France and Israel, Partners in Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

I began to write this article Friday afternoon, when the wounds of the Paris attacks on the Charlie Hebdo Newspaper and a Jewish market were still fresh. I began to discuss the assault on Paris, the heart that maintains the intellectual world to the tune of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité and the proportions of an attack on a liberal newspaper and the tremors felt in all liberal institutions, especially on University campuses. However, Sunday morning my interests were drawn again to Paris and to the Republican March.

Sunday morning, Parisians marched in protest of a growing extremism and terrorism that points its weapons towards the West. Joining the Parisians were world leaders, the United Kingdom’s David Cameron, Germany’s Angela Merkel, and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu were all present to demonstrate solidarity with this week’s victims, in addition to French President Francois Hollande. Beyond the photo op, a photo that will no doubt be among the most significant of the decade, this event could perhaps represent a future in which these world leaders would take larger strides, together, to destroy Islamic terrorism, a force that is growing in threat and power.

World Leaders March in Paris
World Leaders March in Paris, including PM Netanyahu (2nd from left). Paris, 11 January 2015.

I had hoped to write this article, an article discussing a future in which our world leaders would collaborate to safeguard each other. Especially, I had hoped to examine a potential strengthening in relationship between France and Israel, partners in the campaign against the growing anti-Semitism in France, among other issues. However, once again my attention shifted Monday morning. This time towards a developing story in which reports were indicating that the French government attempted to dissuade Prime Minister Netanyahu from attending Sunday’s march. It appears as though the Office of the French President discouraged Netanyahu from traveling to Paris in order to maintain the peaceful nature of the march and to not publicise France and Israel as partners against terrorism.

Beyond the fact that a Jewish supermarket was targeted, to discourage the representative of the Jewish State and of the Jewish people from attending is a disappointment. But the greater disappointment, and what I simply do not understand, is a French failure to recognise that the strand of terrorism that took its citizens is of the same virus that threatens Israel daily. France’s error in seeing terror against Israel as stemming from a political dispute, rather than from a religious fanaticism, is a dangerous miscalculation and does not do justice to Israel’s struggle.

Last weeks victims in Paris were murdered by the same Islamic extremism that inspired the murderers of Jews in Hebron and Jerusalem in the pogroms of 1929 before any political dispute of any kind or any Israeli occupation. This past November’s attack on a Jerusalem synagogue is a reminder that the core of the issue is a religious one, and one that has not changed since the early 20th century. It is important to realise that the lives of more than 3,500 Jews in Israel have been murdered by the same root of Islam inspired fanaticism that murdered caricaturists at Charlie Hebdo and Jews in a Parisian Jewish market.

For the sake of the victims of the assault on Paris and the victims of terror in Israel, Islamic terrorism must be destroyed. But in order to destroy it, the world must first recognise Islamic terrorism when it is demonstrated in Israel. A rapprochement is necessary between France and Israel, and all Western countries, to defeat their mutual enemies of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

Dan Poliwoda

About the Author
Dan Poliwoda is an Honours History student at the University of Western Ontario. On campus he is VP Programming for Israel on Campus at UWO, where programming includes tabling, keynote speakers and discussions.
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