click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

France's Jews: Canary in the Coal Mine

France's Jews: Canary in the Coal Mine

If France is not safe for Jews, then the very future of Europe – and indeed the civilized world - is in real danger.


The voices proclaiming that France is no longer safe for Jews and that they should, therefore, emigrate are dangerously misguided. If France is not safe for Jews, then the very future of Europe – and indeed the world – is in jeopardy.

History has demonstrated that Jews are the proverbial canary in a coal mine. Just as canaries in a mine die before humans are aware of undetectable toxic gases, such as methane and carbon monoxide, and in dying warn of impending disaster, so is the state of Jews in their societies the test for the safety of the environment there. If the Jews in a particular society are, like the canaries, singing and thriving then all is well. If not, that is an early warning of danger ahead. Sometimes, threats of danger to civilization are not noticed. The miners rely on their canaries, and the world ought to rely on the position of Jews to assess the threat level to civilized society.

In 1933, the danger that Adolf Hitler posed to the world was not yet clear, but when Jews became unsafe in Hitler’s Germany, that was a sign of the toxins of hatred seeping into the world – toxins that tragically went unnoticed until too late, and which eventually engulfed humanity in a war that lead to the death of 60 million people.

The plight of Jews in France bodes evil for the world.

The toxins of radical Islam were not initially evident there. But later the canaries stopped singing and started dying. A few years ago, the murder of Rabbi Sandler and the young children of the Jewish day school in Toulouse occurred, followed by many other attacks on French Jewry, all of which were early warning signs of the lethal threat posed by radical Islam. A society in which Jews are not safe will ultimately not be secure for journalists, or for freedom, or for any values of human decency. Thus, the two atrocities of last week – the savage killing of journalists at Charlie Hebdo and of Jews in the kosher supermarket are connected in a profound way.

The chilling and ironic symbol of this connection is the Grand Synagogue of Paris. On the Shabbat after the attacks, the synagogue was closed for services for the first time since the Nazi occupation of France. A society in which synagogues cannot open freely and in which Jews are not safe is one that is itself in danger. If Europe becomes Judenrein once again, the civilized world will have succumbed to the worst forces of barbarism and savagery.

World Jewry must stand shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish community of France, but so must every civilized nation on earth, for the future of the whole world depends on it.

The real message that needs proclaiming is that France must become safe for its Jews if the world is to defeat the forces of radical Islam that seek its destruction.

Any country where a Jew cannot live in safety and security presents a foreboding sign that the forces of freedom, tolerance, human dignity and sanctity of life are under threat there and that toxic forces exist, which undermine the very survival of its society.

The signs globally are not good. The fact that virtually every Jewish institution – synagogues, schools, community centers – throughout the globe, has to be heavily protected against the threat of Islamist terrorism, is a sign of the dangers that the civilized world faces from these ominous forces. The fact that Jews cannot exist in places such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim countries, is a moral disgrace which portends danger for the very future of humanity.

The warning signs have been manifest for many years. What individual Jews are to the societies in which they live, the State of Israel is to the community of nations. Israel is the canary in the coal mine of the community of nations. Suicide bombers first launched themselves against the State and people of Israel, and then after that came the attacks of 9/11 in New York, 7/7 in London, in Bali, and in many other places. The violent extremism of Hamas and Hezbollah were originally directed against the Jewish State, but now similar forces engulf and threaten the very existence of Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and others.

And as the great powers of the world negotiate with the Islamic Republic of Iran, they should realize that while today its nuclear ambitions are directed at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, history has taught that tomorrow their targets will be Paris, London, New York and Cairo.

Poisonous gases are rife throughout the world. In the week before the Paris attacks, allegedly 2,000 people were butchered by Boko Haram. And then in the week of the attacks 10-year-old girls were sent as suicide bombers to attack markets in Potiskum, Nigeria. This came a few weeks after barbarians butchered more than 200 children in Peshawar, Pakistan. These attacks constitute the dire danger and sickness of a brutal and savage movement that threatens all civilized decent people throughout the world.

Now is the time to act.

The future of the civilized world is at stake. A global alliance of people from across all faiths – Jews, Muslims and Christians together – and countries must rally together to defend human civilization from jihadist barbarism. The test of victory will be the state of the Jews. When people around the world declare “Je suis Juif” (“I am a Jew”) – they are touching a profound truth, upon which the survival of humanity depends. When Jews, like the canary in the mine, are singing and thriving, and can once again safely walk the streets of Paris, and all of Europe, openly and proudly, when synagogues and Jewish schools don’t need armed guards to be safe, when the State of Israel isn’t faced with mortal enemies constantly seeking its destruction, then we will know that the civilized world is safe once more.

