From Retirement In Israel, Bataclan Ex-Owner Recalls Better Times Joel Touitou Laloux's Tunisian-born, Jewish father bought the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in 1976. Laloux managed the venue for decades until September, when it was sold.
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From Retirement In Israel, Bataclan Ex-Owner Recalls Better Times

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From Retirement In Israel, Bataclan Ex-Owner Recalls Better Times

From Retirement In Israel, Bataclan Ex-Owner Recalls Better Times

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

As the attack in the Bataclan was happening, the former owner of the theater got a call at his home in Israel. Joel Touitou Laloux retired and sold the Bataclan two months ago. It had been in the family for 40 years. As NPR's Emily Harris learned, his family history adds a rich thread to the tapestry of Paris.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Joel Laloux's father was a famous musician known as El Kahlaoui Tounsi. Born in Tunisia to a Jewish family, El Kahlaoui toured the world and performed in films. His son, now 63 years old, remembers.

JOEL LALOUX: Every time that you heard something Oriental, you could be sure that it was from my father.

HARRIS: Like this classic, "Men Jarr Aalaya," released on the French record label El Kahlaoui founded after the family moved to Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MEN JARR AALAYA")

EL KAHLAOUI: (Singing in foreign language).

HARRIS: El Kahlaoui recorded and promoted Arab and Jewish performers. The blog Jewish Mahgrib Jukebox writes that El Kahlaoui gave voice to some of the best North African artists at a time few others would. He bought the Bataclan in 1976 and put his son in charge.

LALOUX: Lot of bar mitzvah, lot of wedding. Little by little, I made from the Bataclan one of the most famous music hall of Paris.

HARRIS: One day after the Paris attacks, a video circulated showing masked men threatening people outside the Bataclan because of a fundraiser for Israeli security forces being held there. The video was reportedly made seven years ago. Laloux says he'd never seen the men or the video before. He said to show it now after the carnage in Paris is misleading and dangerous.

LALOUX: Because people can - thought that oh, it's not against occident. It's not against France. It's against this place because they are Jewish who made a gala and oh, now we understand.

HARRIS: He said any producer in Paris would get emails against Israeli performers. But to give in to such pressure, even over fundraisers for Israel, he said was also dangerous.

LALOUX: I'm free. I'm Jewish. It's only a private gala, and they are not invited.

HARRIS: The quiet of the home Laloux has retired to in southern Israel is periodically broken by Israeli military planes. Laloux prefers the sound of his favorite singer, the late Lebanese star Wadih el Safi.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNIDENTIFIED WADIH EL SAFI SONG)

LALOUX: Arabic culture is fantastic. I like music. I like, you know, poezi. I like, you know, everything with the Oriental culture.

HARRIS: The politics, he says, that's another thing. Emily Harris, NPR News, Ashdod.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNIDENTIFIED WADIH EL SAFI SONG)

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