As French police launch a massive manhunt for the person who shot down a rabbi, his two children, and another child outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, the modus operandi of the killer raises a chilling prospect. There had been similar shootings of French soldiers in the area, but the troops, three of whom were shot dead by a similar weapon by a motorcyclist, were of North African or Caribbean origin. Police are looking both at a the French far-right and at Muslim extremists as possible perpetrators. In the former case, the French political atmosphere would be implicated. [Update: As it turns out, it may be the latter: a potential suspect has been cornered, who was motivated by al-Qaeda-style extremism, the mother of all intolerant rhetoric. It is a little disturbing that his killing of 3 French troops (if it was he), two of them Muslim, is gradually dropping out of the press reporting. This breaking development does not, as some tweep suggested, blunt the force of the rest of this post, below.]
Immigrants and especially Muslims have been frequent targets of racism and racist rhetoric in French politics. President Nicolas Sarkozy was behind in the polls recently when he made up some ground with some strident rhetoric about too-free immigration inside the European Union. There are, he thundered, “too many foreigners in France.” (Hint: French antisemites view Jews as foreigners). Sarkozy has been accused of legitimating the National Front of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen by essentially stealing some of her anti-immigrant rhetoric. Indeed, he seems to be attracting her supporters.
It is in this hothouse atmosphere where it is being alleged that some French (non-Catholics, non-Gaulois) are less French than others, and are, indeed, undesirables within the French body politic, that the brutal murders of Jews outside Ozar ha-Torah in Toulouse took place.
Those on the Zionist far right who deliberately and systematically attempt to foment hatred of Muslims, are always in danger of at the same time promoting antisemitism. The same resentments, the same sordid politics and racist rhetoric, come into play for both. Sarkozy, by dirtying the Gaullist tradition with Le-Pen-iste rhetoric, is creating an atmosphere of intolerance in France that may not be entirely unrelated to the murders of innocent children and a man of God in Toulouse.