I am sure I speak for most people when I say that events in Paris this week have upset me. The brutal attack on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, by Islamic extremists, for daring to express freedom of speech is nothing short of both tragic and terrifying.
Yet I am not sure I speak for most people when I say that the response of the Jewish press to what made the front pages internationally also upset me. For in no way, shape or form were these vicious murders anything to do with the Jewish people – any more than the simple fact that in the extremists’ eyes, Jews, like anyone else in the Western world who dare mock, disrespect or simply challenge any of their views, are just another in a long list of infidels. True, it is probably safe to say that we head up this list with bells and whistles, but to directly infer that this particular attack had anything to do with the hatred of our people is not only preposterous but also somewhat insulting to both the real victims and their families. I am sure that a quote by leading Jewish paper, The Jewish Chronicle, claiming that “The fact that one of those murdered, lead cartoonist Georges Wolinski, was Jewish, may well have further fed into the attackers’ warped outlook” was simply made to sell papers. Because, let’s be honest, we’re talking about a media source that satirises for a living – we hardly need to look for another motive.
In a similar vein, and as unfortunate a statement as this is, we, as Jewish people, hardly need to create more tragedies to befall us, as was subsequently and horrendously proven by the second set of tragedies to hit Paris this week. This time, a direct target on Jews shopping in a kosher grocery store just hours before the holy Sabbath, in which four people were reportedly murdered in cold blood.
Papers go to print on a certain day, and to expect any media source not to lead with the Charlie Hebdo atrocities is naive. But sometimes, just sometimes, these tragedies are not about us, and so to distort any part of it in order to speak louder to your target market is, quite frankly, offensive – both to us and to them. Wait an extra day or so and you’ll get the headline you’ve been waiting for, anyway.
Praying for peace and thinking of all victims of the Paris attacks – regardless of their religion.