January 17, 2015

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 18

(16) scott, January 22, 2015 2:53 AM

cats and birds

I disagree that the recent attacks on Jews in europe has any overriding social meaning other than Europeans and Arabs don't like Jews. History is replete with European and Arab slaughters of Jews that were localized to to Jews. People have a tendency to place incredible importance to whatever era in which we live. The history of Jews in Europe is one of periodic persecution and slaughter. The recent deaths of ten or so Jews is only remarkable in that its such a small number and is getting so much attention. Not to say that one death is not the death of an entire world. Jews get murdered in Europe. Always have. Always will. The only thing that fluctuates is who is doing the killing, what their current reason for hating us is and how many of us they manage to slaughter. Today its Muslim Frenchmen...yesterday it was good catholics collaborating with Nazis. If you are a jew and choose to live in Europe you are choosing to take these chances. For nothing. Youre dying to reassert the right of jews to live among those who hate us. Its like one of those YouTube videos where cats and birds are friends. Its cute...but sooner or later that cat will get hungry or scared and the bird is in trouble. Don't be the bird.

(15) Anonymous, January 22, 2015 1:14 AM

Jews are not canaries.

Standing with the Jews of France should include encouraging them to resettle in Israel. If anything shoudl have been learned from the holocaust, it is to recognize danger and to seek safe haven when anti-Semitism becomes pervasive in their societal setting.

Unlike the period of the emergence of the Nazis, today there is a Jewish State, if you haven't noticed. If Jews are unwelcome anywhere, in this day and age, they have a real safe option, where Jews, even if under attack, can and do fight back.

There is no compelling reason for Jews to remain in France to weather the storm of anti-Semitism, for the benefit of the French. We should not aspire to be the "canary" for the French or even all of Europe. History should have taught us that being the canary is not good for the canary. Let the Euroeans be their own "canaries".

Out of the holocaust Israel was established. Jews do not owe Europeans or anyone else a solidarity for the misery they have brought upon themselves. Futhermore, if not for the anti-semitism conducted by Moslems in Europe, the Europeans would be the topic and cause as to why Jews should leave France and similarly the rest of Europe.

The Rabbi is dealistic and naive, but his point of view would usher in a repetition of the dilemma of the Jews in World War II Europe. My recommendation to him is to concentrate on his congregation regarding religious matters rather than urging Jews to "be the canary".

(14) Anonymous, January 20, 2015 7:19 PM

Refusing To Return To Israel, Is Just Another Form Of Assimilation

Until Moshiach (now that the existence of the 'State of Israel' is real), ‎the command is for all Jews to make aliyah to Israel. After ‎Moshiach everything will change - not just for the Jews, but for the entire world. ‎

But until that time comes, if there exists the means and ‎opportunity, not going home to Israel is a refusal to obey one of the most singularly greatest of Mitzvahs. It is also just another means in which to justify living separately from the responsibility of Israel. ‎

Assimilation is not just marrying a gentile, cutting hair, not ‎wearing a kippah, not partaking in Shabat, not studying Torah, ‎not going to shul/synagogue, or not living in a Jewish ‎‎'neighborhood'. ‎

Assimilation is a deceitful self-delusion that you can live ‎anywhere in the world as long as you diligently carry on Mesorah. ‎

And that is just not so. Assimilation is much more subtle. ‎

Jews have lived for so many millennia away from their ‎connection to, and outside, their homeland, as well as their ‎intended way of life, that actually going home to Israel is what is ‎foreign to them.

They sing songs and pray prayers to and for the ‎‎'return'. But in reality, they delay, there is ALWAYS a 'reason', ‎ALWAYS an excuse. But the real truth is - they REFUSE TO ‎RETURN.‎

If the corollary that Jews are the proverbial canary in the coal ‎mine should be a cautioned parallel for the rest of the world, then it is no ‎less true if all Jews - until the Moshiach - live IN the land of Israel ‎‎- as commanded by Torah. ‎

If the thought of living in Israel is 'foreign' to you - you have ‎been ‎assimilated.‎

Please come home. Only in Israel can we heal and fulfill our Destiny.

(13) Two Olive Trees, January 20, 2015 11:39 AM

It is time to wake up!

Dearly Beloved Jews,
I am a Christian and I hope to answer some of the inadequate arguments raised on this website.Firstly, if anyone understands Islam, one would know that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim. A Muslim might be moderate, but his religion is not. Secondly, we are told that these Muslim terrorists were grieved with French military foreign policy. So why did they target Jews then? Have you all forgotten that Islam exists to exterminate the Jews? Do you think that all the surrounding Muslim nations ideology who have vowed to obliterate Israel, only came from the 1967, 6 day war conflict?

Well, I am here to tell you no! Islam cannot peaceably co-exist with Jews or any religion. Have you all not noticed that it is not Jews who are threatening freedom of speech anywhere; who are committing acts of terrorism around the world; or who have instigated no-go areas in Christian countries. No. There is only one religion which cannot live peaceable alongside its neighbours.

Also, there is only one religion which justifies lying, murder, rape and terrorism all in the name of god, and it is not a loving, compassionate, merciful Judeo-Christian God which is known to practice such things.

Therefore, it was not such an outrageous hatred against French foreign policy which brought these grieved Muslims to attack French government buildings or military installations in France. No. They targeted peaceable, defenceless, law-abiding Jewish citizens; not caring for who they are.

(12) John, January 19, 2015 6:24 PM

Time to end the Diaspora!

Jews in France, England, Germany...all of Europe, the very survival of you has nothing to do with Europe. Not even the United States should be a safe haven. It's time for all Jews to go home, and be where G-d intended you to be. Your life was never intended to be as second/third/fourth class citizens, but equal in your own land of Israel.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment