Israelis React to the Toulouse Killings

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

Middle East In Focus

The targeted killing of three Jewish children and their teacher by a French-Algerian in the French city of Toulouse has shaken many within Israel and across the world. In Israel in particular the tragedy has struck a chord with many people who believe that governments in Europe have done very little to stem the perceived rise in anti-Semitism and have been too timid about handling the perceived threat of Islam on the continent.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s Guy Bechor believes Europe has been trapped in a “Muslim nightmare…. [W]hat happens when the terrorists are French or European locals of Muslim descent who were born in Europe? To what extent can their actions be monitored and their terror activities curbed? It’s much more difficult, and this is the European nightmare, which keeps growing, as illustrated by the brutal murder in Toulouse….For long years, senior EU officials felt they were living in a remote, calm island, looking from above at the Third World and Islam, or at least this is how they hoped to view themselves. Yet this is no longer the case. And this truth, which has now pervaded the hearts of millions in France following the Toulouse massacre, is horrifying them. It is not the Jews whom the French are now thinking of; first and foremost, they fear for themselves.”

In a commentary on Israel Insider, Barry Rubin argues the tragedy is the result of “no real soul-searching, no true effort to do better, no serious examination about how the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hysteria is paving the way for murder and fueling dreams of genocide. The street thugs, fanatics drunk on the interpretations of Islam they are being fed, and the mentally twisted may be pulling the trigger but the distinguished, the powerful, and the honored are providing the ammunition….the EU and various governments dare not admit that the principal cause of antisemitic activity is radical Islam, and the principal inspiration for popular antisemitism is trendy leftist ideas that now dominate much of that continent and are spreading in North America.”

Shaul Rosenfeld suggests the problem with the West is its refusal to admit “Islam is the problem…. [A]s a whole, a religion that like an interminable production line gives rise to such phenomena, organizations and murderers….In this day and age, when anyone who praises the violent and repressive Islamic religion and culture is assured of dubious glory, we won’t see a local Camus rising anytime soon. For the time being, we shall have to settle for the likes of David Grossman and Amos Oz, who will resort to holy literary fury in order to explain why blame lies almost entirely with the Jewish state, and not with our Muslim neighbors, heaven forbid.”

The Italian journalist Giulio Meotti writing for the Israeli Arutz Sheva is deeply critical of the United Nations, arguing it is “the tool of those who would make Israel the archetypal human rights violator in the world today. It is the most important breeding ground for anti-Semitism. Three days after four Jews were murdered in a pleasant French city, the UN chose to demonize the Jews. For them, Jews are supposed to be passive victims, and departure from this assigned role is unacceptable. That’s why they criminalized ‘the settlers’…In Brussels, Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, compared Toulouse’s massacre to Israel’s militancy operations in Gaza, abolishing Jews’ human rights….We live in a time when death and bloodshed are celebrated and romanticized. And the United Nations, the European Union, the global media and the mainstream intellectuals are all washing their hands of the Jewish deaths.”

For others, the handling of the case by the French government was especially problematic. For example, in an op-ed published by Haaretz, Avidgor Haselkorn asserts “Disastrous is the only way to describe France’s handling of its most recent encounter with Islamic terrorism. Virtually every action and/or statement made by French authorities during the past few days provided devastating testimony that the lessons of the 9/11 attacks have yet to be understood, let alone internalized, by the West….The French president in fact gifted global jihadists with an immensely powerful recruitment opportunity….the motivation to maintain the peace is coming at the price of staring the threat squarely in the eyes.”

In its editorial, one Israel’s main newspapers, The Jerusalem Post, reflects on the state of anti-semitism in Europe and is critical of parallels drawn between Israeli incursions into the Gaza strip and the Toulouse killings: “The deadliest form of anti-Semitism today is the sort that inspired Merah….Unfortunately, however, Merah was not the only one to link the massacre in Toulouse with Israel’s war on terror in the Gaza Strip…Though it would be an exaggeration to call Ashton’s remarks…blatantly anti-Semitic, her failure to draw distinctions — a crucial fault shared by many on the progressive Left — helps to set the stage for men such as Merah to be seen not as cold-blooded murderers motivated by irrational anti-Semitism, but as militants engaged in warfare.”

Finally, for some outside of Israel, such as the Lebanese Daily Star “The Toulouse killer’s claim that the Palestinian struggle was the motive behind his recent murdering spree is just the latest example of terrorists’ misappropriation of the cause for their own selfish reasons… Palestinians have never described the Jewish people as their enemy….But now the Palestinians…must again battle new associations between violent, extremist acts carried out around the world, whether by terrorists or psychopaths, and their own, peaceful cause….It is imperative that all Arab leaders, regardless of their politics, condemn these actions in the strongest possible way, and stress that these cowardly, atrocious acts of violence bear no connection to the Palestinian cause – one that is inspired by its commitment to a shared humanity and the diplomatic, peaceful resolution of disagreement.”

Click here to read previous installments of Middle East In Focus

Middle East In Focus is a synopsis of commentary and news from Middle Eastern and other international media. Its purpose is to provide a succinct and balanced summary of the main developments and views that are often overlooked or not properly reflected in the U.S. media. For the most recent collection of articles on and from the Middle East, please go to: Comments and feedback are welcome at

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

Scroll to Top