Re: “Toulouse attack leaves French Jews shaken” (AJP 3/23/12).
There’s an old French proverb, “Autres temps, autres moeurs.” English equivalent: “times change.” I thought of that saying after hearing about the world’s response to the recent murders of three Jewish children and a teacher at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, France.
This horrific incident called to mind the tragic fate of 76,000 Jews living in France, including 11,000 children, during World War II.
After the war ended, it took 50 years for the government of France and the Catholic Church to officially acknowledge their wrongdoings:
• 1995 — then-President Jacques Chirac was the first French leader to formally admit France’s betrayal of Jews during the Holocaust.
• 1997 — Olivier de Berranger, bishop of Drancy, apologized for the church’s silence as thousands of Jews were deported to extermination camps, primarily Auschwitz, from the holding camp in Drancy, outside Paris.
• 1998 — “We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah,” was published by the Catholic Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, under the authority of Pope John Paul II. In this document, the Vatican asked Catholics who failed to take action against the Nazis to repent.
Fast forward to March 19, 2012. When news of the killings was reported, immediate condemnation took place not only in France but around the world; not only from Jews but from Muslims, Christians including Pope Benedict XVI, and the religiously unaffiliated. Swift action on the part of French police prevented more planned deaths.
Even as we mourn the victims of this latest tragedy, we take heart. Is it possible the world is looking at the Jews with new eyes?
— Barbara Russek