The latest wave of terrorist attacks in France should make European think deeply where they went wrong. Here are five lessons which they should take from this horrible experience:
1. The battle between Islamic terrorism and western democracies is a battle not only between cultures, but also between ideologies.
Radical Islam attacks western democracies because they stand for freedom, for democracy and for equality under the law. In France, these values are enshrined in the famous slogan “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”. These are things which radical Islam cannot stand.
It is no surprise therefore that the Charlie Hebdo attack was an attack on the most basic democratic value: freedom of speech. It is also no surprise that Jews were attacked in an anti-semitic attack, targeting the value of equality.
What radical Islam hates is our way of life, our civilization. If we do not start to defend it, we might lose this battle.
2. In the battle between Israel and Radical Islam, Europe should stand with Israel, a country which represents the very values that Europe cherishes.
Israel is a country whose very existence represents freedom, as it was established as a mechanism for the Jewish nation to regain self-determination and freedom. It is also a country in which all citizens have full civil rights.
Israel is the only stable democracy in the Middle East. Israel is a representation of historical justice, where a nation violently exiled from its land returned to it after a long and perilous exile.
Israel is also a symbol of hope, when Jews who prayed and hoped to return to their land for two thousand long years finally made it back home in 1948, actualizing the millennium old dream of an entire nation.
While Israel stands for freedom, democracy, justice and hope, our enemies stand for tyrannical regimes, terrorism, discrimination and hatred.
Europe has a long story of standing on the wrong side of this conflict. Just a few weeks ago, France itself was the only western country in the Security Council to vote against Israel in a resolution drafted by the Palestinians trying to bully Israel into a bad deal with an unreasonable ultimatum.
France, and Europe, need to wake up and understand that in the battle against radical Islam, Israel is not only a dear friend, but also a true asset.
3. As the saying goes: “First they come for the Jews…”.
European anti-Semitism has been growing for years now, but other than empty statements of outrage, very little has been done.
A society that condones anti-Semitism is a sick society. In such a society, the threats to the Jews can quickly become a threat to anyone who dares to oppose these hateful elements.
This happened in Nazi Germany, it happened in Soviet Russia, and it is now happening in Europe. Europe needs to start taking anti-Semitism seriously.
4. The last point is addressed to the Jews of Europe.
The right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is completely unconnected to anti-Semitism. It is entrenched in our historical connection to the land, both ancient and recent history. We always hope Jews return to Israel under happy circumstances.
However, anti-Semitism does give us a good reason to actualize this already existing right.
The history of European Jewry is a long one, with a lot of ups and downs. The past decades in France have seen the Jewish community flourish in an unprecedented way. The Jewish intellectuals of France were amongst the leading intellectuals of the whole world, from all sides of the political spectrum: Levinas, Benny Levi, Manitou, Derrida, and in our generation Trigano, BHL, Gurfinkel, Finkelkraut, and so much more. We should not be ungrateful to the great things which the Jewish community has received from French culture.
However, if the time has come to go home, we must tell France: Thank you for all that you have given us. We will miss you very much, but it is time for us to leave. Let’s keep in touch and make sure to keep positive relations.
You might not be safer here, as we also have terrorist attacks. Quite a few actually. However, you will be home. And when you or your kids enlist in the Israel Defense Forces, you will know that here, you have the power to actively protect yourself and your nation.