Israel’s newspapers are heartbreaking this morning, with news of the tragic shooting deaths of three children and one adult outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, taking up a large chunk of the dailies. Yedioth Ahronoth, with the headline “Terror against children,” has pictures of the victims as well as the three neo-Nazi suspects and a room from the school with blood-stained sheets.
Israel Hayom also goes for the heartstrings with the headline “Massacre at Jewish school,” and pictures of the four victims as well as a larger picture of people outside the school crying.
Maariv’s front page is more palatable for those wanting to avoid high emotion, going with the straight headline “Four killed in shooting attack at Jewish school in France,” along with four small headshots of the victims and a large photo of a boy being comforted after the attack. All three papers play up the fact that they sent reporters to Toulouse.
Haaretz also plays down the emotions with a front page led, but not dominated, by news of the shooting attack. Accompanying the verbose headline “Rabbi and three children killed in shooting attack in Jewish school courtyard in southern France” is a picture of students comforting each other.
In Haaretz, French-Jewish philosopher Bernard Henri-Levi writes that the attack was against the very essence of France, which, in the midst of a divisive election season, needs to seize the opportunity to come together. “There is only one possible response. There is only one response that in the days of the presidential election will reverberate strongly and be suitable to the event itself. Of course, the anger and the threats, and of course the verbal censure, the nice words, the symbolic trips…. But also joint action [is needed]. Joint action from all the republican candidates, and I emphasize republican, to forget the differences between them and to force them to come together crying out, and if possible without political calculations.”
His words are echoed by the French ambassador to Israel, Christoph Bigot, who writes in Israel Hayom that the whole nation of France is suffering after the attack. “This is the time to come together in memory of the victims,” he writes, “but also the time to trust in the French authorities to locate the danger. France has denounced in the harshest words the deed that caused this national tragedy: This will not pass without punishment, all our strength is being mustered to make sure these acts stop.”
Maariv has a story that the Jewish community had asked for increased police protection before the attacks but were ignored, according to community leader Andre Bensimoun. The school was reportedly given volunteer guards in the wake of the second intifada 12 years ago, but on Monday, there was nothing there but security cameras. The story adds that school has been canceled at Ozar Hatorah for the foreseeable future and any extra protection there now is for people surveying the scene.
Maariv also has a dispatch from the mother of Ilan Halimi, the young Parisian Jew kidnapped and tortured to death in an anti-Semitic attack in 2006, who says the Jewish community in France is living in fear. “I have a feeling something terrible is going to happen to the Jews, and the murder of Ilan, and now the kids in Toulouse, is an anti-Semitic message similar to the atmosphere before the Holocaust.”
In Yedioth there is a report that the fleeing students were not given safe haven by a neighbor when the shooting began. “They knocked on one of the nearby doors — but the woman there refused to let them in. That’s completely insane,” said Karen Zanu, a representative of the Jewish Agency for Israel in Toulouse.
Most papers devote 8-12 pages on the shooting attack and then fill the rest with a smattering of small stories on what was otherwise a fairly light news day.
Drag queens and ruins cleaned
Haaretz runs a story that the army journal Bemahane is in trouble after running a story about a drag queen soldier. From now on, the report states, the newspaper will have to send all articles to the army’s education corps chief for approval, a reversal of a slackening of rules instated some years ago.
Maariv writes that the rehabilitation of the ancient Nabatean site Avdat in the Negev is almost complete, some three years after vandals damaged the ruins almost beyond repair. The damage to the world heritage site drew wide condemnation in 2009, and now aside from restoring the pillars and stonewalls of the ancient desert city to its past glory, there will be cameras and 24-hour on-site security, the paper reports.
Yedioth Ahronoth reports that several government ministers have found a bit of modesty and have chosen to drive (or be driven in) the humble Mazda 6, giving up their up-market Skoda Superbs and Audi A6s. The move saves a nice chunk of change and looks good to voters as well. “The minister chose the car that would save the country the most money,” a source in the office of Absorption Minister Sofa Landver was quoted as saying.
Who’s the real racist?
Writing in Maariv’s op-ed section, Ben-Dror Yemini wonders if the Knesset panel on racism slated for today is actually worried about racism, or about Israel’s founding as a democratic Zionist country. “Do they support or are they against the definition of Israel as a Jewish state? If the answer is against then it seems the conference itself is racist.”
In Yedioth, Daniel Hartman says the nation is throwing off the yoke of Bilaam’s curse and ceasing to be a nation that dwells alone — a good thing. “The liberation from the stance of the ‘nation that dwells alone’ isn’t thanks to guilt from the Holocaust or economic interests or shared security interests. Our friendship with the West stems from our shared values.”
In Haaretz, Sefi Rachlevski writes that Netanyahu needs to buck up and start courting Barack Obama instead of trying to act tough in front of our big Western brother. “When hostile countries achieve a nuclear capability, a cold war begins. But a cold war has already broken out, only it’s not between Israel and Iran. It’s between Israel and the United States. The whole global drama taking place is essentially between Israel and the United States. Iran is just a chance remark in this confrontation.”