The Tragedy

Honestly, I really did not want to “weigh in” on this.  There are already enough editorials and reports written and being written about what happened in Paris, France during the past few days.  I would like to open a discussion in another direction, however.

There are basic differences in how the word “freedom” is interpreted.  I would like to examine some of these differences and again, in all honesty, I do not expect anything to change.  The fundamental philosophies that propel some to murder are obviously different from those that encourage others to peacefully protest bigotry and disrespect in a variety of ways.

The publication, in the Arab press and in the press of many Muslim countries, of virulently anti-semitic cartoons depicting both Israel and Jews in the most vile and stereotypical fashion, will do for now to illustrate a basic argument.  What may be perfectly acceptable behavior in parts of the Muslim world may NOT be acceptable behavior when those in the “Western” world create satirical cartoons of a religious nature, especially when it comes to Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim.  To us, this is simple hypocrisy. To them it is normal behavior.

Our expectation that everyone in the world has to respect our basic freedoms is wrong.  These freedoms, developed over time, evolved from philosophies that often evoked powerful reactions.  I mean people were burned at the stake, drowned, stoned to death and beheaded until we finally realized that we could agree to disagree.  We could turn off the program.  We could not purchase the book or the magazine.  We could write an article or letter expressing our disagreement.  We could march in peaceful protest.  We could vote.  We could bring our appeal to court.

Our friends in France led the way.  Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.  The folks in the US followed.  The nations of the Western world followed.

In the countries where Islam is the predominant religion and culture, there are also freedoms, but these are fundamentally different from those of the Western world.  Because women and men have defined roles within many Muslim communities, their freedoms are also different.  There is no point in trying to understand WHY, one must simply accept that this is the way it is in that culture and in that religion.  The problem arises when those of the Muslim world emigrate to countries with Western freedoms.

Those arriving in Europe from Muslim countries created enclaves within European nations.  Many did not integrate into European culture, nor did they adopt Western freedoms as their own.  These freedoms challenged established societal norms completely accepted in the Muslim world.

How then will this behavior of violent protest, murder in other words, change?  What can be done, short of keeping those from Muslim countries OUT of Western nations?

Will Western nations stay out of Muslim countries?  Will international corporations, the new “empires” of the world remove themselves from Muslim nations and look elswhere for profit and gain?  Perhaps they should.

Many of us who agree with the fundamentals of the freedoms set out by magnificent documents like the Constitution of the United States of America,its amendments and the Bill of Rights should NOT expect reciprocal agreement from others who do not value these freedoms.

We should, however, make it clear:  if those who emigrate to Western nations do not value our freedoms of expression, assembly and speech, stay in your own homeland.  Should you decide to value these freedoms, then you will find that WE will defend your freedom to worship.  WE will defend your right to celebrate your holidays.  WE will defend your right to protest peacefully should you find a comment, an editorial, a cartoon offensive.

And, just in case you don’t believe me, look up National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie (or Smith v. Collin).  Further, while I may find a great deal of what Charlie Hebdo published abhorrent, my protest would be to not purchase it, and ignore its vile and disrespectful content. My protest cannot be, must NEVER be a protest of violence and murder.

About the Author
Born in Israel, Yuval emigrated as a baby to Austria and then Canada. He returned to live in Israel in '71 until '91. His military service was in Golani Brigade's 13th Battalion (including Yom Kippur War) with reserve duty as a tank commander and later a liaison officer in the IDF Liaison Unit. He now resides in Pennsylvania, USA.