The Jewish Report Editorial

We are Charlie Hedbo - Jewish Report Online

  • Je Suis Charlie
The citizens of the free world have stood up and said: “I Am Charlie” – the global media, some with a modicum of embarrassment have stood as one and said “We are Charlie”. The editorial board of the Washington Post suggested that some publishers had disgraced themselves in recent years to avoid being targeted. The Daily Beast said “cowardly media must grow a civic backbone”; the M&G quotes Zapiro as saying the Charlie Hebdo attack is the “Worst we've seen in recent times” and Time says “#JeSuisCharlie became a declaration of solidarity.”
by ANT KATZ | Jan 08, 2015

There is little point in retelling the story of the attack on Charlie Hebdo here. Anyone with any interest in reading this will be closely following the story.

The SA Jewish Report Online, however, wishes to join all media in the civilised and free world in standing squarely behind the right of a free press. To commiserate with our colleagues who tragically gave up their lives and the loved ones they leave behind, to fight for this precious gift. To remember that when we enshrined the freedom of expression in our own Constitution some 20 years ago, we could never have thought that it could ever be any other way – and, hopefully, it won’t.

'Cowardly Media Must Grow a Civic Backbone and
Stand with Charlie Hebdo'

Attack on Charlie Hebdo 'Worst we've seen
in recent times' – Zapiro in MAIL&GUARDIAN

“#JeSuisCharlie — ‘I Am Charlie’ — became
a declaration of solidarity” TIME MAGAZINE

Publishers disgraced themselves with self-censorship
to avoid being targeted WASHINGTON POST

The Washington Post

The Editorial Board of THE WASHINGTON POST had the following to say:

Several publishers in Western countries have disgraced themselves in recent years with self-censorship to avoid being targeted by Islamic militants. The French newspaper Charlie Hebdo did the opposite: Even after its offices were firebombed in 2011, and even after its editor was put on an al-Qaida wanted list, it continued to courageously publish cartoons and articles lampooning Islam — as well as Christianity, Judaism and established religion in general.

Je Suis CharlieConsequently, the heinous attack it suffered on Wednesday - when gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar” invaded its Paris offices and slaughtered 12 people, including editor Stéphane Charbonnier and the police officers defending him — is a direct challenge to the West’s commitment to free expression. The reaction must be not only one of protest and determination to apprehend the perpetrators. Media in democratic nations must also consciously commit themselves to rejecting intimidation by Islamic extremists or any other movement that seeks to stifle free speech through violence.

That was the course Charlie Hebdo followed in 2006, after the publication of anti-Muslim cartoons by a Danish newspaper led to death threats against that paper’s editors and violent protests outside Danish embassies in Muslim countries. The French newspaper reacted by republishing the cartoons.

Several years later, a Charlie Hebdo cover announced the prophet Muhammad as a guest editor; that preceded the bombing of its offices. But Mr Charbonnier and his fellow journalists remained undeterred: A tweeted cartoon sent out shortly before the attack facetiously offered greetings from Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Charlie Hebdo HollandWe have objected in the past to expressions that appear intended to gratuitously provoke or offend Muslims, particularly in European nations such as France, where a large Muslim population suffers from chronic discrimination and is the target of demagoguery by populist political parties. But such criticism does not justify censorship, much less violence. Charlie Hebdo, which once published a cartoon of the pope delivering Communion with a condom, did not single out Islam. More importantly, its persistence in the face of threats amounted to a defence of free expression on behalf of all media — including those, like Yale University Press, that have practiced self-censorship rather than publish anti-Muslim cartoons.

In the aftermath of its worst terrorist attack in decades, France will need to re-examine its policies for protecting journalists and other vulnerable targets on its territory; the measures taken to guard Mr Charbonnier proved inadequate. The threat the country faces from Islamic extremists is likely to get worse: Hundreds of its citizens have travelled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State. President François Hollande, who said that other terrorist attacks inside France had recently been foiled, appropriately raised the country’s alert status to its highest level.

Equally important is that media across the West refuse to be cowed by violence. The attack in Paris comes after a year in which two U.S. journalists who travelled to Syria were beheaded by the Islamic State and theatres across the country refused to screen a movie lampooning North Korea because of the threat of violence. Such acts cannot be allowed to inspire more self-censorship — or restrict robust coverage and criticism of Islamic extremism.

Time Magazine

As the news of the attack spread, the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie — “I Am Charlie” — became a declaration of solidarity TIME MAGAZINE

People protesting the Paris killings met in Trafalgar Square as British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the attack in Downing Street

Out of the horror came something beautiful. Not all of the people who travelled to London’s Trafalgar Square, or attended similar vigils in other cities and countries throughout Europe, could explain why they felt impelled to come.

