Full details are not yet known, but if the comments of the French Interior Minister Claude Gueant are borne out, the Otzar Hatora atrocity may turn out to be an Anders Breivik case in reverse.
According to the French interior minister, the suspect was "someone who was attached to persons who claimed adherence to salafism and jihadism…This person had made previous stays in Afghanistan and Pakistan.. He belonged to Al Qaeda and said that he wanted to avenge Palestinian children and attack the French army."
When the right wing Norwegian fanatic, Anders Breivik, set off bombs in Oslo and shot to death teenagers in a Norwegian Socialist youth camp, the initial suspicion focused on an Al Qaeda offshoot.
Some commentators such as Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post were burned by treating the suspicion as a certainty. Once the identity of the terrorist became known, there was a great deal of finger wagging against Islamophobia and the need to devote serious antiterrorist attention to right wing hate groups and deemphasize the fight against Islamic terrorism.
The Montauban-Toulouse murders started out with the murder of French parachutists, reported to be of North African origin, and then proceeded to the massacre in Toulouse. Given that the victims were North Africans and Jews, it was natural that suspicion fell on neo-Nazi elements. Most commentators believed that this was a hate crime perpetrated by the right.
In Strasbourg, Jews and Muslims marched side-by-side condemning the hate crimes and the imam of Paris instructed the faithful to view racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the same light.
There were wider political ramifications. Although the massacre in Toulouse temporarily imposed a political truce amongst the contending candidates for the French presidency, there were rumblings about what would take place once the campaign resumed in full force.
The left was getting ready to blame the nationalist campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy for creating the atmosphere that was conducive to the killings.
If the murderer does indeed turn out to be an Islamist terrorist, positions will be reversed and it will be the left that will be put on the defensive.