French President Macron Joins Netanyahu in Justice Call for Murdered Jewish Pensioner Sarah Halimi
French President Emmanuel Macron broke the French government’s silence on Sunday over the brutal murder of Jewish pensioner Sarah Halimi, as he joined visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a memorial ceremony for French Jews deported during the Nazi Holocaust.
“Despite the denials of the murderer, our judiciary must bring total clarity around the death of Sarah Halimi,” Macron said.
French authorities are still reluctant to treat the murder as an antisemitic hate crime, despite the fact that Halimi’s assailant, her 27 year old neighbor Kobili Traore, shouted Islamist and antisemitic slogans as he beat and tortured the 66 year old widow, before throwing her out of a third floor window while she was still alive. Last week, Traore’s lawyer, Thomas Bidnic, said that his client – who is being held for psychiatric evaluation – denied that he had been driven by an “antisemitic motive” in killing Dr. Halimi.
Macron implicitly criticized the widespread denial in France that Halimi’s murder was an antisemitic act, saying that “we were silent, because we did not want to see.”
Macron also cited other examples of violent antisemitism and racism during the ceremony, which commemorated the 13,000 Jews deported to Auschwitz in July 1942 from an internment camp at the Velodrome d’Hiver, a cycling stadium near the Eiffel Tower. Among the cases he listed were those of Ilan Halimi – no relation to Sarah Halimi – a young French Jew kidnapped and murdered in 2006 by an antisemitic gang seeking a ransom from “wealthy Jews,” and the Islamist terror attacks on a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2013 and the kosher Hypercacher market in Paris in 2015. Macron also paid tribute to Father Jacques Hamel, a Catholic priest murdered by an Islamist in 2016, and Brahim Bouarram, a Moroccan immigrant who was drowned in the River Seine by Neo-Nazis in 1995.
In his remarks, Netanyahu situated the challenge of antisemitism in France within the broader context of violent Islamism.
“They try to destroy us, but also they try to destroy you, and France is a leading power in the world, a leading democracy, so it is not being spared either,” Netanyahu declared. “In Nice, in Paris, in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray and elsewhere, savage terrorists brutally murdered French citizens. They have also targeted French Jews in Toulouse, in the Hypercacher here in Paris, and recently, with the horrific murder of Sarah Halimi of blessed memory.”
Netanyahu praised Macron for standing “boldly and proudly against this scourge. You clearly condemn and fight antisemitism, and you clearly condemn and fight this larger militancy that seeks to destroy our world.” Macron, meanwhile, stated unambiguously in his speech that France would “not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of antisemitism.”
Other speakers at the “Vel d’Hiv” commemoration included Francis Kalifat – the president of French Jewish representative organization CRIF – who urged Macron to “inscribe the antisemitic nature of this crime” into the ongoing police investigation into Halimi’s death.