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January 9, 2015 1:49 pm

Can Charlie Hebdo’s Spirit Include Israel?

avatar by Noah Beck

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Grieving Parisians gathered to mourn the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. Photo: Screenshot, Vice News.

The Islamist massacre at Charlie Hebdo has understandably captured global attention because it was a barbaric attack on France and freedom of expression. In a moment of defiant moral clarity, “je suis Charlie” emerged as a popular phrase of solidarity with the victims. Hopefully such clarity persists and extends to those facing similar challenges every day in the Middle East.

Christians and other religious minorities have been beheaded by Islamists for years, but it wasn’t until US journalist James Foley was beheaded that the West cared. The Islamic State raped and slaughtered thousands of Yazidis — leaving the surviving refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar — before the West took notice. But one Islamist besieging a cafe in Sydney, killing two, dominated global coverage for the entire 16-hour incident.

Western leaders and media must realize that religious minorities in the Middle East are the canary in the coalmine for the West when it comes to Islamist threats. And Israel provides the clearest early warning of all, precisely because — despite Israel’s location in a region of Islamists and dictatorships — the Jewish state has free elections, freedom of speech, a vigorous political opposition and independent press, equal rights and protections for minorities and women (who are represented in all parts of civil, legal, political, artistic, and economic life), and a prosperous free market economy.

But had Palestinian gunmen similarly attacked Israel’s most important daily newspaper and then escaped, would the event inspire such constant coverage or international sympathy? Israel has suffered countless massacres followed by a suspenseful manhunt for the Islamist terrorists; in each of these incidents, the world hardly noticed until Israel forcefully responded and Palestinians died (prompting global condemnation of Israel).

However, when there is an attack in Europe, North America, or Australia, there is widespread grief, solidarity, and an acceptance of whatever policy reaction is chosen. But when Israel is targeted, there is almost always a call for “restraint,” as happened last November after fatal stabbings by Palestinian terrorists in Tel Aviv and the West Bank.

If two Palestinians entered a European or North American church and attacked worshipers with meat cleavers, killing five people, including priests, the outrage would be palpable in every politician and journalist’s voice. But when Israelis were victims of such an attack, Obama’s reaction was spineless and tone deaf. Did Obama condemn the Charlie Hebdo massacre by noting how many Muslims have died at the hands of French military forces operating in Africa and the Middle East? Of course not. Such moral equivocation would be unthinkable with any ally or Western country except Israel.

Similarly, would Secretary of State John Kerry ever suggest that the Islamic State is somehow motivated by French policies (whether banning Muslim headscarves at public schools or fighting Islamists in Mali)? Obviously not. Yet Kerry did just that sort of thing with Israel when he suggested that the Islamic State is driven by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And the media’s anti-Israel bias is well known but became even more obvious when they couldn’t get a simple story about vehicular terrorism against Israelis correct. Compare how The Guardian writes accurate headlines when France or Canada suffers an Islamist car attack but not when Israel does.

Consider all of the justifiable news coverage and outrage over the 2013 Boston bombings, and imagine if one of those happened every week. Would anyone dare suggest that the US make peace with any Islamists demanding changes to US policy? And yet Israel had such bomb attacks almost every week of 2002 and was invariably asked to restrain itself and make concessions to the very people bombing them (as happened again last summer, when Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel).

As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has ruefully observed, “There is a standard for dictatorships, there is a standard for democracies, and there is still a third standard for the democracy called Israel.”

Even when compared to Western democracies, what other country gives incredibly forgiving medical care to terrorists and agrees to treat the children of those working to destroy it? Israel is where a Hamas family member finds refuge when he is a gay convert to Christianity but this is yet another inconvenient fact for the mainstream media (as is the fact that some Israeli Arabs supported the IDF’s 2014 war against Hamas). Why report what contradicts the one-sided, anti-Israel narrative that the media and groups like Human Rights Watch have adopted? That narrative is only reinforced on college campuses (leftist college history professors openly supported Hamas last summer). Nevertheless, US funding of anti-Israel groups continues to aggravate the misinformation problem.

Israel is still the country that everyone loves to hate. So it’s the cheap way to please Muslim voters in Europe and oil producers in the Gulf. But what happens to Israel eventually comes to the West, because Israel is an extension of the West. And just as surrendering Czechoslovakia failed to appease the expansionist appetite and murderous rampage of Nazi totalitarianism, so too will feeding Israel to Islamist totalitarianism fail to appease that movement. In the end, there is no set of concessions — short of civilizational surrender — that the Islamists will accept.

Nevertheless, an EU court decided to remove Hamas from the European Union’s terror list, even though Hamas is responsible for scores of terrorist attacks that have murdered hundreds of Israelis, North Americans, and Europeans, and has a charter calling for the destruction of Israel. And Western European countries have voted for Palestinian statehood at the UN and in their parliaments, effectively rewarding Palestinian terrorism and intransigence. Europe supports the Palestinian Authority as if Hamas couldn’t overthrow it in the West Bank as easily as Hamas did in Gaza Strip in 2007. How can Europe not know that Hamas has designs on the West Bank and that any Israeli withdrawal from that territory will only facilitate such a takeover? And how can Europe believe that Israel could ever make peace with Hamas, which has launched three unprovoked wars on Israel in the last five years (in the decade since Israel withdrew from Gaza)?

