Wednesday afternoon. The world is upside-down. In Israel, the talk is about the weather and in France, about a terrorist attack.
One of the murdered is Cabu, an extremely talented cartoonist who accompanied me throughout my childhood. I remember round glasses, a messy haircut and kind eyes. Now he’s dead. He and another 10 journalists. They were executed on charges of impudence. They dared to draw a caricature of the prophet Muhammad. Dared to laugh at him.
I open a news website in French. They’re interviewing an eyewitness to the massacre. They don’t show his face, lest those people who are allergic to impudence take revenge on him. Then I recall what happens over here when there’s a terrorist attack. How everyone runs to testify, to show their faces on the screen, to stand firmly in support of the journalist. France is tragic on Wednesday afternoon.
Afterward, they show a video filmed from one of the rooftops. You can see the two terrorists approaching a wounded police officer, lying on the road, who is apparently begging for his life. We’ll know later that the police officer’s name is Ahmed. Then Ahmed pleads with Saïd, or Chérif, begging that they have mercy on him: “How am I connected to cartoons of Muhammad? Besides, my name is Ahmed! Don’t kill me!” Boom! A bullet in his face. What an answer.
Then comes the liberating cry: We have come to avenge the prophet Muhammad!
At the television studios in France, great caution is being taken: “As you can hear, the two assailants (there are no terrorists in France, unless they’re part of the extreme right) shouted that they came to avenge the prophet.” Which prophet? Good thing you asked. They don’t say which prophet. No need. There’s just one prophet who is politically correct in the country that advocates complete secularization.
Throughout all of the reports, the phrase “radical Islam” is barely mentioned. They don’t want to call a spade a spade. They don’t want to call the enemy by its name. Even the victim gets a new name: they didn’t murder the man with the round glasses and kind eyes. They murdered freedom of speech!
And then it begins. Everyone starts shouting out loud: Je suis Charlie, I am Charlie. The same Charlie that fought against the entire world for the right to publish provocative caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. The same Charlie about which everyone, just two weeks ago, said: “Really, they’re exaggerating. Why are they provoking them?” The same Charlie that died, along with the 10 journalists who constituted the backbone of the number one satirical newspaper in France.
Then suddenly, everyone is Charlie. Oh, really? How willing are they to continue Charlie’s battle? How much did they actually understand what he was fighting for? How many truly want to protect freedom of speech? How many are willing to publish those same caricatures? None of them. Because they are all a-f-r-a-i-d. The bad guys won.
I look at all this and can’t believe it. I publish another post on Facebook, and another one. Until someone stops me, accusing me of being cold and uncompassionate. Why aren’t you sharing in our pain, before you tell us to define the enemy, to open our eyes widely? Show a little emotion! A little empathy!
So yes, I didn’t write that I cried over the man with the funny haircut, over his good heart, over my childhood, over Ahmed the poor police officer.
I didn’t write that because it’s not important. Because the victims don’t care about my tears. They don’t care about my empathy. They’re receiving the compassion in heaping helpings from all the people there, in France, who decided to disconnect their brains until their fear dissipates. Who don’t want to see the big picture.
So I’m angry at France. And at its journalists who fidget on their chairs to avoid talking about the elephant standing in the middle of the room.
I feel like telling them: I’m not Charlie, I’m Israel, and it’s not easy at all.
But then comes Friday. Here in Israel, they’re still talking about the weather, and in France – another terrorist attack. This time, Charlie and Israel are closer than ever before. The Hyper Cacher supermarket is the “Rami Levi” of the Jewish community in Paris. That’s where everyone meets. That’s where another one of those-people-who-we-can’t-call-by-name entered and went on a shooting spree.
I again open the news in French. The elephant in the middle of the room now has taken on the proportions of a dinosaur.
In my heart, I worry.
About my family, my friends, the community. How will they survive this after Gabriel, Aryeh and Jonathan Sandler, after Miriam Monsonego, after Ilan Halimi? The Sabbath begins too quickly. We won’t know what happened to the Jews who went grocery shopping to prepare for the Sabbath and found themselves in the heart of a battle which no one wants to call by its name.
Throughout the entire Sabbath, we’ll think about them. We’ll pray for them. For those people, our brothers so far away and so close to us. And we’ll be upset at all the others who haven’t yet decided to immigrate to Israel despite the danger in France. And we’ll also smile a little: as if here, all we talk about is the weather 365 days a year…
Then on Saturday night, we run to the mobile phone. Four names: Yohan, Michel, Philippe, Yoav. May God avenge their blood.
"December 31, 1997
Israeli Jew From Outlawed Group Is Convicted of Insulting Islam
By JOEL GREENBERG
JERUSALEM, Dec. 30— A Jewish militant who provoked rioting in Hebron and outrage in the Muslim world when she put up posters depicting the prophet Mohammed as a pig was convicted today of committing an act of racism and trying to offend religious feelings.
Standing in a white T-shirt as the verdict was pronounced at the Jerusalem District Court, Tatyana Suskin, 26, wept as the judge, Zvi Segal, read for more than an hour from his 63-page judgment.
A follower of the outlawed anti-Arab group Kach and an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, Miss Suskin was also found guilty of supporting a terrorist group and endangering life by stoning an Arab car.
She faces a maximum penalty of 26 years in prison, although sentencing was put off to a later date.
Miss Suskin was arrested in June after she plastered posters on storefronts in the Palestinian-ruled part of Hebron that depicted Mohammed as a pig stamping on a Koran."Comment