In the wake of the heinous terrorist attack on the office of a controversial Paris-based magazine that left 12 dead and four seriously wounded, leaders of Jewish organizations in the region reacted with alarm and empathy.
“It’s a disaster,” Roger Cukierman, president of the Central Body of Jewish Organizations in France, told Hamodia. “The Islamic war is being brought to France and touching freedom of expression. It is the same war that is in Syria and Iraq and that is in Mali and Gaza. France has to unite and fight the situation.”
Mr. Cukierman felt positively about the national response, saying that “the people and all major political parties” are committed to fighting “fanatical Islamic aggression.” However, he added, despite this resolve, the undertaking has many practical challenges.
“In general, it is very difficult to fight terrorism, because it is a war against individuals, not nations,” he said. “There are more than 1,000 French citizens fighting for jihad in Iraq and Syria right now. When they come back, they are certainly candidates to carry out attacks. Twenty percent of these people are converts, which makes them more difficult to detect.”
Simon Rodan-Benzaquen, director of AJC’s Paris office, spoke to Hamodia just after leaving a large rally in the city’s center to honor victims and support the protection of democratic freedoms.
“What Jews have been going through in France for the last 10 to 15 years is spreading to the rest of the country,” she said, referring to the spate of automobile attacks in previous weeks as well as Wednesday’s shooting. “There can be no compromise with such murderers and their heinous world-view.”
Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the Brussels-based European Jewish Congress, urged authorities not only to take the necessary security measures, but also to work against “those who promulgate hate” — presumably a reference to certain French Muslim clerics known for incitement.
“Unfortunately, there is the beginning of a wave of terror on the streets of Europe,” he said. “This is a war against freedom of speech and the European way of life which has already seen Jewish children gunned down at school and people murdered in cold blood while visiting a museum in Brussels.”