Netanyahu mourns France murder
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has phoned Daniel Knoll, the son of Mireille Knoll, a Holocaust survivor who was stabbed to death in her Paris apartment last month, in an allegedly anti-Semitic attack.
France has Europe’s largest Jewish community.
Netanyahu told Daniel Knoll that the nation embraced him. “This was a shocking murder. The story of your dear mother, taken so cruelly, is a reminder to us that the struggles of our people are still ahead,” the hawkish prime minister said.
French prosecutors have filed preliminary charges against two people aged 22 and 29 for murder with anti-Semitic motives, including a neighbour Knoll had hosted regularly and known since he was a child, according to her son.
The killing of Knoll last month has raised questions about France’s failure to address rising anti-Semitism. Last year, Sarah Halimi, 65, an Orthodox Jew, was beaten and thrown out of the window of her home.
French President Emmanuel Macron attended Knoll’s funeral on the outskirts of Paris last week after paying tribute to the hero gendarme colonel, Arnaud Beltrame. In his speech at the state ceremony honouring the police officer, killed by a suspected Islamist gunman, Macron said Knoll’s attackers had “murdered an innocent and vulnerable woman because she was Jewish … and in doing so, profaned our sacred values and our history”.
The far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen and hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon announced they would ignore requests from Jewish leaders to stay away from events marking Knoll’s murder.
Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, sent a letter to the Knoll family, offering condolences.
“On behalf of all of Israel, I send our sincere condolences,” Rivlin said. “The fact that this terrible incident took place merely two weeks before the date when we mark Holocaust remembrance day and mourn the victims compounds the heartbreak.”
Knoll fled Paris aged nine, narrowly escaping the round-up of Jewish families at the Vel d’Hiv by French police on behalf of the Nazi occupiers. Around 13,000 people, including more than 4,000 children, were forced into the Vel d’Hiv velodrome in Drancy in northeastern Paris in 1942. They were sent to Auschwitz and fewer than 100 returned.
Knoll travelled to southern Europe and then to Canada before returning to Paris. Her grandchildren moved to Israel but she remained.
The French government presented a plan to tackle racism and anti-Semitism earlier this month with a campaign on social media and in schools.
German officer prisoners in Paris in 1944. Picture credit: Wikimedia