11 January Paris Demonstrates

Participating in the Paris march reminded me of another. In 1990, a recently buried cadaver in the Carpentras Jewish cemetery was exhumed by hate-infested vandals and propped on an umbrella.

The then President François Mitterrand led a protest march of 250,000 along the same route in Paris as today.

He was accompanied by the movement “SOS Racisme” bearing posters with the message “Black, White, Arab, Jew ­Do Not Touch My Pal!”(“Touche pas à mon pote”).

The years passed as antisemitism returned to Paris and Jews asked “Where are our pals ?…Where are the politicians, the churches, the teachers, the unions, the media ?” Large numbers of these had changed direction as obsessive-compulsives in solidarity with Palestine, i.e. “anti-Zionist” and by association, “no friends of the Jews ”

French Jewry felt growingly abandoned as the primary target of Jihadist Islam.

Nevertheless, as our late mentor, Simon Wiesenthal, would say : “What begins with the Jews never ends with them, it becomes the scourge of general society!”

The murderous assault on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly in parallel with the kosher supermarket, resulting in 17 dead over three days,vindicated Simon’s maxim.

Herein hangs a question: if there had only been the kosher supermarket attack, would millions have marched and over fifty world leaders convened in Paris? Surely not, it would remain one more in the litany of Toulouse, Brussels, etc.

But they marched and they came and we joined them under a balloon inscribed “We are all Charlie,police,Jews” in tribute to all the victims,hoping that 11 June would mean a sea-change in such bottom-line policies as:

– stop the euphemism: When an attack opens with “Allahu Akhbar”,this is Islamic, no matter how deviant

– stop the culture of excuse: Not all alienated/frustrated/ unemployed young people commit atrocities. There is no social welfare reason for slaughtering journalists. Charlie Hebdo cartoons are often antisemitic. Jews counter-attack through the law courts, not with Kalashnikovs

– above all, stop the disconnect: Al-Qaeda, Isis, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. are branches of the same tree. Western countries that reject this commonality with Israel, will never expunge terrorism on their own soil.

About the Author
Shimon Samuels is Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He has served as Deputy Director of the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, European Director of ADL, and Israel Director of AJC. He was born in UK and studied in UK, Israel, U.S. and Japan.
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