Monday, 19 March 2012

From Gordon Beach in Tel Aviv to a tragedy in Toulouse

Yesterday we sat at 'La La Land' on Gordon Beach. It was an absolutely brilliant day. After all the rain and the cold and the winds and the storms it was a delight to laze in a deck chair, drinking Lemonana and eating pita with humus. The whole area was packed and it was difficult for latecomers to find somewhere to sit. The predominant language that surrounded us was French. I read today that there are 700,000 Jews in France. I find that hard to believe but when one considers the huge immigration of North African Jews - those from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia post War and during the '50s  - then, I guess, it's not surprising. It really helps to speak a number of languages here. French and Russian are certainly in order. As are, of course, Arabic and English. I'm still breaking my teeth trying to pronounce Hebrew and straining my throat to get the right inflections. They tell me that the more I work at it, the easier it will be. I think that Spanish would be easier, although whenever I produce my five words of Spanish, they come out in Italian!

Sitting in the easy chair, under the sun, and watching and listening to the French, I wondered how it was that so many of them still make their way here month after month, year after year. In a taxi the other night the driver spoke of what a difference the new French immigration has made to this city. It's tangible. The shops are smarter; the estate agents more prolific; the houses more expensive. After L'affaire Dreyfus in the late Nineteenth century, there was an out flowing of Jews from France to other European countries. Many of those Jews were tragically caught up by the Holocaust. Over the last few years, while anti-Semitism has worked its way around that country, many thousands more French Jews have made their way to Israel and settled here. Today, another atrocity aimed at the Jewish community, will convince more French Jews that their time in France is limited. Almost every day we hear of some kind of attack against Jews somewhere in France. This news is not always disseminated by the press. Maybe the media outlets are inured to it, disinterested because it is now so common, or simply disbelieving.

This morning in Toulouse, a young Israeli Rabbi and his two young children were murdered outside of a Jewish school, as was the child of the school's Principal and another teenager is most seriously wounded. Whoever carried out this most heinous deed knew exactly who his targets were and he had no compunction regarding their age or sex. For this monster, so long as they were Jews, then they were legitimate targets. At 7.30am this morning, a young family was getting ready for another school day. At just after 8.00am, a young widow was created. But it wasn't enough that she lost her husband. She also lost her two sons.  How does she deal with this? How is it possible to transcend this pain? The irony, if one can talk about ironies at this awful time, is that the family were Israeli and from Jerusalem - the scene of Intifadot and suicide bombings. Did this family believe that they would ultimately be safer in France?

If, possibly, there is any good that can come out of this event it is that maybe instead of visiting, then more French Jews will find their way here and say goodbye to Europe, the home of the Shoah. It's enough already. C'est suffit.

1 comment:

Nicola said...

The guy was a lunatic. He also killed three French solders, one (or was it two?) of whom was a muslim. We mustn't forget about them in our grief and outrage.