Catherine Ashton and Toulouse

March 23, 2012 by Emily Gian
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On Monday evening, Melbourne time, we heard the devastating news that four French Jews had been murdered outside Ozar Hatorah, a Jewish school in Toulouse, France…writes Emily Gian.

Emily Gian

The four victims were Jonathan Sandler a rabbi and teacher at the school, his two children Arieh and Gavriel, aged five and four respectively, and seven year old Miriam Monsonego, the daughter of the school’s principal. They were murdered by a lone gunman, who was dressed in black and was riding on a motor-scooter.

The murders were immediately linked to two earlier attacks in France where three French soldiers of North African descent were shot at and killed in similar circumstances and with the same kind of weapon.

As the news made our local papers on Wednesday, the Age featured an article entitled ‘Hunt for ex-soldiers after massacre at Jewish school’. The article focused on the information that French authorities had at the time, which seemed to suggest that the attacks had been carried out by former French paratroopers who had been fired from the 17th Parachute Engineer Regiment after a photo emerged of them back in 2008 making Nazi salutes and swathed in a swastika flag. The search was on, it seemed, for far-right Neo Nazis with many in the media commenting on what a racially motivated crime might do for the parties involved in the upcoming French elections. The Age also published an Op-Ed entitled ‘French right caught up in the storm it helped create’. The Australian also carried some articles on the issue with ‘Kids “killed like dogs” as terror arrived at the school gate’, ‘Gunman may most murders on the net’ and ‘Attacks bring jolt of déjà vu for nation with painful past’.

For statements from Israeli officials, please click here.

While condemnations came in from around the world, including from our own Prime Minister here in Australia, High Representative of the European Union Catherine Ashton made some rather regrettable comments at a conference called ‘Engaging youth – Palestine Refugees in the changing Middle East’. She declared “And the days when we remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and Sderot and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives”(see more).

Initially however, the official transcript of her speech omitted any mention of Sderot. The attempt to compare different situations led StandWithUs France to issue a statement declaring that Ashton’s “record regarding diplomacy and the Israeli-Arab conflict has been checkered (sic) at best, but these comments are beyond the pale. She should apologise immediately or resign her position.” It continued “The attack that took place in Toulouse is in no way similar to the situation in Gaza. Since Israel pulled out of Gaza, Palestinian terror groups have fired tens of thousands of rockets on Israeli cities indiscriminately killing and maiming children and adults” (see more).

The following day, the corrected transcript was released as well as a second statement from Ashton declaring that she condemns “unreservedly the terrible murders at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse yesterday and extend my sympathy to the families and friends of the victims, to the people of France and to the Jewish community.” She continued, “At yesterday’s event I drew no parallel whatsoever between this tragedy and events elsewhere in the Middle East” (see more).

The outrage over her statements shows that the omission of Sderot in the initial release is irrelevant. As one commentator from Yediot Achronot noted, “even at a time of such sorrow for the Jewish people, her obsessive bias against Israel shines through” (see more). Please read Barry Rubin’s article entitled ‘The true perpetrators of the anti-Semitic attacks in Toulouse and throughout the world’. Ashton’s bias has also been pointed out by the ZCV on occasion, see here and here.

Move forward another day and the circumstances have changed again. Mohammed Merah, a 24-year-old French citizen of Algerian descent who is claiming to have links to al-Qaida has apparently admitted to carrying out the attacks. He apparently called in to a French television station and gave very specific information about the attacks. A few hours later, the police located the apartment block where he was living. As they attempted to break down the door, he opened fire, and since then, police and special forces have been negotiating with him to end the siege, which has now ended after he was shot by commandos while firing at them.
French Interior Minister Claude Gueant stated that Merah had been under surveillance for many years and had also spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He said that Merah “wanted to avenge Palestinian children and take revenge on the French army because of its foreign interventions” (see more).

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad declared that “it is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life” (see more). Please also read Honest Reporting’s piece entitled ‘Time to end the incitement against Israel’.

