France’s Unity: A Country Comes Together in Response to Murders at Jewish School
by Laurent David Samama
Paris, early in the morning.
Just after breakfast, the news of an attack against a Jewish school in the Southwest of France broke. Three children and one adult died, and one child is severely wounded, fighting for life. For the French people, it is clearly a deep and alarming event, indeed the first time such an armed attack occurred against a school in France, far away from the American shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech.
From the far-right movement “Le Front National” to the “Le Front de Gauche” party, all the political representatives running for President denounced the Ozar Hatorah tragedy. Accompanied by Richard Prasquier, President of the CRIF (Representative Council of the Jewish institutions of France), and Joel Mergui, President of the Consistory, French President Sarkozy rushed to the scene of the massacre to express his sorrow and meet the families of the victims. In a speech which was broadcast throughout the country, Sarkozy promised to find the murderer and bring him to justice. “Our thoughts are with these families that are shattered — a mother who has lost her husband and two children on the same day, the director of the school saw a little girl die before his eyes,” said the French President.
In the same speech, he called for a minute of silence in schools across the country, in response to the “national tragedy.”
A bit later, the leading candidate in the upcoming Presidential elections, Francois Hollande (Le Parti Socialiste), made a strong statement about the Toulouse tragedy: “Every effort must be made “‹”‹to arrest and punish those guilty of this ignominy.”
Hollande will be at Ozar Hatorah in the afternoon, accompanied by Pierre Cohen, the Mayor of Toulouse.
The news of today’s murders adds to the killings of three soldiers in the same geographical area, a few days ago. Due to a very similar modus operandi for both shootings, several sources have suggested the possibility the attacks are linked.
As Television vans and police trucks parked in the narrow streets of the city, a helicopter circled over the crime scene, and today, France seems to be deeply moved by the Ozar Hatorah shootings.
From Paris, the feeling is clear : it is not only the French Jewish community which is mourning but France as a nation.