I am a Jew

It was a large rally – perhaps the largest rally ever in France. According to the BBC, up to 1.6 million people attended the one in Paris. And there were many more in France and around the world. Including the United States. Most of the signs read ‘Je Suis Charlie’ – I am Charlie in reference to the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that was attacked last week. It is a sign of solidarity – not necessarily with the message of that magazine – but with their right to express it.  Which that attack was meant to wipe out along with the 12 people that were massacred for working there.

But there were other signs there. Among them those which read ‘Je Suis Juif’ – I am a Jew. This was a reference to the kosher supermarket that was attacked on Friday. 4 Jewish hostages were killed there. One of whom acted heroically by grabbing a gun from one of the Jihadists. But the gun did not fire, and the Jewish hero was killed along with 3 other hostages. Meanwhile a practicing Muslim that worked in that store ended up saving 15 other Jews by hiding them in a freezer.

‘Je Suis Juif’ is a sign of solidarity with the Jewish citizens of France – one of unity among French citizens regardless of religious differences. A message that attacking a French Jew is the same as attacking a French Catholic. Or a French Muslim.

Even though it has come at a cost too high, it’s nice to see the world united in this way.

Many world leaders attended this rally and walked hand in hand with French President Francois Hollande.

Strangely the United States snubbed that rally. Not only did the President or Vice President not attend – not one member of his cabinet attended. Not even Attorney General Eric Holder who was actually in France at the time! Only the US ambassador to France attended.

I understand the reasons given by the administration for the President not attending the rally. They said the security detail required for his attendance would have been way too disruptive and therefore disrespectful. Perhaps. But – not a single high level member of his administration??? I cannot fathom why the Obama administration would snub a rally like that. It is inexplicable. They now regret it.

This rally is not about protesting the mass murders. That does not need a rally. There is not a civilized person in the world that thinks what those mass murdering Jihadists did was in any way justified.  It was certainly not done to impress upon them that the world does not agree with them. They don’t care what the civilized world thinks. They only care about their beliefs.

The way they see things – until the world comes around to their beliefs, we are all infidels that will burn in hell.  The sooner they get us there, the better. Unless we convert and join them in their crusade.

1.6 million people? No.  What they see is 1.6 million infidels. This rally may actually be seen as a victory for them. They made an impression. A big one. And they will no doubt use it as a recruiting tool.

As a Jew concerned about the increase of Antisemitism in the world, this rally tells me something.  It tells me that the Antisemitism experienced recently in France was not representative of mainstream France. It was instead probably inspired by propaganda from the very type of extremists that murdered those people last week.

Those involved in recent Antisemitic protests were either the extremists themselves or those inspired by their propaganda. A relatively small group of people made a lot of noise and got the attention they wanted.  Which many interpret as a rise in overall French Antisemitism. While I’m sure that there are pockets of Antisemitism left over from a long history of European Antisemitism – this rally shows me that things really have changed for the better since the Holocaust.

And yet Jews are leaving France in droves since those recent Antisemitic protests. Perhaps their abandoning France is premature. On the other hand, who can blame them? The fact is that Jews in France are witnessing a particularly venomous form of Antisemitism. Which these Jihadists have fomented. Having heard protesters scream, ‘Death to the Jews’ and ‘Jews: to the gas chamber’ as they did last summer… that does not inspire loyalty to France by its Jewish citizens. If the French want to stem that tide, they are going to have to do something to change that atmosphere. Maybe this rally is a first step.

What can we in the civilized world actually do about these Jihadists? Will this rally give the international community the will and determination to go beyond anything they have ever done before?

I’m not sure. My hope is that it will. Now more than ever the world should understand what the real problem is and focus more on it. As I recently indicated, this is about fighting an idea based on service to God that promotes even mass murder as a means of achieving what they believe is His will. Which in their minds is to set up a world in which Islam rules.

I thought that after 9/11 the world would realize that. But I was wrong. After 9/11 the world fought terrorism. Not the motivation behind it. Perhaps now, the world will finally realize that it isn’t terrorism that we should be fighting, but the beliefs that inspire it. And maybe – just maybe – the world will finally recognize what Israel is really up against and there too they will say, ‘Je Suis Juif’!

About the Author
My worldview is based on the philosophy of my teacher, Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik , and the writings of Rabbis Joseph B. Soloveitcihk , Norman Lamm, and Dr. Eliezer Berkovits from whom I developed an appreciation for philosophy. I attended Telshe Yeshiva and the Hebrew Theological College where I was ordained. I also attended Roosevelt University where I received my degree in Psychology.