Death in Toulouse

Rabbi Sandler of Kiryat Yovel in Jerusalem and his sons Aryeh, 6, and Gavriel, 3.5, were murdered in Toulouse Monday morning, as was 8 year-old Miriam Monsonegro, daughter of the director of Ozar HaTorah Toulouse, Yaacov Monsonego.

Binyamin Toati, Head of the France Desk of Bnei Akiva, told Arutz Sheva before the names were published that there are reports that the man who was killed is a rabbi who served as an Israel shaliach (emissary) at the school and that two of his children were killed with him.

French press reported that two children were among at least three people killed in a shooting outside a Jewish school. Two other children are reported fighting for their lives. The French news reports said the dead are a teacher and two children, and that two other children were badly wounded.

“Toulouse: Rabbi Yonatan Sandler and his Children among the Dead”
-by Gil Ronen
First Published 3/19/2012, 10:18 a.m.
Arutz Sheva News

I’m sure you’ve heard this tragic news by now. I’m sure you’ve heard that a Rabbi, his two children, and a third child were all murdered in cold blood outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France yesterday. The story has been covered by virtually every news agency on the planet. Sixty-seven years after the end of World War II and the end of the Holocaust, Jews are still being murdered just because they’re Jews.

I guess I’m taking it personally.

No, I’m not Jewish, but my wife and children are. That means the killer who cut down Rabbi Sandler and three innocent children just because they were Jewish is quite capable and willing to kill anyone who is Jewish, including my family. Yeah, I’m taking it personally, so forgive me if what comes out in this blog isn’t exactly “rational”.

I took a walk by the greenbelt on the Boise river over my lunch hour. It’s the first day of spring and it’s snowing and windy outside. It’s the perfect day to reflect on horror and terror and sadness in the world. It’s the first day of spring, when new life is beginning to trickle back into the trees and grass and flowers are soon to bloom.

And it’s snowing and windy and bitterly cold outside. It fits.

And four Jewish people were murdered yesterday in Toulouse, France for no other reason than just because they were Jewish.

I’m not trying to be insensitive. I know that, in the grand scheme of things, this is just one more harsh thing to happen in a world of harsh things. Many people, including children, are hurt and killed all over the world every day. Just point your web browser to and you’ll see all of the headlines. Syria’s maimed children cry out, Slave master becomes abolitionist, 7.4 earthquake hit Mexico, and the beat goes on.

I’m not just upset because kids were murdered, although that upsets me. I’m not just upset because Jews were murdered just because they were Jews, although that upsets me. I’m upset because some people think it’s OK for Jews to be murdered just because they are Jews. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t think it’s an exaggeration to accuse the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, of saying that three Jewish children being murdered in cold blood is exactly the same thing as the children being killed in Gaza because the IDF is retaliating against the Palestinian terrorists who are firing an endless stream of missiles into Israel.

She spoke of remembering “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 in different parts of the world — we remember young people and children who lose their lives,” she said, according to a transcript of the speech distributed by the European Union.

Ms. Ashton’s spokesman issued a statement of clarification on Tuesday, following the criticism, saying that her words had been “grossly distorted” and that she had not intended to draw any parallel.

“Israel Criticizes E.U. Official for Comments on French School Attack”
-by Isabel Kershner
Published March 20, 2012
The New York Times

To detail Netanyahu’s statement a little better according to the Times:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said that he was “infuriated” by what he called “the comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and the defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli military that he said were “intended to hit terrorists who use children as a human shield.”

The New York Times viewpoint on the “defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli military includes:

During the four days of fighting, 26 Palestinians were killed, according to the Israeli military. Most were militants, but four of the dead were civilians. A 12-year-old boy was among those killed in Israeli air strikes; another boy, 14, was killed by explosives in disputed circumstances. During the same period, Palestinian militants fired more than 150 rockets into southern Israel.

Notice the Times uses the term “militants” instead of “terrorists”. A subtle difference? Perhaps.

I just keep thinking that it’s been less than 70 years since the end of the Holocaust, and Jews are still not safe. They’re not safe in France and they’re certainly not safe in Israel. They’re also not safe in the world of public opinion or the news media. We’re supposed to live in a modern, civilized, enlightened world, but that’s what made it so difficult for Germany’s Jews to understand the danger they were in when the Holocaust began. They just couldn’t believe that a nation as civilized, as educated, and as enlightened as Germany was in the early 20th century could be capable of such evil. That’s what made it so difficult for the rest of the world to understand, too. That’s why some people didn’t believe it was happening. But is that an excuse for not believing it’s still happening today?

