In Paris, two Muslim men, one of them yelling “Allahu Akbar,” recently murdered the eighty-five-year-old, wheelchair-bound Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll. Noting that this is hardly an isolated incident, Bari Weiss scrutinizes the official French response:
Parisian authorities are investigating the murder as being motivated by the “membership, real or supposed, of the victim of a particular religion.” But euphemisms should have no place in describing the nature of Mireille Knoll’s death. She was murdered by men apparently animated by the same hatred that drove Hitler. . . .
[Knoll’s] neighborhood . . . has already borne witness to a nearly identical crime. Almost exactly a year ago, a sixty-five-year-old Jewish widow named Sarah Halimi was murdered by her neighbor, twenty-seven-year-old Kobili Traoré. Other neighbors said they heard Traoré scream “Allahu Akbar” as he beat Halimi, a retired doctor, to near death in the early hours of April 4, 2017. He then threw her body into the courtyard below. It took months for Halimi’s murder to be categorized as an anti-Jewish hate crime. . . . This time, French authorities have been quick to call the crime by its proper name. . . . But the people actually killing Jews in France these days are not members of the National Front. They are Islamists. . . .
Here are some facts that are very hard to talk about: Jews represent less than 1 percent of the population in France, yet in 2014, 51 percent of all racist attacks were carried out against them, according to the French Interior Ministry. A survey from that year of about 1,000 French respondents with unknown religious affiliation and 575 self-identified Muslims . . . found that the Muslim respondents were two or three times more likely to have anti-Jewish sentiments than those from the random French group. Nineteen percent of all respondents felt that Jews had “too much” political power. Among Muslims, the number was 51 percent. As for the idea that Zionism “is an international organization that aims to influence the world and society in favor of the Jews,” 44 percent of Muslims surveyed approved of this statement. . . .
Whatever else the investigation of Knoll’s murder might reveal, this much we know for certain: the men who are accused of killing her were living in a culture in which Jews are reviled on the far right and, increasingly, on the far left; in which [supposed] sensitivity toward cultural differences has driven too many for too long to ignore the spread of an ancient hatred in a vicious new form; in which attacks on Jews have been explained away as politically motivated by events in the Middle East. In such a culture, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some would come to the conclusion that Jewish blood is cheap.
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