Israel must not cry anti-Semitism after Toulouse
From a complex, grim event, Israel must not produce an exclusive outcry, charging a friendly state with sweeping anti-Semitism. By so doing, Israel is undermining France's sovereignty.
Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah's background, alongside his boasts that although he worked alone he belonged to Al-Qaida, characterize the murder of three children and a rabbi at the Ozar Hatorah school as an unmistakable terrorist act.
However, it is difficult to ignore the tragic, bitter echoing of the Jewish memory in France and its new political context - the act of terror was directed against the children of a Jewish school, and the murderer said explicitly he was avenging the blood of Palestinian children. Thus he bound the fate of France's Jewish citizens with that of Israel, and brought disaster on them because of the conflict taking place in the Middle East.
But this is not the whole picture, which is especially complex in this case. The rash statements of Israeli politicians, who called on France's Jews to "come home" and flee the dread of anti-Semitism, illustrate how precarious and blurred Israel's self-perception as a sovereign nation state is, and the depth of its identification with Jewish communities around the world.
This natural empathy constitutes an inseparable part of Israel's identity as the state of the Jews. But calling on France's Jews to leave their country is a wretched mistake.
While the ugly, acute "old" anti-Semitism still exists in France, radical Islam's blatant spokesmen are filled with a "new" kind of hatred toward Jews - the kind that is fed, among other things, by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In view of this, Israel must take care not to join the most problematic choir in France, whose deceptive chants are dictated by the extreme right. The abominable murders in Toulouse were perpetrated against French citizens on the French republic's land, and the murderer said clearly he had "brought France to its knees" because of the purdah law and the republic's involvement in Afghanistan. His hatred of Jews was therefore mingled with a violent revolt against the West in general.
Israel's concern and solidarity are justified, but it must not interpret a terror attack into a narrow political cliche. And from a complex, grim event, it must not produce an exclusive outcry, charging a friendly state with sweeping anti-Semitism. By so doing, Israel is undermining France's sovereignty.