Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Yet more thoughts on the attack...

... and then there are the politics of the 7 January, 2015 murders of cartoonists...

Charlie Hebdo ~ Rememberances

There are two parts to this that caught my attention.  First, Netanyahu came when he was very specifically and clearly invited to stay way.  Second, the US failed to show strong support for France during the Sunday rally and march.

I hate to wade into the political arena, but I have some rather strong feelings about how this played out.  So, up onto the soapbox I go.
[Soapbox ON]-------------------

Why did Israel come when the French asked them to stay away?

"President Francois Hollande had wanted to "focus on solidarity with France, and to avoid anything liable to divert attention to other controversial issues, like Jewish-Muslim relations or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the liberal Haaretz newspaper reported..."

Why did Netanyahu barge his way to the front of the line when France had placed him two rows back?  This wasn't a political rally, now was it?  Where was Israel's respect for anyone but itself?

In the face of this level of arrogance I feel the French politicians showed a lot of restraint in public.

"President Francois Hollande linked arms with world leaders, including the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president, in an historic display of unity..."

It's interesting to watch the tit for tat that goes on at that level of politics.  The French had their say later in the day.  This took place out of direct public view.

"Haaretz said that the prime minister's actions had infuriated the French president, who had demonstrated his "anger" at a ceremony at Paris's main synagogue to commemorate four Jews who were among those killed.


"Hollande sat through most of the ceremony, but when Netanyahu's turn at the podium arrived, the French president got up from his seat and made an early exit."..."
It was noted in the local press that the French president wasn't the only one to get up and walk out early.  Leaders of the French Jewish community also got up and left.  They seemed to be saying that they did not support M. Netanyahu any more than the secular republican French politicians do.
I can't help but feel that Israel was completely out of line.  These terrible events happened on French soil, not Israel.  This is a secular republic French issue, not an AIPAC supported, US taxpayer money fueled Israeli issue.  Yet Netanyahu got the camel's nose into the tent and pushed his way through the proceedings.

... and where was the US in all of this?  Nowhere.  Missing in action.  Gone.  Failed to show.  That's where.

"The most conspicuous absence at Sunday's enormous anti-terror march in Paris, which drew some 40 world leaders and more than a million French citizens, was any high-ranking official from the United States. 

President Obama did not join the likes of Fran├žois Hollande, David Cameron, Angela Merkel, Benjamin Netanyahu, or Mahmoud Abbas for what turned out to be a historic photo of solidarity. Nor did he send Vice President Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew (the nation's senior-most Jewish official), or anyone else more notable than the U.S. ambassador to France, Jane Hartley. Attorney General Eric Holder had been in Paris for meetings earlier in the day, but he did not attend the march..."

It seems fine that after the attacks of 9/11 that the world can say "We're American too!"  But when it's someone else who's in trouble or has taken the brunt of terror?  Phffffttt!

This smacks of yet more American "Freedom Fries."  Clueless indifference to what's really going on around the world.

There are stories circulating here in Europe about how the Obama administration urged the French to not publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that depicted Mohammed.  The same stories point out that this came on the heels of the Bush Administration providing a highly visible rallying point for radicalization by invading Iraq and torturing innocent people in Abu Ghaib.

I used to feel that the problem of American clueless-ness came only from the Republican party.  Afterall, isn't it the Democrats who project the image of wise statesmanship in defense of liberal ideals?  It saddens me to realize that the Democrats are really no better.  The hope that Obama would undo the wrongs of George W. Bush have been dashed years ago.

Which leads me back to something I feel needs to be talked about.  Religion.

Listening to the French political leaders has me believing they are walking a fine line between the secular and the religious.  Their words seem to strike the right notes.  They talk about this being a problem of terror and not with Muslims.

Charlie Hebdo ~ Rememberances

On the other hand, I've been disgusted by some of the American response.  In particular, I have been appalled by something published by that great American liberal bastion, the New Yorker Magazine.

"...A religion is not just a set of texts but the living beliefs and practices of its adherents. Islam today includes a substantial minority of believers who countenance, if they don’t actually carry out, a degree of violence in the application of their convictions that is currently unique..."
How quickly some people forget that the attack in Oklahoma was carried out by a christian terrorist.  How quickly some people forget that jewish terrorists are, even now, killing Palestinians in the Middle East.  How quickly some people forget that there is enough ideologically fueled violence coming from all forms of faith and religion.

Why don't we don't talk about dealing with radicalized christians nor jews in the manner suggested by the article to deal with radicalized muslims?  Is it really "us vs them?"  Does Goerge Bush's call to Crusade still feel justified?
To me using religion as a framework to understand the murders of cartoonists, policemen, and French citizens does not help find a solution.  What would happen if we took religion out of the discussion?

What if we were to view the murders from a framework of law and social justice?   Wouldn't we very quickly arrive at an answer to how to treat these kinds of terrorists?  What happens if we reduce these people to nothing more than the criminals they are?  Wouldn't this go a long ways toward reducing the inflamed talk of jews, and muslims and christians, and who started what and when, and who will pay the price for this or that?

There is hope.  Just this morning on Telematin (France2) there was a discussion about how the French can avoid the trap of implementing their own version of America's "Patriot Act."  They noted what a disaster that's been for the US.  They talked about finding a way to strengthen protections for the people and society, while not reducing hard-won liberties.
Enough politics.  I've had my say.  I'm done for now.

--------------[Soapbox OFF]

There are a couple interesting articles about how France is once-again a nation and how people here in Paris marched peacefully and in solidarity around ideas and liberties.

After the tragic events of last week I've come to realize and remember a few things.  We're proud to live here.  We're happy to live amongst the French.  We hope the path they take forward from these terrible murders is very very French and borrows nothing from what America did after the events of 9/11.

Charlie Hebdo ~ Rememberances


  1. Well put! I like the way that Hollande took it in stride when Netanyahu barged in, but left when Netanyahu was to speak. Nice, respectful snub.

    Regarding France's reaction and avoiding their own "Patriot Act", the news so far is showing maybe not so much restraint:

    France to beef up its surveillance powers

    France cracks down on hate speech, sends carrier to Mideast

    Hopefully the politicians will be kept in check with the population so well united.

  2. Indeed, there is conversation about surveillance. It's always concerning to hear these things, particularly when attacks like these could have been avoided using present capabilities. Its the same here in France as it was in the US. The attackers were well known before the events.

    As for hate speech, I think in America any speech is allowed because of "free speech" rights. Alas, the concept doesn't apply in other countries.

    I see here in France the State is trying to contain hate speech -


    We'll see which ways all these initiatives head the culture and society.