On March 19, 2012 in Toulouse, France, during the busy morning school drop-off period, a man rode up to the Ozar HaTorah Jewish School on a Yamaha scooter. He took out an automatic 9mm and opened fire on the crowd. Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, his six-year-old son Aryeh, and his three-year-old son Gabriel crumpled to the pavement, now covered in blood. When his gun jammed, the gunman took out a .45 caliber pistol and continued shooting. Frightened parents and children scattered in all directions. Blood spattered. The gunman chased seven-year-old Myriam Monsonego into the school, grabbed her by the hair, and shot her in the head at point-blank range.
French police have named Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old Toulouse resident of Algerian descent, as the suspect in the killings and two other shootings. He is now dead following a protracted stand-off and shoot-out with French police. According to officials, Merah had traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan twice in the past few years and claimed to have links with al Qaeda. "As regards the killing of the children at the Jewish school in Toulouse, he was very explicit," said Interior Minister Claude Guéant
. "He said he wanted to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children."
This gruesome act of anti-Semitic violence is the direct result of the defamation of Israel. As Barry Rubin
Various VIPs issue statements about how terrible is this deed, how unspeakable.
And yet at that very moment, the next round of murders, the next slanderous and inciting antisemitic lies are being perpetrated by respectable people and institutions. There is no real soul-searching, no true effort to do better, no serious examination about how the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hysteria is paving the way for murder and fueling dreams of genocide.
The street thugs, fanatics drunk on the interpretations of Islam they are being fed, and the mentally twisted may be pulling the trigger but the distinguished, the powerful, and the honored are providing the ammunition.
Modern Day Blood Libel
Blood libel is the false accusation that Jews murder children to use their blood for religious purposes. Historically, these claims have been a theme in European persecution of Jews, particularly in the Middle Ages but continuing even into the twentieth century
. To this day, blood libel is a favorite theme of Arab media
, used as the story line for comedy sketches
and dramatic programming
In the days leading up to the Toulouse massacre, a controversy was unfolding regarding a picture tweeted by Khulood Badawi, the information and media coordinator for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem, on her Twitter feed Long Live Palestine
. As rockets rained down on civilians in southern Israel and the Jewish State sought to root out the terrorists launching them with surgical air strikes, on March 10, Badawi tweeted this photo with the comment, Palestine is bleeding. Another child killed by #Israel.. Another father carrying his child to a grave in #Gaza. This became one of the top tweets for the search term #Gaza.
Not only was this child not killed by Israel in the recent fighting, as implied, she was not killed by Israel
at all. This picture was from 2006 and different media reports indicate the girl either fell from a swing or died in a car accident. Badawi was previously disciplined
by the UN in 2008 for leading a demonstration against Israel, calling Israeli politicians war criminals and accusing them of murdering children.
More recently, EU Foreign Minister, Baroness Catherine Ashton, spoke at a Palestinian youth conference. In her statement
, Ashton laments the suffering of children in Gaza but only makes a glancing mention of Sderot, whose children live under the constant threat and frequent reality of rocket and missile attacks. Even that mention was fraught with controversy, as CAMERA reported
There can be no moral equivalence between innocent children deliberately murdered, as in Toulouse, and the unfortunate death of children who are accidentally killed by an army trying to protect its state's civilians from terrorist attacks. As Melanie Phillips writes
No Palestinian children have ever been targeted by Israel for murder. Quite the reverse: Israel regularly puts its own soldiers in harm's way in order to any minimise civilian casualties in military operations against Palestinian terrorists and their infrastructure which it undertakes solely to protect its own people from further murderous Palestinian attacks. Any Palestinian child casualties in such operations occur solely as a tragic and inadvertent by-product of war -- and as often as not because the Palestinians have put their own children in harm's way.
Of course, Ashton does not discuss the cold-blooded murder of the Fogel family either; two parents who, along with their 11-year-old, 4-year-old and 3-month old children, were butchered in their home
by Palestinian terrorists. Ashton also ignores numerous other murders
of Israeli and Jewish children
by Palestinian terrorists.
