Le Bataclan theatre in Paris, where four jihadists killed at least 89 innocent people on Friday night, may have been targeted because the owners were thought to be Jewish. The venue has suffered numerous threats going back at least a decade, thanks to its support for the state of Israel and its refusal to stop hosting pro-Israeli events.
Hundreds of people had packed into Le Bataclan theatre on Friday night to watch the Californian band Eagles of Death Metal perform. By the end of the night, 89 were dead at the hands of jihadi gunmen and scores more were injured.
The four terrorists themselves were also dead – three detonated suicide vests when police stormed the building to release over 100 hostages, while the fourth was shot dead by officers before he could blow himself up. Three policemen were also killed in the raid.
Pierre Janaszak told MailOnline: “I clearly heard them say ‘It’s the fault of Hollande, it’s the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria’.” Other witnesses reported that the gunmen shouted “Allahu Akbar, God is greatest” as they shot into the crowd.
However, the venue has long been threatened with violence of this sort, thanks to its continued support for Israel.
Between 2006 and 2009, Le Bataclan hosted the annual French fundraiser in support of the Magav Israeli border police. That alone was enough to single the theatre out for intimidation: in December 2008, as operation Cast Lead was underway in Gaza, a group of around a dozen keffiyah-clad youths filmed themselves approaching the venue’s organisers and issuing threats.
“This is something we cannot continue to accept,” one of the men told the security guards outside Le Bataclan, adding: “You will pay the consequences of your actions”
At the end of the video the same person, his voice electronically distorted, tells the camera: “We came here to pass along a small message. Be warned. Next time we won’t be coming here to talk.”
Two months later, in February 2009, a bomb attack in Cairo which targeted French teenagers claimed the life of 17 year old Cécile Vannier.
French security services linked the Cairo bombing to France’s support for Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip. But in 2011, a report by Le Figaro revealed that members of Jaish al-Islam – The Army of Islam – who had carried out the bombing were planning an attack on Le Bataclan.
A Belgian involved in the attack named Farouk Ben Abbes, who had been arrested in Cairo, had confirmed to France’s General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) that he “was planning an attack against Le Bataclan in France.”
And one of his accomplices, a French woman named Dodi Hoxha went further, confirming: “We had a planned attack against La Bataclan because the owners were Jewish.”
In fact, the venue is currently being run by Jules Frutos and Olivier Poubelle who are not thought to be Jewish.
Nonetheless, France’s Jewish Defence League (LDJ) is certain that the venue was targeted thanks to its pro-Israeli stance. In a statement issued after Friday’s attack, the LDJ wrote: “Pro-Palestinian groups designated it openly as a ‘Zionist’ concert hall, and now we see the result.
“France woke up to a taste of ‘Palestine’.”
Meanwhile Pro-Palestinians have dismissed the link. Nicolas Shashani, a prominent French pro-Palestinian activist told Forward.com: “Le Bataclan may have had a Zionist link in the past, but if the perpetrators wanted to select a site tied to Israel to send a message, it doesn’t strike me as a very effective target.”
“In previous attacks, there were clear targets. Soldiers, cops, a kosher supermarket. This time, the attacks were against cafes, restaurants, a soccer stadium – attacks against the Frenchman on the street.”
He also dismissed suggestions that the band itself was the target. The Eagles of Death Metal recently performed in Tel Aviv where the lead singer, Jesse Hughes, told the crowd that Roger Waters, a former member of Pink Floyd and promoter of the boycott against Israel asked the band to stay away.
“I answered with two words: F**ck you!” he told the cheering audience, adding: “I would never boycott a place like this.”
All the band members escaped the attack unharmed.