In France, as in Israel, the defence against fanaticism is a necessity.
by Roger Cukierman, president of CRIF, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France
The following is a translation of the original message, in French, that can be read in its entirety >here<
Like many in France, I have family and friends who have on several occasions run into underground shelters. I think of them, as I think of the civilian population of Gaza who have been bombed for several nights. As a child hidden during the Second World War, I do not have selective compassion. And I want to believe that this is also true for the vast majority of French and especially those among us who are Jewish or Muslim.
If the facts are known, it is essential to put them into perspective. The news from the Middle East is once again having serious repercussions in France, [that included] demonstrations and assaults against two synagogues in Paris.
When one takes a step backward, one cannot but be struck by the selective indignation of the people who took to the streets to express their solidarity with the Gazans, but remained silent about the plight of Syrians, Iraqis, Libyans, Christians, Nigerians who are under the yoke of Boko Haram …
When one takes a step backward, one cannot but be struck by the inability of these people to express their support or opposition without hate or violence.
Everyone can, of course, have their opinion and belief about the policies of the Israeli government and even suffer from focusing their attention solely on Israel and obscuring [information about] other countries in the region. Anyone who has set foot in Israel, or read Israeli newspapers, knows that the political debate is everywhere and in Israel, as in France, citizens are critical of their government.
What is at stake in the protests that occurred this past weekend in France, as in the “Day of Wrath” event last January, are not part of the political debate…
Behind the corruption of solidarity, there is hate. This hatred is today against the Jews.It started against synagogues in inconceivable violence, as it evoked [to many] the darkest hours in the history of Europe during the 20th century. And hatred, which today is against the Jews, by tomorrow will be aimed at other groups [living] in our national community.
When one takes a step backward, one cannot but be struck by the rise of fanaticism and extremism. No country is immune.
In Europe, fanaticism killed in Montauban, Toulouse and Brussels. Fanaticism also killed in Oslo and in Utøya, Norway. Fanaticism could have killed elsewhere if the terrorists had not been put out of harm’s way before they acted out.
In Europe, young people are becoming fanatical and sent to the jihad in Syria, Afghanistan, Mali. Those who return to Europe are [time] bombs, bursting with hatred for all those who refuse Sharia violent totalitarism. They want to deprive us of our freedom…
If fanaticism is universal, it is clear that it has been successful for quite some time in some branches of Islam [especially] among the rich Middle East producers of oil and gas who generously fund murderous folly in mullahs and imams who refuse pluralism, who want to impose their way of life and who are opposed to the right of each individual to decide their lifestyle, sexuality and religion.
Democracy cannot accommodate people who hate and want to destroy those who do not think like them. It must defend itself. It is a necessity, an imperative.
This applies in France, as in Israel. This applies in all countries, including the future Palestine, where individuals’ love of humanism, justice and ethics face the fanatics.
And when these fanatics resort to rain rockets and missiles against civilian populations, one cannot put one’s faith in avant-garde technology… It is necessary and vital to defend ourselves and defend democracy. This is the State of Israel.
The fight against fanaticism, extremism and terrorism is a noble fight. This is not a war of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is even less a war between Israelis and Palestinians, or a war between Jew and Arab. No, this is a fight for the values that are the foundation of our nation: freedom, equality and fraternity. This is the condition of “living together” in a peaceful society.
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SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”