Israel moves quickly to exploit Paris attacks

After hesitations reportedly over cost and security, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally decided to attend the “solidarity” march in Paris on Sunday, ostensibly in support of “free expression” and other “Western values.”

The march had been called in the wake of the attacks in Paris last week in which two gunmen murdered twelve people at the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, and a third murdered four people at a Jewish grocery store.

Netanyahu evidently could not resist the publicity given that it is election season in Israel, and he would not want to risk being upstaged by political rivals who had announced their attendance, including such violent racists as foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and economy minister Naftali Bennett.

(Update: Israeli media are reporting that Netanyahu gatecrashed the march, defying a request from French President François Hollande that he stay away –– more below.)

Many people circulated images like the one above of world leaders linking arms with Netanyahu, noting the perverse irony of a march for such things as “freedom” and against “terrorism” being led by such figures, including the man who ordered the bloodbath in Gaza last summer.

As people in the Gaza ghetto continue to die of cold as a direct consequence of the destruction and ongoing siege, one observer in Gaza, Dima Eleiwa, had a wry explanation for why the leaders embracing Netanyahu have kept silent about their ordeal:

Gaza writer Ayah Bashir asked poignantly:

While Netanyahu was certainly playing to a domestic audience, his presence in Paris is also part of Israel’s swift move to capitalize on the horror in France on a number of fronts: to attack the Palestinians, to sharpen the dangerous discourse of a “war of civilizations” and to speed up the population transfer of Jews from Europe.

Jews out of Europe?

As I’ve written previously, Israel has a long-term goal of transferring France’s half-million-strong Jewish population to Israel as part of its effort to counter the so-called “demographic threat” from Palestinians.

In this context, the horrifying anti-Semitic murders in the Jewish supermarket, like previous attacks on Jews, are a boon for Israeli officials “excited” by the resulting exodus of some Jews who fear remaining in France.

Netanyahu immediately seized on the attacks to press the message home, tweeting: “To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home.”

Israeli politician Yair Lapid upped the ante, declaring, “I don’t want to speak in terms of Holocaust, but … European Jewry must understand that there is just one place for Jews, and that is the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu, Israeli daily Haaretz reported, is setting up a “special ministerial committee” that “will convene next week to discuss steps to encourage immigration from France and from Europe in general.”

Understandable fear

The horror and fear that attacks like the ones in Paris and the 2012 murders at a Jewish school in Toulouse generate are real. Jewish communities in France understandably want to put their safety first.

But to leap from these – thankfully rare – attacks to the conclusion that all Jews must leave France and even Europe is not an obvious step. And it is a dangerous and drastic one.

When is it anti-Semitism?

Recall that immigrants and their European-born descendants from Muslim-majority countries are routinely accused by those who hate and fear them of “refusing to integrate” in Europe – this was an accusation leveled by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among many others.

By the same token, those who say that Jews must leave Europe for their own safety are saying in effect that it is impossible for Jews to integrate and ever be safe in their home countries.

The idea that Jews are always alien and that hatred against them is eternal and immutable – as opposed to being created and conditioned by contemporary politics and racist discourses in which Israel, among others, participates – is a fundamentally anti-Semitic one.

If French President François Hollande said that France is not the home of the Jews and they should leave to their “real” home, people would correctly understand that as anti-Semitic.

But when Netanyahu makes the same declaration, it is called Zionism.

It is not just critics of Israel who understand – at least implicitly – the tacit alliance between anti-Semitism and Zionism – but many European Jews themselves.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the director of the European Jewish Association, described by Haaretz as “the largest advocate for the Jewish organizations and communities in Europe,” sharply criticized Netanyahu’s latest exhortations on Jews to abandon France.

Margolin said he regretted that “after every anti-Semitic attack in Europe, the Israeli government issues the same statements about the importance of aliyah [immigration to Israel], rather than employ every diplomatic and informational means at its disposal to strengthen the safety of Jewish life in Europe.”

