An 85-year-old Holocaust survivor was murdered in Paris and authorities have labelled it a hate crime.
The woman, Mireille Knoll, narrowly escaped a notorious roundup of Jews in France when she was a child. The French police had been cooperating at the time with the Germans, rounding up thousands of Parisian Jews. They were kept in a cycling stadium called the Vélodrome d’Hiver and most of them were subsequently murdered at Auschwitz. Knoll and her mother escaped thanks to the possession of a Brazillian passport.
The Paris prosecutor’s office has released a statement affirming that Ms. Knoll had been killed because of the “membership, real or supposed, of the victim of a particular religion.” In other words, she was murdered because she was Jewish.
Francis Kalifat, the head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, said: “This makes one feel something absolutely terrible. She escaped the anti-Semitism of the Nazis, but in the end her destiny followed her because she was killed because of anti-Semitism.”
Interior Minister Gérard Collomb announced that “to attack a Jew is to attack France, and the values that are the very basis of the nation.”
This is not the first France has seen of anti-semitism of late. Last year Sarah Halimi, an older Jewish woman, was thrown out a window by a man of Malian origin who shouted, “God is great!” as he sent her falling to her death. The crime took months to be characterized as an act of anti-semitism however.
In 2015 a kosher supermarket was attacked in Paris by the heavily armed Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four people. In 2012, a Jewish school was attacked in Toulouse by Mohammed Merah, who killed three children and a teacher after killing three soldiers.
Two suspects have been arrested in connection with Knoll, both in their mid-20s, and one of whom was Knoll’s neighbor and was even said to have had “friendly relations with her,” according to Kalifat.
“These are not just thugs,” Kalifat said. “She was attacked because she was Jewish. This is what characterizes anti-Semitism in our country… She was absolutely massacred. Eleven knife wounds. That is hatred of the Jews, we see it in the fury of the murderer. This is how we recognize anti-Semitism.”
Meyer Habib, a member of Parliament, has said that “they start with the Jews, and afterward they kill other Frenchmen. Jews are being killed because they are Jews. That is very serious.”
[via New York Times]