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May 12, 2016

A Shell Game: Washington Post Report on Anxious French Jews

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“France is home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, and its most troubled. A wave of anti-Semitic violence in recent years has shaken Jews to the point where growing numbers no longer see a future here.”

So begins “Jews anxious about future in France,” by Washington Post correspondent James McAuley (May 10, 2016 print edition, May 9 online). Who is responsible for the “wave of anti-Semitic violence” and “sense of anxiety” pervading “a [Jewish] community that accounts for just 1 percent of the total French population”? The Post does not exactly say.

The newspaper does tell readers that community accounts for “nearly half of all victims of what French authorities call ‘Xenophobic’ violence.” Which “xenophobes”? In the 10th paragraph The Post finally says “Jews are struggling to consolidate safety and security in a France where radical Islamist violence has been rising.”

So, radical Muslims threaten French Jews with violence? The newspaper implies that, but stops short of saying so explicitly. Instead, it recalls:

“In 2006, there was the abduction and murder of a Jewish cell phone salesman by a gang of anti-Semitic youths. In 2012, a shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse. In 2015, a shooting at a kosher supermarket the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack. And In January of this year, the machete attack on a Jewish teacher as he walked on the street in Marseille.”

That “gang of anti-Semitic youths” who tortured Ilan Halimi to death over a period of days while taunting his family in telephone calls was Muslims. The terrorist who murdered a teacher and three children in Toulouse in 2012 was a Muslim. The shooter who killed four Jews at Paris’ Hyper-Cacher market in 2015 was a Muslim who claimed to have coordinated with the Charlie Hebdo murderers.

But The Post quickly moves on to other matters in the last 22 of the article’s 34 paragraphs. These are the argument among French Jews over whether they should abandon France for Israel or elsewhere, or stay. And, if they stay, should they work with the anti-immigrant—essentially anti-Muslim and originally antisemitic but now ostensibly pro-Jewish National Front Party—or against it?

Early in the dispatch, a man identified as an Israeli “human rights lawyer living in Paris,” is quoted as saying “in terms of security, I don’t believe Israel is a safe place for Jews. Or for anyone else.” The Post transmits that stenographically, without context.

In context, in terms of individual security, a U.N. office reports that the murder rate per 100,000 population in Israel in 2012 was 1.8; in France (2013) 1.2; Tunisia—where some French vacation—3.1 (2012); and in the United States, where more than five million Jews live and many French visit, 3.8 (2013). (Data from most recent years posted.)

Another article by McAuley (“World Views: France plans to set up ‘anti-jihadist centers’ to curb youth radicalization,” May 10 online, not yet in print) crept a little closer to cause—Islamic extremism or Islamist supremacism—in addition to effect—rising violence against French Jews and others. The short dispatch used the words “anti-jihadist” and “jihadism” in direct quotes from the French prime minister. It also referred to “militant” and “militants” and once to the Islamic State. It also noted that “many Muslims” find state secularism “alienating.”

But those whose radicalization government officials hoped to prevent turned out to be “young men,” “young people” or “French youths.” Young Catholics? Secular youths? Young French Jews?
Unlikely.

When predominately Muslim suburbs of Paris and other French cities erupted in riots and arsons four years ago, reporting by the Tribune Newspapers (including The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun) suffered from descriptions of acts by “disaffected youths,” “rioting youths” and “gangs of youths.” Tribune Co. journalists, professionally expected to report who, what, when, where, why and how, erased the Muslim and/or North African-Arab identity of most of these “youths.” Washington Post coverage of violent threats to French Jews from radicalized Muslims suffers a similar erasure now.


Posted by ER at May 12, 2016 05:43 PM

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