Local papers both continued their coverage with ‘Toulouse suspect cornered’ from the Australian and ‘French police trap suspected killer’. The Age’s sister paper, the Sydney Morning Herald also featured an editorial about the incident entitled ‘Another mass killer strikes’. Interestingly, the Age chose not to run with the same editorial, though in this case they probably did the right thing because the SMH piece clearly showed no knowledge of the updated situation. The Australian also featured a touching piece by Middle East correspondent John Lyons entitled ‘Greatest heartbreak the smallest body’, which tells a bit more of the story of the victims of this horrendous incident, and the journey to take their bodies to be buried in Israel.

We will continue to follow this story as it unfolds.


May the memories of Jonathan Sandler z”l, Arieh Sandler z”l, Gavriel Sandler z”l and Miriam Monsonego be blessed, along with all other victims of terror, wherever that terror may occur.


17 Responses to “Catherine Ashton and Toulouse”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Why do you commence your comments on Israel’s military actions in Gaza and Lebanon where you do? Why is there no acknowledgement of what initiates these military actions – the aggressive warring tactics of the Palestinians and the Hezbollah? Israel has already left Gaza once, which resulted in increased firing of rockets and missiles into Israel – if the Palestinians stopped fighting in this way, Israel could withdraw again and the possibility of a separate Arab state could be realised, together with a secure Israel. You ask ‘who is responsible’ – how do you arrive at your answer when the facts on the ground belie it? What is your agenda, coloured as it is by a misrepresentation of situations by the convenient omission of facts that don’t suit it?

  2. Eric says:

    Those who are attacking Catherine Ashton are absolutely right: there is no comparison between Toulouse and Gaza (or Lebanon, for that matter).

    Toulouse massacre was an act perpetrated by a lone individual bursting with hatred. There is no known link between the gunman and any government or political faction anywhere in the world. He claimed “al Qaeda links” but this was most likely for the purpose of enhancing his own notoriety.

    On the other hand, the invasion of Gaza and subsequent blockade has caused great suffering and, inevitably, numerous deaths as a result of intentionally caused shortages of medicine and supplies. Who is responsible? No less than the government of an internationally recognized state, Israel.

    While we’re on the topic of dead children, let’s not forget the children who’ve died, and continue to be killed to this day, because Israel used cluster bombs while withdrawing from Lebanon in the final days of the 2006 war.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      So easy to get really tired of brainless “contributions” of the Ben or Eric type.
      “Eric” starts by negating substantive analogies between an animal and the larger well documented pack of anti Jewish criminals roaming the Middle East and associated European outposts and at once dives into …”identity” of distinct phenomena when it comes to having nother anti Semitic rant.
      It only proves that even deranged minds can write and post on sites not meant for them !!!

  3. otto waldmann says:

    re: ben
    whoever or whatever you think you are : the inconvenient truth is that absurdities and mentally disturbed prejudice infest the public domain. As a sign of acknowledgement of the phenomenon, abuse and smear are the most suitable treatment..

  4. Ellen says:

    These comments are very disturbing. Israel is not an apartheid State. Anyone with a dictionary can tell you that. Also, memory of an apartheid South Africa helps. This word “apartheid” being used is nothing more than a traditional anti-Semitic slur, in disguise.

  5. Richard says:

    For once I have to agree with Fayyad (Palestinian PM) that this was the acts of a criminal who used the ‘Palestinian cause’ as justification for his murderous rampage. What Fayyad and his ilk must address is that they created the climate for types like the (French?) Muslim who carried out these attacks. Don’t forget that this person murdered French Muslim soldiers (he probably didn’t know they were Muslims) prior to his opportunistic attack at the Jewish school..

    I am a grandfather and deplore the attack on children, and it is certainly not he first time world-wide – I remember and have a friend who is the father of children murdered in a Muslim attack on the Aquarium night-club in Tel-Aviv some years ago, they killed so many children that horrible day , and the murderers are still lauded in Palestinian propaganda.

    I have a proposal from an old man – I would like to create an organization of older people, maybe we could call them the ‘Aris’ (old lions), who would be rostered to sit outside every Jewish school and observe all that goes on, if a threat of any kind is suspected the Aris would approach the person and prevent their admission to the school. If it is a terrorist, the Ari would have to cling to the terrorist and sound the alarm. My feeling is that it is better we older people die to protect our children and grandchildren than try to pick up the pieces later. If other older people feel the same as I – not just Jewish people – maybe we can establish an older persons network of protection.
    Yours in sorry,
    Richard (Rafael)

  6. Liat Nagar says:

    Vacy, your comments are as irrelevant to the issue of what happened in Toulouse as Ashton’s analogy with Gaza. And they certainly have nothing to do with Emily Gian’s discussion. ‘Apartheid’ – where did that come from? Research for yourself the meaning of apartheid and its application in world history instead of bandying about completely inappropriate accusations. Then you’ll find ‘apartheid’ also has nothing to do with Israel.

