Je Suis Redux

The famous French mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) once famously said: “Je pense, donc je suis,” or in English “I think, therefore I am.” That statement as well as his other works earned him the title of the father of western philosophy.

The concept Descartes put forth of the centrality of “thinking” and “being” is profound on several levels and had a significant impact on western society.  The expression has an interesting sequel today.

thinker
French Sculptor Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker

Descartes did not call out overt action verbs like eating, running or talking to prove his existence. He argued that something as fundamental as brain activity proved that he was alive. Such an approach has led to interesting debates about brain death and the status of life today.

On a philosophical level, Descartes was plagued with doubt about everything: not just about ethereal matters such as the existence of a supreme being, but whether the world as he saw it existed at all. He considered whether it was all just his imagination, just a dream. He concluded that the actual process of considering whether anything at all existed, proved that he indeed did exist.

Je Suis 2015

The world was given a brief tutorial of French in 2015. In response to the horrible killings at the offices of Parisian magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, people around the world held signs and banners that read “Je Suis Charlie,” “Je Suis Juif (Jew),” “Je Suis Policier (Police)”. A few weeks later, when another terrorist shot people in Copenhagen, the signs “Je Suis Danois (Danish)” showed support for the people of Denmark.

jesuisjuif
“Je Suis” rally in Paris,
January 2015

The expression “Je Suis…”, “I am…” in those contexts expressed people’s solidarity with the cause for which people died (freedom of press, speech or religion), essentially reaffirming that those liberties live on. While individuals may have been killed, there are others that cherish those same beliefs who remain alive. While the victims are dead, the freedoms are not vanquished.

Je Suis…” attested to the strength of people’s convictions.  While the terrorists were killed by police in both Paris and Copenhagen, people did not deceive themselves that there were many other would-be-terrorists who might commit similar acts. Yet they stood defiantly with placards held high and passions held firm.


Consider that hundreds of years ago the father of western philosophy made a statement that was born from his complete doubt in anything and everything. He imagined that nothing was real, even his own existence. Doubt Affirmed Life.

In 2015, people rallied because of the murder of people who shared a similar western philosophy. In mourning the deaths, people realized the depth of their own convictions. Death Affirmed Belief.

The sequel of Je Suis in France may be a perfect mirror image of the original. But the central theme remains the freedom and ability to question and believe.


Other First.one.Through article:

Dancing with the Asteroids: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/dancing-with-the-asteroids/

 

Jews in the Midst

Summary: Jews are vulnerable members of society. They are not on the fringe on the one hand, nor are they just a regular part of the broader community, on the other. As such, they must be actively protected by governments and citizens alike.

copenhagen jews
Jews in Copenhagen laying flowers where a Jewish man was gunned down,
February 2015 

No Canary in the Mine

Well-meaning people have referred to Jews as the “canary in the mine” when it comes to terrorism. They argue that various attacks on Jews in Europe, Israel and Asia by Islamic radicals over the past years should be seen in the context of an oncoming onslaught on the broader civilized world.

Canaries are treated as disposal life forms that coal miners bring into mines to detect poisonous gases. They assume that if the canary is alive, the air is breathable; however, should the canary die, they should evacuate immediately. The sole role of the canary is to detect danger and benefit the people in the mine.

Jews were not brought to Europe or Asia to serve as warning signs for non-Jews. They are not inferior life forms meant to live solely for the benefit of the broader society. They are proud citizens of their home countries.

 hyperkosher
Paris kosher supermarket where four Jews were killed,
January 2015

Not a Fringe Group

Jews are integrated into society in each country where the live. They have homes in the hearts of the country; they have jobs at corporations, in the government and military. They speak the language and have employment rates that are comparable to their fellow countrymen.

Jews are not a fringe group that fails to assimilate, that doesn’t speak the language or has high unemployment. They are not financial drains on society and do not have incarceration rates above the community averages.

Jews are a fabric of society. They are “everymen,” with particular beliefs and customs.

mumbai chabad
Chabad House in Mumbai where six people were murdered,
November 2008 

No “Random” Attack

While Jews are a basic part of the fabric of society, they are uniquely targeted by Islamic radicals. Terrorist attackers who assaulted major cities including Mumbai (2008), Paris (2015) and Copenhagen (2015), took time to specifically attack this small minority.

While US President Obama and his administration initially called the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris a “random” attack, he back-tracked to corroborate the statement of the French government which clearly stated that the attack stemmed from antisemitism.

Even while embedded in society, Jews are picked out for attack for the simple reason that they are Jewish.

 bruseels museum
Attack on Jewish Museum in Brussels killed four,
May 2014

Jews in the Midst

There was a movie made in 1988 about a woman, Dian Fossey, who fought to protect gorillas in Uganda. These special creatures were a unique part of the Ugandan landscape that were singled out for slaughter. Dian fought both the government and locals to protect those “Gorillas in the Mist”.  It was a brave action on the part of an individual to take on so many to save the group from butchery.

It is the obligation of governments to protect their citizens.  The leaders in Germany and France have correctly stated that they will take action to ensure that their Jewish communities are safe.

