January 14, 2015
Sadly, a rhetorical question. We’ve already witnessed it too many times. And we know with a reasonable certainty that we are going to witness this yet again.
Yesterday, the four Jews who had been killed last Friday in the kosher market in Paris – Yoav Hattab, Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham, and Francois-Michel Saada - were brought to Israel for burial. All of Tunisian heritage, they were brought first to B’nai Brak, to the Kisse Rahamim Yeshiva, which is headed by Rabbi Meir Mazuz – spiritual head of the Tunisian community in Israel.
MK Eli Yishai, also of Tunisian heritage, was among those who spoke. Referring to the fear people in Israel felt last Friday, before they knew the ultimate fate of the four, he observed (emphasis added):
“This is what it is to be Jewish, one nation, one blood, one fate...The pain is enormous...but the souls of the martyrs are so high...they merit to be interred in the Land of Israel, for which our ancestors yearned for thousands of years.~~~~~~~~~~
“Pray to our Father in Heaven, who will say, ‘enough’ to our suffering.”
The bodies were then brought for interment in the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem. During the services, each was wrapped in a blue and white tallit, and positioned next to a burning torch.
Thousands attended the funeral. “This is not how we wanted you to come home, to the State of Israel,” lamented President Ruby Rivlin. “We wanted you alive, we wanted for you, life.”
Here, among the mourners, a relative of Yoav Hattab:
I want to circle back now, to a closer look at the events in Paris that occurred this past Sunday and Monday, and to some of the responses to those events:
There has been a great deal written about the fact that France was not eager to have Netanyahu present at the march. Although details vary, the essential events seem to be clear.
Netanyahu had not intended to come, but, on learning that Lieberman and Bennett would be there, changed his mind.
Descriptions of precisely how disgruntled French President Hollande was on learning of this decision, and how rude the French were to our prime minister, vary with the sources. Some recount deep and genuine rudeness, others claim that Hollande made his peace with the situation and was reasonably courteous.
There are stories about intentions to put Netanyahu on a second bus, and not the one with primary world leaders, and of his having to wait outside that first bus before he could enter.
What we were able to see was that Netanyahu was placed in the second row, as the march began through the streets of Paris, and that he adroitly moved himself into the first row. He did this by reaching over to introduce himself to Ibrahim Boubakar Keita, the president of Mali, and then remaining at his side.
I would say that the place of Netanyahu – the prime minister of Israel - at the front of the march should have been a given, for the simple reason that the intent, at least in theory, was to show solidarity with victims of terrorism, including four Jews whose lives had been taken precisely because they were Jews.
But of course, it was not that simple. It never is.
Reportedly, the reluctance of Hollande to have Netanyahu present had to do with not wanting to create a focus on the Israeli-Arab conflict, which would have been a distraction. But what did the French do, when learning that Netanyahu was coming? They invited Abbas, who apparently had intended to stay away. This strongly suggests a desire on the part of the French not to appear “biased” in favor of Israel, which is something else, is it not? That first line of the march, walked by heads of state, was no place for Abbas, no how. Hollande even met with Abbas privately that evening, to ensure that the message was clear. Please remember, France voted in the Security Council for the creation of a Palestinian state just two weeks ago.
In several respects, Netanyahu was a thorn in the side of the French. First, because he kept reminding those who were paying attention that terrorism is terrorism, and that it should not be imagined that terrorism in Israel is somehow different or “lesser” (because, so the distorted rationale goes, it is fueled by the “occupation”). That terrorism has to be fought equally wherever it is, and that when that fight is mounted, Israel must be a part of it.
Nor is he afraid to name the enemy.
And then there is the welcome he extended to French Jews, to come home to Israel. Irks the French who are ever so eager now to show how they will protect “their” Jews. The army has been brought out to protect Jewish institutions.
My observation: the million plus in the streets of Paris on Sunday did not exhibit the same degree of solidarity with the murdered cartoonists and the murdered Jews. Most of it was “Je suis Charlie,” with considerably fewer signs evident declaring “Je suis Juif.” The issue was freedom of speech more than it was freedom from venomous anti-Semitism.
