Europe

Charlie Hebdo Editor: When Jews Are Killed, No One Asks Why

One year after the terror attack at the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the publication’s editor wrote in a commemorative issue that while the massacre led to global shock and a wide-ranging debate on free speech and religion, no one seemed surprised that jihadists also killed four people at a kosher grocery store.

“We are so used to Jews being killed because they are Jewish,” editor Gėrard Biard wrote. “This is an error, and not just on a human level. Because it’s the executioner who decides who is Jewish. November 13 [when 147 people were killed in a string of attacks in Paris] was the proof of that. On that day, the executioner showed us that he had decided we were all Jewish.”

The cover of the special edition depicts a bloody figure representing God, running around with a rifle. The magazine lays blame for the massacre and subsequent terror in France on “Islamic fundamentalists, organized religion, an irresolute government and intelligence failures,” the Associated Press reported.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack on the magazine last year, tens of thousands rallied in Paris, with one French politician calling the attack “our 9/11.” A week later, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the magazine for being “provocative,” and said that the existence of such satire would make dialogue between Iran and the West difficult because “we won’t be able to engage in a serious dialogue if we start disrespecting each other’s values.”

The highest death toll of the November attacks in Paris occurred at the Bataclan Theater, which was known for having ties to Israel and had previously been owned by Jews.

In the wake of last year’s attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher supermarket, Tower associate editor Benjamin Kerstein wrote in his article Charlie Hebdo and the Future of Europe that with a few notable exceptions, France didn’t seem to view anti-Semitism as a problem. One of those exceptions was French Prime Minister Manual Valls:

“History has taught us,” he said, “that the awakening of anti-Semitism is the symptom of a crisis for democracy and of a crisis for the Republic.” He then reiterated the butcher’s bill of atrocities that have been committed against French Jews since the beginning of the second intifada in 2000, including the torture and murder of Ilan Halimi, the slaughter of a rabbi and several children at a Jewish school in Toulouse, and a series of brutal pogroms last summer in which rampaging mobs attacked a synagogue and trashed a Jewish neighborhood in Paris.

“Anti-Semitic acts in France have grown to an intolerable degree,” Valls asserted, and admonished his fellow citizens for failing to express “the national outrage that our Jewish compatriots expected.” With a sweeping overview of modern French-Jewish history, and breaking the unspoken taboo on discussing French collaboration in the Holocaust, he asked,

How can we accept that in France, where the Jews were emancipated two centuries ago, but which was also where they were martyred 70 years ago, how can we accept that cries of “death to the Jews” can be heard on the streets? How can we accept that French people can be murdered for being Jews? … This time it cannot be accepted … we must stand up and say what’s really going on.

Valls speech broke another, even more potent taboo when he connected what he called “a new anti-Semitism” to “loathing of the State of Israel,” a loathing that “advocates hatred of the Jews and all the Jews,” echoing an earlier statement he made to Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, in which he spoke of a “radical criticism of the very existence of Israel, which is anti-Semitic. There is an incontestable link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Behind anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.” And Valls did not shrink from speaking the very uncomfortable truth that much of this anti-Semitism is coming from France’s Muslim community, from “the difficult neighborhoods, from immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who have turned anger about Gaza into something very dangerous. Israel and Palestine are just a pretext. There is something far more profound taking place now.”

[Photo: CCTV / YouTube ]