On Sunday, thousands of people demonstrated in Paris to protest the recent decision by the French Court of Cassation to absolve the 2017 murderer of Sarah Halimi of criminal responsibility because he took cannabis before he killed her. Paris was the center of the protests, but demonstrations also took place in Tel Aviv, London, Rome, New York, Los Angeles, and several other cities around the world.
Sarah Halimi was a Jewish woman aged 65. On April 4, 2017, her Muslim neighbor, 27 years old Kobili Traoré, broke into her apartment on the third floor, beat her savagely, and threw her out the window to her death while shouting in Arabic Allahu akbar [Allah is great]. After the murder, he declared “I killed the Shaitan [Arabic: evil spirit].”
Initially, French authorities would not label the murder as antisemitic until public criticism forced them to acknowledge it as such. However, in 2019, when the verdict was finally given, the assailant was declared mentally unfit for trial because he had consumed cannabis, which induced a state of psychosis. The decision was appealed but a few days ago, the Supreme Court of Cassation upheld the lower court’s ruling. As a result, according to The Jerusalem Post, Traoré “gets to walk free.”
As warped as this ruling seems to be, Jews should not expect justice anywhere in the world. Justice means that there is balance between good and bad, but there is none of it today. Wherever you look, evil reigns.
Even worse, the only ones who can bring about balance between good and bad are the Jews. Therefore, since bad is reigning, the Jews both suffer from it, and are accused of creating it.
Jews don’t create the bad. Humans are inherently bad, or as it is written, “The inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21). However, Jews are meant to bring about the good, the kindness on which Abraham founded the nation, and which generations of prophets and spiritual leaders cultivated above countless regressions into mutual hatred.
The key criterion for spotting antisemitism is “double standard,” when someone judges Jews by a different yardstick than they judge people of other nations. However, this is the common yardstick; few people relate to Jews the way they relate to members of other nations because, even if they’re unaware of it, people expect Jews to set an example of kindness, mutual responsibility, and all the things that are the tenets of our faith. When we don’t cultivate these qualities and don’t display them toward each other, the nations follow our example and blame us for all the hatred there is around them. After all, without the example of the nation who is supposed to be “a light unto nations,” what can you expect from the rest of the world?
Take, for example, Ukraine born Vasily Shulgin, who was a senior member of the Duma, the Russian Parliament, before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, and a rabid self-proclaimed antisemite. In his book ‘What We Don’t Like about Them’, he explained what he thought was the problem with Jews. Shulgin complained that “Jews in the 20th century have become very smart, effective, and vigorous at exploiting other people’s ideas.” But suddenly, he takes a sharp turn from the trite canard and declares, “[But] this is not an occupation for teachers and prophets, not the role of the guides of the blind, not the role of the carriers of the lame.”
Indeed, the world needs a messenger of kindness. Just as Abraham did in antiquity, now it is upon us Jews. Until we accept this idea and take upon ourselves the mission to balance evil with goodness, the world will continue to relate to us as Shaitan.