Matan Peleg

“Charlie Hebdo”- Round 3

The recent horrific attack on the offices of Parisian satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was not its first brush with violence.

The first violent round against the magazine “Charlie Hebdo”, located in Paris’s 11th Arondisement, was in 2006. It was a “modest ” compared to what came later.


In this round, there were death threats against the magazine, and members of the editorial board , but that was all. The threats were made by Muslim extremists following the magazine’s board decision to publish the provocative cartoon that recently had been controversially published in the Danish newspaper “Jyllands-Posten”, in the name of “freedom of expression,” that showed the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban.

The second violent round against the magazine occurred in 2011. Back then their offices were almost burnt to the ground, but with no casualties.

As the world knows, in the third round against “Charlie Hebdo”, 12 people, most of them staff members, were killed.

What a story. Sometimes I ask myself why should we care about “Charlie Hebdo”? After all it’s just a collection of provocative, tasteless caricatures bound together in a single paper. A dossier of doodles, which are usually not serious and often not all that satiric, as opposed to just nasty, arguably  anti-Semitic, and replete with nonsense from here and there.


These facts are doubly meaningful when most of the magazine’s issues offend the feelings of millions of Muslims around the world. Therefore it deserves to slowly fade into oblivion. There is no need to exert effort to save it. The magazine causes nothing but damage to world peace. The radical leftist organizations in Israel are right to embrace “Charlie Hebdo” with thundering silence.

This is the only logical conclusion that one can draw from the latest and most horrific round of “Charlie Hebdo” violence.

Or not.  Maybe, not at all.

In the past decade, the world has been subject to an unprecedented war of ideas, between the idea of fundamentalist Islamism and the idea of freedom. This is a war over justice and who holds the key to it.

Unlike the war between the West and Nazi Germany, where it was clear to the Free World who was good and who was evil, and unlike the Cold War, where it was obvious that Communism was another form of slavery, today the West is in a different state of mind.

The west is devoid of animating sparks, suffering from moral and cultural decay, and above all, lacking faith and conviction in the righteousness of its core values and its role in the world. Finally, it is unable to discern  truth from lies, and worse yet, not even feeling it is important to be able to do so.

With this anemic posture, the West has become physically, spiritually and ideologically defenseless in this current war of ideas. But as in every person and every society, there always lies the spirit of survival, and the potential for revival.

Therefore, on the day when the satire magazine “Charlie Hebdo” unwittingly became a target for the radical-Islamist camp, the West became, unwillingly, its defender.

Not surprisingly, the challenge presented by “Charlie Hebdo” has come to Israel, though perhaps a bit late. It arrived only after the Steimatzky book network succumbed to threats, cancelled the event unveiling the latest issue, and thereby surrendered to terror incarnate (terror means dread and fear).

One letter from an Arab politician was enough for Steinmatzky to spinelessly fold. With one light threat the Steimatzky book chain abandoned the values of free literature and the right to free speech, allowing them to reside solely on the Internet, but not in print.

When the sanctimonious tried to defend the supporters of thought dictatorship with the argument that, just as by law the symbols of the State cannot be desecrated, therefore no one has the right to desecrate the image of Muhammad, they were both misleading and ultimately wrong.

At the end of the day, with all due respect, Muhammad,  symbolizes the laws of Shariah. Shariah is not the law of the land  in Israel. Shariah is also, in part, in direct contravention to the ideas of the Free World. In essence, whoever supports Shariah law supports the end of democracy.

As a believing Jew, I unequivocally object to the denigration of Judaism, but when the satiric show “The Jews are Coming” on Channel 1, presented Abraham Avinu as an old crazy man hearing voices, Mattathias the leader of the rebellion against the Greeks as a buffoon, and Moses as suffering from Autism, I had no recourse but one – to change the channel.

Because that is how things work in the democratic Free World.

In sum,  the state of Israel and the West can draw only one conclusion from “Charlie Hebdo” 3.0,  and it’s the same conclusion that we had to draw from the prior two rounds.

We need to take always very seriously the threats against the freedom.   Because ultimately it is not “Charlie Hebdo” that is under attack. Just as it was ultimately not the World Trade Center in New York that was being targeted.

It is democracy, freedom and the ability to live a life freely expressing opinions, knowing that many opinions of others you won’t like.  That way of life is under attack. It is not self apparent that that way of life will sustain itself without being actively defended.

Right now, the West must rouse itself to see what is at stake. It is up to us- the people who care– to fight defend democracy, to fight this war of ideas.

Until victory.

About the Author
CEO of Im Tirtzu, a grassroots Zionist organization advocating for Israel in Israel