Je Suis CharlieThey just knew that they wanted to stand together, not only to protest the slaughter at the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, but in some way to continue the work of the French satirical newspaper. Its editors, writers and most famously its cartoonists had regularly challenged those who sought to stifle freedom of expression.

As the news of the attack spread, the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie — “I Am Charlie” — became a declaration of solidarity, and the vigils organized and publicized on social media offered a way to make that declaration substantial.

 “I saw the pictures on television,” says Marie Proffit, a Frenchwoman working in London as an arts-project manager, “and I needed to do something with these feelings.” Her English friend Leanne Hammacott, who works at the Cultural Institute at King’s College London, pointed her to Facebook pages calling for people to assemble in Trafalgar Square. By 6:30 p.m. they met up with each other and another friend, Tina Westiner, a German designer also based in the city.

They stood in near silence in a crowd of several hundred under Nelson’s Column, the 19th century memorial to the British Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died fighting the French and the Spanish. But on this evening history bound rather than divided. Members of the crowd held up pens — mightier than the sword — and flowers and placards: “Je Suis Charlie.”

Less than a minute away at 10 Downing Street, the leaders of two European countries who have not always seen eye to eye also focused on common ground. Germany has taken on the 2015 presidency of the G-7 group of nations and its Chancellor Angela Merkel had arrived in the U.K. on Jan. 7 to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron. On the agenda was a weighty palette of issues, from the fight against Ebola to the stuttering economy and the sharpening crisis in the euro zone — and of the European Union itself.

The E.U. evolved from a project designed to create peace. But these days the union is increasingly a source of friction, between countries and within them. Conflict has returned to the continent. Over dinner the leaders planned to discuss Russia and Ukraine. “There’s still time,” Cameron said at a joint press conference with Merkel, “for Vladimir Putin to change course.”

He and Merkel put on a united front, and especially as they reflected on the horror in Paris. The U.K. security services MI5 and MI6 had given the leaders a joint briefing, who in turn emphasized the importance of international cooperation in combating terrorist attacks. Both leaders also spoke of the importance of upholding free speech.

The Daily Beast

Cowardly Media Must Grow a Civic Backbone and Stand with ‘Charlie Hebdo’

In adversity we learn so much about ourselves, now is not the time for accommodation and fear we must stand up for free speech.

The massacre of cartoonists at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo is a crystallizing moment.

The shock brings clarity—a reminder that evil exists and free speech, no matter who might it offend, is a bedrock value of liberal democracy. An attack on journalists anywhere is an attack on civil society everywhere.

The closest parallels to this attack are last decade’s deadly riots over the cartoons of Muhammad published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. But there are more recent echoes of this intimidation game in the brief panic over The Interview after the Sony hackers threatened 9/11-style retaliation if the film was ever released. For a time, theater chains and the studio caved. Then popular demand did an end-run around their cowardice and the film was released without consequence other than profit and laughter.

Charlie Hebdo PoliceTerrorists, by definition, try to impact people’s behavior through fear. That is their strategy—violence is just a tactic. The right response is reflexive: don’t ever give in to people who try to intimidate you. Instead, straighten your civic backbone and push back in clear conscience. Insist on your right to live in freedom from fear.

But even as blood and tears dry in Paris, we’ve seen supposedly civilized voices try to calm passions through accommodation. The Associated Press officially censored images of Charlie Hebdo’s offending covers from their coverage of the attack. Other major news outlets made the same decision, hiding behind a misplaced sense of multi-cultural sensitivity. But let’s be honest, the decision not to run the cartoons is motivated by nothing more than fear: either fear of offending or fear of retaliation.

There were tweedier arguments for accommodation as well. In Al Jazeera America, Arthur Goldhammer argued against reproduction of the images, assuring us that “If the magazine’s omnidirectional impudence had been limited to words, it probably would not have ended in a bloodbath.” FT columnist Tony Barbor indulged in a lofty game of blame the victim, writing: “Charlie Hebdo has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims. If the magazine stops just short of outright insults, it is nevertheless not the most convincing champion of the principle of freedom of speech…some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo, and Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.”

First, Charlie Hebdo was a proudly equal opportunity offender—as one of their journalists said, “We want to laugh at the extremists—every extremist. They can be Muslim, Jewish, Catholic.”

Second, the “common sense” standard advocated by Barbor is essentially self-censorship—the ultimate condescension of applying different civic standards for different groups in western society. This kind of excessive politically correct respect for multiculturalism can slide quickly into the swamp of moral-relativism, where otherwise educated people shrug their shoulders and say dangerously dumb things like “one man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist.”

Finally, the complaint that Charlie Hebdo’s satire was “stupid” is a refrain also evident in the aftermath of The Interview incident: how come defence of something as important as free speech needs to be done in the name of sophomoric dick jokes?

