French Jews see Islamist terror as main threat

Jewish groups respond with shock, horror over deadly attack at Paris satirical magazine that left a dozen people murdered.

Flowers are placed in remembrance of those killed in Paris (photo credit: REUTERS)
Flowers are placed in remembrance of those killed in Paris
(photo credit: REUTERS)
World Jewry joined the French Jewish community in expressing horror on Wednesday over the terrorist attack in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that left a dozen people murdered.
Roger Cukierman, president of the French Jewish umbrella body CRIF and a vice president of the World Jewish Congress, strongly condemned what he termed “this despicable crime.”
“Today, France is in shock,” he said. “This attack requires a strong and determined response not just by France, but by the European Union as a whole. There are people – a small minority, but a dangerous one nonetheless – living in our midst who cannot stand openness, diversity, a pluralistic press, and freedom of religious worship.
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“Islamist terrorism is the main threat to our security and well-being today, and it must be fought vigorously everywhere, because it is a poison for our societies.”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder reacted with shock to “the massacre... which was reportedly carried out by Islamist terrorists identifying themselves as al-Qaida members.”
Lauder condemned the attack as “a heinous act of terrorism aimed at the free press in France and beyond,” and urged the West to stand united against this menace and act strongly against all those who spread hatred and intolerance in our societies.
“Three years after the massacre at a Jewish school in Toulouse, and eight months after the deadly attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, we are faced with yet another brutal Islamist terrorist attack in Western Europe. This time, the target was the media, but it affects all of us. We must not be intimidated by their campaign and must uphold and defend our Western values, including that of freedom of expression,” Lauder said.
“Islamist terrorism has struck once again in the heart of our beloved France,” said Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, director of AJC in Paris. “Their target was both those who worked at the magazine and the laudable values of an open, democratic society they embodied. There can be no compromise with such murderers and their heinous world view.”
A prominent Jewish politician, Frederic Encel, urged the media to separate the religion of Islam and militant fundamentalism, saying they “must not be confused.”
“Those [who carried out this attack] are extremists,” he said.
In a letter to the editorial team of Charlie Hebdo, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s French president, Richard Odier, and director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed “horror at today’s atrocity, our sympathy to the families of its victims and prayers for the wounded.”
“Today is a black day for freedom of expression, tolerance and respect in France as the very values of the republic are under attack,” Odier said.
Samuels said that “Jihadi fanaticism and terrorism are the same reality for its victims, whether in France, Israel, or beyond.”
The center urged that “the authorities draw the lessons of today and crack down on these threats with all measures available.”
In Israel, the chairman of the cartoonists association, Nimrod Reshef, issued the following statement: “Freedom of expression and press are under brutal attack. On one side, cartoonists are bridging the gaps in society and protesting wrongs in a creative way using humor and talent; on the other fanatics executing horrendous terrorist attacks and trying to drag all into war. The members of the Israeli Association of Caricaturists and Comic Artists mourn with the families of the Charlie Hebdo journalists and promise to continue fighting these terrible phenomena with brush and page, the tools acceptable in a democracy.”