Why terrorists hit the Bataclan Theater in Paris

When terrorists murdered four French Jews at a Paris deli in January 2015, President Obama, in keeping with his 2012 U.N. pledge to protect “the prophet of Islam” against “slander,” referred to the victims as “a bunch of folks” who were shot “randomly.”   

We were spared a similarly absurd characterization when terrorists murdered some 90 Bataclan Theater concertgoers and injured many more on November 13, possibly because Obama may not have known that the Bataclan was a Jewish target.

But the terrorists knew.  Here’s the background.

The Bataclan Theater opened in 1865 and was best known originally for vaudeville acts.  Buffalo Bill Cody performed there in 1892.  Maurice Chevalier had his first big success at the Bataclan, and Edith Piaf also performed there.  In 1926, the building became a cinema.  A fire broke out in 1933, and it wasn’t until after WWII that the building was brought into compliance with fire safety regulations.  By the 1970s, the theater was booking rock acts.  The Police, Prince, Jerry Lee Lewis, Metallica, Phish, Alice Cooper, Cyndi Lauper, Emmylou Harris, and Snoop Dogg are some of the performers who played the Bataclan.  Last May, the theater hosted a Who Is Malcolm X? event, featuring devout Islamic French rappers Kery James, Faada Freddy, Disiz, and Médine.

So, who has owned the Batclan Theater over the past 150 years?

André Martin Paris managed the theater when it opened in 1865.  The singer Paulus purchased it in 1892.  It passed through various hands in the intervening decades until 1975, when Pascal and Joel Laloux bought it.

Yes, these gentlemen are Jewish.

Israel’s i24 news reports:

The threats against the Bataclan go back several years, with the venue often being a target of anti-Zionist groups. In 2007 and 2008, the theater received threats from radical groups due to its regular hosting of the conferences and galas of Jewish organizations, including one for the Israeli border police.

In December 2008, during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, threats to the Bataclan intensified and became more specific. A video was posted on the internet showing a group of youths with their faces masked, threatening the concert hall for its support of an event in honor of the Israeli border police.

Furthermore, pro-Palestinian associations have launched numerous petitions and encouraged their supporters to write to the authorities to protest the Bataclan’s hosting of pro-Israeli military events.

In 2011, Le Figaro reported that Farouk Ben Abbes, a Belgian national arrested in Egypt after the terror attack on a group of French students in Cairo in February that killed 17-year-old Cécile Vannier, had confessed that he “was planning an attack against the Bataclan in France.”

Three days after the attack on the French students, a report written by the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) in Cairo indicated that the teenagers had been targeted by a militant group who wanted them “to pay for France’s participation in Germinal boat blockade of Gaza” [a French-Israeli operation to stop the transfer of weapons to the coastal enclave].

In a series of arrests in May 2009, Egyptian State Security arrested seven suspects in connection with the attack on the French teens, one of whom justified possible attacks on the Bataclan on the grounds that “the owners are Jews.”

Probably fed up with all this, the Laloux brothers sold the theater on September 11, 2015.  The Times of Israel reports that Joel Laloux, who has left France for Israel, took a call from the theater during the attack and could hear the gunfire on the phone.  His brother Pascal commented: “The terrorists have no rules. We have to take the bull by the horns, and France and the government never do.”

President Hollande will be in Washington this week.  Let’s hope consultations result in a “bull by the horns” strategy against ISIS rather than more empty talk of “coalitions.”  

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