Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Turning tides in France?

These first hints of new European steadfastness are in striking contrast to reactions (or the lack of them) only a short time ago. In Nov. 2003, for example, a young French Jewish DJ, S├ębastien Selam, was approached by his Muslim neighbor, Adel Boumedienne, in their building's underground garage. Boumedienne slit Selam's throat, gouged out his eyes with a carving fork and then ran upstairs and told his mother, "I killed my Jew, I will go to paradise." In the two years before the murder, the Selam family had been repeatedly harassed by their neighbors for being Jewish.

As with the perpetrators of other attacks on French Jews in recent years, Boumedienne was clearly inspired by the most vicious anti-Semitism. Yet the case was barely commented on in the French media and there was no response of any significance from the French government.

The reaction this month to the murder of another young French Jew, Ilan Halimi, has been very different. After some initial dragging of feet and evasiveness, the authorities and the media have been altogether more resolute in recognizing the anti-Semitic aspects of the case.

Progress. Perhaps there is hope?

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