Bon soir mes amis...
We have all been following with rapt attention the recent events in Paris. The targeted assassination of journalists and the deliberate murder of people for their religious affiliation strikes us at the heart of our consciences. Having lived our lives in the West, the ideas of freedom of the press and freedom of religion are as much a necessity of life as oxygen. For Americans, we are very much aware of what the First Amendment says. It mentions both the freedom of the press and the freedom of religion. For Canadians, both of these freedoms are the first Fundamental Freedoms spelled out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
After the initial set of events, the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, people all around France, and all around the world for that matter, began wearing shirts and holding signs that said "Je suis Charlie." Rallies with thousands of people expressing that sentiment took place all around France, and all around the world. I expect that such a statement is to say that when faced with the choice of the pen or the sword, to side with Charlie is an open statement of the choice of the pen. I agree with that statement. In that regard, je suis Charlie aussi.
Please take note: as Jews, while we are decidedly on the side of choosing the pen over the sword (Jewish Law defines handedness by writing), Charlie Hebdo was not our friend. Jews and Judaism were very much the target of Charlie Hebdo's poison pen. Trust me when I tell you that this was not a publication I would have bought.
There is another side to this though. It is a side that is disturbing, to say the least. What might have been different if the attack on the kosher supermarket had taken place first? Would the people of France have stood up and said "je suis juif"? They did not do so after the execution of children at a Jewish school in Toulouse a couple of years ago. I do not expect that they would have done so now.
Mes amis, je suis juif. J'aurais ete dans ce marche vendredi matin. Charlie Hebdo was decidedly not my friend. The folks at the kosher market were.
Je suis juif. I am Jewish. I hope that the people of France realize this identity. Jews were targeted for being Jewish on Friday morning. These nice folks who did this do not like Christians or atheists either. I am not at all saying that the French should stand with us or they are against us. I am saying that we make a gravely wrong assumption when we assume that the line between Jewish and anything else is as significant to the murderers as it is to us.