What do you do when you want to kill someone? That’s not a random question. For most of us, it would be almost unthinkable to actually kill someone, even in self defense. We have to weave all sorts of extreme and violent mental scenarios to even imagine ourselves pointing a gun at another person and pulling the trigger. Even if the killing were justified, such as defending your family from violent home intruders, the aftermath; actually living with the memory of having killed someone, would be horrendous.

So unless you are inherently violent or violently insane, it would be extremely difficult to point a gun at someone and to pull the trigger, knowing that they’d be dead in the next few seconds.

So how to you kill someone? How do you train soldiers to kill someone? How do you train a populace that it’s completely acceptable to send an army to another country to kill a lot of people? Today in the United States, the Government doesn’t do a very good job of training the citizens to accept war and so most people don’t accept war. During World War II, we had a fabulous propaganda machine that depicted the Germans and Japanese as non-human, murderous monsters. That made it possible for normally non-violent young men to go overseas and to shoot, bomb, and gas a bunch of other human beings who were trying to shoot, bomb, and gas them. That’s what made it possible for the average U.S. citizen to completely support sending an army to different countries around the globe to shoot, bomb, and gas non-human murderous monsters, who would certainly shoot, bomb, and gas us if they got half a chance.

Ironically, what the United States fails to do in terms of war, it does all too effectively in terms of abortion. What do you have to do to kill an unborn human baby? (I know…you didn’t see that one coming) You make them an “embryo” or a “fetus” but you never, ever make them a human being. It’s the same thing that let U.S. soldiers kill the enemy. It’s the same thing that let U.S. citizens approve of U.S. soldiers killing the enemy. It’s the same thing that let Nazi soldiers and the Nazi SS (Schutzstaffel) round up, torture, starve, shoot, and gas Jewish men, women, and children during the Holocaust.

It’s what let one (reportedly) neo-Nazi killer shoot and kill one Jewish adult and three Jewish children yesterday in France.

To France’s credit, they are (literally) up in arms over these deaths and are diligently searching for the shooter. According to news reports, the shooter has killed prior to this incident and there’s every reason to believe he’ll kill again. I want him caught too, and swiftly. I want him taken off the streets and put in prison.

But he’s only one man.

I know what you’re thinking. He’s only one man. He’s an extremist. He may be mentally ill. He is an aberration. If he’s stopped, things will become safe again.

Will they? I’m sure that the Jews living in Germany in the mid-1930s felt something similar. They couldn’t imagine any irrational hatred of Jews being anything but an aberration; something extremely unlikely to occur, and only involving one or two extreme individuals.

Except they were wrong. It involved thousands who committed horrible atrocities against human beings and millions who condoned it by the actions or their silence. Over the past 70 years tens or hundreds of millions of people have chosen to ignore or to deny the Holocaust, which murdered not only Jews but many other “undesirables” including the physically and mentally handicapped, gypsies, homosexuals, and anyone else who didn’t fit the “Aryan ideal”. All you have to do to kill them is to believe they aren’t human; to believe they aren’t like you, that they’re inferior, that they’re “less,” that they’re “monsters” or “things.”

Because if they’re humans just like you are, then you know that they want to live, just like you do. You know they have feelings, just like you do. You know that they can be scared and hurt, just like you can be scared and hurt. And if you have empathy for someone, you can’t hurt or kill them unless they’re doing something that’s very scary and threatening to you. One Jewish Rabbi and three Jewish children are very unlikely to be doing anything to scare or threaten anyone. They just died because they were Jews.

If we, who represent the rest of the world, don’t speak up and speak out and say “Stop!” to the rest of the world, then our silence is tacit acceptance that it’s permissible to kill a Jew for being Jewish, or to kill a person for being mentally ill, or gay, or for the color of their skin, or for the language they speak, or for being an inconvenient pregnancy.

If we believe that it’s acceptable to kill Jewish children for being Jewish, then we’re saying some people aren’t human and that’s OK with us. We like to think we’re civilized and enlightened, but if we are silent and do not protest injustice, then we are accepting injustice. We live in a world that still generally does not condone the murder of Jews, or African-Americans, or Gays, but we do condone the murder of millions of unborn baby boys and girls every year all over the world (and we’ve got a terrific propaganda machine in operation in America that justifies the whole damn thing and makes it sound enlightened and reasonable). Some people still believe it’s OK to kill Jews. A bunch of them live on land that used to be within the borders of Israel until other enlightened nations made Israel surrender that land to people who like shooting missiles at Jews. It’s a crazy world.

