Tag: Jews of France

Zemmour makes Jew’s death a French national ssue

Algerian-Jewish Eric Zemmour ‘s revisionist whitewashing of France’s role in the Holocaust sowed doubts in some French Jews’ minds about voting for him, a far-right candidate in the French elections. It could have been a ploy to attract French Catholic voters.  Now that he is trailing in the polls, is  Zemmour  nailing his colours to the Jewish mast? Times of Israel (via JTA) reports:

Campaign posters in France of Eric Zemmour and Marie Le Pen, the far right candidates (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images via JTA)

PARIS, France (JTA) — It’s been six months since Éric Zemmour quit his job as a journalist to run as a far-right candidate in France’s presidential elections. But this week Zemmour, who is Jewish, landed likely the biggest scoop of his career.

On Tuesday, just days before Sunday’s first round in the presidential race, the right-wing Zemmour broke on social and mainstream media the story of Jérémie Cohen, a 31-year-old disabled Jewish man whose death in February police now suspect may have been the indirect result of violence, which some believe was antisemitic.

Zemmour, a 63-year-old former television pundit whose chances of becoming president are slim, has helped focus national attention on the incident in the midst of a campaign in which antisemitic violence, the rule of law and politicized Islam are central themes.

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Did Jérémy Cohen die because of an antisemitic attack – or a traffic accident?

Did Jérémy Cohen die because of an antisemitic attack – or a traffic accident?

Sarah Halimi. Mireille Knoll. Ilan Halimi. Sebastien Sellam, to name just a few. Is Jérémy Cohen the latest victim of antisemitic murder in France? Video footage has recently emerged of the young man, who generally wore a kippa,  running from a gang of antisemitic youths straight into the path of a tram in the northern Paris suburb of Bobigny.

Jerémy Cohen with his parents

 The Guardian reports:  the death of a young Jewish man in Bobigny, north of Paris, has shocked France and sparked outrage among French presidential candidates, who seized on it to denounce criminality and a possible antisemitic attack. Jérémy Cohen, 31, was killed when he was hit by a tram in Bobigny in February, which was initially reported in local media as a traffic accident.

But when his family leafleted the area to see if local people had more information on what had happened, a witness came forward with video footage, which circulated online this week.

Cohen, who had a disability, was surrounded by a group of men and attacked. As he escaped, he was hit by the tram and died shortly afterwards in hospital.

After Cohen’s family spoke to Radio Shalom about the case, presidential candidates used the death to suggest the French authorities were not doing enough on the case or on crime in general, days before the first round of the presidential election.

The former TV pundit and far-right, anti-immigration candidate, Éric Zemmour, was the first politician to raise the case on social media, asking if Cohen had died because of the violence of a group of thugs. “Did he die because he is Jewish?” Zemmour asked. “Why has this affair been covered up?”

Point of No Return adds: The districts of Bobigny and Saint-Denis in northern Paris were settled by poor Jews from Tunisia and Morocco. Radicalised Arab and Muslim youth have committed antisemitic incidents in recent years, creating a climate of fear. Many Jews have moved into central Paris for greater security. Those who could afford to leave the country have made aliya to Israel.

Bobigny train station has a sinister history. From the summer of 1943 until  the summer 1944, the station, where a vast network of  freight and passenger railway tracks converge,  became the assembly point for Jews held at Drancy camp, located about 2 km away, before their deportation to  Nazi death camps. such as Auschwitz . Bobigny replaced le Bourget station. In 13 months, 22, 407 men, women and children of all ages were forced to board sealed wagons at Bobigny station. Some 76,000 French Jews were deported and murdered by the Nazis.


Andre Aciman to receive special award

The Egypt-born author André Aciman and the film directors Oliver Nakache and Eric Toledano are to be awarded prizes this year (with thanks Viviane and AMUSSEF) :

The Alexandria-born writer Andre Aciman, who lives in New York,  will be this year’s recipient of the Pomegranate ‘Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature’ at the New York Sephardi Film Festival. The Festival is organised every year by the American Sephardi Federation. Until he wrote the bestseller ‘Call me by your name’, which was made into a film, André Aciman was best known for his memoir of his Egyptian childhood, Out of Egypt.

The Sephardi Film Festival will run  from 3 – 7 April 2022. Previous winners here.

André Aciman
Film directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano

Awarded by the Friends of the Hebrew University, the Scopus Prize will go to Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano on 27 March, two Jews of North African origin who live in France. The duo are behind the films  Intouchables (Untouchable) , le Sens de la fête, Hors Normes ( The Specials) or In Therapy, based on the Israel series Be’Tipool (The second series will be screened from  7  April on the Channel Arté).

Since it was founded, the Scopus prize has been awarded to Lily Safra, Roman Polanski, Maurice Lévy, Eric de Rothschild, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Simone Veil, Robert Badinter, Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, Charles Aznavour, Philippe Labro, Jean d’Ormesson, Patrick Drahi, Haïm Korsia, Thierry Marx, Carlos Ghosn and Gérard Garouste.

