"They lynched him alive, they burnt him, they cut him simply because he was Jewish,” Ilan Halimi's mother told French Television. (Photo:EJP)
The following article by Dr. Jerome Soller, Ph.D., is the third in a series of guest posts. If you want to guest post, please send me an email.
Muslim Gang Tortures and Murders French Jew, US Media Silent
By Jerome Soller, Ph.D.
I appreciate the opportunity to post this guest article in failedmessiah.com, which is providing a great resource for differing viewpoints in the Jewish community. Last week, I heard about this tragedy, which was getting no exposure in the US Jewish or mainstream press. This event impacts Jews everywhere, whether they are Chassidim, Haredi, orthodox, conservative, reform, reconstructionist, or secular. Throughout this article, I include references to reports from other sources (as I do not live in France). The primary reason I am writing this article is the lack of US media coverage. In the future, this article may be supplemented by a first-hand account of a friend, whose Jewish relative was murdered in France ten years ago.
In January, a pretty woman (whose friends were gang members) came into the shop of Ilan Halimi (a 23-year old French Jewish mobile telephone salesman). They spoke several times on the phone, and then arranged a date. On January 20, 2006, Ilan went to meet her and was kidnapped by a Muslim gang in Paris (called the "Barbarians"). Four of six of the gang's previous kidnapping targets were Jewish. After the kidnapping, Ilan's family received over 650 phone calls, Internet messages, and other forms of contact during a three week period from the gang, while the family was cooperating with the French police . ”When we said we didn’t have 500,000 euros to give them they answered we should go to the synagogue and get it,” Rafi (Ilian's uncle) stressed. “They also recited verses from the Koran. We didn’t know what they were saying but the police told us. " During his captivity, Ilan had his head covered, was starved, stripped naked, cut, burned, and tortured in other ways. According to a poster on another web site, "they had castrated him, cut off his fingers, and gouged out his eyes. " People in the neighboring apartments were aware of the hostage, but did nothing. When the family could not reach the gang's financial demands, the gang left Ilan to die. He was rescued and died in the ambulance on his way to the hospital. The French police arrested fifteen suspects.
At that point, the French police and media downplayed the incident as an isolated incident involving "disadvantaged" immigrant youths and did not mention the victim was Jewish. The mainstream media and French police refused to give this much publicity or even consider that it might be a hate crime, as the perpetrators were Muslim and the victim a Jewish man. After all, such publicity might offend the Muslim community, which was already offended by cartoons. The family of the victim brought attention to the situation. On February 16, the Paris public prosecutor, Jean-Claude Marin, said that “no element of the current investigation could link this murder to anti-Semitic declaration or action.” If a black man was lynched by thirteen white men wearing sheets and screaming racist slogans while they burned a cross in his lawn, a reasonable person would at least consider the possibility of a racially motivated hate crime. "They lynched him alive, they burnt him, they cut him simply because he was Jewish,” Ruth Halimi said on French television. 1,200 Jews from all sections of the French Jewish community (e.g., Chabad, secular, etc.) marched in Paris to ask for truth and action from French government officials.
Due to pressure, the French (who I believe are basically good people) are now considering the possibility of it being an anti-semitically motivated murder. As the investigation has progressed, pro-Palestinian and Islamist documents were found in the homes of many of the perpetrators. French Justice Minister Pascal Clement said one of the suspects had made it clear he attacked Ilan Halimi "because he was Jewish, and Jews are rich" . French interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy told the French parliament, "The truth is that these hoodlums first of all acted for villainous and sordid reasons - money - but they had the belief, and I quote, ’that Jews have money’ and that even if those they kidnapped did not, the community would rally round”, citing a statement by one of the kidnappers . "We fear that the fact that Ilan was Jewish aggravated his case and caused his kidnappers to behave as Islamists. Why did the kidnappers, once they discovered that Ilan’s family was not wealthy, as they had thought, not let him go and instead tortured him to death?," asked Sammy Ghozlan, head of the French Anti-Semitism Vigilance Bureau . "According to the prosecutor, Halimi was tortured in scenes reminiscent of the abuse of prisoners at Baghdad’s notorious Abu Ghraib jail. "
Are the anti-semitic stereotypes and attitudes that drove this hate crime any suprise? Much of the Islamist documents in the suspects' homes likely portrayed Jews as rich and evil. Some French Muslim comedians portray the Jews as evil and the cause of the slave trade. Articles in the British Guardian  and French Liberation magazine suggest that the suspects were inspired by events in Iraq (blamed on the Jews) and films about such events. For example, the recent Turkish movie "Valley of the Wolves Iraq"  is giving the Jewish blood libel mainstream credibility, while it breaks Turkish box office records and will open in the United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Britain, Denmark, Russia, Egypt, Syria, Australia, and other places in the world where Jews serve as convenient scapegoats. Its plot involves a Jewish-American doctor (played by an American actor - Gary Busey) removing the organs of wedding party attendees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq for delivery to rich people in the West. I thought that the only people that typically killed Arab wedding party attendees were "Palestinian" terrorists!? A friend of mine (Dan Black) suggested the Turks make another movie (called "Palestine: The New Protocols") about the rescue of a "Palestinian" infant from Jews, led by the chief Israeli rabbi played by Gary Busey, before Passover. I shouldn't write this in sarcasm, as it might happen (all in the name of multiculturalism and political correctness). The increase in antisemitism also results from the fact that the French and other communities refuse to acknowledge the existence of anti-semitism and hate crimes committed by Muslims against Jews (or have any sensitivity to their causes), except under extreme circumstances.
When I heard about this tragedy, I was shocked that there was little coverage in the US. While US news sources had countless articles about cartoons (without showing such mild cartoons for fear of retaliation) and "peaceful" "Palestinian" protests initiated by Hamas, no links to the murder of a Jew existed on any of their main US web pages. After all, Hamas should be associated with "peace", as they only want to destroy Israel and Jews worldwide. I guess it is major news that Palestinians had a protest, without anyone being hurt.
I hope that this article creates an awareness of these events, when mainstream US media coverage is lacking. I would also hope that there would be a sense of Jewish outrage over the events in France (and the initial hesitancy to seek the truth), the Turkish blood libel film and similar antisemitic literature (which provides a pretense for future violence against Jews), and the tendency of the media to selectively cover and/or sugarcoat events. I am afraid that the current lack of a Jewish response emboldens enemies of the Jewish people. Where are the ADL and other Jewish groups? If not now, when?
1. Associated Press, CNN, Turkish movie depicts Americans as savages, February, 2006,
2. Jason Burke, Guardian Unlimited, Torturer's Iraq Links, February, 2006,
3. European Jewish Press, German political and Jewish leaders condemn Turkish Iraq movie, February, 2006,
4. Yossi Lempkowicz and David Dahan, European Jewish Press, Halimi’s mother blames police, February, 2006,
5. Yossi Lempkowicz and Shirli Sitbon, European Jewish Press, Anti-Semitism blamed for Paris murder, February, 2006,
6. Yossi Lempkowicz and Shirli Sitbon, Dispute around motivation for murder in Paris, European Jewish Press, February, 2006,
7. Reuters, CNN, France: Anti-Semitic link in death, February, 2006,
8. Reuters, ABS-CBN, France sees racist motive in brutal torture death, February, 2006,
9. Shirli Sitbon, French authorities : anti-Semitism may have played a role in Halimi’s murder, European Jewish Press,
10. Hannah Semesh, Free Republic, Paris: Gang suspected of killing Jew nabbed (Muslim gang not motivated by anti-Semitism say police)