Republishing Charlie Hebdo’s offending covers was an easy decision at The Daily Beast.

True, this may not be what James Madison had in mind when he was writing the Bill of Rights. And it might be what Islamists complain about while sitting in their caves. But if constitutional scholarship makes your eyes glaze over, a quick look back at The People vs. Larry Flynt will remind you that the true test of principles in a civil society comes not when the decisions are easy but when they are hard. That’s why we have principles in the first place—to help guide us through murky debates.

Free speech debates about pornography in public may be difficult, but humor should never really be a tough call. And the fact that satire unnerves the intolerant is evidence of its positive power. Apparently, fear of death doesn’t disturb Islamists as much as being laughed at. And let’s face it; trying to turn back the clock to the 7th century is darkly funny. The other obvious absurdity was captured in a tweet by Jeffrey Goldberg: “The gunmen’s basic message: If you don’t stop calling our religion intolerant and violent, we’ll murder you.”

So as the shock slowly subsides, what’s the proper response to this attack beyond bringing the killers to justice? Defiance. Resolve. That’s why republishing Charlie Hebdo’s offending covers was an easy decision at The Daily Beast after the attack.  Newspapers around Europe have also done so in solidarity with the slain. Along with the massive rallies in support of the satirists, we send the same message: We’re not afraid. We will not be intimidated.

Standing up to extremists is one of the great challenges of our time. It is the obligation of citizens and journalists as well as governments. And we can confront the terrorism that too often comes from radical Islam without getting dragged into ugly, endless, existential debates about a clash of civilizations.

We can do that because of men like Ahmed Merabet, the police officer murdered by the Islamists on the street outside the offices of Charlie Hebdo. He was Muslim—something that apparently didn’t occur to the theological thugs with Kalashnikovs. Ahmed Merabet symbolizes the pluralism that comes with liberal democracy at its best, the transcendent diversity of individual thought and action that is the sworn enemy of all totalitarians.

In the end, the clarity that comes from moments of horror can help us recommit to deeper principles. Real liberal values—an unyielding defence of individual liberty and its essential tributaries like freedom of speech and freedom of the press—are worth fighting for without apologies. The choice between freedom and fear is not difficult when seen with perspective. And the slain satirists of Charlie Hebdo have given us a parting gift, the reminder that laughter can inspire the confidence and the courage to confront the many absurdities of extremism.

The Mail & Guardian

Attack on Charlie Hebdo “worst we've seen in recent times” – Zapiro in MAIL&GUARDIAN

Charlie Hebdo victimCartoonist Zapiro says the shootings at Charlie Hebdo were not only an attack on the media, but on French society and secular societies more broadly.

The shootings at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris on Wednesday were the “worst attack on journalism, satirists, the press, and all free thinkers in society that we have seen in recent times.”

This is according to Jonathan Shapiro, a cartoonist better known as Zapiro.

The attacks on the satirical paper reportedly killed 12 people on Wednesday, including two police officers. By Wednesday afternoon Parisian police had launched a manhunt for the shooters.

Shapiro said the shootings were not only an attack on the media and free press, but on French society, and secular societies more broadly.

Shapiro said two possibilities could arise from the shootings, and neither situation was desirable. The first situation was one in which French politics tilted to the right.

‘Inevitable scenario’

Shapiro said this was also a risk in countries where Islamophobia is prevalent. The other scenario involved the effect the shootings might have on freedom of expression. “I hope that it doesn’t have a further chilling effect on satirists, commentators and journalists; any free thinkers in society. But I’m afraid that scenario is probably inevitable.”

Charlie Hebdo Attack streetShapiro said it was immediately necessary for governments to condemn the attack “unequivocally”, and for newspapers, journalists and the general populace to offer support to the staff and families of the Charlie Hebdo magazine.

It was necessary for society to offer “unequivocal support for the freedoms that Charlie Hebdo stands for”. “Beyond that, in the medium term, I think that political leaders, corporate leaders and corporations in general should really start standing up more than they do against the narrowing of freedom of expression.

 “In SA we see some alarming trends among politicians attacking media for all sorts of reasons. That trend is not just here. Corporations like Google, Yahoo, Twitter, all social media and information technology media should stand up more assertively against the sort of shutting down of freedom of speech that happens. A general assertion of media freedom would help the broader populace to really understand that media freedom is indivisible.”

Shapiro said it was important that Muslim leaders in France and around the world make their support for media freedom known. “Society in general and hopefully Muslim leaders in particular need to say that this is not what Islam is about and that this is not supported by the Islamic faith, to prevent any further spread of Islamophobia,” Shapiro said.


