Commentary Magazine


Specter of Euro Anti-Semitism Hangs over Toulouse Terror Attack

Today’s terror attack in Toulouse has shocked France as well as the rest of the civilized world. Since the perpetrator escaped the scene of the crime, his identity — or that of any group to which he might belong — remains still unknown. Nevertheless, his purpose was quite clear: to kill as many Jews as possible. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has often spoken out against anti-Semitism, has acted responsibly and we can expect appropriate statements from other world leaders in the wake of the cold-blooded murder of a teacher and three children at a Jewish school.

But it must be understood that such an attack cannot be understood outside of the context of a revival of anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world. This wave of Jew-hatred has been fueled by an unreasoning anger at Israel and a campaign to delegitimize the state as well as its right to self-defense. But while some — including President Obama’s ambassador to Belgium — have attempted to rationalize this trend and to distinguish it from “traditional” anti-Semitism, that is a delusion. There is a very thin line between the efforts of those who seek to brand Israel as a pariah and those who simply wish (as do the Palestinian terrorists European intellectuals honor) to kill Jews. And as the world has just witnessed in Toulouse, that line is getting thinner all the time.

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted this morning in reaction to the French killings, it is no accident that such an event would happen the day before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva was scheduled to receive a representative of the Hamas terrorist organization. The Israel haters of the UN and throughout Western Europe have concentrated their efforts in recent years on singling out Israel and Jewish institutions for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. They have tried to ban Israeli books and scholars, to make it impossible for Israeli products to be sold and to make its public officials fear arrest when visiting European capitals. They have imported the raw anti-Semitism so prevalent in the Arab and Muslim world and allowed it to find a home in countries where, before the Holocaust, such hate speech was common. And they have made such inroads among intellectuals who are always ready to believe any slander of Israel that anti-Semitic insinuations have found their way into the mainstream media of Europe.

The question that must be asked today is whether so much hatred for Jews can become commonplace in Europe without it eventually spilling over into violence? The answer is obviously not. The people of Israel understand that Palestinian terrorists are going to take every possible opportunity to fire missiles or attempt other sorts of attacks on Jewish targets. But those who treat the suffering of Israelis living under terrorist fire as unimportant when compared to the plight of Gazans who cheer such attacks must understand that once the genie of Jew-hatred is unleashed there is no way it can be quarantined in just one country.

The Toulouse attack is just one more reminder that the war against Israel isn’t one about borders or settlements but about the spirit of Jew hatred that has made it impossible for Palestinians to embrace peace offers. Anti-Zionism is just a thinly veiled version of the old recognizable anti-Semitism whose familiar calling card has been left in Toulouse. While we trust that the French authorities will eventually find the killer, let us not be deceived into thinking this is an incident that can be isolated from the atmosphere of Jew-hatred that hangs over Europe.