Sarah Halimi’s killer could walk free

The killer of Sarah Halimi, the French woman murdered in 2017, has been let out on day release several times in recent months and could soon be freed for good, the Jewish Chronicle reports. The revelation comes as a parliamentary report into the case, absolving the authorities of any wrongdoing, enrages French Jewish leaders:

Demonstrators in Paris demand justice for Sarah Halimi (Photo: AP/Daniel Cole)

Kobili Traore repeatedly bludgeoned the Jewish pensioner in her Paris flat before throwing her from the balcony in the brutal 2017 murder.

A French court deemed him to have been suffering from a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the attack and unfit to stand trial.

The unprecedented decision sparked outrage and protests by Jewish communities in France and around the world demanding justice for 65-year-old Mrs Halimi.

Traore has since been kept in a psychiatric hospital for treatment. However, the JC can now confirm that he has been let out on day release a number of times.

On more than one occasion he has visited his old apartment block in Paris — the site of the murder of his neighbour, Mrs Halimi.

In another extraordinary twist, it has also emerged that he is taking no psychiatric medication, only underlying the absurdity of the decision to spare him trial.

Mrs Halimi’s grief-stricken family now face the possibility of Traore walking the streets of Paris as a free man, should two independent psychiatrists decide he is sane and no longer presents a threat to society or himself.

The shocking revelations came from three French MPs heading up an investigation into the alleged mishandling of the case by the police and judicial system.

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More about the Sarah Halimi case

Is Eric Zemmour an antisemite?

What are we to make of Eric Zemmour, the Algerian-Jewish pundit who has burst the French political scene wide open?  He has been called a Jewish antisemite. Because he considers himself first and foremost a French patriot, his Jewish identity has to take a back seat. Profile in the Tablet by Mitchell Abidor and Miguel Lago: 

Eric Zemmour’s Jewishness is a weapon he uses in disconcerting ways. Though he doesn’t hide his ancestry, it is not something that he foregrounds. He has defined his vision of Jewishness as that expressed in 1789 in the Comte de Clermont-Tonerre’s speech on religious minorities (“Nothing for the Jews as a nation, everything for the Jews as individuals”) and by Napoleon: “Henceforth you should consider Paris to be your Jerusalem.” And yet Zemmour’s Jewishness is always at his disposal, granting him license to make statements it would not be possible for a non-Jew to make

But Zemmour goes further than Le Pen père. He is opposed to any memorialization of the murder of the Jews during the Second World War, and of laws protecting the memory of the Holocaust. He rejects the legitimacy of the apologies offered for France’s role in the massacre of its Jews, claiming this was part of an enterprise to make the French feel guilty for crimes perpetrated by Germans alone. In his latest book, which sold 200,000 before it was even published, Zemmour cited the work of “anthropologists” when he labeled the four Jews killed by a terrorist at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012 as “above all foreigners,” because their bones were eventually buried not in French soil but in Israel. (According to Zemmour’s anthropologists, it is the final resting place of one’s remains that determines nationality.) Not even Captain Dreyfus escapes Zemmour’s scorn, as he insists that the French general staff had good reason to suspect him of espionage since he was “German.” Alfred Dreyfus was, in reality, Alsatian, and his family chose France after Germany conquered Alsace in the Franco-Prussian War. It is not surprising that the monarchist and antisemitic organization L’Action Française, which led the charge against Dreyfus in the 1890s, posts videos of Zemmour on its YouTube channel.

It is easy to condemn Zemmour’s statements as those of an antisemite, and there are some Jews, like political kingmaker Jacques Attali, who are comfortable defining him as a “Jewish antisemite.” But Zemmour’s inflammatory remarks are not the product of Jew-hatred; they are just one expression of what truly lays at the heart of his ideology, which also includes hatred of Muslims and immigrants. For Zemmour there is only one France and one French history, one of eternal grandeur and glory. He thus despises any form of ethnic particularism and any claims to victimhood at the hands of the French nation. He hates particularism because it denies the oneness of France; he detests claims to victimhood because they put into question the unerring nature of France, of the mythic France he wants to restore—one that is white, Christian, and free of dissent from the dominant discourse.

Because France’s actions are unimpeachable, demands for justice for Jews are an implicit criticism of all Zemmour considers essential. His Jewishness serves here as a vehicle for expressing a vision of France that was weakened by demographic and geopolitical changes and died at the hands of critical scholars, a vision that once led colonial Africans, like every schoolchild in France or living under French rule, to speak of “our ancestors the Gauls.” France did not mistreat its Jews because, in Zemmour’s eyes, it could not mistreat its Jews—France being the essential, almost angelic nation of history. To say otherwise is treasonous.

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