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Israeli NGOs Harness Social Media’s Global Power to Protest ‘Dangerous Precedent’ in Halimi Hate-Crime Murder
Members of the support committee of the late Sarah Halimi gather to demand justice on Trocadero Plaza in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, April 25, 2021. (Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli NGOs Harness Social Media’s Global Power to Protest ‘Dangerous Precedent’ in Halimi Hate-Crime Murder

French woman’s alleged killer won’t be tried because he was high

The Combat Anti-Semitism Movement (CAM) initiated an online campaign Sunday, objecting to a French appeal court’s decision that Kobili Traoré, a 27-year-old drug dealer who allegedly murdered his 65-year-old neighbor because she was Jewish, cannot be held criminally responsible because of his heavy cannabis use.

The campaign comes amid a massive rally in the French capital on Sunday to protest the court’s ruling.

Sarah Halimi, a retired Parisian physician, was killed four years ago when Traoré allegedly entered her apartment, beat her while shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is the greatest”) and “I killed the shaitan [devil],” and shoved her out the third-floor window.

On April 14, the Court of Cassation, the final court of appeal in France, while confirming the anti-Semitic nature of the crime, rejected the Halimi family’s appeal of a lower court ruling that Traoré was in a state of temporary psychosis under the influence of marijuana at the time of this act and thus could not be held criminally liable for the murder.

“This is really showing the world that anti-Semitism is something you can do to if you smoke something. We need the French legal system to understand … this crossed a line that it shouldn’t have,” Sacha Roytman-Dratwa, executive director of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement, told The Media Line.

“Because of COVID-19 and all that’s happening … we couldn’t launch rallies all around the world, so we helped with the digital campaign calling on people to share over the weekend and throughout the week the image of the face of Sarah Halimi, calling on the French authorities to act. Not just to share words,” Roytman-Dratwa said.

While French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the ruling and called for a change in the law, Roytman-Dratwa said that is not enough, as reflected in the global Jewish community’s reaction to the court’s decision.

“And the fact that communities in Portugal, Sweden, Latin America, Canada and the US are concerned is a sign that the Jewish people all over the world are worried about it,” he said.

Itai Hacham, head of operations and policy for the Center for Jewish Impact, which has joined the campaign, agrees that the court’s decision contributes to the feeling of danger many Israeli Jews feel when abroad. According to a recent survey by his organization, 74% of Israelis (in Israel) believe the Jewish state is the safest place for Jews.

“We are happy to support this campaign following the devastating news of the Sarah Halimi case,” Hacham told The Media Line. “How does a Jewish person living in France … feel and what message does it send? How could he or she feel safe following this tragic decision?

“It really sets a dangerous precedent where other perpetrators take this as an example and take extreme measures, even violence against Jews, for the excuse that they later could get away with it because they were using substances,” he continued. “We must acknowledge the danger that is anti-Semitism and bigotry, which is only growing in scale and is such a danger to many Jews who are living in Europe and across the world.”

Hacham said the French authorities should bring Halimi’s murderer to justice and take a “zero tolerance” attitude toward those who would carry out such crimes. He added that education is crucial to preventing these kinds of attacks in the first place.

“They need to bring people of different religions and races closer together to learn and create tolerance,” he said.

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