Just over a week ago a gunman opened fire at the Jewish museum in Brussels. Four Jews – including two Israeli tourists – were killed, shot in the face and throat.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said immediately after the killings, and before a suspect had even been identified:
‘This act of murder is the result of constant incitement against Jews and their state. Slander and lies against the State of Israel continue to be heard on European soil even as the crimes against humanity and acts of murder being perpetrated in our region are systematically ignored. Our response to this hypocrisy is to constantly state the truth.’
It looks like Netanyahu was right. Now, after eight days, a man in France called Mehdi Nemmouche has apparently claimed responsibility for the murders and been arrested. According to French police he was arrested with a Kalashnikov rifle and a handgun similar to those used in the attack. Mehdi Nemmouche is a French national who appears to have returned to France from fighting ‘jihad’ in Syria. If convicted of the crimes it would make Nemmouche the first returning jihadi from Syria to engage in acts of terrorism back home.
The case is obviously developing but there are several points to make.
Firstly, there will be those who will claim that Mehdi Nammouche is a one-off. He is not. It is worth recalling, among other things, the case of French Muslim Mohamed Merah who two years ago went on a killing spree in Toulouse which targeted French soldiers and a Jewish school.
Doubtless there will also be those who will now say that if the West had intervened in Syria we would have been able to avoid the ‘radicalisation’ of people like Nemmouche. This is the purest ignorance. It is always worth remembering that a certain type of young Muslim claims that they were radicalised when the West intervenes somewhere and also when the West does not intervene somewhere. For instance some people may recall the case of the distinguished London School of Economics graduate Omar Sheikh, a British citizen who claimed to have been radicalised by the war in the Balkans among other things. Omar Sheikh was apparently not satisfied by the NATO intervention which stopped the massacre of Kosovar Muslims. Nor by the intervention to protect the holy sites of Islam from the armies of Saddam Hussein. In 2002 Omar Sheikh kidnapped and then cut the head off the Jewish American journalist Daniel Pearl.
Anyone who still doubts that the anti-Jewish aspect is a central driver for Islamic extremists might also recall the fact that the 2008 Mumbai terrorists, as well as targeting high-visibility targets like the Taj Hotel in Mumbai could not help themselves from entering the only tiny Jewish religious house in Mumbai, where they tortured and murdered a rabbi and his wife among others.
Why is this the case? The reason is an unpleasant but hard-to-deny fact which exists around the world, including in Europe and in Britain. As one prominent British Muslim left-wing journalist wrote only last year:
‘It pains me to have to admit this but anti-Semitism isn’t just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it’s routine and commonplace. Any Muslims reading this article – if they are honest with themselves – will know instantly what I am referring to. It’s our dirty little secret.’
Indeed. And this hatred, which is taught among Muslims in the UK and across Europe, is part of the reason why when a radical decides to go on a killing spree it is always Jews who are at the top of the target list. It is the point. They always come for the Jews.