  7. Jack says:

    Apart from showing poor taste of the most abysmally low order, Vacy really misses the point of this article by trotting out the usual ill-informed and offensive Apartheid accusation.

    The issue is not whether Israel is the most perfect society – the article does not claim that it is – however, the Apartheid libel is obnoxious given the circumstances of this story, the realities of the region and of what is happening in close proximity to Israel which is a secular Jewish state that fully recognises the rights of Christians and Muslims, prohibits any discrimination based on religion and all of its citizens have the right to vote.

    Over one million minority Christian and Muslim Israelis are represented by elected members of the Knesset, some of who even oppose it’s right to exist. There is an Arab member of the Supreme Court, an Arab member of the Cabinet and numerous Israeli Arabs in important positions in businesses, universities and the cultural life of the nation. There is complete freedom of dissent and last week there were even protests held by those who opposed the use of the Iron Dome system to defend its citizens from the indiscriminate missile attacks coming in from Gaza. For your information, Vacy, such attacks are war crimes.

    The use of the word “Apartheid” is a misnomer and an insult to those who fought the scourge in South Africa. US Congressman John Conyors, who helped found the congressional Black caucus, put it this way:

    “[Applying the word “Apartheid” to Israel] does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong.”

    Vacy – you really need an education in “Apartheid”. Look at Gaza where the de facto Hamas government discriminates openly against women, gays and Christians, permits no dissent, no free speech, and no freedom of religion. Look over to the West Bank at the PA with its incitement against Jews in the media, its laws against Jewish ownership of property (sell to a Jew and you face a death sentence) and a President who wants no Jews in his future state and who condemns the murders in Toulouse and then openly celebrates as a hero and a role model, the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi who murdered 12 Israeli children and 25 Israeli adults.

    Try Saudi Arabia which practices gender apartheid to an extreme, relegating women to the lowest status, Apartheid based on sexual orientation, executing and imprisoning gay people and discriminating against Christians, refusing them the right to practice their religion openly. Needless to say, it doesn’t allow Jews the right to live in Saudi Arabia, to own property or even (with limited exceptions) to enter the country. I won’t start on Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon or … heaven forbid – Syria.

    That should be enough to demonstrate the really sick pathology behind an anonymous person behind a keyboard invoking Apartheid in a discussion about the murder by a jihadist madman of Jewish innocents in France. Much like Ashton who callously compared these deaths which were acts of deliberate targeting of children to the deaths of children in defensive military operations primarily resulting from terrorists putting them in harm’s way.

    Pardon me while I puke at the thought of Mr. or Ms. Vacy.

    • Margaret Cassar says:

      Jack, how odd, your defense of Israel makes no mention of the 63 years the Palestinians have suffered under an Israeli military occupation. Rightly you are outraged by the killing of innocent Jewish children. We all feel the same. But it’s strange that your compassion doesn’t stretch as far as the children of Gaza or the West Bank. How do you feel about 12 yr old boys held in solitary confinement in Israeli jails? They are frequently hooded and tortured.
      I’m also interested in why some-one who writes as well as you do would post an abusive comment regarding Mr or Ms Vacy as your closing comment?

      • Vladimir says:

