Imagine if a white American guy tortured and murdered a black woman, first beating her up and kicking her while shouting “white power!” and then throwing her out the window to her death. This would, of course be all over the Western media as an example of a racist crime. And imagine further that the murderer gets off completely because the courts find that before the murder he’d smoked marijuana, so he wasn’t responsible for his deed. Now that would, rightly, be a national scandal, all over the media of all stripes.
Now imagine instead that the murderer was an anti-Semitic Muslim who did the same thing to an Orthodox Jewish French woman who was his neighbor, crying “Allahu akbar,” uttering Muslim prayers, and then torturing her before throwing her out the window to her death. And then the courts let him off because he was high on weed.
This latter scenario actually happened, but you’re not going to read about it in the New York Times, HuffPost, the BBC, the Guardian, or The Washington Post, and you probably haven’t heard about anyway. This is because the media simply don’t consider attacks on individual Jews very newsworthy, although it’s the minority group most subject to U.S. hate crimes on a per capita basis. (Attacks on individual members of other minority groups, like blacks, Hispanics, or Asians, of course get wide press.)
The only explanation for this disparity that makes sense—at least to me—is anti-Semitism. Now you can say that American and British journalists are ignoring this is because it happened in France, and that the French media did cover it, which the first article below, from Honest Reporting, claims (click on screenshot). So did the Jewish media. But the story is not just local: it reflects a rising tide of anti-Semitism spilling over much of Europe. Letting the murderer go in a supposedly enlightened country is especially horrific.
Further, we do know the names of Avijit Roy, the Bangladeshi blogger hacked to death for blasphemy, and of Raif Badawi, the Saudi dissident who’s still in prison after nine years, sentenced to a thousand lashes for “insulting Islam”. These kind of injustices are international outrages. Why not the death of the Orthodox Jew Sarah Halimi, which gets no mention? Because she’s an Orthodox Jew.
Bari Weiss (whom I suppose you can count as Jewish media) also deals with the story at the second screenshot (click there, too).
The piece above is short, and recounts events that happened in 2017. The final exculpation of the killer, though, just happened this week.
On [last] Wednesday, the Court of Cassation, the highest court in the French judiciary, upheld a 2019 Paris court decision that Kobili Traoré, who in 2017 broke into the home of his 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish neighbor, Sarah Halimi, before proceeding to beat and then kill her, was not fit to stand trial.
The police reports of the incident documents claims that Traoré shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) before throwing her out of the balcony of her home in a clearly antisemitic crime. However, because Traoré had consumed a significant quantity of marijuana, the court ruled that he could not be held responsible for his actions.
From Bari Weiss:
Sarah Halimi was a retired French physician and schoolteacher. She was also an Orthodox Jew. On April 4, 2017, Halimi was in her Paris apartment where she lived alone. In the middle of the night, a 27-year-old Muslim man of Malian origin named Kobili Traoré, who lived in the building, broke into her apartment. Traoré tortured Ms. Halimi, who was in her 60s, beating her and kicking her. According to neighbors, who called the police after hearing Halimi’s cries, Traoré called her a “shaitan” (satan) and a dirty Jew. Ultimately, he threw Ms. Halimi’s battered body out of her third-story apartment window shouting “Allahu akbar.”
There are other gruesome details, but that is the basic story. It’s hard to imagine a set of facts more damning and more clear.
More of the story from The JC, linked to above:
Kobili’s behaviour was clearly problematic, since Diara Traore [an older relative of the murderer Kobili Traoré who lived in the next building] locked himself, his wife and children in one of the apartment’s rooms and called the police at 4.25am.
Three minutes later, a unit of the Anti-Crime Brigade (BAC) — who happened to be patrolling the area — took up position in front of Diara’s door.
They heard Kobili Traore chanting Muslim prayers and Koranic verses. Unsure about the situation and the potential threats to the family, they asked for reinforcements. Additional policemen arrived quickly. However, for some unclear reason, the BAC unit still refrained from breaking in.
In the meantime, Kobili Traore put on new clothes and climbed out of the window to reach Sarah Halimi’s apartment, which was at the same level as Diara Traore’s.
He allegedly assaulted the Jewish woman and hit her mercilessly. From time to time he resumed Koranic recitation. Many neighbours, woken by the old woman’s screams or the assaulter’s religious chanting, called the police.
Some gave details about the exact location of the assault, the attacker’s identity, the fact he vilified his victim as a Jewish person and as “a Satan” while hitting her, or even — as far as the Muslim neighbours were concerned — the Koranic portions he chanted.
Yet the police still failed to storm Sarah Halimi’s apartment and rescue her. Eventually, Kobili Traore is claimed to have shouted that the woman was “mad and about to commit suicide”, and threw her out of the window.
He had time enough to climb back to Diara Traore’s apartment where he finally was arrested. His hands were covered in blood. There was blood everywhere in his victim’s apartment.
Why did the cops delay?
According to Weiss, Traoré has several dozen prior convictions, but the French prosecutors dropped charges. The case went up to higher courts, and Bari wrote this on Thursday:
And so it is the case with the four-year saga of Sarah Halimi. The final injustice came yesterday, when the country’s top appeals court upheld the earlier, lower court decision that Traoré could not be held criminally responsible because he was high. Apparently smoking a joint had compromised his “discernment” and he attacked and killed Halimi not because he hated Jews, but because he was in a “delirious fit.”
As Francis Szpiner, one of the Halimi family’s lawyers, asked of the court’s strange logic: “Will this also apply to drunk drivers who kill children on the road?” The question answers itself.
The madness here does not belong to Traoré. It belongs to France.
Weiss discusses how the anti-Semitism of Alice Walker has also been ignored, and then adds this rule of thumb about how the media cover anti-Semitic attacks:
When a Jew is harassed by a neo-Nazi, they count. When a Jew is harassed by a person from another minority group, not so much. When a secular Jew is attacked, they count. But when a Jew with a black hat is attacked, that’s ignored. If the story suits the narrative, it counts. If it undermines it, it doesn’t.
I found this tweet yesterday, and I haven’t checked the media this morning, but, at least as of 24 hours after France’s highest court let off the murderer, there were crickets in British and American media. You’re welcome to check again.
Not a single one of these news outlets has reported this story.
This is an outrageous, widespread failure of journalism. https://t.co/JSE0xc08dw
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) April 15, 2021
Now the killer may be mentally ill (it’s hard to tell the difference with extremist religion), but I see no sign that he’s been institutionalized. [UPDATE: A commenter below notes that he’s been sent to a psychiatric hospital.] And people may ask me, as a determinist, that if his deeds happened after smoking a joint, how can he be held responsible? The answer is evident: he’s been a career criminal, and though killing while high may be determined by the laws of physics, the guy needs to be put away because he’s a danger to others, as a deterrent, and in hopes he can be reformed.
Finally, Weiss has some suggestions for further reading—in the New York Times, of all places:
If you are new to the subject of French anti-Semitism — a survey put by the AJC last year found that 70 percent of French Jews say they have been victims of at least one antisemitic incident in their lifetime — this piece is a good primer.
The NYT piece, from 2018, is called ‘They spit when I walked in the street’: The ‘New Anti-Semitism’ in France.