Je ne suis pas Charlie. Je suis Yoav.
Who is Yoav? Yoav Hattab is one of the four French Jews murdered by terrorists at at the Hyper Cache market in Paris on Friday January 9, 2015. Mr. Hattab Z"L was not the first French Jewish victim of terrorism in France. Unfortunately, there have been a number of incidents including a 2012 attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse in which 4 people were killed, including three children. If the only terrorist incident on Friday had been the attack on the Kosher supermarket, the item would probably not have garnered anywhere near the press coverage that this series of attacks has attracted.
With the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo, the condemnations of Jihadist terrorism were near universal. I have heard very few suggestions that we should investigate "root causes" or "deal with the underlying problem." Of course, there will be some who will say that the press should not publish images of the prophet Mohammad or that the press should always take care to ensure that nothing printed offends Muslim sensibilities in any way. There are those who were not too concerned about the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. But, fortunately, these voices are in the small minority. Far more commentators and political leaders have spoken in favour of free speech and freedom of expression.
But with respect to the murderous attack on Hyper Cache, some of the responses tell a very different story. For example, as reported by YNet News, BBC Reporter Tim Wilcox compared the hostage taking at the supermarket to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Really Tim? Seriously? He later issued a mild apology. CNN minimized its initial reports of the fact that a Jewish establishment was targeted. Even so, it became apparent that the terrorist had clearly stated that his intention was to kill Jews.
When terrorist attacks on Jewish civilians occur, many quickly try to take a "balanced" approach and "condemn all forms of terrorism" in their response or speak about root causes. But what are the root causes of the murder of a group of Jews? How is it any less outrageous than Charlie Hebdo to see an attack in which Jewish worshipers are murdered while at prayer in a synagogue, because they are Jews? Just because it takes place in Israel? Or an attack on Jewish shoppers in a Kosher supermarket? Atlantic magazine correspondent sent out this spot-on tweet on Friday: "Selling kosher food is a provocative and vulgar act, sure to arouse the hostility of aggrieved extremists."
There is no way to link Israel's issues with the Palestinians to the murder of Jewish civilians, other than for the sickest of minds. And by the way, Turkish Recep Erdogan does qualify in this category. He apparently attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for attending the French protests on Saturday and tried to draw a parallel between the Paris attacks and the Israeli war with Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Even Hamas apparently issued a mild condemnation of the attack on Charlie Hebdo but was eerily silent, if not supportive of the murder of some Jewish Parisians.
When news of the attack at Hyper Cache emerged, French leader Francois Hollande initially called the attack "an appalling anti-Semitic attack." Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called these French attacks "barbaric." But when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated his attention to attend the French rally, Hollande told him not to show up. Defiantly, Prime Minister Netanyahu eventually decided to come anyways, leading Hollande to invite Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to provide some "balance." God forbid Hollande should politicize this situation. After all, even though he can bring himself to say that this was an appalling anti-Semitic attack, he would not want to be seen suggesting that there is any comparison between this attack and the murder of Jewish worshipers in a Jerusalem Synagogue. Or the countless other terrorist attacks that Israel faces on its civilians. Or attacks on Jews in other parts of the world.
It is about time that France and other countries, worldwide, show the same type of indignation and determination with respect to attacks on Jews that they have shown with respect to Charlie Hebdo. Terrorism must be universally condemned, whether it is an attack on the Twin Towers, an attack on Charlie Hebdo or an attack on a group of Jews, wherever in the world they might be. They should recognize what the leaders of Israel have, unfortunately, understood for far too long. That terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS, ISIL, Al Qaeda, Hamas the PLO and other terrorist organizations are all in the some category. All of it should be condemned vociferously.
There is nothing wrong with a button that says "Je Suis Charlie." But an equal number of people ought to be wearing buttons that say "Je suis Yoav." An attack on Jews because they are Jews is as egregious as an attack on free speech. Or as an attack on any other fundamental aspect of a civil society.