        you narrow-minded leftist idiot! I can’t even begin to fathom the ignorance of you’re reply.
        I served in the IDF i have seen war, i was in jenin, i was in this so called “West Bank” and nowhere have I seen the attrocities you discribe. I shall provide and example. let’s say you buy a house (theoretically) with you’re (theoritcal) child (excuse me if you have one) you’re (theoretical) husband. Now the city council approves of you buying this house ,Because you’re former house was destroyed in a gang fight. Now while the city council approves of the purcahse some of the theoritcal neighbours let’s say sam, brad, steve, jarrod, and brian now and they decide to dish out some fronteir justice. they interfere with you’re daily life they make buisnes go foul and let’s say they do a drive by on you’re shoestore or any other buisness now you aren’t killed but you’re husban (god-forbid) get’s hit and both his leggs and 6 ribs are broken he survives. Now Soon enough you’re cousin, brother and 3 more relatives move in next door, they go to nearest gun store with you’re husband and stealthily kill sam,brad,steve,jarrod and brian their children and extended families swear revenge and a turf war begins. Now at some point a new head of family on their side says that he will agree to a cease fire and total peace if relenquish ownership of you’re attic and part of you’re yard. Now all this moves into school and you’re respective children (again theoretically) turn each classroom into a battlefield.
        Now you agree and a “peace” has been establish but you’re rival’s children inspired by some fanatical grandad start some sort of war with you’re children and throw, rocks,model rockets and molotov coctails at you’re house. When you appeal to court they rule in favour of you’re rival for some obscure reason their not even sure about. you’re husband brother and kids go to the attics and kill everyone in revenge. Now the court says this is an outrage and tuns a blind eye when you’re rival’s children continue their rampage moning onto guns and grenades.
        And it escalates.
        Now about those jail children all palestinians in Israeli jails are there and rightly so because of one crime or another. And about military occupation. They didn’t seem to complain when the joradnians and egyptains occupied gaza and the west Bank. I’m quite intrigued as to why only jews cause hatred towards the so called “Occupation government”.
        In conclusion i Whole heartedly disagree with you and wish you a nice time repeating that same preprogrammed loop over and over again:”while(9!=10)
        System.out.println(“KILL THE JEWS, THEY MURDER AND DRINK BLOOD”);

    • Ben says:

      Israel is practising aparthied. There is enough evidence to back the charge. Palestinians displaced by massacres and terror are not allowed to return to their homes but Jews anywhere in the world can become citizens of Israel. The Bedoin in the Negev are not recognised as having settlements while even outposts in the West bank are eventually regularised, while Bedoin villages, which predate Israel, are demolished.

      Jewish settlers in the West Bank live under Israeli civil rule, while the Palestinians live under military rule. At least 22 military laws apply exclusively to the Palestinians and not the settlers. For instance the Israeli military can overule the decisions of Palestinian local bodies. Palestiniand are not issued building permits in their own land. I will be happy to quote the specific regulation, instances, date and places if space permits.

  8. Vacy says:

    Israel is rightly accused of apartheid for its policies and facts on the ground that view Palestinians as unequal to Israelis. Apartheid is also an attitude and is blatant in this article that calls for Ashton’s resignation because she dared to include the tragic deaths of Palestinian children along with the children slaughtered in France, Belgium, Norway and Sderot. This attitude is repugnant and demeans the Jewish people.

    • Emily Gian says:

      I am concerned that perhaps you do not know what the word “apartheid” means. Calling for someone to resign (which if you read through my piece, I did not) from her post does not constitute apartheid, whether apartheid is an attitude or an action.

      As someone who actually studied the system of apartheid extensively at University, I find it appalling that anyone could take the plight of black South Africans and try to compare it to any other situation in the world. It’s offensive to anyone who suffered under the apartheid regime. Have a look at this interview with Revernd Kenneth Meshoe – a South African MP on the Israel/Apartheid equation if you don’t want to take my word for it: It is worth five minutes of your time to truly understand.

      But putting that aside for a moment, I find your statement about the “facts on the ground” fairly interesting. What “facts on the ground” are you talking about as there seems to be no real substance to your statement. Please read this article by a guy called Ishmael Khaldi. You may or may not have heard of him but he is the Counsellor for Civil Society Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in London. He also identifies himself as a Bedouin Arab Israeli.

      You tell me whether any resident of a Bantustan in Apartheid-era South Africa ever represented South Africa in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

      Finally, I find the death of ANY child reprehensible. And I hold the terrorists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad ETC responsible for the death of every single child that has died as a result of them cowardly firing rockets from schools, hospitals and built up residential areas. I’m not making this stuff up – this is what these thugs do. They operate specifically out of these areas to put their own people in harm’s way. Again, if you don’t believe me check out some visual evidence:

      Hamas booby trap school and zoo –
      Hamas terrorists grabbing a child to use him as a human shield – (whose fault is it that this child ended up as one of your statistics?)
      A little bit more of Hamas exploitation of children –

