Thursday, May 21, 2009

Antisemitism in France

The French protest strenously that they are free of antisemitism, but maintaining that image requires some serious contortions. Take, for example, the trial of a gang accused of murdering French Jew Ilan Halimi in early 2006.

The trial is being held in juvenile court (because 2 of the 27 accused were underage at the time of the murder) and closed the proceedings to the public. The French magazine Choc broke the silence by publishing one of several photographs of Halimi made by his killers.

The photograph is very similar to the one of Daniel Pearl in captivity. When combined with comments made by the accused, it is clear that they chose Halimi because he was Jewish and tortured and killed him because they hated Jews.

So how has the French government responded? In addition to downplaying any suggestion that antisemitism might have been involved, the Paris district attorney has opened an investigation against Choc and that issue of the magazine has been withdrawn from circulation. Choc may have gone too far by sensationalizing the murder, but hushing it up isn't any better. (Thanks to John Rosenthal.)

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