“Je Suis Charlie”? What Took You So Long? – Friday, January 9, 2015

1 Comment

My colleague says it beautifully

Rabbi Audrey Korotkin

I am writing these words as Shabbat approaches, two days after the horrific slaughter in Paris, in which Islamic terrorists murdered twelve people, including the entire editorial staff of the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo,” purportedly for insulting the prophet Mohammed and therefore the entirety of the Muslim world. The killers are still on the loose, and now another armed gunman associated with them has taken hostages at a kosher grocery store in eastern Paris, on a Friday morning when he clearly knew the market would be crowded with pre-Shabbat shoppers.

As the two terrorist brothers – at least one of them well known to French security forces as a jihad recruiter – remain at large, the French nation has been joined by others across the globe in protest of this cold, calculated, well-planned mass murder. “Je Suis Charlie,” posters and t-shirts and social-networking sites proclaim, “I Am Charlie.” Condemnation for…

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One thought on ““Je Suis Charlie”? What Took You So Long? – Friday, January 9, 2015

  1. Dear Doug

    Having read Ms. Korotkins piece I find that I am very much at odds with her view of things. At the risk of offending, I offer the following opinions.

    Ms Korotkin wishes to “silence hate speech that incites violence”. While I may sympathize with her desire to muzzle certain individuals I believe that she is likely to encounter a range of unintended consequences

    1. By imprisoning individuals who may not pose a serious threat we very likely harden their resolve and push them over the edge into actual violence while simultaneously creating “martyrs” who will inspire other violent individuals. Here I offer a concrete example from today’s New York Times.

    The French have sentenced a 28 year old Tunisian man to six months imprisonment for making the following statement: “They killed Charlie and I had a good laugh. In the past they killed Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Mohammed Merah and many brothers. If I didn’t have a father or mother I would train in Syria”. Based on his age (old for a fighter) and his casual inclusion of Saddam Hussein in the same sentence with Bin Laden he is almost certainly a harmless blowhard, not a serious threat to anyone. Will he still be so harmless after six months in prison?

    Blowing up apartment buildings and schools in Gaza creates innumerable recruits for Hamas. Locking up people like this will likely have a similar effect.

    2. “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer”. By forcing these individuals into hiding we make the task of police surveillance vastly more difficult. Surely this is why the Egyptian government has often accorded legal status to the Muslim Brotherhood – the better to keep an eye on them.

    3. Any curtailment of free speech is a dangerous precedent which may subsequently lead to much greater infringement of civil liberties. It is ironic that Ms. Korotkin wishes to protect our “democratic society” by restricting speech.

    Fundamentalist violence is a symptom of a dysfunctional society. Instead of acting reflexively, surely it is better to address the root causes; poverty, ignorance and yes (U.S. and Israeli beligerance). Blaming the problem on some perceived inferiority of Islamic culture is not productive and smacks strongly of bigotry. If I were a Muslim I would be offended by Ms. Korotkin’s remarks.

    And finally, is the Nazi era reference really appropriate? Muslims represent approximately 7% of the French population. They can hardly be described as holding the levers of power. Are we really to imagine that the rest of France is going to line up behind this weak minority and help push the Jews into camps? That sounds very unlikely to me. Surely it is important to be very cautious when invoking the memory of the holocaust.

    No doubt you will disagree with these opinions. If you wish, please feel free to set me straight. I will strive to read your comments with an open mind.


    Paul Rosenfeld

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