Sunday Reads: Charlie and the Jews of France

January 11, 2015


Paul Pillar takes a look at the symmetry between the two side of the US-Iran negotiations:

Notwithstanding the obvious asymmetries in soon-to-resume nuclear negotiations with Iran (it's Iran's nuclear program, not the U.S. one, that is being restricted; it's the United States, not Iran, that is sanctioning someone else's economy) the perceptual and political similarities that Americans and Iranians have brought to this encounter are striking to anyone who has been following the subject closely.

Jonathan Tobin criticizes President Obama’s omission of any reference to anti-Semitism in his reaction to the Paris Market attack:

Not mentioning anti-Semitism when Islamist killers specifically seek out Jews to slaughter — as if anyone could possibly believe a terrorist assault on a kosher market in Paris could be mere happenstance — is more than insensitive. It is a sign that this administration does not take the many attacks on French and European Jews seriously. It is also a message to the Muslim world that the United States does not take the issue of anti-Semitic violence seriously. To his credit, French President Francois Hollande did specifically condemn the attack as an act of anti-Semitism, a statement President Obama should have echoed.


Yediot Ahronot commentator Nahum Barnea reports from Paris and gives an Israeli perspective on the days after the attacks:

In Israel, the scene of every terror attack is cleaned within an hour. The speed is part the Israelis' way of coping, their refusal to sink into their grief.

In France there is no rush. The stores in the buildings are closed, the cars in the parking lot are standing still, and roses wrapped in cellophane are piling up on the opposite pavement. Men and women approach the pile with great intentions and place a rose on it. It's extremely beautiful, very sad and desperate.

Yair Rosenberg writes about Israel’s new high-profile Bible-study initiative:

As Israel’s election season kicks into high gear, it’s pretty much impossible to find any of the country’s leaders on the same page politically. But on a new Israeli website called 929, you’ll find everyone from settler leader Naftali Bennett to far-left Meretz party head Zehava Gal-On on the same homepage. Their subject: the Bible.

Middle East

Brandeis professor Jytte Klausen discusses the Charlie Hebdo attacks as a possible strategic move by al-Qaeda:

It is not necessarily contradictory to say that the attackers were from AQAP and that they had picked up their skills in Syria, where most fighters are presumed to be allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) or smaller al Qaeda–affiliated groups. The Yemen-based AQAP is known to have sent fighters to Syria. And al Qaeda, facing competitive pressure from ISIS, was surely desperate for a victory. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the killings in France could be an attempt to remind the world that al Qaeda is still relevant.

Shlomi Eldar writes about the curious ousting of Hamas’ leadership from Qatar:

The honeymoon is over. Having lost the protection and pampering of the emir of Qatar, political bureau head Khaled Meshaal and other senior Hamas members are now hunting for a new home. Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani grew weary of them, even though he seemed for many months to be following in the footsteps of his father Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and was poised to take Hamas under his wing. After clearly careful consideration, the emir resolved to reconcile with Egypt and its leader, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. In keeping with the demand of his new ally, he sacrificed his former allies Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Overnight, Meshaal became the first casualty of the new relationship between the largest state in the Arab world and the rich and influential Gulf emirate.

Jewish World

French PM Manuelle Valls talks to Jeffrey Goldberg about what the recent string of anti-Semitic attacks mean to France as a whole:  

Valls, a Socialist who is the son of Spanish immigrants, describes the threat of a Jewish exodus from France this way: “If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”

Phillip Gourevitch examines Marine La Pen’s big moment:

As Hollande spoke on Friday, at the start of the Jewish Sabbath, the Grand Synagogue of Paris stood closed, for security reasons, for the first time since the Second World War. That was a spectacular victory for the terrorists. Whatever else they intended to accomplish, their most immediate targets were the press and the Jews. The attack on the press shocked the conscience of France and of the world. The attack on the Jews, not so much. President Hollande said, “We will emerge from this stronger than ever.” The shuttered temple told another story. Meawhile, Jean-Marie Le Pen took to Twitter to exercise his wit. Over a picture of Marine, looking as Presidential as the next guy, he offered a slogan in English, a language he does not normally traffic in: “Keep Calm and Vote Le Pen.”

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.