      But if you still don’t get it, you can hear it directly from Hamas MP Fathi Hammad, who admitted that it is one of his group’s strategies to conduct terrorist activity from civilian areas:

      In his own words – “We desire death like you desire life”

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        Let’s accept for a while the twieted dialectics proposed by “Vasy” and all those promoting the notion of Israel practicing a certain type of “demographic distinction”.
        Within the concept and practice of an integrated society, Israel accepts universal participation tp all its citizens. We all know that Arabs living in Judea and Samaria are NOT Israeli citizens. They are currently supervised by Israeli autthorities due to their ostensive anti Israeli sentiments and regular actions. Thus, they cannot enjoy the same access to the political proces concerning the affairs of Israel as the aforementioned cathegories. Based on the propagandistic anti Israel amalgam of false terminologies, the notio n of apartheid is attempted in defining the normal,logical administrative established Israeli official practice of supervising the activities of the said Arabs OUTSIDE the formal political/administrative Israeli perimter.
        Israel has officially endorsed the notion of a future palestinian state.
        Presently it does NOT exist. The two distinct stata entities, one in existence and the other one in the “making” cannot include the extention of Israeli privileges to a demographic entity which does NOT belong to the Israeli political configuration.
        Given the explained/proven facts that Arab Israeli enjoy the same rights as all other Israelis, the notion of aparteheid practiced by Isarel can only ( and actually DOES refer to the said Arabs on Judea and Samaria.
        To the extent that tgose Arabs do present a serious potential security danger to the Jews of Israel, in fact to all Israelis, they are considered rightly as not being entitled to the same rights as the said Israelis. This is not apartheid in any shape or form !!
        Israel has an open policy of separating the neighbouring palestinians ( now that I would accept the terms for the sake of the argument )who are not Israeli citizens the from the legitimate citizens who are entitled and enjoy all inclusive privileges.

        I repeated the argument in a few forms to accentuate the clarity of the distinctions.
        Finally, the status of the non Israeli Arabs in Judea and Samaria is distinct from a number of OFFICIALLY UN recognised stands !!!
        Forget South Africa and alike !
        Prejudiced selfserving irational intruders of whatshisname kind “Vasy” (??!!) are not interested in facts, but only in canvasing their deficiencies.

      • Ben says:

        Gian claims to have extensively studied apartheid. Accepting that apartheid is a system of legalised discrimination and segregation – there is no petty aparthied inside Israel , separate buses, seaths, streets etc. But there is a core apartheid- that of not acknowledging the displacement of Palestinians or stealing of their properties through absentee property laws, while not allowing them to return to their homes, and the policy of creating and maintaining a Jewish majority in country without one.
        The experience of Palestinians in the West Bank is more clear – separate roads, check points, harrassment, attacks, loss of land, demolition of homes, farms etc both by the settlers and the state. And the separate legal status of military law for Palestininas and civil law for Jews in the settlements – there are no Israeli Arabs known to live in the settlements.

        • Otto Waldmann says:

          Ben is absolutely right !!!
          Consequently Ben and his soul mates may NOT expect to sit at the same table, same functions of any kind with me and any normal thinking thinker,particularly on matters re ME realities.Now that is apartheid and I am proud of it.
          Infesting discourse with manic ignorance, prejudice and pretence of reason ( what a perfect definition for “stupidity” !!) on a web site of excessive tolerance qualifies the present Bens as ideal apartheid subjects.
          No one can afford to afford pernicious characters the same privileges as their intended victims. The people to whom Ben belongs would LOVE to gain access to all amenities created by Israel so as to destroy them and the people who created them.
          Ben is either incredibly mentally deficient or incredibly endowed with free and worthless time on hand to pester us with his relentless bile.
          Palestinians on the West Bank shall be clearly separated from all those who could only suffer at their hands should the slightest extention of equal rights become practice. Just like Ben ingratiating himself with a site to which he does NOT belong with the sole purpose of causing harm, so his palestinian love mates shall continue to enjoy the same treatement until their behaviour becomes simply human, that is including being tolerant of Jews.

          • Ben says:

            Hello Mr Waldman

            You re welcome to choose your seating arrangements. The ad hominen abuse and slander shows one thing. Nothing can draw out abuse and smear like an inconvenient truth.

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