It is time for all governments and citizens to speak loudly and act defiantly in protecting their vulnerable neighbors and countrymen, the Jews in their midst.

 scariest-riots-anti-semitism-men
Riots against Israel and Jews in France,
July 2014

Israel in Europe

The governments of Europe must do more than just assign police officers to synagogues and Jewish centers. They must also declare that Jews everywhere – including in Israel – cannot be targets of jihad.  As part of that effort, they should confront the biases in their governments that are uniquely against the Jewish State, such as:

  • delisting Hamas as a terrorist organization despite its calls to kill Jews and eradicate Israel
  • European Union blaming Israel for the failure of the peace talks without acknowledging the various actions the Palestinians took to sabotage the talks

The list of European actions against the Jewish State over the past year was long, and to an absurd level when compared to EU actions and comments towards murderous regimes such as Iran and Syria. The people in the streets noted, and held anti-Israel rallies which became anti-Semitic riots.

It was against that backdrop of both murders by homegrown terrorists and the anti-Israel actions of the governments that made Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invite the Jews of Europe to come to Israel.

The governments of Europe must declare their strong commitment to a safe and secure Israel.  Such actions should include declaring Hamas a terrorist organization and not recognizing a Palestinian state until it prohibits the promotion of antisemitism and Holocaust denial.  The governments should not pass any BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) actions against Israel any more than they do for other disputed territories such as Kashmir and Cyprus.

The leaders of several European countries acknowledge that there is a problem of anti-Semitism spreading in the continent.  They must be aggressive in confronting it in every manner possible.

Jews in the Midst

Summary: Jews are vulnerable members of society. They are not on the fringe on the one hand, nor are they just a regular part of the broader community, on the other. As such, they must be actively protected by governments and citizens alike.

 

No Canary in the Mine

Well-meaning people have referred to Jews as the “canary in the mine” when it comes to terrorism. They argue that various attacks on Jews in Europe, Israel and Asia by Islamic radicals over the past years should be seen in the context of an oncoming onslaught on the broader civilized world.

Canaries are treated as disposal life forms that coal miners bring into mines to detect poisonous gases. They assume that if the canary is alive, the air is breathable; however, should the canary die, they should evacuate immediately. The sole role of the canary is to detect danger and benefit the people in the mine.

Jews were not brought to Europe or Asia to serve as warning signs for non-Jews. They are not inferior life forms meant to live solely for the benefit of the broader society. They are proud citizens of their home countries.

 

Not a Fringe Group

Jews are integrated into society in each country where the live. They have homes in the hearts of the country; they have jobs at corporations, in the government and military. They speak the language and have employment rates that are comparable to their fellow countrymen.

Jews are not a fringe group that fails to assimilate, that doesn’t speak the language or has high unemployment. They are not financial drains on society and do not have incarceration rates above the community averages.

Jews are a fabric of society. They are “everymen,” with particular beliefs and customs.

 

No “Random” Attack

While Jews are a basic part of the fabric of society, they are uniquely targeted by Islamic radicals. Terrorist attackers who assaulted major cities including Mumbai (2008), Paris (2015) and Copenhagen (2015), took time to specifically attack this small minority.

While US President Obama and his administration initially called the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris a “random” attack, he back-tracked to corroborate the statement of the French government which clearly stated that the attack stemmed from antisemitism.

Even while embedded in society, Jews are picked out for attack for the simple reason that they are Jewish.

 

Jews in the Midst

There was a movie made in 1988 about a woman, Dian Fossey, who fought to protect gorillas in Uganda. These special creatures were a unique part of the Ugandan landscape that were singled out for slaughter. Dian fought both the government and locals to protect those “Gorillas in the Mist”.  It was a brave action on the part of an individual to take on so many to save the group from butchery.

It is the obligation of governments to protect their citizens.  The leaders in Germany and France have correctly stated that they will take action to ensure that their Jewish communities are safe.

It is time for all governments and citizens to speak loudly and act defiantly in protecting their vulnerable neighbors and countrymen, the Jews in their midst.

 

Israel in Europe

The governments of Europe must do more than just assign police officers to synagogues and Jewish centers. They must also declare that Jews everywhere – including in Israel – cannot be targets of jihad.  As part of that effort, they should confront the biases in their governments that are uniquely against the Jewish State, such as:

  • delisting Hamas as a terrorist organization despite its calls to kill Jews and eradicate Israel
  • European Union blaming Israel for the failure of the peace talks without acknowledging the various actions the Palestinians took to sabotage the talks

The list of European actions against the Jewish State over the past year was long, and to an absurd level when compared to EU actions and comments towards murderous regimes such as Iran and Syria. The people in the streets noted, and held anti-Israel rallies which became anti-Semitic riots.

It was against that backdrop of both murders by homegrown terrorists and the anti-Israel actions of the governments that made Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invite the Jews of Europe to come to Israel.

The governments of Europe must declare their strong commitment to a safe and secure Israel.  Such actions should include declaring Hamas a terrorist organization and not recognizing a Palestinian state until it prohibits the promotion of antisemitism and Holocaust denial.  The governments should not pass any BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) actions against Israel any more than they do for other disputed territories such as Kashmir and Cyprus.

The leaders of several European countries acknowledge that there is a problem of anti-Semitism spreading in the continent.  They must be aggressive in confronting it in every manner possible.