Menu
Home

Opinion

French terror suspect dead -- what are lessons of Toulouse?

  • france_shooting_suspect.jpg

    March 21, 2012: This undated and unlocated frame grab provided by French TV station France 2 shows Mohammad Merah, the suspect in the killing of 3 paratroopers, 3 children and a rabbi in recent days in France.AP/France 2

  • french_school.jpg

    March 19, 2012: Police officers gather at the site of a shooting in Toulouse, southwestern France.AP

In the aftermath of the world’s first recorded cold-blooded murder, G-d admonishes Cain in the Bible: “The voice of your brother’s (Abel) blood[s] screams out from the earth.” Commentators struggle with why 'blood' is referred to in the plural. Perhaps the Bible is teaching that every murder creates a ripple effect that impacts far beyond the scene of the crime. 

Twenty-four-year-old Muhammad Merah is now dead. He was accused of murdering three French soldiers last week because they served in Afghanistan and who executed four key “enemies,” a young rabbi, his two small kids and the 10-year-old daughter of the principal of a Jewish school to revenge the death of Palestinian children.

The authoritative MEMRI monitoring group identifies Merah as a French-Algerian who spent time in jihadi training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. Merah, who claims to belong to Al Qaeda, appears to be a member of the French Al-Qaeda branch Fursan Al-'Izza ("The Knights of Glory") an extremist group seeking to impose Sharia law on secular France.

What lessons should we learn from the latest streams of Abel’s blood? Here are the major lessons:   

France: The atrocity in Toulouse has rocked France to its core. 

President Sarkozy and his senior cabinet members have done everything right from the moment after the shocking murders in a school courtyard-- including the dispatching of Foreign Minister Allen Juppe to accompany the Jewish victims to their burial in Israel.

Clearly, the atrocity has rocked France to its core. 

There is a silver lining here. If what happened in Toulouse leads to serious action perhaps the poll numbers that identify one-in four Frenchmen as anti-Semitic can finally be reduced.

Changes on the socio-political level in France are also needed. Perhaps this incident will be a wake up call. -- There is no justification to allow a so-called "anti-Zionist Party" to operate in the political mainstream. 

Then there is the French comedian Dieudonné. His so-called "comedy" has long centered on anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, and denigration of Holocaust victims. He was recently feted in Tehran for directing a French-Iranian co-production, of The Antisemite. The film's trailer mocks scenes of Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz and the "irrefutable proof" of the Holocaust. 

That Dieudonné should continue to have a place at France’s cultural and entertainment table is an outrage.

Merah told French police that he killed Jews to avenge the death of Palestinian children. Perhaps he had in mind the images of Muhammad al-Durah, a Palestinian teen who became the poster child for the Palestinian Intifada after French TV -- which is notorious for its anti-Israel bias -- showed him cowering, unarmed, apparently facing a hail of bullets from revenge-seeking Israeli troops. The footage was replayed tens of thousands of times across the globe and this “martyr’s” name was chanted with righteous indignation by anti-Israel protesters as proof of the genocidal intent of Israelis against Palestinians. 

There is one small problem. The footage was cooked up by France 2 TV. The youngster was never shot by Israelis. But the damage was done and there never has been an apology for this late 20th century blood libel.

The Internet World: The alleged murderer, Merah, may have learned how deploy as a terrorist in Afghanistan but he supercharged his hate online. 

The French Al Qaeda group he apparently affiliated with counts among its leaders, online activists like “Cortex” and “MedMed” whose rants on Islamist Forums spew hatred of France for its banning the niqab and hijab, democracy in general, and of course, Jews. 

A subculture of hate once limited to rundown suburbs of Paris, now deploys cutting-edge social media—yes, they're using Facebook and Twitter-- to market their terrorist agenda worldwide. (The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s new 2012 Digital Terrorism and Hate Report traces the online trails of hate that fuel real-world mayhem).

It is past due for the social networking giants, especially Twitter and YouTube to do more to monitor and remove the digital purveyors of hate and terror.

Interfaith Leaders: Yes, we must do everything in our power to denounce racism and discrimination in all its forms, including Islamophobia. But we have every right and obligation to demand of Muslim leaders that they directly confront and take on those who invoke G-d’s name to justify hate and murder. They need look no further than the nearest computer to learn who is competing for the hearts and minds of their young people. 

World Jewry: We will soon gather at our Passover Seders where we will add the murders at Toulouse to a long list in history dating from Pharaoh’s decree to kill all Jewish male babies to the Nazi slaughter of 1.5 million Jewish children. 

In the presence of our loved ones we will chant with renewed sadness the words of the Haggadah: “In each generation,” there are those “who stand against us to wipe us out.” 

We cannot sugarcoat our history, but like generations before us, we have again had to bury Jewish children with their teacher. We Jews do so with the faith and resolve that we will outlive our enemies.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Follow the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Facebook and on Twitter

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Follow the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Facebook and on Twitter.