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A Bullet to Every Jew’s Heart

Yosef West

Days after the gruesome terrorist shootings that ended the lives of four Jews in Toulouse, the horror is still palpable. As they share the grief and pain of two storied families, French Jews are also asking some hard questions about the anti-Semitic threat lying just under the veneer of French society.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

toulouse Last Monday, a spray of bullets from a Colt 45 pistol in the courtyard of Talmud Torah Otzar Hatorah delivered with cool deliberation at point-blank range, ended the lives of Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, his two sons, six-year-old Aryeh and three-year-old Gavriel, as well as seven-year old Miriam Monsonego, H”yd.

As French Jews took part in the teary and painful hespedim, several hundred non-Jews joined to express their solidarity, and to cry too. Jewish eyewitnesses to the shooting attacks, and the aftermath, were badly scarred. The shock and revulsion at the sheer cruelty of the act will not dissipate any time soon. Older Jewish residents said that afterFrance was freed from Nazi occupation in World War II, they assumed a slaughter like last week’s could never happen again.

For this quiet Jewish community of some 20,000 souls, the shootings came like a sudden thunderstorm on a clear day.

Two Storied Families

Two days later, French police surrounded the home of a suspect, a 24-year-old French national identified by police as Mohammed Merah, also suspected of killing three French soldiers in two separate incidents the week prior. The Jewish deaths became even more painful when it was learned that Merah had a long criminal record and was under surveillance after the murders of the French soldiers, although police had no explanation for how he slipped away on motorcycle to fire the fatal shots at the yeshivah. Merah claimed to have ties with al-Qaeda and said the murders at the Jewish school were to “avenge the death of Palestinian children.”

Two storied families fell victim to violent acts of anti-Semitism — a recurring plague inFrancethat Jews say has never been firmly dealt with.


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