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January 14, 2015 1

A French Jew Mourns a French Muslim Policeman

A guest blog by Eve Gani, Direc­tor of Inter­na­tional Affairs, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil of French Jew­ish Insti­tu­tions (CRIF), ADL’s part­ner in France.

On Jan­u­ary 11, mil­lions of French cit­i­zens demon­strated in a his­toric moment of unity in defense of our demo­c­ra­tic free­doms.  On Jan­u­ary 13, we exer­cised one of those free­doms – free­dom of reli­gion – to bury 17 ter­ror vic­tims accord­ing to their respec­tive fam­i­lies’ reli­gious tra­di­tions, or absence of reli­gious tra­di­tion: Catholic, Jew­ish, Mus­lim, atheist.

My col­leagues at CRIF attended the Jew­ish funeral in Jerusalem and sec­u­lar funer­als in Paris.  I chose to attend the funeral of Ahmed Mer­abet, the Mus­lim police­man killed out­side the Char­lie Hebdo office.

I went with a Mus­lim friend, also a police­man.  I had met this friend a few months ago at a gala din­ner to sup­port the work of Lat­ifa Ibn Ziaten, the mother of a Mus­lim sol­dier killed by Mohammed Merah, the ter­ror­ist who also mur­dered three chil­dren and a rabbi at a Jew­ish school in Toulouse. We came from two very dif­fer­ent parts of French soci­ety, but both wanted to sup­port Lat­ifa Ibn Ziaten’s work with at-risk youth.

Imme­di­ately after the Char­lie Hebdo attack, my friend called to alert me and urge us to be care­ful.  As he told me about the attack, his voice con­veyed how ner­vous he was.  A police­man had been shot dead in the street, and he wor­ried about his children’s future should the same hap­pen to him. Recall­ing that con­ver­sa­tion and the fact that a police­woman had also been shot in the interim, I knew I wanted to go with him to Ahmed Merabat’s funeral.

Funeral Procession of Ahmed Merabat

Funeral Pro­ces­sion of Ahmed Merabat

It was the first Mus­lim bur­ial I had ever attended. Dur­ing the prayers, I thought of the Mus­lim friends I have had through years, start­ing in high school. Some of them, like my Jew­ish friends, had left France. For Tunisia, Lon­don and Bal­ti­more. They all wanted to build a bet­ter life, one safe from vio­lence and all forms of hatred and bigotry.

At the bur­ial, I saw Mus­lim col­leagues of Ahmed proudly wear­ing their French Police uni­forms, lay lead­ers from Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties, a priest, and a rabbi.  The prayer leader thanked the Jews for attend­ing and urged every­one to demon­strate their sol­i­dar­ity with the Jew­ish vic­tims at an event in front of the kosher super­mar­ket that was attacked.

Rec­tor Dalil Boubakeur and oth­ers from the Grand Mosque of Paris were at the funeral, and we recalled a dif­fer­ent meet­ing, not unre­lated to the Char­lie Hebdo ter­ror attack.  Three years ago, CRIF and the Grand Mosque of Paris had orga­nized an inter­faith dis­cus­sion on the topic of blas­phemy and the laws of the Repub­lic.  We under­scored our com­mon reli­gious val­ues and our com­mon com­mit­ment to the rule of law, all of which the jihadists oppose.

Trag­i­cally, Char­lie Hebdo was tar­geted because a jihadist inter­pre­ta­tion of reli­gion, incom­pat­i­ble with ours. And Ahmed, whose job was to enforce the law of the Repub­lic, was killed on the way.

I watched as Ahmed’s cof­fin was borne by my friend.  My friend who fears to be next.

To my friend,

A French Mus­lim policeman,

May your chil­dren grow up in peace, with their father, in a France, respect­ful of and safe for all.

 

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January 13, 2015 1

Arab Cartoonists Reflect on the Charlie Hebdo Attack

In a show of sol­i­dar­ity with their col­leagues, Arab car­toon­ists in news­pa­pers across the Mid­dle East con­demned the ter­ror­ist attack on the French mag­a­zine, Char­lie Hebdo, which left 12 jour­nal­ists and car­toon­ists dead.

