director of the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, European Director of ADL, and Israel Director of AJC. He was born in UK and studied in UK, Israel, U.S. and Japan.