The Author

Victims of terror

Mourning at the funeral in Jerusalem of Yaakov Litman and his son Netanel, victims of terror just hours before the Paris attacks on Friday night. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)

Where are the mourners for the Jews? When we close our eyes to terrorists in Israel, we give implicit approval for their barbaric tactics elsewhere.

I opened the [Canadian] National Post on Monday morning and read these words from Harriet Alida Lye, a novelist and freelance writer living in Paris and Canada.

“Unlike the Charlie Hébdo attacks last January …I only wanted first-hand information – to hear from all of my friends, and know where they were – because the rest felt unknowable, anarchic.

“Back in January, things seemed more tangible. The attackers were countable and had their own concrete, though appalling, reasons for attacking the people they did. This time, I’m afraid to read the news because the information feels uncontainable. Part of something so much bigger. This time, the targets were people like me and my friends: ordinary young people enjoying their ordinary freedoms.”

Really? “This time the targets were people like me?” Who were they in January? Just some Islamophobes and some Jews?

“They” were not her. But that terrorism in January was no different than the terrorism Paris experienced Friday night, Nov 13. Or the terrorism in Toulouse in March 2012 when three Jewish schoolchildren – Aryeh, 6, Gabriel, 3, and 8 year-old Miriam Monsonego – along with Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and three paratroopers were murdered. At the time, Francois Hollande, who was not yet France’s prime minister, said: “You cannot murder children like this on the territory of the Republic [France] without being held to account.”

The Islamic State warned that Friday night’s attacks in Paris were only “the beginning of the storm.”

France is reeling from and responding to the horrors of terrorism and finally waking up to reality. “Now ordinary French people are beginning to understand how we Jews have been living in recent years and the reality in Israel,” said Samuel Sandler, the father of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler.

Columnist Eric Reguly of The Globe and Mail also noted that this attack on Paris was different from January’s.

“That’s because the attacks – six in total across Paris – were unlike the January assault on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Matthieu Da Rocha, 25, who works in digital marketing said, ‘Hebdo was a targeted attack against a single publication and its means of expression…But this new attack was against everybody and anybody, against young Parisians … What makes us crazy about what happened is that these sort of attacks can’t be prevented.’”

As Reguly notes, Sunday’s editorial in Libération, the Paris newspaper co-founded by 20th-century philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, urged gallantry, saying, “To turn our back on our values is to begin to flee before the terrorists.”

Sadly, France, like so many of the countries in the European Union, had turned her back on her values of “liberty and equality and fraternity” a long time ago. During WWII France folded on the Maginot Line and then sacrificed all her Jews to appease the Nazis. She not only rounded up foreign Jews; she jumped at the chance to round up Jewish French citizens to be sent off to the ovens of Auschwitz.

Lack of Moral Courage

This past January, France, by her leadership, continued to demonstrate a lack of moral courage. Hollande disrespected, demeaned and denigrated the Prime Minister of Israel who had come to share heartfelt condolences from Israel, not only for the attacks at Charlie Hebdo, but for the Jews who were targeted at the kosher supermarket. Netanyahu has made more Shiva visits [to houses of mourning] in a lifetime than Hollande will make after this one attack. Netanyahu had come to share the pain – pain with which Israel is far too familiar. Yet Hollande wouldn’t tolerate that. He expressed concern that Netanyahu’s presence at the parade, which included 40 state leaders, would be “divisive.”  Why? Because in the eyes of the French, as pointed out by their media, Israel’s terrorism stems from a political dispute. It’s all Netanyahu’s fault that there’s no peace in the Middles East because the Jews won’t sacrifice more land for peace. Hollande then invited Palestinian Authority Chair Mahmoud Abbas and added to the insult by announcing a meeting with him. Abbas, the man who incites to kill Jews in Israel – as if his Muslim terrorists are different from ISIS or Hamas or al Nusra or al Qaeda or Boko Haram or all the others who kill in the name of Islam.

Now Hollande says he stands for the protection of Western values – but not in Israel, the light of democracy in the middle of the misery of the Middle East. Hollande approved of labeling Israeli products “originating in Israeli settlements beyond Israel’s 1967 borders.” He’s leading international diplomatic efforts to push for a UN resolution that would lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within two years. France has been quick to attack Israel for defending her borders. Last year, during  operation Protective Edge, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said: “France calls for an immediate ceasefire… to ensure that every side starts talking to each other to avoid an escalation that would be tragic for this part of the world.”

But now that terrorism has truly touched the very narrow of France, Hollande screams “It is an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh [ISIS], against France. It is an act of war that was prepared, organized and planned from abroad, with complicity from the inside, which the investigation will help establish.” France will “be unforgiving with the barbarians from Daesh,” he added. Acting within the law, France would respond with “all the necessary means, and on all terrains, inside and outside, in coordination with our allies.”

Netanyahu: No ‘Good Terrorists’

Once again Israel is sharing her condolences with the people of France.  Netanyahu said, “An attack on any one of us should be seen as an attack on all of us…Terrorism is the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians.  It can never be justified….You can’t fight terrorism selectively. You can’t say these are the good terrorists and these are the bad terrorists. All terrorists are bad.”

But I ask: Where is the mourning, the keening, the rending of clothes, the singing by the people of France for the dead Jews in Israel? As Netanyahu stated, “Just as we have condemned murderous acts around the world, so, too, I expected condemnation to be issued against the murders that occurred yesterday [Friday, Nov. 13] of Ya’akov and Netanel Litman.”

Just days before her nuptials, just hours before the attacks in France, a bride-to-be buried her father, Rabbi Ya’akov Litman, and her brother Netanel, 18, who were murdered by cowardly terrorists who hate the West, hate freedom and hate the Jews.

Where are the hordes of media covering the loathsome attacks in Israel? There can never be justification for murdering people walking along the streets, sitting in cafés or pizza parlors, lying on a beach, driving their cars, taking a bus, attending concerts or sports events. When we close our eyes to terrorists in Israel, we give implicit approval for their barbaric tactics elsewhere, which spreads the slide into the banality of evil made possible by willful blindness, ignorantia affectata. And this is happening because Jewish lives don’t seem to have the same value as the lives of others.

I will end this piece with words from Canadian columnist Christie Blatchford in the National Post.

“The morning after the Paris attacks, a store around the corner from my house put out a little sign on the sidewalk: ‘L’amour est la réponse’ [Love is the response], the article read.”

Blatchford then quotes a story, written by American journalist Marie Brenner, describing the riot in Paris on July 26, 2014, when a pro-Palestinian demonstration (complete with some black and white Islamic State banners and the Marianne defacer) culminated with thousands of protesters chanting “Mort aux Juifs! Mort aux Juifs!” – meaning “Death to the Jews.”

The story was about much more, of course, but its central theme was that this riot, or any one of the others in what Brenner called the summer of hate, was the tipping point for so many French Jews, many who left the country for Israel.

Jews are the canaries in the coal mine for humankind. If l’amour est la réponse, then loving Jews is one of the unshakable conditions.”

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Article by Diane Weber Bederman

Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital-trained chaplain who lives in Canada, just outside Toronto. She writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog, "The Middle Ground: The Agora of the 21st Century." Bederman is the author of "Back to the Ethic: Reclaiming Western Values," published Dec. 2015 by Mantua Books (available on Amazon).