(Update: An Israeli official source told Israel’s Channel 2 that the French had wanted Netanyahu to stay away from Paris precisely out of fear that, as Haaretz put it, the Israeli prime minister “would take advantage of the event for campaign purposes and make speeches, especially about the Jews of France. Such statements, the Elysée Palace feared, would hurt the demonstration of solidarity the French government was trying to promote as part of dealing with the terror attacks.” Netanyahu’s defiance, according to Haaretz, has deeply angered Hollande, who “got up from his seat and made an early exit” when Netanyahu rose to speak at a memorial ceremony at the Paris Grand Synagogue.)

Another future

Israel promotes a future in which the possibility of coexistence and transcending current political and politico-religious antagonisms is impossible, and in which Jews have no future in Europe. Instead it invites them to decamp to a region where, Israel insists, they will be surrounded by hostile and bloodthirsty Palestinians, other Arabs and Muslims.

Yet we did not have to peer into a crystal ball to see the alternative to Zionism’s dystopic future. It was tragically embodied in the words of the brother of Ahmed Merabet, the French police officer – a Muslim – slain by the Charlie Hebdo attackers.

“I am now telling all racists, Islamophobes and anti-Semites that one must not confuse extremists with Muslims,” an emotional Malek Merabet told a press conference on Saturday.

“Stop mixing things up, starting wars, burning mosques and synagogues.”

The alternative, then, is solidarity in the face of the racism and bigotry that are generated and perpetuated by the murderous global wars the leaders marching in Paris insist are necessary for our safety.

This solidarity was also embodied in the exemplary actions of Lassana Bathily, the Muslim immigrant worker from Mali, who saved lives at the Jewish supermarket.

Bathily has been hailed as a hero for leading customers in the Hyper Cacher Jewish supermarket to hide in a cold store where they were safe from the murderer.

Bathily’s religion and national origin ought not to have to be remarked upon, but in this moment where once again Muslims are being collectively blamed, his action was an important reminder that human solidarity can and does cross all artificial lines of division.

Smearing Palestinians

Sadly, Israel is unlikely to get the message. Its propaganda apparatus immediately went into action to tar Palestinians with the Paris attacks.

On Saturday, the Israeli Government Press Office sent out an email to journalists in the name of the “Prime Minister’s Media Adviser.”

It included this screenshot from the Facebook page of the Palestinian publication Alresalah.

The Israeli government email claimed that the screenshot “is a post from the Facebook page of ‘Al-Rasalah,’ [sic] a Hamas publication from yesterday evening … featuring photographs of the three terrorists who were eliminated in Paris. The caption reads: ‘The shahidim [martyrs] who were dispatched by God, the heroes of the raid in Paris.’”

In fact, Arabic speakers who look at the screenshot will note that across the image in barely legible red script are indeed words praising the three killers. But there is absolutely no indication that these were the words or opinions of Alresalah.

The caption provided by Alresalah states only the following, making clear they were not the authors of the montage: “Image disseminated on social media sites of those who carried out the attack on the French publication and who were killed this evening. From right to left, Amadou Coulibaly, Cherif and Said Kouachi.”

Alresalah, in its own words, pointedly does not call the men “martrys” or “heroes.” This is not surprising since Hamas itself strongly condemned the attack in Paris.

But the misleading Israeli propaganda is part of an ongoing effort to justify oppression of Palestinians by demonizing them. This is similar to Israel’s infamous “Hamas is ISIS” propaganda as Israeli warplanes were slaughtering civilians in Gaza.

Alresalah has apparently removed the post from its Facebook page.

Israel’s dangerous and exploitative antics recall the words of Netanyahu on 11 September 2001, when asked what the attacks on the United States that day meant for US-Israeli relations.

It’s very good,” he said, hoping that the unfolding horror in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania would “generate immediate sympathy” for Israel.

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Comments

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Thank you Ali Abunima for keeping us informed. To see how right-wingers in the U.S. and in Israel be so opportunistic and immediately attack Muslims and call them "terrorists" for political gain is a joke. To hear that Netanyahu believes in "Freedom of Expression" is a joke, because this does not apply to Palestinians.

