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The Tragedy in Toulouse

03/21/2012 11:37:13 AM


Rabbi George Gittleman

Our hearts go out to the families of those murdered in Toulouse on Monday. What can we say in the face of such cold-blooded killings? There are no words for such a loss; silence is better than trying to fill the void with well- meaning but meaningless babble.

There is nothing we can say to make this tragedy okay, but we can and should speak out against all forms of bigotry and discrimination, including but not limited to, anti-Semitism. Neither the identity nor the motives of the killer are known yet, though the authorities believe that the same man who fired the deadly and brutal shots in Toulouse, was also responsible for the killing a week ago of three Muslim soldiers outside their base. Thus, it appears that the gunman’s target was not Jews alone, but rather those he considers to be foreign to French soil.

Nevertheless, the question does arise: Is France becoming more and more hostile to the 500,000 Jews who live there? (France has the largest Jewish community in Europe). According to The Washington Post, “while the number of anti-Semitic attacks in 2011 fell to 389, the aggressiveness of the attacks is rising. In 2010, 466 were reported. Those acts include everything from violence to vandalism.”

The New York Times quoted France’s Chief Rabbi, Gilles Bernheim as saying, “France is not anti-Semitic, but there are frightening acts of anti-Semitism in France.”

Trends aside, any attack like this touches a raw nerve for Jews the world over; will we ever be safe? Has anything changed since World War II?

I crave answers to those questions almost as much as I long to take the hurt away from the families of those murdered in Toulouse (a rabbi, two of his small children and a 7-year-old girl).

It appears that vigilance is the best retort, and history the most likely indicator of what will be.

HaMakom Y’nakhem Et’khem B’tokh Sha’ar Aveilei Tziyon Virushalayim.
May God comfort the families of those murdered in Toulouse along with all mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

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