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page   updated  2/09/2015

Je suis Charlie (Poster)

While the attack on the magazine CHARLIE HEBDO and ensuing events in and around Paris in January 2015 were small compared to the Twin Towers attack  in the United States, they were the largest act of terrorism in France in decades. 

I feel a personal interest - I was a fan of some of the dead cartoonists.  And in the first half of 1988, my wife and I were living about three Metro stops north of the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a reasonable walk. We were living in Passage des Recollets, in the Arab neighborhood just south of Gare de L'Est, on the west side of the St, Martin Canal; the Jewish neighborhood where the police were asking stores to close for safety  was a short walk away on the east side of the canal.

And there is an interesting interfaith aspect here, one that might not have been expected.  Anyone who has ever wondered "Do the Muslims condemn terrorism by fanatics claiming to act in the name of Islam?" has gotten an answer. The Muslim world has spoken pretty loudly on this one, and for a change, some of the western press has actually noticed.
So here are just a few pointers I've noticed.  Please send me more I should add; my e-mail is edward@ordman.net

It was startling to me to see a Jewish website headline the fact that even Hamas had denounced the attack on  Charlie Hebdo,
and pointing out  that the lives of some  shoppers in the Jewish supermarket were saved when a Muslim man,
Lassana Bathily, hid them in a store refrigerator

The first Paris policeman on the scene, who was shot and killed by the terrorists, was Muslim. Here is a statement from his brother.

It is hard to imagine an event in which the Israeli Prime Minister and the Palestinian President could stand together:
http://www.thelocal.fr/20150111/defiant-french-rise-up-against-extremism   (But see below)

A friend sent me a pointer to this collection of editorial cartoons, in a French news site.

And here are cartoons on the subject from the Arab press-

Jan 15 Re Netanyahu in Paris -
      It is now suggested, convincingly, that the French government did not want the Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the memorial event, fearing it would become political. And Netanyahu apparently made it so, at least in part, by so strongly urging French Jews to move to Israel.  Two takes on this (I prefer the first) in the New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/16/opinion/netanyahu-sells-french-jews-short.html

      The countries with the largest Jewish populations are the United States, Israel, and France. France, in recent decades, has been unusually welcoming to minorities, including Muslims and Jews. After the events of the decades including the Second World War, it is very improbable for any Jew to argue against the need for a nation that promises to admit any Jew who needs someplace to go, one of the earlier reasons for wanting a "Jewish State" (which has now come to have an unfortunate different meaning.)  It is natural for Israel to want Jewish immigration.  It does not follow that there is any reason to encourage Jewish emigration from the United States, France, or the numerous other countries that have in fact welcomed Jews and where the Jews have been happy to be loyal and patriotic citizens who simply are members of a minority religion. 
      Eunice and I in 1990 had a very interesting discussion in the one synagogue then surviving in Kiev (Ukraine), a city that had had hundreds of synagogues earlier in the century and three after World War Two.  We spoke with a couple wondering if the increase in anti-Semitism and the economic collapse then in progress (the late Soviet hyper-inflation) would cause all their friends to leave - they wanted to stay, but felt that if all their friends left they would in effect be forced to chose between Israel or trying to get admission to the United States. One son had already moved to the United States. They hated to see Jewish life in Kiev ending.

On Netanyahu's bodyguard being disrespectful of the French President's bodyguard (in French)

A New Yorker piece on the style of satire in Charlie  (far more extreme than almost anything in the US)

Pope Francis:  While the writing at Charlie Hebdo no way excuses the terrorist attack there, the Pope says that you may not make fun of the faith of others. (Informal remarks at an interfaith meeting in Columbo).

The "American Center for Outreach" is a Muslim-sponsored organization in Nashville (it often has events in Memphis) to connect Muslims with the Tennessee and US political process. Its executive director Paul Galloway, has a nice pro-first-amendment piece in The Tennessean.

The Muslim employee who saved Jews in the Paris kosher supermarket is being given French citizenship.
I might note here that it is never surprising to see Muslim shoppers in a kosher store or kosher section of a store.  Kosher meat is also Halal (allowed by Muslim law and it is not uncommon in Memphis to see Muslims checking a product for a "kosher" label  (such as the "O-U", a small U with a circle around it).  In the Qur'an it says "what the Jews may eat, you may also eat."  The detailed rules are a bit different. As a Muslim friend said to me: "We get to have shellfish, you get to have alcohol."

The Interfaith Youth Core an interfaith young people's group started by Eboo Patel and with substantial Muslim participation, has a web page on the subject at

Jan 18. Minor edits above.  Also,

People may be interested in the Islamic Society of North America's statement on terrorism and religious extremism, at

January 24.  Eulogy for one of the artists at http://tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/books/188400/elsa-cayat-eulogy

Feb 9:
Obviously, the trauma facing the Jewish Community in France following the events related to the "Charlie Hebdo" attack are in many ways mild compared toi the traumas of Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and so on. But I thought people might be interested in some of the ways responses in France are being organized. There is an interesting report circulated through the Memphis Jewish Community Center, on line at https://files.ctctcdn.com/7c3c2e9b001/871c0511-e5df-4fa1-990e-054b5e973e99.pdf