Jewish World Mourns Slain Holocaust Survivor
Actor Jon Voight was among those who spoke at a memorial at the Beverly Hills Hotel for Mireille Knoll, the 85-year-old Holocaust survivor who was killed in her Paris home on March 23.
The killing, which French police said was motivated by anti-Semitism, sparked outrage around the world.
At the March 28 memorial, organized by the Beverly Hills Jewish community, Voight called her killing “an attack on God.”
Knoll, who fled the Nazi roundup of Jews in France at age 9, was killed after she allegedly was stabbed 11 times by her neighbor, who then burned down her apartment. Two men, ages 29 and 21, are in custody and under formal investigation on charges of murder. One of the suspects allegedly shouted “Allahu akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) during the attack.
Speaking to attendees in the Beverly Hills Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom, Voight said, “If you wish to return to Sodom and Gomorrah, you have to go through the Jews.”
He called Knoll a hero and said her death left an indelible mark “because of the quality of this human being and the kindness of this human being, right to the last of hour of her life. And the shock will maybe help wake us all up and make the world a little better from this point.”
Also on March 28, a march was held in Paris to honor Knoll. Thousands of people turned out for the event. Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions Executive Director Robert Ejnes told The Jerusalem Post that Knoll’s murder “created a sort of solidarity that we did not experience here before.”
“Suddenly, people realized that she was not the first Jewish person attacked and killed in her own home,” Ejnes said. “Suddenly, people realized that Sarah Halimi, too, was attacked [in Paris in April 2017] inside her apartment and killed only because she was Jewish. And there were others, as well, like the Jewish couple attacked in the Paris suburb of Creteil in 2014. In fact, 11 Jews were murdered in anti-Semitic acts since 2006.”
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) memorialized Knoll on March 29 at its New York headquarters.
“The world’s oldest hatred, anti-Semitism, is metastasizing in ways that threaten not only France’s Jews, but French society,” AJC CEO David Harris said in an official statement. “The viciousness of her murder is especially sickening. Insufficient response to date to the pattern of attacks on Jews continues to be most worrisome. Will the Mireille Knoll tragedy be the last one?”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry released a statement that said, “Israel is appalled at the heinous murder of Mireille Knoll in Paris. The murder of the 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, prompted by anti-Semitism and blind hatred, underlines the need to continue combating anti-Semitism in all its variations.”
Knoll being killed highlights the rise of anti-Semitism in France. In 2017, there was a 26 percent spike in anti-Semitic violence and a 22 percent increase in vandalism of Jewish gravesites and synagogues, according to the Associated Press. In 2014, 51 percent of racist attacks in France were levied against Jews, despite them consisting of less than 1 percent of the French population, according to New York Times columnist Bari Weiss.
Guy Millière of the University of Paris, in an article for the Gatestone Institute, noted how the Jewish population in France has plunged from 500,000 in the year 2000 to under 400,000 today. Millière blamed political correctness for hamstringing French leaders from calling out anti-Semitic propaganda promulgated by Islamists throughout the country.
“French politicians, right or left, know that political correctness reigns, and that transgressing its unwritten rules leads to being excluded from the media and effectively ostracized,” Millière wrote.
Knoll was described by her family as a truly kind individual who lived life vivaciously even as she got older.
“She was going to restaurants, to theaters, to cinemas to see movies,” Knoll’s son, Daniel Knoll said.
Knoll reportedly had known the 29-year-old suspected killer since he was 7 years old and continually hosted him at her apartment, despite her family members warning her not to. She did recently call the police on the suspect for allegedly threatening to kill her.
On hearing of his mother’s murder, Daniel said, “I thought I was going to die on the spot. I cried all the tears in my body and I thought of her. She didn’t deserve this.”