Friday, January 23, 2015

You Asked For It

Food for talk at your Friday night dinner table.

This week dedicated to the memory of R' Dovid Winiarz. who died on Sunday morning while "safely" belted in the back of an SUV that hit black ice. He had left his wife and 10 kids in New York to attend a Jewish education conference which I was personally attending (as a speaker and participant). I first met him a decade ago at that conference, and he and I exchanged emails once or twice a months since then. He was a man who cared for everyone and would help anyone.

J_accuseLast week's message - "J'Accuse" - stymied some readers who could not access the google translation.

The email was inspired by Émile Zola's famous open letter accusing the French government of antisemitism in the Dreyfus Affair.

Here is the full translation.

I will follow it with 2 questions for your table.


the four I accuse the French people.

I accuse them of tolerance. I accuse them of liberty, fraternity, equality.

You practiced tolerance and fraternity even before the French Revolution, when your first son, Mr. Enlightenment - that is to say, Voltaire - wrote that Jews are "an ignorant and barbarous, which have long joined the most sordid avarice with the most detestable superstition." Maybe your high school teacher forgot to mention this facet of the enlightenment of Voltaire while you struggled with Candide and Micromegas?

Yes, it's true: François-Marie Arouet gave Jew-hatred an air of sophistication, modern cleaning respectability.

It must have felt so good to get rid of the king and his former regime and replace it with the new emperor of the new enlightenment. The day of glory arrived. Napoleon proved that France can tolerate its Jews, as long as they do not stay too Jewish. Or maybe your history book omitted the part about Napoleon's "Great Sanhedrin"? He was being friendly to the Jews, right?

Not really; in private he called us "the most despicable of mankind." But in public he tolerated us.

dreyfus_alfredDo you teach the Dreyfus affair to your children? This isn't a very good idea because it could perhaps give France an atmosphere of intolerance, right?

Do t forget that the French people helped and encouraged Germany to cleanse France of its Jews. It was perhaps a little unpleasant to cooperate with the enimé hated, but your culture of tolerance allowed you to tolerate this much inconvenience for the sake of the greater good.

Of course, one of the expressions of intolerance
the French excel at is against the attempt of the Jewish people to live in peace in their homeland.

France did not flinch when your diplomat Daniel Bernard said "All the current unrest in the world is because of that shitty little country Israel. Why is the world in danger of World War III because of those people ? "In fact, your government and the press all rallied to his defense.

You, the French people are so tolerant that you cried "injustice" when a rabbi and three children were murdered in cold blood in front of their Jewish school, but you don't want to say it had anything to do with Islam!

How many French people can say when and where it happened? How many can name the rabbi and three children? Probably not many, because to dwell sure these things may appear intolerant of the Muslim minority in France.

ilan_halimiYou French people are so tolerant that the evil woman who entrapped Ilan Halimi was released from prison after only a few years.

He is almost unbelievable. Can you really tolerate such injustice?

O French people, I will slightly temper my words.

Let's admit that these displaced tolerance problems are not just French. They are truly European. Take for example the refusal of the London Olympics to give a moment of silence to honor the Israeli athletes murdered in Munich. Why did they refuse? Allegedly because it would "spoil the spirit" of the Games. Never mind that during the 2002 Games a moment of silence was held for victims of the September 11 attacks. Never mind that during the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, a dedication was played at a competitor who died in a training accident. No matter that the London Games included a brief prepared for the victims of the terrorist attacks of 2005 in London.

It isn't only in France that Jewish blood is less red. The whole of Europe that the message of Islam to hate the Jews (
yes, read the Koran, or at least excerpts, I said hate) is tolerated.

"Antisemitism is returning!"
"I didn't even know that it had left."
There are only two solutions to all this tolerance and brotherhood:

1. Stop tolerating radical Islam and become intolerant of it. Vocally and vehemently and unambiguously and unequivocally repudiate radical Islam. Not only in France but throughout, including in Gaza, Lebanon and wherever it is. Your intolerance should not stop with verifiable Islamists, but should also include
rogues like Dieudonné and Louis. And it's time to reject your racist heroes like Voltaire and Céline. Give them this big, bombastic unambiguously French "No!"

 You - yes, you! - Allowed the French police to close the Great Synagogue in Paris the Friday night after the murders, as well as other synagogues. For the first time since World War II!

Why were you not there on Friday night - hundreds of you - no, thousands of you - insisting that Jews should pray in safety; insisting that you - yes, you, with your own body - would stand guard for them and ensure their safety? Is the least despicable murder of Jews and the murder of cartoonists?

So the four monsters didn't only kill Jews, they also kept Jews from their prayers. From their community! Do you tolerate this? Do you?

2. Stop tolerating Jews and start hugging them. Tolerance is not enough. Love them, embrace them, wear a Star of David to show your solidarity with them. How come you come to the streets in the millions for Charlie Hebdo, but not for the rabbi and three children were shot in school? What kind of message does that send to French Jews? Be like the Danes and Italians during World War who showed the world that when one embraces his Jewish compatriots, the anti-Semites have no power

Give them a smile, dine in their restaurants, shop in their stores and let them know that you agree with John Adams, Mark Twain and Martin Luther King:


“The Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nations. If I were an atheist and believer in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. If I were an atheist of another sect, who believed or pretended to believe that all is ordered by chance, I should still believe that chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate for all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise almighty sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization… They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this earth. The Romans and their Empire were but a bauble in comparison of Jews. They have given religion to three quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind, more and more happily, than any other nation, ancient or modern."
"His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendour, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal to the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains."
"When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking antisemitism!"
Think about it.


Let's end with two questions for your table.

1. Since 554 CE, the French have expelled Jews over a dozen times; they publicly burned 24 cartloads of hand-written Talmuds in 1240 CE. Is there any reason we should expect them to start loving Jews in 2015?

2. Is celebrating Voltaire despite his antisemitism any worse than celebrating Jefferson despite his violent slave-holderism?

Shabbat Shalom

PS - You may enjoy this Jerusalem Post op-ed.

PPS - On an unrelated theme, here is an uplifting story about a very different kind of aliya.

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