I have a new article up today at Jewish Currents about the Sarah Halimi case. You can read the article for more background on the 2017 killing of an elderly Jewish woman by her young, Franco-Malian neighbor and the court decisions that found him psychiatrically unfit to stand trial. I expect this piece to be somewhat controversial. The lack of a trial caused outrage, especially in France’s Jewish communities, and suspicion that the state once again was going out of its way to avoid acknowledging antisemitic violence. I tried to be very up front about this, and not to mince words about the killer’s antisemitic motivations. But I also felt compelled to point out that Macron and his government’s proposals to reform the criminal code in response to this law simply have nothing to do with fighting antisemitism—and only perpetuate the “law and order” approach that has been a consistent feature of Macron’s politics since he faced off against Marine Le Pen in 2017. Some French readers may accuse me of importing an “American” critique of criminal punishment into a foreign context, but I would respond that Macron and supporters such as Bernard-Henri Lévy are the ones “importing” tough-on-crime politics that are very familiar to observers of the US carceral state.

 

Photo credit: Claude Truong-Ngoc via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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