French Jews to commemorate one year since Hyper Cacher attack in Paris

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January 6, 2016 06:26

Two days after the 'Charlie Hebdo' massacre, Amedy Coulibaly entered the Hyper Cacher supermarket in the city, killing four men and provoking an extended standoff with police.

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Broken families gather with French president to remember supermarket shooting victims

Broken families gather with French president to remember supermarket shooting victims

Amid heavy security and rising tension, French Jews are gearing up to commemorate the first anniversary of a brutal shooting at a kosher grocery that left four dead.

Last January 9, two days after Islamist gunmen stormed the Paris office of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, killing 11 staffers, terrorist Amedy Coulibaly entered the Hyper Cacher supermarket in the city, killing four men and provoking an extended standoff with police.

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The Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), the umbrella body encompassing much of the organized French Jewish community, announced that on the evening of Saturday, one year to the day after the attack, it would hold a tribute in front of the store to memorialize “those who were killed by terrorism.”

CRIF executive director Robert Ejnes said the ceremony would also memorialize the “victims of the most recent attacks in Paris this past November, as well as those killed in Jerusalem, in the USA, in Great Britain, in Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Africa” and elsewhere.

“The ceremony organized by the CRIF on Saturday evening – one year exactly after the assassination of four French Jews, killed because they were Jewish, shopping for the preparation of Shabbat – will be a major event for the commemoration of January 2015 terrorist acts in Paris,” Ejnes told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “Many politicians, religious and civic leaders have confirmed their presence at the meeting. The families of the victims, the hostages and representatives of Charlie Hebdo will be present as well.”

On Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande unveiled a commemorative plaque at the market. It lists the names and ages of victims Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab and François-Michel Saada.

Ejnes told the Post that while statistics regarding the level of anti-Semitic violence in France have yet to be published, “we know that the number of anti-Semitic acts have been around the same number as the previous year.” He said the French government had reacted strongly by offering protection to “all” Jewish sites, as well as presenting a new national plan for combating anti-Semitism.

“The full effects have yet to be analyzed, but no doubt that the prime minister and the government have done the job,” he said.

The €100 million plan, announced last April, includes regular monitoring of racism and anti-Semitism in order to generate data, protect Jewish and Muslim houses of worship and communal institutions, and push back against discrimination.

Despite Ejnes’ optimism, some experts, including the late Dr. Robert Wistrich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Joel Rubinfeld of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, have said they did not believe that the initiative would yield significant returns.

“To fight a disease, you have to name causes, and generally in Western Europe most of the anti-Semitic attacks are from young Muslim people,” Rubinfeld told the Post after the plan was unveiled. He added that those seeking to mitigate anti-Semitic violence generally do not approach the root causes head on.

The Consistoire – the umbrella organization of religious congregations – has called upon French Jews to observe a special “Hyper Chabbat” (Shabbat) to honor of the victims of the attack, one of whom was the son of the chief rabbi of Tunis.

“Jews, we have the duty to always be hyper vigilant, hyper committed, hyper chabbat,” the group said in a statement.

Heavy security is planned for ceremonies honoring the 17 victims of the January 7-9 gunfire sprees in Paris, which proved to be a grim forerunner of the suicide bombings and shootings in the city 10 months later, in which 130 people died.

Charlie Hebdo plans a special edition.

It will have a cover cartoon showing an angry God with blood on his hands and a Kalashnikov assault rifle strapped to His back.

“One year later, the assassin is still on the run,” the headline says.

An editorial by Charlie Hebdo editor Gerard Biard, released before publication, said the magazine would continue despite religious extremists who wanted to muzzle it.

“They won’t be the ones to see Charlie die – Charlie will see them kick the bucket,” the editorial declared.

No one questions when Jews are killed because they are Jewish, Biard asserted.

“This is an error, and not just on a human level. Because it’s the executioner who decides who is Jewish. November 13 was the proof of that. On that day, the executioner showed us that he had decided we were all Jewish.”

The attacks prompted a worldwide solidarity movement, with the “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) slogan going viral on social media.

Riffing on that tagline, Jewish musicians from around the world, including ultra-Orthodox performers Lipa Schmeltzer, Gad Elbaz and chief IDF cantor Shai Abramson, released a track titled “Je Suis Juif” (I am a Jew) this week.

Sung in French, Hebrew and English, the song pays tribute to the victims and is intended to “unite all of the Jews around the world, especially after this attack,” said musician Shai Barak, who organized the musicians from Israel, Europe and the United States in conjunction with Israeli journalist Zvika Klein.

“We just realized it doesn’t matter where you live – in Jerusalem, in France, even in America. We are all Jews, and we all have to be united, and we tried to do this video to make everybody be together,” Barak said.

French-Israeli recording artist Avraham Moyal added: “It is time to say I am a proud Jew.... I am a Jew with true peace, ‘salaam [and] shalom, brothers.’”

JTA and Reuters contributed to this report.


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