Paris: The circumstances surrounding the murder of Ilan Halimi remain unclear. Was the young man kidnapped and tortured to death because he was Jewish? The bereaved family and many in the Jewish community believe so.
The investigating judge says there is "reason to believe" Halimi was singled out because of his religious identity, and one of the main suspects admitted to interrogators he attacked Halimi because "Jews are rich."
At least according to these claims, the case seems like old-fashioned anti-Semitism, rather than the "new" anti-Semitism French Jews have been facing for the past several years.
"Old-fashioned" anti-Semitism; that is to say, the Jew as a symbol of money, part of a rich, influential community, hands all over everything.
In the case of Halmi the gang not only committed the most appalling crimes, but also made a serious mistake: This young Jew came from a family of modest means who couldn't come up with the thousands of Euros the kidnappers demanded for ransom.
The kidnappers, a gang made up of African immigrants, French Arabs and Frenchmen "to the roots" (i.e. whites), failed to act according to the behavioral templates dictated in recent years by the "new anti-Semitism."
The wave of attacks on French Jews since the outbreak of the second intifada five-and-a-half years ago has been strongly linked to the Palestinian terror onslaught against Israel.
In the eyes of young Muslims on the outskirts of Paris, Jews are seen as representatives of the Jewish state and responsible for its actions. And so, when the IDF enters a refugee camp, the "appropriate" reaction was an arson attack on a synagogue, or stoning a young man with a kipa on his head.
No longer is the Jew considered untouchable simply because of his Judaism, but Israel as a nation is considered untouchable amongst the family of nations. The practical result of this is "collective punishment' against anyone suspected of supporting it.
The radical (and not-so-radical) left views ostracizing Israel as an intellectually "kosher" type of Jew hatred, because of their "Israeliness."
Add to this the al-Jazeera crowd from the outskirts of the major cities.
For the last year-and-a-half, the French authorities have turned a blind eye to most incidents.
There is no question that France today presents a model for the right way to fight anti-Semitism. Even the Sharon government saw fit to praise steps taken by French President Jacques Chirac , Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarcosi, who have overseen a dramatic reduction in the number of anti-Jewish attacks in France (a 47 percent drop from the previous year).
But the emotional backlash surrounding the Halimi killing was planted in the days in which French leaders claimed there is "no anti-Semitism in France."
Many French Jews have not forgotten the long months during which the government, the police and many in the media asked the Jews to sit tight and leave them alone.
Since then, the law has been changed, and there has been a shift in approach. "An attack on Jews is an attack on France," said Chirac, and the message got through.
Today, Prime Minister De Villapin promises "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" about the Halimi murder.
The country's Jews want to believe him, but they can't quite forget the time from 2000-2002, during which time many French Jews severed their emotional ties with that country.