As many as 40,000 people participated in an online rally, along with leaders from France and Canada, to demand justice for Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old French Jew murdered by her Muslim neighbor in 2017.

“My mother always taught us to take responsibility. … It is very difficult for us that today, the justice system, the authorities did not assume their own responsibility,” said her son, Yonatan Halimi, adding “each of us should guarantee his own security because, unfortunately, security in France is not assured.”

Titled “Justice for Sarah Halimi: An International Movement Is Born,” Monday’s event had been rescheduled due to two weeks of Hamas rocket fire on Israel, followed by a series of in-person global rallies earlier in May. It was sponsored by the representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) and the Combat Antisemitism Movement.

The activity comes just weeks after France’s highest court, the Court of Cassation, ruled that Kobili Traoré, Halimi’s murderer, could not be tried because he had taken excess an amount of marijuana and deemed not responsible for breaking into Halimi’s apartment, stabbing her and throwing her out of her apartment window to her death.

Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

“We should never, ever forget Sarah Halimi,” said France’s former Prime Minister Manuel Valls during the online event. “This [court’s] decision hurts me, hurts us, citizens of the French Republic. It’s truly a judicial and moral catastrophe.

He continued, explaining that, “This anti-Semitism comes from the far-right, from the far-left, from our working-class districts, from the Arab-Muslim world under the guise of hatred for Israel and for Jews, or simply hatred. We must eradicate anti-Semitism from our society,” he continued.

Other speakers included Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, U.N. Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed and Canada’s Special Envoy Irwin Cotler.

At the same time the online rally was taking place, 28 olive trees were planted in memory of Sarah Halimi at the Kfar Silver Youth Village in Israel. They were planted in the same plot where 25 olive trees were planted last year in memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was shot and killed in an anti-Semitic attack during Passover services in April 2019 at the Chabad of Poway, Calif.

In addition to watching the video, more than 8,200 people have signed an online petition demanding justice for Halimi.

Tree-planting at the Kfar Silver Youth Village in Israel in memory of Sarah Halimi, May 2021. Credit: Courtesy.

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