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Because They Were Jews

Because They Were Jews

Each of the four victims in the Paris shooting has a name. And make no mistake about it. They were murdered for being Jews.


I cannot believe the words I am hearing. White House spokesman Josh Earnest struggled to explain the comments of President Barack Obama who said that the threat of terrorism was being overstated in the media. Obama had also described the terror attack by radical Muslims on a kosher supermarket in Paris as committed by “vicious zealots who …randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.” Questioned by journalists at a press conference, one journalist spoke up and said: “I mean this was not a random shooting of a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris. This was an attack on a kosher deli. Does the president have any doubt that those terrorists attacked the deli because there would be Jews in that deli?”

The astounding response given: “The adverb the President chose (random) was used to indicate that the individuals who were killed in that terrible incident were killed not because of who they were but because of where they happened to randomly be.” After further prodding he added, “These individuals were not targeted by name, that is the point.”

So this is the point that we are left with, as the soil around the graves of those who were savagely murdered is still freshly dug? I try to define this disconcerting word – random. The dictionary spews forth images that fill my mind: aimless, purposeless, unconsidered, accidental. I feel outraged. And then we are told that “these individuals were not targeted by name.” Somehow, they were just a “bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”

Even though Earnest backtracked on Twitter after receiving a storm of criticism, I must speak out. These holy ones were murdered in cold blood because they were Jews. They died al Kiddush Hashem, sanctifying God’s Name. Even the killer said at the time, "I have 16 hostages and I have killed four, and I targeted them because they were Jewish."

Listen carefully Mr. Earnest. Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, Francois-Michel Saada, Phillipe Braham – these are the names of our beautiful Jewish men.

Listen carefully Mr. Earnest. Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, Francois-Michel Saada, Phillipe Braham – these are the names of our beautiful Jewish men. They call out to you. Their souls are the purest of the pure. Each had families who loved them. Hearts are still breaking, weeping for fathers, husbands and sons to come home. There is nothing random that happened here. And these are not just a bunch of folks. They are my brothers. We are family.

What you have done is stripped my brothers of their final dignity. You have rendered them nameless. To do so is to make each man seem somehow anonymous. You decided that they do not even deserve to be remembered by their names. How do we mourn one that we cannot call out to and recognize? You make it seem simple to forget, as if they were easily swatted away. But we will never allow you or the world to cast the memory of these holy ones aside.

These last few months have been painful for our people. We are still kindling a flame in our hearts for our three sweet boys savagely taken in the summer, the many young soldiers who courageously gave their lives so that we can live in our land today, the four great rabbis of Har Nof, beautiful baby Chaya Zeesel Braun, and now four more holy souls who were murdered because they were Jews. Yizkor! It is our responsibility to remember. We must remember, especially because the world chooses to forget.

We, the Jewish nation, will not forfeit the names that we carry. The word for soul, neshamah, is rooted in the word shem, name. We, Jews, understand that our names and our souls are forever linked. It is when an infant enters the covenant that we have a ceremony called ‘giving the name’ because the spiritual destiny of a person is contained in his name. Every child’s Jewish name becomes his and her life legacy, and expresses the sanctity that lies within. And at the end of days when one returns his soul to his Creator, there is a Kabbalist tradition to call out the name as the body is being lowered into the earth. Our names are holy.

So please, Mr. Earnest, in the silence of the night think about your words. Take a moment and reflect. We are a nation that has risen from the ashes. I, myself, carry the name of my great grandmother, Slova Channah. She was taken away by the Nazis and brutally murdered along with her innocent grandchildren. From my very first memory, I can recall my Zaydie, my grandfather’s face light up each time he would see me. He would call out to me and I would watch his eyes grow moist. I know that each time he uttered my name, the image of his mother would be revived. In a mix of terrible sadness of what was, and incredible wonder at the miracle of rebirth, my Zaydie cried. No, we are not and never will be, random. Our names define us.

It was after Cain killed Abel, that God calls out and asks “Where is Abel, your brother?” Cain replies his infamous response: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

This is the sentence that drives me to write these words. How can I possibly be silent when my brothers have gone? Is there one of us who could sleep at night restfully, and repeat “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We are one nation and together we must stand. Otherwise the words that followed as God called out to Cain will give us no peace:

“What have you done? Do you hear the voices? These are the drops of your brother’s spilled blood! They cry out to Me from the ground.”

February 10, 2015

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Visitor Comments: 59

(41) Anonymous, March 29, 2015 8:38 PM

Living in denial

When an individual persist in responding to the criminal actions of others as "random", this person lives in "denial". We have seen many times, that the action of just one individual against another, regardless of color or religion, or sex, can become a "hate crime". You don,t have to pluralize by the "hundreds" to make it just a plane criminal act. Its unfortunate, to say the
least, that when thousands of people see an incident the same way, one has to describe it in a total different way. This is where prejudice and denial develops, but when it comes from a leader, it becomes more questionable about his motives. I don't expect for everyone to like us, yet I do expect for anyone respect my believes, my persona; remembering one of the principals in Physics, " To every action, there is an equal action, with equal strength but in opposite direction".....

(40) Carlos gomez, February 17, 2015 2:10 AM

Eternal nation

The reason why we are eternal is because we care about each other and we are one big family after all, so mr. Earnest effort to diminish us is effortless. It only makes us stronger and more united. Once again the aim to ignore us has failed.

(39) Anonymous, February 16, 2015 3:01 AM

Jews need guns/weapons

One of Hitler's first edicts was to confiscate the guns of Jews, to make them even more vulnerable. If anti Semites, whether in the U.S. or Europe, knew Jews had guns and would protect themselves with it and actually fight instead of running, or even shooting the attackers, there were would be fewer Jews killed and bullied. France's Jews need personal guns. It's not enough to hire a guard, guards can be easily killed. The French gov't can't keep hundreds of army troops protecting Jews at taxpayers' expense because that will make the anti Jews even angrier. Jews must protect themselves. It's like any other bully, if they know you'll fight until the end, they won't try. It's time that Jews in America and Europe tried to get gun licenses.

(38) Chava, February 15, 2015 5:00 PM

Media coverage

While I am surprised that President Obama made that erroneous comment and obviously the attacker targeted those four innocent souls because they were Jewish ( and my heart aches again for us Jews For being targeted by heinous monsters) I wonder if Obama was trying to downplay in the media the fact that the victims were Jewish in an effort to protect Jews from being attacked again? I think the media attention the terroists get acts as an incentive for them and I sometimes wonder: if the media did not report these heinous acts of terror would the terroists be as likely to commit them? It's somewhat of a catch 22 because it is important that people be aware that Jews are being victimized but at the same time the medias attention on these brutal crimes I believe sometimes encourages these terroist monsters in their campaign of hate.

Gary Rosen, February 15, 2015 6:01 PM

Obama not trying to "protect" Jews

"I wonder if Obama was trying to downplay in the media the fact that the victims were Jewish in an effort to protect Jews from being attacked again?"

I do not wonder that at all. He was trying to "protect" Muslims. He has no desire to protect Jews.

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