The Jews murder children theme recurs frequently in media coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. On August 20, 2011, Reuters ran a story
quoting a tweet from Amr Moussa, former Egyptian foreign minister and ex-Arab League chief, "Israel must be aware that the days when it kills our children without getting a strong, appropriate response are gone for ever." Nowhere in the story did the reporter give an Israeli source the opportunity to refute the charge that Israel kills children. There are many similar instances of one-sided stories.
In the last month, the media reported
that Palestinian schoolboy Baraka al-Mughrabi died of injuries from Israeli attacks. In fact, the 7-year-old died as a result of guns fired into the air
at a funeral. His own parents admitted this to Agence France Presse (AFP).
According to an AFP correspondent at the scene, there were no signs of any impact on the ground which could have been caused by a missile, with the most likely cause of his death being some kind of explosive device he was carrying.
In the latest cross-border violence between Israel and militant groups in Gaza, 26 Palestinians were killed over four days, according to the Israeli military. Most were militants, but four were civilians. A 12-year-old boy was among those killed in Israeli airstrikes; another boy, 14, was killed by explosives in disputed circumstances. In the same period, Palestinians fired over 150 rockets into southern Israel, none of which claimed a life.
So here you have Kershner's upside-down view of who is more blameworthy. Evidently, it's Israel because the recent outbreak of hostilities across the Gaza border claimed the lives of one or two Palestinian kids, while the terrorist groups get ethically sanitized because none of their rockets claimed a life.
Never mind that the four-day cross-border violence was started by Gaza terrorists and Israel was responding under its internationally recognized right of self-defense -- a point neatly hidden from Kershner's copy. If Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee had desisted from launching volleys of rockets, there would have been no violence, and Gaza kids would have been spared.
Never mind also that the 14-year-old Gaza boy wasn't killed in disputed circumstances, as Kershner puts it. A reporter of the French news service, Agence France Presse, investigated the scene of the boy's death and reported there was no evidence whatsoever that he was killed by an airstrike. Everything instead pointed to youngsters playing with live ammunition. Kershner, however, obfuscates the circumstances so as not to exonerate the Israeli military.
Kershner's colleague, Robert Mackey, took to his New York Times
blog to defend two false photographs
circulated on the internet by Palestinian activists, including the notorious Khulood Badawi hoax. Rather than condemning these misrepresentations, Mackey attempts to frame Israel's social media self-defense as militarism, saying in the title of the blog, Israel's Military Pursues Enemies on Twitter
Sins of Omission and Commission
The false charges that Israel murders children are central to the pervasive demonization of Israel in the public sphere. And yet, the media completely ignore this blood libel as they ignore the incitement to hatred by Arab leaders and officials. Major media, The New York Times
chief among them, have failed over many years to report accurately, consistently
and with due prominence the pervasive and genocidal rhetoric against Israel and the Jewish people, giving only passing attention to the issue. Their dereliction of duty on this issue has done incalculable harm, not least in signaling to the hate-mongers that no price is to be paid for promoting extreme bigotry.
This deranged belief that the Israelis deliberately kill Palestinian children is not only pumped out daily by the Arab and Muslim world inciting their people to hate Jews and to murder them as a holy act; not only do western progressives ignore this incitement and pretend instead that Islamic terrorism arises from legitimate grievances'; these same western progressives themselves pump out precisely the same lies and incitement -- and then suggest that the deliberate murder of Jewish innocents is the moral equivalent of attempts by Israel to prevent the slaughter of yet more innocents.
Not only do news outlets fail to cover the modern day blood libel, they abet it. The Commentator
Mainstream media outlets across the continent have added a further layer of legitimacy to this lethal ideology with papers and magazines such as the Guardian and the New Statesman engaged in what is little better than a hate campaign against the Jewish state.
No-one will ever know whether the tragedy in Toulouse would not have taken place if the atmosphere were different. But we can say that history teaches that mass demonisation can all too easily lead to the dehumanisation of the group or people or nation that is being demonised. From there it is only one single step to the belief that murder itself can be justified.