It was, it seems to me, enormously important to the Jews of France that the head of the State of Israel came out to stand with them. They are bewildered now. Frightened. Angry. And his presence gave them something positive.
After the march, Netanyahu spoke at the Grand Synagogue of Paris.
Here you have his very fine speech:
The next day, he visited Hyper Cacher, the market where the Jews were shot down. There he said (emphasis added):
“A direct line leads between the attacks of extremist Islam around the world to the attack that took place here at a kosher supermarket in the heart of Paris. I expect all of the leaders, with whom we marched in the streets of Paris yesterday, to fight terrorism wherever it is, also when it is directed against Israel and Jews.”
Yes, I can well imagine how eager the French government was for him to go home.
The head of Europol, the European police organization, yesterday said there are as many as 5,000 European jihadis fighting in Syria [and Iraq]. This constitutes a huge security problem for Europe, which he says, suffers a “capability gap” in terms of dealing with the situation.
These Muslim radicals with European citizenship, who go to fight with the Islamists, are further radicalized in Syria and Iraq – they are taught terrorist techniques, provided with weapons, and recruited to cause havoc on their return to Europe.
Neither France nor the other nations of Europe are likely to get serious about combatting this. They have neither the will nor the procedures in place. Confronting this with seriousness would mean, at a bare minimum, tracking those who have left to join the Islamists, putting legislation in place that blocks their return, and establishing stringent enforcement policies and systems.
The French Police have revealed that the guns used in the terror attacks last week came from outside of France. The size of the cachet of weapons that was uncovered suggests an organized network.
From the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center we learn that the terrorists who created mayhem in Paris were connected with Al-Qaeda and ISIS. And that France has the largest number of nationals who have gone to fight with them.
David Horovitz, editor of Times of Israel, considers the situation in “The death-cult ideology that France prefers not to name “ (emphasis added):
”...This time, too, [Hollande] pledged unity and vigilance in the battles against racism and anti-Semitism. What he didn’t explicitly promise, then or now, however, was to tackle violent Islamic extremism. On Friday, indeed, he asserted in an address to the nation that ‘these terrorists and fanatics have nothing to do with the Islamic religion.’
“It would be nice to think that they didn’t. But it is their perverted interpretation of obligation to that religion that they invoke in carrying out their acts of terror and fanaticism.
“Islamist jihad cannot and will not be defeated if it is not honestly acknowledged. The enemies of freedom will not be picked out at border crossings, tracked on the internet, targeted, thwarted and ultimately marginalized if insistent self-defeating political correctness means those enemies are not even named.
“Does anybody seriously believe, for instance, that France is about to launch a crackdown on Islamist groupings at its higher-education institutions, or devote serious resources to investigating potential incitement at local mosques? Are France and the rest of Europe about to introduce passenger profiling at EU entry points, in the way that Israel does? Is the EU set to sanction Turkey for facilitating the flow of radicalized European Muslims to and from the Islamic State terror group in Syria and Iraq?
“Not terribly likely, is it, when the French president declares that ‘these terrorists and fanatics have nothing to do with the Islamic religion’? Not terribly likely, is it, when the French president, reportedly, didn’t want his day of dignified identification with the victims of terrorism spoiled by the presence of those, like Netanyahu, who might distract from the solemn harmony and focus furious attention, instead, on the specific cause, that great big elephant stuck in among the masses in central Paris: Islamic extremism?
“Three and a half million people took to the street of France on Sunday in a show of solidarity for the latest fatalities of a ruthless ideology. But they couldn’t bring themselves to call that death-cult by its name.
“Do the last few days of Islamist murder in France constitute a watershed moment for one of the Diaspora’s largest communities? The beginning of the end? I rather think so.
“A watershed moment in the Western battle against Islamic extremism? I fear not.”
And let’s close with some good news (which we badly need):
- Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin – 109 per 10,000 people – as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed.
- In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has the largest number of startup companies than any other country in the world, except the US (3,500 companies mostly in hi-tech).
- Israel is ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds right behind the US.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
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