Almost all edi­to­r­ial car­toon­ists addressed the attack through their car­i­ca­tures.  Among the themes was the out­cry over the cross­ing of lim­its; the con­dem­na­tion of extreme Islam and the feel­ing that mod­er­ate Islam has also been unjustly attacked.

And just as the attack was referred to in some west­ern media out­lets as “France’s 9/11″, so did some Arab car­toon­ists use two pen­cils in place of the World Trade Center.

Some car­toon­ists also politi­cized the tragedy and used the meme from last week’s attack as another oppor­tu­nity to crit­i­cize Israel.  For exam­ple, a car­toon in the Pales­tin­ian Al-Ayyam, depicted an Israeli sol­dier aim­ing a rifle at two Pales­tini­ans in front of an olive tree hold­ing a sign on which is writ­ten “Je Suis Char­lie” (“I am Char­lie”) – imply­ing that Pales­tini­ans are tar­geted in the same way the Char­lie Hebdo staff were.

 

 

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January 13, 2015 1

Israelis Gather to Bury Victims of Terror in France, Killed Because They Were Jews

(ADL Israel Staff attended the funer­als of the four French Jews ear­lier today in Jerusalem. Below is a per­sonal account from Phyl­lis Ger­ably and Car­ole Nuriel of ADL’s Israel Office)

Today, mak­ing the way to the Har HaMenu­chot (Mount of the Rest­ing) ceme­tery, there were flags and signs put up by the Jerusalem Munic­i­pal­ity embrac­ing the French. The Israel National Police and secu­rity were in place in prepa­ra­tion of the expected large crowds, and the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu, Pres­i­dent Reuven Rivlin, Oppo­si­tion head Isaac Her­zog, rab­bis, min­is­ters, ambas­sadors and the French Min­is­ter of Envi­ron­ment Ségolène Royal, rep­re­sent­ing the French government.

An impres­sive crowd of thou­sands came out on a cold sunny day to pay final respects to four peo­ple they never met, who were trag­i­cally killed sim­ply because they were Jew­ish. The crowd brought together, in a feel­ing of com­mon des­tiny, fam­ily, friends, mem­bers of the French com­mu­nity in Israel and native Israelis. At the entrance to the ceme­tery a small crowd of French Jews held signs say­ing, “I am Char­lie; I am a Jew; I am an Israeli; I am French; We’ve had Enough.”  ADL Condolence France

In his mov­ing eulogy for the four vic­tims, Pres­i­dent Rivlin put it elo­quently: “This is not how we wanted to wel­come you to Israel. This is not how we wanted you to arrive in the Land of Israel, this is not how we wanted to see you come home, to the State of Israel, and to Jerusalem, its cap­i­tal. We wanted you alive, we wanted for you, life.”

Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu spoke about Israel being the safe haven for the Jew­ish peo­ple, and that the threat against the Jew­ish peo­ple is, in fact, a threat against all of human­ity. Oppo­si­tion Head Yitzhak Her­zog spoke of his great-grandfather who was the rabbi of Paris one hun­dred years ago, and rec­og­nized the roots and strength of the Jew­ish com­mu­nity in France.

The vic­tims’ fam­i­lies each spoke about their loved ones and how they yearned to be in Israel. Their dig­nity and love for Israel was very mov­ing. Look­ing out at the crowd of mourn­ers — Ashke­nazi and Sephardic Jews joined in sor­row by this hor­rific act — was a quiet reminder to all of us that we are respon­si­ble for one another, no mat­ter where we are.

French Min­is­ter of Envi­ron­men­tRoyal spoke about threats to Jews being a threat to all the French peo­ple, and that France with­out its Jew­ish com­mu­nity just isn’t France.  Min­is­ter Royal also said that com­bat­ing anti-Semitism and racism is going to be the num­ber one pri­or­ity for France in 2015. When she announced that the four mur­dered Jews were going to receive the French Legion of Hon­our medal, a few in the crowd broke out in applause.

It was very hard to avoid the feel­ing that this mes­sage was too lit­tle, too late.

The funeral ended with the singing of Israel’s national anthem, HaTikva, of which the words “We did not lose our hope” (“Od lo avda Tik­vateinu”) had, this time, the addi­tional mean­ing that while a tragic event had occurred, Israelis have hope for a bet­ter future for all.

 

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