By Martin Berman-Gorvine
It started before the bodies were even cold, long before they could be returned to the earth. There was barely time for seven-year-old Miriam Monsonego, Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his five-year-old son Arieh and his four-year-old son Gabriel to be pronounced dead when the chorus of explanation began. The world was extremely eager to learn what message the man on the motorbike was attempting to deliver by means of a Colt semiautomatic pistol.
Before he could oblige, Catherine Ashton, Baroness of Upholland and the European Union’s “foreign minister,” had already answered for him, implicitly linking the Jewish murder victims in Toulouse with Palestinian children killed on the sidelines of battle in Gaza. Ashton has long had an obsession with attacking Israel, having used her maiden speech as EU foreign policy chief in December 2009 to condemn the “Israeli occupation,” so her offensive equation was hardly surprising. And neither was her attempt to “clarify” her remarks by appealing to “context.”
The baroness claimed to be wounded at the outrage her remarks caused, not least because she had spoken in the same breath of children dead in all kinds of circumstances, including the Belgian victims of a recent bus accident in Switzerland, and the victims of the Palestinian rocket attacks on the Israeli town of Sderot. Indeed, an amended transcript was recently released to accurately reflect her comments—which had initially been misreported. She said: “And the days when we remember young people 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.”
It would be too easy to dismiss her remarks, therefore, as the ramblings of a fool, a fuzzy-minded veteran of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament that used to demand that her native Britain give up its nuclear weapons unilaterally in the face of the Soviet threat. But there’s the nagging fact of the important international position Ashton holds, and the deeply disturbing way in which the baroness anticipated the murderer, Mohamed Merah, in his explanations for his bloody deeds. Ashton’s utter confusion over the most basic human values, her inability or refusal to distinguish between accidental death and murder, is widely shared. It is not too much to call it the agar plate on which the germs of unreasoning hatred grow and flourish. For if the child who dies when her school bus hits a tunnel wall is to be mourned in exactly the same way as the child who dies at the hands of a gunman who seizes her by the hair and shoots her in the head, then the murderer is no more to be condemned than the concrete walls under the Swiss mountain.
But there was never any need to wait for Ashton’s witless ramblings, or Merah’s odious proclamations, in order to decipher the message he sent at the Ozar HaTorah school. The message was in the deed. The killer wanted nothing from his victims, except their lives.
The nihilistic political culture promoted by Ashton and those even worse than her leads to yawning indifference when Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah (“a Shiite military, political, and social organization,” according to the New York Times), says he likes the concentration of Jews in Israel, because it saves him the trouble of hunting them down elsewhere. It leads to the shrugs that meet the Iranian regime’s repeated promises that the cancer that is Israel will soon be extirpated from the Earth. It leads to the turning away of eyes and ears when the heroic rebels of Libya turn into a lynch mob at the sight of a lone Jew, while the freely elected Egyptian Parliament calls unanimously for the rupture of the peace treaty with Israel. It is these signs, combined with the dire threats the “international community” aims at any hint that the Jewish state might dare seek to defend itself against those who have vowed to finish Hitler’s work, with the nuclear weapons the Fuhrer never managed to obtain—these are what send a message. And the message is, as Ron Rosenbaum has acidly written, “Kill the Jews—this time they really deserve it.”
Merah, the man on the motorbike, took this message to heart, and replied with a message of his own. The message is murder.