Thursday, December 2, 2021
Thursday, December 2, 2021
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Doris Strub Epstein: Jewish Lives Don’t Matter; Murder of French Jew Ignored by Media

April 2017 – Dr. Sarah Halimi, 65, a retired Jewish doctor, teacher, and mother of three, was brutally murdered.  Her killer, 27-year-old Kobili Traoré., a devout Muslim and a neighbour, broke into her Paris apartment.  Screaming “Allah Akhbar” and antisemitic epithets, he beat her savagely and threw her out of her third-story window.

April 29, 2021 – The Cour de cassation, France’s highest court for civil and criminal matters upheld the verdict of a lower court, and confirmed that Traoré. was not legally responsible and acquitted him because he was high on marijuana. Defendants who are “in a state of delirium that eliminated their discernment,” cannot be judged under criminal law, they ruled.

The Jewish world locally and globally was in shock. People took to social media to express their outrage.  The acquittal sent a message of impunity to the anti-Semites; when it comes to Jews, you can get away with anything, even violence, and murder.

All mainstream media worldwide ignored this travesty of justice.  Only Jewish news outlets and the French media covered it.  From the New York Times, North America’s most influential news source – zip.

According to Honest Reporting, Jews have complained that media outlets, including the CBC were turning a blind eye to a murder that apparently nobody but Jews cared about.  Every other group gets front page when violated – Blacks, Asians, Latinos.  When an eleven-year-old claimed that someone tried cutting off her hijab on the way to school, which turned out to be untrue, the story got headlines worldwide.  Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Toronto Mayor John Tory apologized on behalf of Canada and Toronto.

The ruling is a disgrace.  And yet, so far, only French and Jewish media have touched it. “The lack of coverage on a matter so serious constitutes a widespread media failure to take antisemitism seriously and to pose hard questions of those in power,” wrote Honest Reporting.  “It also suggests that such a risible court decision is legitimate and will embolden those who seek to attack Jews.”

Islamism has so infiltrated France and its institutions that many read the verdict as appeasement of Muslims. Dr. Halimi’s neighbours reported that the police waited 45 minutes outside her door for an elite squad to arrive before entering.  Meanwhile they heard her being beaten and raped and listened to the killer screaming “Allah Akhbar” and antisemitic epithets. Moreover, for months, authorities refrained from calling this an antisemitic attack.

Jack Broda, a French Jewish judge quit after hearing of the acquittal.  France’s appeasement of Islam is so bad that 20 retired generals wrote an open letter to President Macron, warning that the growing power of Islam could bring about a civil war.  President Macron himself was “outraged,” by the verdict, and  called for a change in French law.  “Deciding to take narcotics and then ‘going mad’ should, not in my view, remove your criminal responsibility. I would like Justice Minister (Eric Dupond-Moretti) to present a change in the law as soon as possible,” he told Le Figaro.  But for Halimi and her family, nothing will be done.  A first draft of a bill changing the penal code was just adopted by the French Senate amidst concerns of Traoré’s release.  If passed, offenders under the influence of drugs would be held responsible for their actions.

As witnessed by the increasing verbal and physical attacks on French Jews, French antisemitism is more and more evident.

Jews, though, have had enough.  They refuse to remain silent, as they did in the past. Thousands around the world marched, demonstrated, protested, inflamed by the court decision.  Rallies in front of French embassies and consulates were held worldwide in Paris, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Miami, Rome, London, Tel Aviv, and The Hague.

The Toronto Jewish community woke up, as well.  A rally demanding justice for Sarah Halimi was held on Sunday in front of the French Consulate at Bloor and Yonge streets, organized by 26-year-old Sami Cooper.

“I got mad at the deafening silence in Toronto.  The Toronto Jewish community is too compliant.  Our silence oppresses us more,” she said. “I get angry when people complain that my generation doesn’t care.  So many reached out to me to get involved., we created a new group- Toronto Jewish Advocacy.”

End Jew-Hatred (EJH,) a new grassroots movement that focuses on peaceful direct action against antisemitism and fights for Jewish civil rights, also participated.

“The rally came together quickly due to the energy and enthusiasm of Sami Cooper, who saw a need and acted,” commented Andria Spindel, Co-Chair EJH. “We expressed consolation with the Halimi family, demanded justice for Sarah, and left a message for the French Consulate.”

B’nai Brith Canada is circulating an online petition, “Demand Justice in France,” which they will officially present to the French Ambassador to Canada on behalf of the Canadian Jewish community and all people of “good conscience.” In addition, the human rights organization is calling on the government of Canada to demand that “France fill the gaps in its laws that allowed for this kind of abhorrent result.”

France isn’t alone in witnessing spikes in antisemitic incidences. B’nai Brith Canada announced that antisemitic incidents in Canada set a record for the fifth consecutive year in 2020.  Last year also marked the third straight year they officially documented more than 2,999 incidents.

“All over the world, antisemitism is often treated differently and not taken as seriously…. as other forms of hatred and discrimination,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of Bnai Brith Canada. “We will not be silent and accept this ruling as legitimate.  We must all become the voice for Sarah Halimi and demand equality for all victims of Injustice.”

(Doris Epstein is a Toronto journalist and co-chair of CIJR – Toronto)

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