'Toulouse no longer safe for Jews'

Ex-resident says Toulouse Jews no longer feel safe walking around with a kippa or talking openly about Israel.

Sarkozy 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Sarkozy 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Avram Azoulay, a 48-year-old resident of Har Homa who moved to Israel decades ago from Toulouse, described the Ozar Hatorah school shooting on Monday as an anchor of a community that fears growing animosity from its neighbors.
He said a change had taken place in the city in recent years, and residents no longer feel comfortable or safe to walk around wearing a kippa or to talk openly about politics or Israel.
Azoulay largely blamed the current fears in the community on what he said is an influx of Arab and Muslim immigrants.
“This drew more and more people to the Jewish schools in recent years. They used to have to beg people to join the Jewish schools, now people are coming on their own because they don’t feel safe studying with the goyim anymore,” he said.
Azoulay added that he spoke to some friends in Toulouse after the shooting and that “everyone is stunned. The children are in trauma and in shock and everyone is worried there can be another attack.”
Ozar Hatorah is “a synagogue, a school, a central place for the Jewish community in Toulouse,” he said.
“And now he’s lost his eightyear- old daughter, it’s terrible,” Azoulay added, in reference to the school’s principal Rabbi Yaakov Monsonego, whose daughter Miriam was gunned down on Monday.
“The rabbi is very open with the religion, his approach is to try and welcome people in and not push them away. Everyone loves him because he knows how to speak to people who are not religious,” he said.
Michel Rappaport, a 69-year-old native of Toulouse, sounded a somewhat different tone about the safety of being a Jew in the city.
He described Jewish Toulouse as a very well-known, recognized and integrated community of around 25,000 members. Rappaport, who immigrated to Israel nine years ago, said there is no widespread feeling of tensions or anti-Semitism in this city, though there were a few anti-Semitic incidents in 2002.
He also said there are good relations between the Jewish community and the Muslim community, as well as the Christian community and local politicians.
However, Rappaport did say that “this is a small school, on a small street, you need to know that it is there. To come at 8 a.m. and shoot children in the back, you need to know what you are doing, you need to have been prepared. This was a calculated incident. This is an anti-Semitic incident, in my opinion.”