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French President Francois Hollande explicitly urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to attend Sunday's march and memorial for the victims of the attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo Magazine and the kosher grocery store; yet the Israeli PM ignored Hollande's request and attended, anyway. Two of his Ministers - FM Avigdor Lieberman and Finance Minister Naftali Bennett were already scheduled to attend. Wasn't that enough for Bibi? Apparently not, as elections will be held soon. Bibi's actions Sunday showed the entire world his narcissism and megalomania; also exposed his rudeness to Hollande, thus, humiliating him in public.
I say, good job, Monsieur Hollande, for your payback by walking out on Bibi during his self-absorbing speech. He truly deserved that, and more.

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This won't get published as no critical comments do on EI but Ali is fooling nobody. His hatred for Israel, Jews and what he sneeringly terms "the West" is blindingly obvious. His first reaction to the massacre was to smear the murdered satirists as 'racist islamophobes'. He denies the anti-Semitism present in Muslims in Europe and in the Islamic world and blames it on the Jews themselves. Radical Islam is the enemy and not the 'Zionists'. Ali should move to a non-Western society where he could contribute to a society he loves instead of acting as a human intestinal worm in a society he clearly hates. Je suis Charlie.

Ali Abunimah's picture

Comments that compare humans to animals, insects or diseases violate our comments policy, however I did publish your comment so that you would not feel that your diatribe had been censored. Since I’m the person you call an “intestinal worm,” I felt I had that prerogative. But you won’t find such comments about Jewish people or anyone else on EI because we do in fact combat bigotry. I’m also happy to let readers judge my record against your claims themselves.

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And now that you have made that very clear, and shown much more tolerance than was deserved, you should delete the original "comment".

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Let Charlie's uninformed comment stay, who knows there might well be others who share in his views and who might profit from a proper response - it's all part of our freedom of expression credentials. Censorship is not a proper response to lies, bigotry and propaganda. Reasoned rebuttals like Ali's would be my preference

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I'm a lifelong Zionist (not not a liberal Zionist either) and let me just say Ali I know you are not a bigot. Far too often over the last dozen+ years you've stood against anti-semitism when it does appear. I may disagree with your assessments of Israeli policy and some aspects of your solutions but I don't think you are coming from a place of hate.

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Charlie, I think you are not. #YouAreNotCharlie / #TuN'estPasCharlie / #SieSindKeineCharlie.

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'Charlie' - you are so typical of the plague of Muslim-hating trolls that have hit the internet with a vengeance since the double attack by militant Islamists in Paris. You are ignorant and full of racist hatred. I suspect, given your slant, that you are one of the professional 'hasbara' trolls paid by the Israeli government. I suspect furthermore that your 'je suis Charlie' message is totally insincere.

You would do well to take heed of the comment made by surviving Charlie Hebdo cartoonist 'Willem', who has said he is disgusted by and wants to 'vomit' on the masses of hypocritical 'friends' that the magazine has recently acquired - simply because it is suddenly politically advantageous to do so.

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I agree that this rant should not be censored. The Hebdo publication really is racist, and that is what millions of French people came out to support. I have been there, and yes, they ARE racist, and, whether you like it or not, THEY (yes, the French racists) shot up Hebdo and a grocery store. I hope that the US does not get as bad as some European countries. I hope! But there you have it, and Netanyahu whooping it up in the racism!!! Get everyone to hate Muslims! Well, I hate Netanyahu for that, and so do all my Jewish friends. None of us are "Charlie". Only people like you are!!!
Zionism is ethnic cleansing. And here in the US, we need to focus on our own horror which is the racist kiling of black people everyday just for being black. GO away, you zionists! Go away. We reject you.

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It is horrific how the Zionists are trying to exploit a national tragedy for their own cause. They do not seem to want to acknowledge that there were other casualties in the ordeal; they only report on the Jewish deaths. It is even worse how they are farcically trying portray the attack as an 'attack against Israel' while also promoting anti Arab and anti Islamic sentiments. Absolutely despicable.

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Thanks for this informative article. And for leaving the insulting comment you received from this anonymous signer. His vituperation shows how well you hit home. Mr. N. really made a spectacle of himself yesterday from what we saw on Swiss t.v. And it is really bad in Gaza - bitter cold for days with no electricity most of the time, during the coldest hours, in the families I know.

