On March 28th, France stood united in silence once again. On that Wednesday the French nation halted its day to day activities to pay tribute to one police officer, Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame who recently exchanged his life for that of a hostage in a Jihadist attack on a supermarket in the quiet French town of Trebes, where three additional respected French citizens were also murdered by Islamic terrorists on the 23rd of March, 2018.
It was quite breathtaking to see President of France, Emmanuel Macron, paying tribute to the body laying “in state” in its casket draped in the French flag, with all of France’s leaders and highest Generals in attendance to honor to the life of one policeman who has become their national hero. It was no surprise to see a similar ceremony one year after 90 innocents were murdered by Islamic Terrorists in Nice on Bastille day 2016. That attack on the Promenade des Anglais struck the hearts of the families and communities of ninety victims from around the globe. This ceremony was for one man not yet buried.
While many in the West speak of how France” is lost,” I beg to differ. A nation which universally mourns for one of its citizens – is a nation intact. A nation united in understanding the threat of Islamic Jihad is sound. A nation which treasures one life and pays its respect to a man who committed his life to protect the public and his fellow citizens, sets an example for us all. Paying homage to this man who was true to his values and purpose in life, must remind us all that those who chose to serve in the military and the police force are examples of courage. Decisions made- in which individuals place their very lives at stake, inspire us.
Where are similar tributes to the police, soldiers, and others who lose their lives serving the people of the United States? We have become used to seeing televised riots against the police on the American streets, rather than ceremonies of appreciation. This politically acceptable attitude there- reflects a decay in the fiber of the American society, and its value system is in disarray.
President Macron used the term “unconditional respect” in his tribute speech. When an individual decides to commit their lives to face hatred, “murderous folly” and “jihadist assault, such a choice needs our eternal gratitude. Without it, we would all be living in societies ruled by anarchy.
Macron said “The intolerable cannot prevail.” He spoke directly to the Islamic ideology that teaches hate and the underground Islamism which intends to destroy us all. He reminded the world of the value of ”increased vigilance” and “civic pride.” He reminded the world of the battle we all face against those who would destroy freedom and respect. He did not mince his words nor was he afraid of being “politically incorrect.” Strangely, I hear analysts on television claiming that Macron does not blame Islamism for these horrific events. That claim is categorically untrue.
He spoke directly to the youth of France who he said, are always searching for the “absolute.” He spoke of those who devote their lives to helping and supporting others in order to create a just society which can advance, and those choices which make an individual’s life worthwhile. He also paid tribute to Mirielle Knoll, the 85-year old Holocaust survivor who was brutally stabbed eleven times before being left in her apartment which was set aflame. He spoke of the horrors of antisemitism and the national shame of this life extinguished so brutally.
Macron reminded his citizens that a “love of homeland” is an honor, not a shame. It is not a right-wing ideology to love your nation or to respect its values. It is a human necessity to protect one another and to pay homage to those who are prepared to sacrifice their lives in that pursuit.
Until the United States readjusts its attitudes towards its police and military personnel, it will not be whole again. Macron has it right. Face the enemy- be proud and remain true to the national dream. This applies to us all.
This article was written minutes after Macron’s speech was delivered. It was sent to the Opinion Editor at the Jerusalem Post, who though his pages were full that week, asked me to re-submit it at the beginning of the next week. Then thousands of Gazans tried to breech their border with Israel and the news was overwhelmed with Israel’s newest potential conflict. While I would have liked these thoughts to have been in the Jerusalem Post the next day, I fully understand priorities. Fortunately, publishing is no longer limited to an editor’s whim or prior commitments. I will continue to contribute to the Jerusalem Post, but am so pleased to also be able to reach my readers through this Times of Israel blog. Thank you for reading!