Moreover, if lofty concerns about self-determination and human rights are the true motivation behind Europe’s vocal support for Palestinian independence (despite its undemocratic and violent record), why is Europe deafeningly quiet on Kurdish statehood? Given that six million Jews were annihilated by a genocide on European soil, Europe’s hypocrisy on Israel should embarrass the continent even more.

Worse still, Europe’s gestures of appeasement only encourage the Islamists. The best response to the Charlie Hebdo attack is to redouble the free expression Islamists meant to stifle. Similarly, the best response to Islamist attacks on the only Mideast democracy, Israel, is to increase support for it.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

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  • To say, like Secretary of State John Kerry, that the IS mesactions are driven by the “Palestine-Israeli” conflict, is the worst anti-semitic and anti-sionist statement possible. Such an idea is often heard in Europa, and it just witness the existence of a strong anti-semite feeling which still exist in Europa. Groups like Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, … exploit very well that anti-semitism in their propaganda. I still don’t know if there are more anti-semite people among Christians than among Muslims. Those people, who should honor the people of the Book, cannot accept the origin of their religion. It is a mix of jealousy, needs of scapegoats, and lies, with lies, and lies, and lies again. It is just frightening that officials in the US can repeat such nonsense, which confuse the criminals and the victims.

  • Steven Geller

    It is blasphmy, ahem, among the most civilized leaders and societies to suggest or believe radical measures are required to defeat radical groups and/or states. Better to just live more prosperously and maintain some form of democracy, radicalism will extinguish itself. Unfortunately, radicalism does not just implode and then die out, but requires radical measures that make liberals and the politically correct crowd squeamish. Case in point, the defeat of Japan by the United States in WWII. Unwilling to acknowledge the obvious, and willing to sacrifice its citizens, the ultra-nationalists ruling Japan rejected unconditional surrender and were willing to soldier on. The U.S. had estimated about 1 million American casualties if it had to invade Japan. Instead it used a never before weapon that could be labeled cruel and inhumane. Only after seeing the devastation of an atomic bomb did more moderate Japanese politicians and the emperor himself intervene and accept unconditional surrender. The bomb was a radical solution at the time, and used appropriately to defeat a radical enemy. The same situation now exits, particularly in France or any other country with large Muslim minorities. The radical cells must be liquidated by the use of any means available. And that means the death of all members. Until they are all killed in France, its citizens will be at risk.
    A radical solution to a radical problem.

  • Joseph Hammond

    You get tremendous coverage here in the US while the Palestinians are not given a voice on the corporate controlled media. I guess this may be because you are the US’s biggest welfare recipient from the Foreign Aid program even though you are a modern economy. Unfortunately, the young college educated are turning away from Israel due to the slaughter perpetrated with US weapons against the Gaza Ghetto which you control economically. So sometimes even a country that has blindly let you spy on them while turning its head away to pretend it does not happen and that protects you from the wraith of the world for the illegal occupation and colonization of the West Bank can begin to see the truth which is both sides are guilty of unnecessary violence. Only we US taxpayers pay for your tirades…..

  • gerald cohen

    I would like to reprint this article and send this information to the media,and government officials

    this is the exact sentiment that I have felt, O,bama is playing a game that he would ultimately lose.

  • Mark Z

    You are certainly correct in your views. I can only hope that France will remain strong and see that Israel like France a free and democratic nation.

    Islamic Imperialism is a longstanding threat to the West Islam whose Prophet committed many atrocities and ethnic cleansing and near obliteration of other religions and cultures has used deceit, war and barbaric war crimes to spread from the time of Mohammed when he slaughtered the Jewish tribe of Banu Qura Yzah . He went on to conquer through deceit and war crimes all of the Arabian peninsula. Conquests by Muslims after Mohamed’s death have continued for over a thousand years of Islamic conquests resulting in the creation of a religious and political empire more than 10 times greater than the Greek Empire in its heyday and 7 times larger than the U.S.. Islam today stretches over vast areas and uses the similar tactics of deceit and barbaric war and the subjugation of all other cultures and belief systems. It controls the lives and minds of hundreds of millions of women and men. The literalist, orthodox Muslims base all their actions today on the Koran which calls for the destruction of Christianity and Judaism. What happened in Paris today is unfortunately in accord with the Koran and the Suras.

  • Roz Shorenstein

    Superbly reasoned article. I wish everyone would read this and act accordingly.



  • Yale

    The reason journalists, Western intellectuals and diplomats, and in general the whole non-Muslim world, cannot abandon their hostility toward Israel is that doing so would require them to admit that they had thoroughly misunderstood the nature of the conflict.

    Since the people in these categories invariably consider themselves smarter, wiser, and better informed than those of us who have understood from the beginning that the problem is coming from the Muslim side, changing their position requires them to admit that we were right and they were wrong. Changing their positions is hard enough, but for a self-styled intellectual, changing their mind is nearly impossible.

  • EthanP

    Don’t count on it. This attack struck a nerve because the victims were left/liberal journalists. Just like the vast majority of those reporting it. Once the main victims are just Jews again, they’ll stop caring, again!

  • charlie johnson

    The golfing parrot is concerned about a cure for ebola. A far worse disease is spreading much faster.We need to send some folks to inject these ill people with a 5.56 NATO projectile.