After brutal murder, French Jews hope authorities learn from mistakes

France's Foreign Minster Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the murder was "more than likely" antisemitic in nature.

SOLDIERS AND a police car stand in front of a synagogue in Marseille, France. (photo credit: REUTERS)
SOLDIERS AND a police car stand in front of a synagogue in Marseille, France.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
One year after the murder of a 65-year-old Jewish Parisian Sarah Halimi, France’s Jewish community is reeling again from the brutal murder of Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll.
The 85-year-old was allegedly stabbed 11 times while at home on Friday, before her body was set on fire, in an attack which Jewish community leaders described as reminiscent of the murder of Halimi.
“The inhumanity of this murder sends us back to that of Sarah Halimi just one year ago,” the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) said in a statement, which continued by mentioning that council President Francis Kalifat had spoken at length with the children of the victim.
“During his discussions with the prefect of police and the office of the president of the Republic, the president of the CRIF expressed the emotion and the deep concern of the Jewish population of France,” the statement said.
Jewish community leaders as well as other public officials had strongly and vocally criticized the way Halimi’s case was handled, accusing the authorities and the French media of hiding the facts from the public. They also denounced the fact that it took five months to categorize the murder as an anti-Jewish hate crime, after French President Emmanuel Macron called for an investigation.
It is thus pertinent that the CRIF’s recent statement on Knoll’s murder called for “total transparency in the current investigation, so that the motives for this barbaric crime are known to all as fast as possible.”
Executive Director of CRIF Robert Ejnes told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that he was hopeful the authorities had learned from their mistakes.
“There is not the same silence like there was with Halimi’s murder,” Ejnes said.
Indeed, speaking last week at the 6th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem, Ambassador of France for Human Rights Francois Croquette said that lessons had been learned from the “misjudgment” made in the Halimi case regarding the time it took to recognize it as antisemitic.
Police have thus far arrested two suspects in the murder of Knoll. On Monday afternoon, the public prosecutor’s department in Paris characterized the crime as an antisemitic murder, saying that it had opened a judicial investigation into the killing “based on the assumption, true or supposed, that the victim was a member of a religion.”
Jewish French MP Meyer Habib visited Knoll’s family on Sunday. “Unfortunately the number of victims is rising, but it appears as though the story is repeating itself,” he said.
“Similar to Sarah Halimi (who was murdered by her Muslim neighbor when he threw her out of her window), Mireille also knew the suspect – who is currently under arrest – her 35-year-old Muslim neighbor who she had known since he was a child,” Habib said.
Knoll had reported in the past to authorities that a man from the same street had threatened to burn her, according to the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Antisemitism.
“Like Sarah Halimi, who was strangely murdered hundreds of meters away – in this case as well, the French authorities are very careful about linking the murder to antisemitism.
The family has no doubt about the antisemitic nature of the incident. For Sarah, it took almost 10 months for the legal authorities to recognize the obvious reality. And what for Mireille?” Habib continued.
“The investigation has begun. But I am afraid that after Sarah, Mireille also became a victim of the hatred of Jews, which is increasingly seen in the suburbs – against the backdrop of Islamic radicalization, hatred of Israel but also hatred of France. Like the murder of Sarah Halimi, in this case, too, I intend to fight with other Jewish organizations for the sake of justice and truth,” Habib concluded.
World Zionist Organization Vice Chairman Yaakov Hagoel also released a statement in which he call upon the French legal authorities to search, find and prosecute the perpetrators.