How many times do we have to witness the funerals of innocent Jews cut down in their prime by terrorists?
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.
No way to be upbeat today, even with the outpouring of protest from people grieved and furious about the terrorist killings in France.
Late Friday – before Shabbat – four French Jews were killed in a kosher market in Paris by an associate of the terrorists who attacked at Charlie Hebdo. Apparently he intended to take hostages, to trade for the release of his associates. In the end, four were shot dead and others were hidden in the market refrigerator by Lassana Bathily, a “Malian Muslim” employee [from Mali or of Mali extraction] and then rescued.
The four killed were Yoav Hattab, 21; Yohan Cohen, 22; Philippe Braham, 40; and Francois-Michel Saada, about 60.
Credit: Elder of Ziyon
Hattab, who was studying in France, was the son of the chief rabbi of Tunis.
Leah Elyakim, of Israel, met him just weeks ago when he visited here for the first time. It had been difficult for him make his way here sooner, coming from Tunis.
“He learned Hebrew, he knew everything about Israeli history, more than any of us,” she remembered.
“Every day we traveled, we walked around with an Israeli flag on his back. He said Israel was the only place he would walk freely with a Star of David or an Israeli flag. In France he never could have.”
“His dream was to move to Israel and serve in the army. [He had been] “so depressed when he had to return to France. He told me, ‘when I get to Paris, I’ll have to hide the flag.'”
So he hid the Israeli flag, but shopped at a kosher market in Paris, and that did it.
Make no mistake: These four were killed because they were Jews.
There is talk now about bringing them to Israel for burial. I consider this enormously appropriate because of the statement this makes.
A dear friend of mine, who lives in Paris with her family (and will likely see this), wrote to me last night:
“Sadly this is just the beginning – finally the authorities have admitted its just a matter of when!!”
Important, this honest recognition: There are Islamist cells throughout France and it will happen again. And again. There are now reports that terrorist sleeper cells have been activated.
And there is evidence of links the terrorists may have had to either Al-Qaeda or Islamic State.
French aliyah (immigration into Israel) has grown a great deal in recent years. In 2014, 7,000 French Jews came, twice the number that had come the previous year. Natan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency, has reported that there were 50,000 inquiries about aliyah from French Jews in 2014. With the current attack, the actual aliyah is likely to increase significantly. Numerous Israeli officials, beginning with our prime minister, are encouraging this.
Last night, Netanyahu spoke out to French Jews:
“The State of Israel is not just the place to which you turn in prayer. The State of Israel is also your home. This week, a special team of ministers will convene to advance steps to increase immigration from France and other countries in Europe that are suffering from terrible anti-Semitism. All Jews who want to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed here warmly and with open arms. We will help you in your absorption here in our state that is also your state.”
Some French officials are disturbed by the prospect of a major Jewish emigration from France. (There are some 500,000 Jews in France – the largest Jewish community remaining in Europe.)
Of particular note is the statement by the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valis, reported by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic:
“The choice was made by the French Revolution in 1789 to recognize Jews as full citizens. To understand what the idea of the republic is about, you have to understand the central role played by the emancipation of the Jews. It is a founding principle. If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”
I found this fascinating. They are saying they will send the army, if necessary, to protect the Jewish institutions of France.
But my response is that they should have thought about this sooner. The French Republic is about to be judged a failure not just because it has not protected the community of Jews it had emancipated long ago, but because it has not been true to its principles in a host of spheres. Because there are enclaves of Muslims (“no-go zones governed by Sharia law) right in Paris and other locales, where the French police will not enter. And because essential freedoms presumably guarded by the French nation have been sacrificed.
Says Alex Fishman, writing in YNet (emphasis added):
“As long as Jews were the only ones getting killed, France avoided dealing with the Islamic terror. The red lights which should have been triggered several years ago didn’t even flash for a second.
France has opened its arms to Islamic terror. And the bigger the failure, the larger and grander the mourning rallies. This is a rule invented by politicians to cover up their own failures….
”The French security services’ failure in the past week was colossal and shameful, and indeed, France and all of Europe are being swept away accordingly in mass mourning rallies and protests of millions. (See below on this.)
“But there is not a single protest or speech which can cover up the bitter truth: The Western European countries’ security services in general – and France’s security services in particular – are not prepared in any way for dealing with the radical Islamic terror. Not professionally, not legally and definitely not mentally…
“Suddenly it turns out that all those red lights which should have been triggered several years ago, when the Islamic terror killed Jews, did not even flash for a second. The French security services insisted on not touching the Islamic terror, professionally and fundamentally.
“There is no legislation in France which makes it possible to deal with the hundreds of people who left France to fight along with the radical Islamic movements. There is no legislation which defines Islamic terror as a problem, and therefore there are no agents in the problematic mosques.
