Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Innocents struck down in Toulouse France

History shows that it sometimes takes a terrible event to effect societal change.

This reality was made evident by the horrific murder Monday in Toulouse, France, of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, and his two sons, Aryeh, 6, and Gavriel, 3, along with Miriam Monsonego, 8, the daughter of their school’s principal.

Born in Paris in 1981, Rabbi Sandler 31, studied at the Ozar Hatorah school as a child and had recently returned from Israel to teach in Toulouse for two years, with his wife and their three children, intending to pass on all he had learned living in the Holy Land. His wife and four-year-old daughter were not involved in the tragedy.

In a statement, the Chief Rabbi of Toulouse, Avraham Weill, praised Sandler for his tireless commitment to his students and their education. Friends also spoke of Rabbi Sandler's warm, friendly and generous character

The French Jewish community has seen its share of tragedy over the past 30 years, with attacks on synagogues, businesses and community members increasing in number since a Friday-evening bungled assault by Arab terrorists on a Paris synagogue in 1980 killing four peopl and injuring 46.

Of late, the community has witnessed attacks ranging from simple vandalism and graffiti to this murderous attack at the Ozar Hatorah school. What is the cause of all this? Some French academics are speculating that part of the answer lies in the country's rapidly expanding Muslim population (which numbers in the millions), comprising mostly immigrants from North and West Africa. The difficulty these newcomers have faced integrating into French society has produced a youth culture frustrated with their underclass conditions, fuelling anti-Semitic attitudes and actions.

The victims of Monday's point-blank shootings were laid to rest Wednesday at the Har HaMenuchot cemetery in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Jerusalem. Accompanying the bodies to the Israeli cemetery was French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, who made the following statement at the funeral: "France will do everything to ensure nothing like this unbelievable tragedy ever happens again. France will not tolerate terror."

These are the kinds of words that often ring out after catastrophes such as the Holocaust, 9-11 and acts of racism and violence that give the world such pause, finally forcing decisive measures to be taken to curb such disregard for the lives of the innocent.

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