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You can't make this stuff up! Some of the politicians attending this are war criminals and yet walking arm in arm in solidarity like innocents, it makes me sick to the pit of my stomach. To think they(the political scum)are marching against people they train and arm to fight in the Middle-East, just don't bring it home boys, apparently it's not in the script.

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I read with interest the comments concerning the politics that are occurring after what happened in Paris. I also saw and heard of the anti semetic attacks that occur in France, where Jews make up only 1% of the population. There over a 1000 cases of anti semetic attacks.las year. That's outrageous. What's the matter with the Israeli Prime Minister telling French Jews to immigrate to Israel. They are safer there. It seems to me that the Frernch are at fault here. They haven't done what should be done to protect that 1% minority. They have also allowed hateful people into France. The French don't even try to integrate these immingrants, like we do in the U.S.. Then your readers accuse Israel of nefarious deeds. If France was rocketed like Israel has been they would have long ago destroyed completely the rocketeers. How patient do you think the Jews should be. They've been persecuted by the Christians for 2000 years, and even now after 50 years having a country, there are still anti semites around. Before you criticize Israel, you better look at history when it comes to the Jewish people..

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"If France was rocketed like Israel" - explain to us why France is not. "After what happened in Paris" - why do you limit this to anti-Semitism only? "They are safer there" (Jews are safer in Israel). Then why complain about rockets? "... accuse Israel of nefarious deeds". Israel kills, deports, robs, starves and strangles non-Jews because of being a non-Jew. "the anti semetic attacks that occur in France" - only those? An anti-Muslim attack be acceptable for you? An attack on non-Jewish satirists is OK for you?

You are claiming exceptions of egalite for Jews only. The "security" you claim is based on other people's unsafety only. That is racist, violently racist.

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In the context of Israeli oppression of Palestinians for years and continuing
(details not specified for brevity) , I feel that anger is more than justified.

The entire Zionist project from the 19th century to today has only permitted
the exclusive control by a defined and self-aclaimed "supreme" group over indigeunous groups. In this case the indigenous group is Palestinians. In other cases of "settler colonialism" over many thousands of years, the VICTIMS have not been the AGGRESSOR but the oppressed indigenous always portrayed and "inferior."

Theodor Herzl's proposals were never popular with Jews from the beginning.
As a result, he and his supporters of necessity turned to the wealthy
colonialists most of whom had ulterior motives. (James A. Balfour, for example,
was also the author of an "Alien Act" in the UK which was not friendly to
Jews there. There is a plethora of other examples when one looks
beneath the lies of Zionist examples, Hitler's Jewish collaborators supreme (See Joseph Massad in his recent Al Jazeera article for examples).

Again, thanks to Ali Abuminah for his perceptive article as well as his balanced rejoinder as " comment".

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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‘Anti-Semitism’

Let me clarify for the world what the term 'semite' or 'semitic', as a noun or as an adjective, refers to:

: A 'semite' is one who is descended from a 'semite' tribe of the whole entire Arabian Peninsula. A 'semite' speaks one or all of the 'semitic' languages: Aramaic, Hebraic, and Arabic. Most probably these languages descended from Sumeria. 'Semitic' is an adjective that, when used properly, refers to those who speak one of the languages of the 'semites'. It is a linquistic and cultural/tribal characterization, not religious or political.

:'Anti-semitic' is a demeaning word being used to slander and smear individuals who criticize something Hebraic. This is a false accusation. Hebrews who hate Arabs would then also be 'anti-semites'.

It is time to shut the 'anti-semite’ baiters up.

Furthermore, most of the citizens of the State of Israel are Khazarian in ancestry, which is NOT 'semitic', but Euroasian. When I studied Hebrew and Arabic, I did not become a 'semite'; I simply learned 'semitic' languages.

When one becomes a Buddhist, he does not become a Tibetan.

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"It's time to shut the 'anti-semite' baiters up", John I can't agree more with you on this great 'record-straightening' post. I've always suspected the way Zionists have appropriated the term "anti-semitism", now your post have brought clarity and perspective to it. Thank you.

In this context, the injustice successive Israeli governments continues to inflict on Palestinians is further aggravated against the backdrop that most citizens of Israel are actually Eurasian in ancestry and not Semites!. How can so-called Jews of dubious ancestry from anywhere on this planet have the right to emigrate to Israel (Palestine), meanwhile indubitable Semites, albeit non-Jews, don't have the same rights. Now this is rank injustice if ever there was one.

