Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Road to Toulouse paved with incitement

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 The massacre of three students and a teacher (and father of two of the children) at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France has understandably prompted condemnations and statements of outrage from world leaders, diplomats and pundits that have followed similar anti-Semitic atrocities in the past.

Some analysts, however, have discerned a troubling equivocation in some of these responses. By failing to acknowledge the underlying antisemitism and anti-Israel incitement that fuelled the attack, the commentators said, a festering hatred is allowed to persist, and the next attack is only a matter of time.

Such was the basis for an article on Wednesday by Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs Centre.

Rubin wrote:

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.

The academic cited three examples of misguided responses to Toulouse. The first was a tweet from Mahir Zeynalov, editor of the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman, who propagated a libel against Tunisian Jewry in the same sentence he acknowledged the antisemitic attack on Toulouse.

@MahirZeynalov: Gunmen attack Jewish school in France, vandals attack Jewish cemetery in Poland, Jews burn mosques and Quran in Tunisia. What's wrong?"

As his second example, Rubin cited a cartoon that ran in the prominent Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, showing Geert Wilders, leader of the conservative party that is very critical of Islam, receiving money from a hidden hand signifying either Jews or Israel. We are to understand this because he thanks the benefactor in Hebrew.

The unsubstantiated implication, Rubin writes, is that Jews are bankrolling an attack on Islam in Europe - another libel likely to stoke Muslim anger, Rubin says.

Rubin's piece culminates in a chastisement of EU Foreign Minister Christine Ashton for her response to the shooting. Ashton had outraged Israeli officials, as well as much of the world Jewish community, by publicly grouping the victimhood of the Jewish children Toulouse shooting with those of the children of Gaza - creating the unmistakeable implication that Israel deliberately kills Palestinian children.
(When pressed to apologize, she instead went on the offensive and accused the media of twisting her words, something which prompted a censure from Elliot Abrams at the Council for Foreign Relations, among others.)

From Ashton, "at best we get spurious neutrality that is actually anti-Israel propaganda," Rubin wrote.

Rubin's conclusion:

It would be an exaggeration to say that Europe is no longer a safe place for Jews to live. Yet it is accurate to say that it is becoming an unsafe place for Jews to live, and certainly for those who wish to express mainstream Jewish views and to practice their religion openly. Meanwhile, the EU and various governments dare not admit that the principal cause of antisemitic activity is radical Islam, and the principal inspiration for popular antisemitism is trendy leftist ideas that now dominate much of that continent and are spreading in North America.
Thus, Jewish children are deliberately murdered by a terrorist in the midst of France. In response come get the formal statements and the crocodile tears. Yet at the exact same time as the bullets are entering the children's bodies, as the victims fall to the ground, as the ambulance sirens sound, the incitement and the lies and the slanders continue, laying the groundwork for more hatred and more murder.


In a Policywatch dispatch of March 21 from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, David Pollach used Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas' response to the Toulouse massacre as a springboard on a piece on Palestinian incitement, which threatens the long-term prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

While Abbas routinely issues condemnations following terror attacks and insists the Palestinian Authority is solidly against attacks against civilian targets, Israeli or otherwise, a policy of glorification of terrorists who have killed civilians contradicts this message, Pollach wrote.

Moreover, when confronted by evidence of Palestinian incitement, the PA refuses to take responsibility for it.

"Tributes to terrorists convicted of mass murder have become almost routine in official PA media and ceremonies. Numerous examples are documented in the "incitement index" compiled by the Israeli prime minister's office, and also by the NGO Palestinian Media Watch. The PA has countered by issuing several compilations of alleged Israeli incitement: a short list of media citations, published in the immediate aftermath of the Itamar massacre; a similar, slightly longer list published in January of this year; and a very long and detailed report about "price tag" or other settler attacks published this month, indicating a dramatic increase over the past year. Many of these events are indeed deplorable. Notably absent from these lists, however, are any instances of official Israeli tribute to unrepentant or active terrorist murderers."


Meawhile, in the UK, columnist Melanie Phillips, in a piece headlined "Laying the groundwork for the Toulouse massacre", also added her two pence on the issue of incitement.

The Toulouse jihadist said he was ‘seeking revenge for Palestinian children and French military postings overseas.'
But 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.
Yet 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.

While many pundits identified the many problematic responses to the Toulouse massacre, it is worth noting the contrasting example of a response that did not attempt to equivocate or avoid the tough questions stemming from the atrocity, a statement that originated from, perhaps, an unlikely source - the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Saudi Arabia. While the OIC itself is certainly no friend of Israel, their simple statement is clear and unobjectionable.


QUOTE
A spokesman [for the group] on Tuesday in a statement issued in Jeddah, expressed concern and dismay at the reports of killing of four people including three children in a Jewish school by a gunman in Toulouse, France, says an email to Kashmir Watch here.
The spokesman said that the incident was nothing but criminal in nature as killing of innocent people and children could not be justified under any pretext. The spokesman hoped that the concerned authorities will be able to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice. The spokesman reiterated OIC's principled position against such acts of violence or incitement to violence that lead to loss of innocent lives, it adds.
END QUOTE

- Ahron Shapiro

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