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September 20, 2012
Does AP stand for 'Associated Propaganda'?
Associated Press told the story this way:
So many odd thoughts in so little space, but the oddest thought of all is that something other than anti-Semitism was grounds for an attack on Jews in a Jewish place.
"Global tensions surrounding a U.S.-produced film insulting to Islam." This is, simply, a lie. It has become clear since last week that armed and radical groups had threatened American facilities in Egypt and Libya prior to 11 September. According to Fox News, DHS issued a warning to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that, "an 'unidentified user' on an Arabic-language forum posted the statement 'inciting Egyptians to target the U.S. Embassy, indicating the U.S. Embassy shouldn't remain in Egypt' until Omar Abdel-Rahman ... is released." The UK Independent reported that the U.S. was warned three days before the attack in Benghazi that al Qaeda told its supporters to take revenge for U.S. drone strikes; Libyan interim president Mohammed Magarief confirmed that the attack was premeditated. The Benghazi consulate had been attacked several times in previous months, including once with a rocket propelled grenade. After an IED exploded there in June, a U.S. official told Reuters, "We have asked the Libyan government to increase its security around U.S. facilities."
It is willful propaganda to continue to insist that a snippet of garbage from a private citizen is responsible for what American officials knew perfectly well was organized guerrilla warfare against the United States. To the extent that the U.S. government is willing to insist that the YouTube is the culprit, radical Moslem groups are willing to agree -- and to promise more violence.
To the extent that the Obama Administration insists that neither the President nor American policy is the object of Muslim violence, the White House provides cover for French Muslims who have been attacking Jews with near impunity since Muhammad Merah killed a Rabbi and three children at a Toulouse school in March.
French authorities, likewise, are off the hook -- it's about "that film," not about problems endemic to France and it's increasingly radicalized and Islamist Muslim minority. It is about the provocation of "caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad," not about Muslims who have been engaged in violent riots about social and economic issues both real and imagined.
That said, AP hedged its bets. "The reason for the attack was unclear." Well, says AP, the state prosecutor in the region "cautioned that... it was too early to draw any conclusions about motives behind the attack. 'We'll need to analyze, quantify and measure all these elements, such as to know perhaps the type of explosives used. But for now, we should avoid any extrapolation or hasty conclusions.'"
Would the type of explosives tell that the presumed provocation was the new French cartoons or a YouTube upload? Would the quantity tell that it was plain old anti-Semitism? The conclusion one might best draw is that someone wanted to kill Jewish people, and Jewish people often conveniently congregate in kosher stores.
What should "rattle nerves" is that the immediate response of the French authorities has been to place the killing of Jews in some context other than someone in France with a hatred of Jews.
What should "rattle nerves" is the that the French response was of a piece with the American administration that insists there is a reason for killing American diplomats other than that they represent the United States of America and its policies abroad.
The truth is there is a venomous evil afoot. There are people willing to slip the bonds of civilization for reasons that have to do with deeply held Islamist convictions. The YouTube video was an excuse conveniently provided by the U.S. Government, but the attack on our Embassies across the Middle East and North Africa were the result of hatred for the United States and its policies -- including, where applicable, a defense of free speech and our insistence on individual liberties and rule of law.
The attack on Jews in a Jewish store was anti-Semitism, no matter how AP and the French government wish to cloak it.
Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center in Washington.
 Later known to be four
 The so-called "blind sheikh" in prison in the U.S. for the first World Trade Center attack
 It should be noted that French authorities were prepared to charge Muhammed Merah (before he was killed in a shootout with police) with "terrorism," but under French law, terrorism can be "any crime that is carried out to disrupt the national order and does not have to be linked to a political cause." The French government was not prepared to say Merah was an Islamic radical who killed French soldiers and French Jewish children out of ideological conviction -- he could equally have been a "hate monger" or a "racial supremacist."
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