Guest Post: Blame The Victim

[This guest post is a follow-up to Dr. Soller’s earlier guest post on the Ilan Halimi murder.]

Blame The Victim:
A Similar Story about the Handling of a Murder of a French Jew
Jerome Soller, Ph.D.

One of the biggest issues for Ilan Halimi’s murder is whether the initial response by the French police was impacted by the victim’s religion and ethnicity and whether there is a resistance to identifying the crimes against Halimi as antisemitic.  Today, I spoke to Howard Copelan, who is the owner and publisher of the High Desert Advocate Newspaper and the owner of Coyote television, as well as a member of our synagogue (www.shaareitefila.com) .  He had a brother-in-law, Frederique Chekroun, who was murdered in France 15 years ago.    While the crime against Fredo was motivated by robbery, there are parallels to the French police response to these crimes against Sephardic Jews.

Mr. Copelan stated the following [4]:

"Distrust of Jews is widespread in the non-Muslim French world (in the right and the left).   When a crime is committed in France against a Jew, there is a suspicion that the Jews caused the problem.  The police might ask, ‘Are you sure he is kidnapped?’  There is a pervasive belief all Jews have money, are dishonest, and not trustworthy.

My own personal experience was when Fredo was robbed and murdered in 1991.  Fredo was a successful jeweler in the South of France.  The family notified the police.  The police assumed that he had run away from town with some of his stock and money.  They wrote it off as a runaway husband, and they told everyone that he had run away.  He became the suspect in his own disappearance.  They went through all of his financial records ad stocks.  They interrogated his wife.  He was a rich jeweler, and it did not even cross their minds that he was robbed and murdered.  They did not look for any other evidence that would support the possibility of murder.  So, they destroyed his reputation.  His wife had to live with that.  His children had to live with that.  When we were in France, a teller at a bank wanted to talk about Fredo’s "running away".  Do you know how disgusting that was?

For ten years, they did not treat it as a possible murder.  He was the most successful case of disappearance in French history (because he was dead).  About 8 years ago, there was a huge storm and his body was uncovered from a sandbar two miles from his home.  At that point, the French police had no leads or suspects.  They did not even apologize.  I believe if he had been a gentile Frenchman, it would have been a totally different story.  Like Halimi (a North African name that means "My Hope"), Checkroun also has North African origin.  They were both Sephardic Jews, so you get both the latent antisemitism and the dislike of all Algerians in France."

It important to see how the experience of the Chekroun family fifteen years ago was similar to the experience of the Halimi family.  It is consistent with the following issues raised in an article from the European Jewish press [1] (which could have been more accurately titled: "Blame the Victim"):

"The French government was wary about drawing too heavy a link between the criminal gang responsible for Halimi’s murder and anti-Jewish sentiment, however.  Past incidents in which apparently anti-Semitic crimes turned out to be staged or committed for other motives seemed to lie behind its cautious stance.  A government spokesman, Jean-Francois Cope, told French radio that while there were ‘strong suspicions’ of anti-Semitic motives in ‘this horrible affair’, investigators were still getting to the bottom of the case. ‘Absolutely everything must be done to know all the details’ before conclusions about racism or anti-Semitism were drawn, he said. [3]"

Meanwhile, Marie Helene Amiable, communist mayor of Bagneux, the suburb where Ilan was murdered, organized a silent march on Thursday evening and refused banners against anti-Semitism.  It is ironic that some in France will censor signs that protest about antisemitism, but not recognize the existence of antisemitism or criticize the causes of antisemitism.  Thankfully, on Sunday approximately 100,000 people protested [1].

Likewise, I hope that Jews in other parts of the world will start to rally behind the French Jewish community, as this is an issues that impacts all Jews everywhere.  Israeli media, such as the Jerusalem Post and Ha’Aretz, have also heavily covered the events in France.  For example, an Israeli newspaper wrote

"As was the case in World War II, today the Jewish people in Israel and throughout the world is being targeted for annihilation by an enemy bent on world domination. Ilan Halimi’s monstrous murder is just the latest sign of this disturbing reality. [2]"

References:

1. European Jewish Press, Tens of thousands denounce racism and anti-Semitism in France, February, 2006,

2. Carolyn Glick, JPOST, Israel’s non-reaction to the antisemitic murder of Ilan Halimi, February, 2006,

3. Shirli Sitbon, European Jewish Press, Jewish community pushes inquiry on Ilan Halimi murder, February, 2006,

4. Jerome Soller, Interview with Howard Copelan on the Murder of Frederique Chekroun, February, 2006.

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3 Comments

Filed under Crime, Current Affairs, Sefardim

3 responses to “Guest Post: Blame The Victim

  1. Joel Dubow

    Jerome has done us all a service by providing this summary of the killing. This is a serious issue. The noted historian Paul Johnson, in his “History of the Jews” concluding by noting that genocide against the Jews was allways preceding by periods of violent, genocidal talk, talk reminiscent of what is starting to occur now.
    Jews all over the country need to wake up and recognize that the mainstream media is no longer their friend. The New York Times didn’t even cover the story and the Washington Post provided tepid middle page coverage while featuring an interview with a Hamas spokesman in which the reported tossed him softball questions with no followup. A Sunday with the Times and bagels and lox is a Sunday endorsing and speeding up our own annihilation. People ought to be reading your site, meaningful histories of Islam and Jews, strategic studies and learning Chinese.

  2. Yochanan Lavie

    I am in basic agreement with Mr. Dubnow, however I think the United States is different. Jews should vacate Eurabia, and move to Israel and the US (and possibly Canada and Austrailia, too). Ahmaniejad’s buddy Hugo Chavez doesn’t bode well for Jews in South America, either. The Old Yorke Times has always tried not to offend the goyim- hence their inadequate coverage of the Holocaust when it was in progress. Fortunately, I don’t think it speaks for the silent majority of Gentile America (which is philo-Semitic Christian, in the heartland).

  3. Jerome Soller

    One other thought on the media bias. A few days ago, Hamas coerces (CNN said as much) approximately 5,000 people to demonstrate and it makes the main page of the CNN web site in the U.S. At the same time, the only place in CNN one could find an article on Halimi’s murder was deep within their Europe web site. Today, approximately 100,000 in France protest the Halimi murder and investigation, while CNN has no reference to this on their site (even in their Europe section). Instead, they have articles on smaller protests in Europe related to ETA. On MS-NBC, there are front page coverage of interviews with Hamas and their desire for a “truce” and a 25,000 person protest in Pakistan about cartoons, but no coverage of the 100,000 person protest against Halimi’s murder.

    Jerome

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