Uri Pilichowski
Author, Educator and Father - Brother to All

Three strikes and you’re out France

Yet again, in an almost inconceivable misstep, the French government has missed the point. In its efforts to rally and unite, France has further advanced the evil cancer that is causing its peaceful beauty to decay. In its acceptance of faulty and corrupt narratives, France has refused to cure the ill that is killing it – terror.

In his op-ed, “The death-cult ideology that France prefers not to name.” TOI Editor David Horovitz brilliantly (as is his style) points out a mistake that France has made this week. Horovitz wrote, “[French President] Hollande vowed time and again that France would do everything to counter anti-Semitism, to fight hatred, ‘to tear off all the masks, all the pretexts.’ This time, too, he pledged unity and vigilance in the battles against racism and anti-Semitism. What he didn’t explicitly promise, then or now, however, was to tackle violent Islamic extremism.” Horovitz blames Hollande and France for missing the lesson of these attacks – that Islamic extremism must be pointed out for the evil that it is, and it must be stopped.

Horovitz is spot on. Violence is merciless. Violence is regrettable, but at times such as in self-defense, violence is justified. Violence and terror are not synonymous. Terror is violence without conscious. There is no such thing as justified terror. Terror is wrong and it is evil. There is nothing that excuses terror.

Terror is the tool of the wicked warrior. The justified warrior has no need for terror. The justified warrior fights a fair and scrupled fight. Confident in the ethics of his cause, the righteous warrior fights a just and equal fight, trying to stop the enemy, not scare it. Fear is the true weapon of the terrorist, for in lieu of a just cause that can win in the courts of the mind as much as on the battlefield, the terrorist distracts from the immorals that motivate it, and tries to scare the enemy away.

Terror claims victory not only over its victims in the battlefield, but in the minds of those on the sidelines. It injects fear in the minds and hearts of those not involved in the initial struggle. This fear sets forth throughout the world, and even those not part of the fight become so frightened, they act in irrational ways to avoid the fear arriving at its doorstep. In the struggle to avoid the fear that paralyzes them, they make mistakes that only attracts more terror.

Terror begins its fear mongering not with a bombing, shooting, or stabbing, but with a corrupt narrative. Terror is justified by a false story that places blame on the righteous and justice to evil. It repeats its narrative countless times until its repetitiveness spreads just enough to gain legitimacy. Like a cancer, it spreads and corrupts, convincing the naive to follow its lead. To further its cause, terror uses violence. Its followers begin to use a horribly spun web of lies and violence to spread its message even further.

Those standing in the way of this vicious wave of terror have two options, fight it or succumb to it. Too often those in the line of site of the next attack believe that terror can be avoided by simply accepting the corrupt narrative. They wishfully think, much like pagans of the past who wished to appease an angry god, that by acceding to the story of the terrorists, they’ll avoid the violence used by the terrorists to spread their message.

Besides Horovitz’s criticism of France, I’d like to add one more mistake that I think that France, and many in the world, are making. France has begun to accept the narrative of those that promote terror. This narrative claims that Israelis are thieves, having stolen the ancestral home of the Palestinian people without cause. This story ignores the Jewish people’s rich history and claim to the land of Israel. Instead of recognizing two narratives and calling for a negotiated settlement between the two peoples, France has begun to accept the fear mongering tale of only one claim.

This was first evident when the French Parliament voted in favor of urging its government to recognize a Palestinian state. The French ignored the Israeli government’s plea that “The vote in the National Assembly… will reduce the possibility of achieving a deal between Israel and the Palestinians.” (Daily Mail Dec. 2, 2014)

France’s second acceptance of the faulty narrative was its vote in the United Nations Security Council in favor of a Palestinian bid for statehood without obligatory negotiations with the Israelis. Instead of requiring a peaceful solution which addressed both Palestinian claims and Israel’s security needs, the bid only obligated an Israeli withdrawal from land claimed by the Palestinians as their own. Even Security Council resolution 442 called for negotiations. In justifying its action, France weakly claimed it was trying, “To break the diplomatic stalemate and the dangerous status quo. France voted as it did in order to encourage the sides back to the negotiating table.” (Haaretz Jan. 2, 2015) The absurdity of breaking a status quo by blindly accepting one side’s tale doesn’t require explanation.

Lastly, and its third strike at getting the narrative correct was at this past weekend’s rally. Instead of recognizing that global Jewry is targeted for their religion and steadfast connection to its homeland, Hollande saw Israel as divisive and a topic to be avoided. As Horovitz wrote, “However improbable this may sound, it seems clear that French President Francois Hollande did not want the prime minister of the world’s only Jewish state to attend a rally organized in at least partial solidarity with a Jewish community that had just seen four of its members gunned down. Hollande feared that Netanyahu’s presence would be divisive, shifting focus from solidarity in and with France to such complex issues as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and wider Jewish-Muslim relations.”

Jews have every right to be on their homeland. This isn’t something that should be said infrequently or quietly, it is something to be repeated and stated loudly. Historically, Jews have been in the land of Israel longer than any other people. Whether it is the Bible or Encyclopedia Britannica that you get your facts from, there is no legitimate dispute to the Jewish claim to Israel. To ignore or sidestep this fact is to ipso facto accept a false narrative and give in to terror. The only way a legitimate and functional Palestinian state can be created is through negotiations that assure Palestinian independence and Israeli security.

France needs to begin to see the error of its ways. It’s desire to be a broker in the Middle East is to be commended, and I sincerely hope it bears fruit. But to be an effective broker, France needs to make sure it doesn’t buy into a corrupt narrative. In doing so France is encouraging the Palestinians to avoid the negotiating table, and legitimizing false grievances terrorists use to justify their evil actions.

About the Author
Rabbi Uri Pilichowski is an educator. As a teacher, author and speaker, he teaches Torah and Politics, where he specifically emphasizes rational thought and conceptual analysis.