The onus is on all men of influence and goodwill to encourage Zionist Jews and the Israeli government to see that the State of Israel can be occupied in peace, security and prosperity by all of its inhabitants - Jews, Arabs, Negroes, Eurasians and any who chose to make that geographical space their homeland.

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you rock!
I have the t-shirts, btw. "we are all palestinians". everywhere I go, everyone wants one. for the past 15 years. how about that??

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Thanks karen--you too! T-shirts are a great idea. I'll make a donation of T-shirts to the chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine at the local colleges in my area. Thank you for the idea. We must use all means available to us to expedite an end to the injustice. The situation is urgent--it's heartbreaking to hear of the suffering.

Thank you Ali, for the excellent and unbiased article.

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As an American with little experience traveling outside of the US (three trips to Canada, two Mexican border town, and Spain and France in 1976), I mostly rely on Zcomm and Couterpunch, and for recently Truthout, Electronic Intifada, La Jornada, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Prensa Latina, to help me escape from the din of bias of the mainstream media. What is confusing to me is that publications such as Charlie emerged from the Left in France. I can remember clearly the tens of millions who protested the lead up to the Iraq War in 2002 (?). France also had its own colonial wars against Algeria and Vietnam. What happened to anti-imperialism in France, and the rest of Europe for that matter? is it Brand Obama that has sown so much confusion? It seems to me that anti-Islamic movements in Europe are no better informed than the welfare and anti-immigrant bashing that goes on in the US. Our current humanitarian interventionists have as much blood on their hands as the neocons, but it seems that much of what formerly could be classified as the center left in the US, has given itself over to being a cheerleader on MSNBC for Obama and the Democrats.

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I agree with all of you AS A TURK, and I condemn all zionist policies all over the people in the world ,

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EI rightly critique the Israeli premier regarding his manipulation of the Paris attacks, but sadly don't seem to bothered by Abbas' appearance there, which tells us more about this site's biases than anything else; it's open season on anything bad Israel does, but the PA and Palestinians are victims so are exempt from critique. The Israeli right might very well manipulate events in Europe for their own ends, but when the silence from some Palestinians and pro-Palestinians is practically deafening when it comes to anti Semitic attacks, they don't have to do a lot. As an example, the overwhelming majority of articles on this site are about Israeli anti Palestinian and anti black racism. There is little to nothing about Arab supremacy or pro Palestinian anti Semitism.

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it is not anti-semitism to criticize Israel for its ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the apartheid required by the zionist state. That is what the "intifada" is about.
Netanyahu is in a different category than Abbas, and all those idiot politicians that support Israel's humanitarian nightmare are all deserving of the criticism.
I know you are just posting to propagate hasbara and really don't care to think about what the ENTIRE WORLD knows is true, but it has to be said anyway. There you have it. You cannot erase it by posting comments like that. It just makes you sound like an Israeli. Even here in the US no one ever screamed "anti-white-supremacy!" when Blacks were freed from slavery. Not like Israelis! That's messed up, and whoever you vote for in your next election will keep perpetrating your crimes against Palestine.
Same for the US elections, sadly. But you're wrong, it's not a criticism that applies to Abbas, and it's not anti-semitism. give it up.

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The person above is right to say that criticizing Israel isn't anti-Semitic. It is likewise not Islamophobic to critique Islam.
However, many would deem the attacks that have taken place in parts of Europe against Jewish people, both physical and verbal, as being anti-Semitic. Even if we leave anti-Semitism out of the equation, they are still hate crimes and simply not acceptable.

Abbas was at the march for publicity just as much as Netanyahu. He might not hold as much power, but that doesn't mean that him being on a demonstration that was largely about freedom of speech is not hypocritical - the PA hasn't exactly got a clean track record of human rights either.

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To K:

"Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic". Israel is a nation.

Criticizing Judaism IS anti-Semitic.

It IS "Islamophobic to criticize Islam"

Islam is a religion/faith.

It is NOT Islamophobic to criticize a Muslim nation for specific policies etc.

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA