How should we respond to the foul terrorist attack on a French newspaper?

This is a guest post by Rabbi Zvi Solomons, Reading Hebrew Congregation

Well, it has happened again. Islamist terrorists have attacked our freedoms, targeting on this occasion the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Until recently the French felt that they were exempt from such attacks, because they had found a way of accommodating their own Islamist threat. Clearly, nobody can feel safe these days even of they thought they could avoid the attention of the extremists. Such, they should now realise, is the nature of extremism.

So, we now ask ourselves, how should we respond to such a foul and disgusting attack on our fundamental liberties? The voices of reaction will surely demand some kind of war. Since we are already some 14 years into a war on terror this is ludicrous. It is rather like declaring war on Germany every September 3rd after 1939, every anniversary of the original declaration. That would be pointless. Being already at war, so to speak, we need to find new and better ways of ensuring that we convey our reaction more effectively to those who wish to silence us, such that they think twice, and indeed lose out from their attempts at destroying our western liberal values. They need to see that their actions lead directly to their own loss, since they see the world in those terms.

I therefore suggest three reactions:

First, subscribe for one year to the paper attacked. Even if you don’t read French, you are supporting an organisation which clearly is doing something valuable for free speech, because these of people which to destroy that particular Western Value. You can find Charlie Hebdo’s subscriptions online. Abonnement is the French word.

Second, publish one of their old cartoons – preferably one which will most enrage the Islamists. State very clearly as you publish it that you’re doing this in memory of the cartoonist, perhaps Charb, or one of the other murdered cartoonists. Choose something they want to stop being published. This should not be because you wish to upset Muslims, but let the message go out clearly that one way to ensure the material which they hate becomes more widely dispersed is to attack the object of hate hate. Put it out by email and social media. You can also Spread this article on the internet to show others how to stand up to these ideological bullies. For every such incident let it be so. It is a direct result of such attacks that more such material gets posted, more subscriptions are sold.

And third, let’s apply ourselves to spreading light. When terrorists attacked the Lubavitch house in Mumbai, the response was to raise money to build a new one. When the terrorists killed Jews at prayer in Jerusalem the response was to show how we appreciated the self-sacrifice of the Arab Druze policeman and to support his young family. Let us support those who have lost loved ones, and ensure that the world is a better more tolerant place as a result.

To misquote that pioneer of liberal values, Voltaire: I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.