I told you I was taking this personally and that I wouldn’t be rational. But murder isn’t rational either. I figure you have a couple of choices. You can stand up and protect the defenseless and the victims from their murderers, or someday you’ll become either one of the murderers or one of the victims.

What? You don’t believe me? Neither did the German Jews in 1930…and neither did their German Gentile neighbors.


12 thoughts on “Death in Toulouse”

  1. Hi James.

    I have watched with horror these events as they unfolded in France over the last few days. Here in Ireland we are only 1 hour away and we are all awestruck that this happened. I grieve for these people in a way uncommon for me, even as a follower of Yeshua, i can watch, ashamedly dispassionate, the many horrific things that happen in the world but what happened in France nearly brings me to tears.

    To corner and kill at point blank range so coldly. It is hard to fathom.

    There is much talk on UK tv now of Frances stance on immigrants. The president has been openly preaching there should be no Kosher or Halal restaurants in the cities. It smacks of soft ethnic cleansing.. it seems we in Europe have heard this before.

    This type of political message adds a degree of validity to the minds of those warped people who harm others.

    I cannot begin to understand why this happened. Placing this into G-ds plan is impossible.

    All i can do it pray for those who remain and look more forcibly into the government of France and to some degree my own country. Our Jewish community is small, 5000+ in 1946 but down to around 1500 now. Is this down to me? Is there an air in this country that makes the Jewish community feel unwelcome? I truely pray not.

    Nothing can change this heart breaking event. My thoughts and prayers are with the familys.

  2. Very moving article James. I pray for the families of these innocent victims. Thank you for your thoughts and very personal feelings shared in this article.

  3. I cannot begin to understand why this happened.

    Sadly, I can understand all too well why this has happened, because it’s all happened so many times before. We live in a broken world with broken people in it, and some of them are getting more and more “broken” all the time, to the point where children are being gunned down in the streets.

    I feel the most pity for the people who believe there is an entirely human solution to these hideous problems. It is our responsibility as followers of God to try and repair the world as best we can with acts of lovingkindness, charity, and mercy, but only when the Messiah returns will we find the healing we so desperately need as human beings and as a world.

    May the Moshiach come soon and in our day.

  4. What can I say? “Thanks for posting this article James,” sounds cold, insensitive and inappropriate on so many levels. Everything I think I want to say just feels like empty, lifeless platitudes. I am not Jewish, and I have never been close to any Jewish people. Though my heart goes out to those affected by this violence, the main emotion I feel after reading this is “fear.” My feelings after reading this do not seem rational to me at all for some reason.

  5. Though my heart goes out to those affected by this violence, the main emotion I feel after reading this is “fear.” My feelings after reading this do not seem rational to me at all for some reason.

    I think fear is a perfectly reasonable emotion to experience, especially since I’m trying to get across the point that the injustice that affects only certain groups today may end up victimizing the rest of us tomorrow. Hundreds of years ago, John Donne wrote a famous poem called “No Man is an Island” in which he recorded words I’ll never forget: Never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”

  6. Wow, I think you found your voice. Write from that place.

    Thanks Steven, but it’s not always easy to constantly write from pain and rage.

    On a related note, it looks like law enforcement in Toulouse have a suspect.

  7. I’ve been following the news about the suspect in the Toulouse shootings being hold up in his apartment and negotiating with French law enforcement. I also saw this heartbreaking story at Arutz Sheva. One of the children who died in Toulouse was named for Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, who was murdered in the Mumbai terrorist attacks 39 months ago. When questioned by the press, Rabbi Holtzberg’s father-in-law, Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg said, “G-d, what do you want from our blood, which is being spilled all over the world?”

  8. “it’s not always easy to constantly write from pain and rage.”

    That’s for sure, but when you DO it really gets the message across and what we are crying out for and waiting for, our Messiah. I LOVE IT when men cry out for justice and righteousness and STAND UP for his little ones. I love it that you mentioned those who cannot speak for themselves.

    And, why shouldn’t we have pain and rage and write and seek the one who comes with the solution? It’s HOT, it’s Passionate and in that heat there is POWER of the Spirit.

    The effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much. Effectual means powerful, and fervent means with heat. Thanks for praying and writing with Power and Heat.

  9. And, why shouldn’t we have pain and rage and write and seek the one who comes with the solution? It’s HOT, it’s Passionate and in that heat there is POWER of the Spirit.

    Because if that’s all I am, I’ll suffer a heart attack or stroke, which I’d just as soon avoid. 😉

    I’m sure you’ve been reading about my continuing effort to establish some peace with God and with other people.

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