24 Days, A Memoir of the Halimi Affair, Available in Translation for First Time in the United States

  • February 23, 2020

Riveting true story of a French Jewish mother’s worst nightmare

New York, NY, February 13, 2020 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) and Behrman House have partnered to co-publish a new English translation of “24 Days: The Kidnapping and Murder of Ilan Halimi,” bringing the true story of an anti-Semitic hate crime in France to American audiences for the first time.

The book, a memoir by Ilan’s mother, Ruth Halimi, was originally published in France nearly three years after her son’s death.  It recounts the 24-day ordeal from the day he was kidnapped to the day his mangled body was found just outside of Paris. Updated with current-day headlines showing the line between Ilan Halimi’s death and modern incidents of anti-Semitism in America, the book will be available in bookstores on Feb. 13, the 14th anniversary of his death.

Ilan Halimi was a young cellphone salesman living with his mother and sister in a working-class neighborhood in Paris. One evening, as his mother prepares for Shabbat, Ilan suddenly disappears. At first the family hopes for the best, assuming he’s just gone out with friends or absentmindedly forgotten the time. But as the hours pass and their messages to him go unanswered, the realization sets in that something has gone horribly wrong. Soon their worst fears are confirmed: Ilan has been kidnapped. “We have Ilan,” the kidnappers write in an email. “We demand 450,000 euros to release him alive…”.

For the next 24 hours, and moving into the next 24 days, Ilan’s family and the French police desperately scramble to locate him while attempting to negotiate terms for his release. As the kidnappers’ messages grow more erratic and their threats more dire, the police reassure the family they have the investigation under control and can convince the kidnappers to release her son. But Ruth soon realizes that she may never see her only son alive again.

A starkly candid retelling of the 2006 kidnapping and murder, in what became known in France as the Halimi Affair, 24 Days by Ruth Halimi and French writer Émilie Frèche (Behrman House | ADL, on sale 2/13/20, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-68115-008-6) is a wake-up call to the growing scourge of anti-Semitism, extremism and hate around the world. It is also a mother’s cri de coeur against the evil forces of hate that led to her son’s horrific kidnapping, torture and death in one of the most infamous cases involving anti-Semitism in French society since the notorious Dreyfus Affair a century earlier.

The English-language edition comes with a new Preface from French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and Foreword by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Ilan’s story has been contextualized for American audiences with vignettes from recent headlines in the United States, including white supremacists marching in Charlottesville and synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway, to remind readers of how anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have had deadly consequences in America as well.


“This book reads like a detective novel.  The difference is that it is true and the ending is tragic beyond belief.  Many people, when analyzing the rise in contemporary anti-Semitism, forget that so much of it began with Ilan Halimi.  The book is riveting and, though one knows the ending, as I read it, I found myself hoping against hope for a different outcome.”

─Deborah E. Lipstadt, Author of Anti-Semitism: Here and Now and Professor of Holocaust Studies, Emory University

“Let us lock arms with Ruth Halimi and every other parent who has lost a son or a daughter to cruelty and hate.”

─Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO, Anti-Defamation League

“Ruth and Emilie’s vivid memoir of those fateful twenty-four days is etched on the collective Jewish memory of Europe. This poignant book comes to remind us that we must act soon before anti-Semitism and hatred consume not only Europe’s Jews but Europe itself.”

─Dr. Moshe Kantor, President, European Jewish Congress

“Ilan’s death marks the tragic revival of murderous anti-Semitism in France. His name has become the symbol of France’s determination to fight anti-Semitism.”

─Edouard Philippe, Prime Minister of France


“This is not only my son Ilan’s story.  I want it to be published to remind people of what hatred and intolerance can do, hatred for the other, intolerance of what we see as different. Given the world we live in today, we have to remember that we are all people, and we are the same, regardless of our beliefs. Otherwise, there will be very dark times ahead.”

─Ruth Halimi, author of 24 Days