  1. 11 Choni 08 Jan
    I am curious. Would S.A. J. R. have allowed any of the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo be allowed to be published here? If not, why?
  2. 10 Choni 08 Jan
    I believe for Israel, the most important issue by far about this tragic event has been overlooked.
    I refer to yesterdays issue of the B.B.C. program HARD TALK, in which Steven Sackur interviewed Rabbi Yehudah Glick. It is no coincidence that this program was aired 'davka' on the same day as the attack in Paris.
    I urge all users to watch Wednesday's Hard Talk.
    (Ant, Please try to put it on your site)
  3. 9 ANT KATZ 09 Jan
    Hi Choni.

    In answer to your first question, yes. JR Online seldom
    publishes cartoons unless they bear specific reference to a story and does not engage in any type of racism or hate-speech which some Charlie Hedbo cartoons do and would be guilty of offending our Constitution. Otherwise, sure we would.

    In answer to your second question, you make an assumption about the timing of the HARDtalk which I cannot. We areunable to download BBC material it but they do have an online excerpt which you can view here: HARDtalk

  4. 8 Gary Selikow 09 Jan
    Charlie Hebdo is guilty of  ''racism or hate-speech?'' that statement smacks of Islamic appeasement 
    The one thing we should be ashamed of doing. 
  5. 7 Gary Selikow 09 Jan
    the problem is Isalmic agression against the rest of the world, not ''Islamophobia''
  6. 6 ANT KATZ 09 Jan
    Whooah, Gary.
    I wrote that we sure would publish if it was relevant “and does not engage in any type of racism or hate-speech which some Charlie Hedbo cartoons do… (SEE ABOVE). Charlie Hedbo lampoons all religions,
    including, often, Judaism. They ensure that they remain within French rules - which are certainly less liberal than those of the SA Constitution – and often the Israeli rules too.
    I am not sure if Choni understood this when he asked the question of whether we would publish something of theirs, but you clearly do not.
    Charlie Hedbo is a lampooning platform with much of their content focussed on lampooning religious affairs. They are NOT an anti-Islam platform.

    Your misquoting me by taking a few words out of context and then saying my “statement smacks of Islamic appeasement, the one thing we should be ashamed of doing,” is shameful. You are always welcome to your opinion, which (if legal) we have (and will) always published – all the more so if it is critical of ourselves.
    But here, methinks, you have the wrong end of the stick. You are doing a BDS on me and I think you should re-read what I wrote to Choni and what you wrote to me, and man-up and apologise. Surely you would not expect us to publish things that would be considered illegal in SA, be they about Jews, Muslims, Christians or others?

    ANT KATZ [email protected] 
  7. 5 Gary Selikow 09 Jan
    You wrote ''JR Online seldom
    publishes cartoons unless they bear specific reference to a story and does not engage in any type of racism or hate-speech which some Charlie Hedbo cartoons do and would be guilty of offending our Constitution.

    Isnt that accusing the victims of terror of engaging in ''racism''   (whatever that means in this day and age) and ''hate speech''?
  8. 4 ANT KATZ 09 Jan
    No. It is saying that a lot of their material would fall under that category in terms of the SA Constitution. That would result in an SAHRC complaint, a sanction by the Equality Court, etc. Whether the material is About The Pope, Jews or Christians. The rules are the same. We should be glad that we are the beneficiaries of this same Constitution which the SAJBD has used on numerous occasions to silence anti-Semites. And... read my lips... while I love the work of Charlie Hedbo, I cannot publish anything they produce that would be considered illegal in SA. What are you not getting? Can someone please help me to explain. 
    I even have a good laugh when they do anti-Jewish lampooning. 
  9. 3 nat cheiman 10 Jan
    Why is it that Islam spawn so many terrorists?
    Why are there so many different interpretations of the Koran?
    Why are the muslims silent every time there is a terror attack?
    How is it possible that in such a small community, no one knows about these lunatics?
    How can you hide from your family, a rocket grenade launcher?
    The answers are all clear . [Sorry, Nat, you can't make that statement. It is illegal  -ED] Beneath their robes they smile and are happy.
    They believe that they are going to teach the west a lesson. So far they are .
  10. 2 Choni 10 Jan
    "even I have a good laugh when they do anti-Jewish lampooning".
    Wow! Mr. Editor, I reckon that when someone acts or talks, even jokingly , against Jews, he is acting against the God of Israel. Certainly nothing to have a good laugh at.
    It is not Gary who should apologise, but you yourself.
  11. 1 nat cheiman 18 Jan
    Choni, the problem with the world is that no one has a sense of humour anymore. Jokes about jews are as old as the centuries after Moses. Personaly, I do not choose to read them but freedom of speech is essential. Why can't I say I hate XYZ? We are curtailed in this country. Now I say " Ï dislike YOU KNOW WHO!!!!  " Its insane but that's how the bicuit breaks bro. 


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