“The French intelligence services have zero ability to do something with the information they receive from foreign intelligence agencies about dangerous Muslims who have returned to France. And so the terrorists had no problem travelling on a train in France with Kalashnikovs in their bags. There was not a chance in the world that someone would stop them…
“Who would have thought that the French people, who invented the modern intelligence, would reach such a low point. When France wants its intelligence to be extraordinary, it is. But it just didn’t want, for political reasons, to deal with the Islamic terror…”
There are politically correct concerns being voiced about a backlash against innocent Muslims – Islamophobia, they call it – as a result of the terror attacks. With regard to this, I share the observations of Lawrence A. Franklin writing in Gatestone (emphasis added):
“A seemingly required inclusion in most reports on the recent mass murder in Paris was the rhetorical question posed by reporters has been: “Will these events invite a wave of anti-Muslim incidents”? Since these Islam-inspired murders, however, there have been only a few anti-Muslim actions — all against property.
“Under-reported, however, was how rapidly the assault against Charlie Hebdo migrated into an anti-Jewish mini-pogrom in the heart of Paris. What did shoppers in a kosher market, four of whom were slaughtered, have to do with the cartoon images of Mohammad? Nothing. But the assault on the HyperCacher Jewish kosher supermarket has a lot to do with the true nature of Islamic militancy.
“It seems the drawings in Charlie Hebdo offended some true believers of Islam, but the mere existence of Jews also offends them…
“In reaction to the murders in Paris, the French capital’s Grand Synagogue was closed for the first time since World War II. In fact, synagogues all over Paris were closed. There were no Shabbat services this Saturday, the Jewish day of rest…In light of all the expressed concern about possible anti-Muslim incidents, claims on television, such as on CNN, that ‘Muslims are the most persecuted people,’ seemed jarring and wrong.
“The Grand Mosque in Paris, like mosques all over the capital, was open for business on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. Moreover, there was little discernible increased security around the Grand Mosque. It seems French security authorities were less worried about attacks directed at Muslim institutions than were America’s media commentators. Perhaps they should have spent just a little time reporting on the anti-Jewish rioting that took place in the heavily Muslim neighborhood of Trappes, a suburb of Paris?”
It is well understood that Obama embraces the same politically correct perspective, which translates into a policy protective of Muslims. I will note here that it has made the rounds of several blogger sites that Obama’s press secretary said that, in light of the terror attacks in Paris, fighting Islamophobia would be given a priority by the president. However, I have not been able to locate a primary source for this. Thus, while I have no trouble believing that this would reflect Obama’s position, I cannot verify this statement.
What I can share here, however, is a piece by eminent anti-terrorist Steve Emerson, regarding the refusal to use the word “Islam” in association with terrorism:
“The first comments came from Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, who refused to even call the massacre an act of terrorism, but made sure to add the now typical non-sequitor which…routinely follows Islamic terrorist attacks, that ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ and therefore no [one] should associate the “extremists” in Paris with Islam.
“Then President Obama issued his own statement, but in keeping with his administration’s 6 year old prohibition on using the term ‘Islamic terrorism,’ he simply referred to the attack as ‘terrorism’ — a vanilla term conspicuously devoid of any descriptive term explaining the motivation behind the attack.”
There’s more. See it here:
Emerson reports that in 2012, Obama spokesman Jay Carney said, referring to the very same Charlie Hebdo Magazine that was attacked last week:
“We are aware that a French magazine published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the prophet Muhammad, and obviously we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this. We know these images will be deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory.”
So much for defending freedom of speech.
I mention this here not only to expose the appeasement of the Obama administration, but to point out where true courage in “telling it straight” can be found now: Amongst the cartoonists. And I want to spotlight one particular cartoonist, Yaakov Kirschen, originator of “Dry Bones.”
“I don’t think that the political or religious leadership in the West is up to the job. I think they are cowardly. I think they are fearful and that’s what we got.
“I think what we have now, is that bizarrely, cartoonists are the front-line soldiers in the war to defend freedom of speech…I think cartoonists have become advocates and activists.”
Kirschen is involved in a cartooning project to fight anti-Semitism and apathy regarding persecution of Middle East Christians.
You might want to lend support. See http://www.drybonesblog.blogspot.co.il/
As I close today, hundreds of thousands, if not a million, people are winding up their march in Paris, a silent protest against terror. Among the leaders present are Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi; Israeli Ministers Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman are also in attendance.
Credit: Jewish News UK
Something heartening about seeing such a turnout against terror. You want to believe it says something positive. But for me this has been seriously marred by the revolting presence of Mahmoud Abbas, who was not ashamed to show his face, as if he were also against terror.
A good show. But let’s see what, if anything at all serious, follows.