Last week three acts of Parisian terror in three days rocked the Western world.
On Wednesday, 7 January, two men assault the Paris offices of publisher, Charlie Hebdo. Firing Kalashnikov automatic rifles, they methodically murder twelve. One of victims is 80-year-old Jewish cartoonist, Georges Wolinski. Making their escape, the gunmen remain at large until Friday afternoon.
As Shabbat approaches in Israel on Friday, 9 January, French police report they are in pursuit of the Kouachi brothers who executed the murderous assault two days earlier. Thirty miles northeast of Paris, the brothers are cornered in a printing house where they hold a single hostage. Reports emerge that they would rather die martyrs than let themselves be taken captive.
While the Kouachis are surrounded by French special forces, a third man, Amedy Coulibaly, takes hostages at a kosher grocery store on the eastern edge of Paris. He threatens to kill them if, several miles away, police launch an assault against the holed-up Kouachi siblings.
The kosher grocery kidnapping is quickly linked to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. And it zeroes into focus the centerpiece of this terrorism's malice. The terrorists' essential enemy—to them, the keystone of freedom, human rights and democratic values—are the Jews.
About an hour after Shabbat begins in Israel, French authorities launch a coordinated assault against both kidnap locations. The Kouachi brothers are killed. So, too, is Coulibaly. Sadly, four of the Jewish hostages at the kosher grocery also die.
Immediately after Shabbat ended Saturday, Prime Minister Netanyahu was on the phone to French President Francois Hollande. Expressing sympathy and solidarity with the people of France, Netanyahu hastened to implore Hollande to implement a long-term policy of heightened security at Jewish institutions in France.
About an hour later, Netanyahu was on the air with a public statement. Part of it was for the world; the other part was aimed directly at Jews in France and throughout Europe.
"These attacks in Paris are the continuation of extremist Islam’s war against our free civilization, in the West, in the entire modern world," Netanyahu said, adding that it is also taking place in moderate Arab states.
It "is a wave of terrorism that is spreading a global net of hatred, fanaticism and murder. After establishing its bases in the Middle East, terrorism is now sending its arms throughout the world.
"If the world does not take action quickly, we will find this terrorism gaining momentum and increasingly striking at other centers of the free world and in other places," he warned.
Linking as one various Islamic terror groups, Netanyahu added, "The terrorist organizations of extremist Islam have many and varied names—Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic State, Al Qaida, Nusra, Islamic Jihad and Boko Haram. They are all motivated by the same bloody hatred and the same fanaticism that knows no borders.
"They want to take humanity 1,000 years backward to a dark tyranny that we freed ourselves from after many generations.
"I am convinced that if we are united, this terrorism will be unable to defeat us.
"But if we ignore the true root of the problem, if we ignore the fact that extremist Islamic terrorism seeks to exterminate Western civilization as a whole, including the Jewish people, if we ignore this—what we are now seeing in Paris will be only the beginning. These are not frightening words or prophecies of rage, this is the simple reality and the time has come to recognize it."
Eschewing surrender to fear, Netanyahu implied that the cold reality of European anti-Semitism, especially in France, makes Jewish immigration to Israel compelling.
Turning his attention to Jewish citizens throughout Europe, he invited them to come home.
"To all French Jews, and to all European Jews, I would like to say: 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.”
One day later, hundreds of Jews attended an "Aliyah Fair" in central Paris. The event, scheduled months earlier, was hosted by The Jewish Agency for Israel.
The number of Jews in France is estimated to be 500,000, making it the third largest Jewish community in the world. Israel and the United States are first and second.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 12, 2015)
Photo Credit: Haim Zach/gpo/Ashernet