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This week in jihad


The news often numbs.  Not always.

jewfranceI was shaken by the scene from the Libyan beach on Sunday.  The Islamic State's local branch beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians.  Christians have known beheadings; there have been martyrs aplenty from St. Paul to St. Thomas More.  Then the 20th century produced more Christian martyrs than the previous 19 centuries combined, as the totalitarian regimes of left and right agreed that the Christian Church needed to be eliminated.

Still, it remains shaking that the martyrs continue in our century.  The Islamic State, in brutally murdering 21 adherents of the Coptic Orthodox Church, spoke of them as "crusaders," as if they were an alien presence in Egypt.  The Coptic Christians have been in Egypt since before Islam existed.  Indeed, it was the aggression of Islamic forces against this region's aboriginal Christians that prompted the Crusades to begin with.

Our quondam colleague Mark Steyn pointed out that Sunday's soul-shattering horror capped a horrific week of Islamist jihad.  On Monday, Boko Haram took 20 hostages in Cameroon and detonated a car bomb in Niger, where the firebombing of dozens of Christian churches in recent weeks led the Catholic bishops there to suspend all Sunday Masses.  On Wednesday, the Islamic State bombed Baghdad, killing dozens of Iraqis.  On Thursday, al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula seized a military base in Yemen, killing four soldiers.  On Friday, Boko Haram killed five people in Chad.  Saturday brought the killing of the Danish film director and Jewish security guard in Copenhagen.  Then Sunday, the blood of the 21 Copts flowed into the great Mediterranean Sea itself.  It's numbing and devastating at the same time.

Brutal violence is one end of the spectrum; the other is the normalization of being under siege.  On my flight to Tel Aviv I met a French international business consultant, the sort who "commutes" across the Atlantic for clients.  He has worked and studied in his native France as well as in North America.  His wife studied in Canada.  Professional and affluent, he told me he was moving his family to Israel in a few months.  I asked why.

"The usual reasons, of course," he replied.  I then realized he was Jewish.

I knew that last year French Jews, for the first time, constituted the largest number of any nationality making Aliyah — the ingathering of Jews from the diaspora to Israel.  Some 7,000 came in 2014, and the number is expected to be between 12,000-15,000 this year in the wake of the murders at the kosher supermarket in Paris last month.

I had read the stories about the growing Islamist threat to Jewish life in France, but thought that the wealthy and well-connected could insulate themselves from it.

"Was it the supermarket killings?" I asked; even the rich have to buy groceries.

"The usual reasons, of course," he replied.  I then realized he was Jewish.

It wasn't.  It was living under siege as the default condition of being Jewish.  His three children attend a Jewish school where the French army has soldiers posted 24 hours a day.  They sleep in the gymnasium.  A Jewish school in Paris now must also be a garrison.  I didn't know that.  My seat-mate was able to joke about it, saying the soldiers can only be posted for a few weeks at a time, lest they gain too much weight from the home-cooked meals the Jewish mothers bring them in gratitude.  But it is not a situation that makes anyone laugh, and so a very successful Jew born and raised in France will move to Tel Aviv this summer.  He reports that at least two-thirds of his professional and social circle is considering the same.

"There is no future for Jews in western Europe," Natan Sharansky, the former Russian dissident and Israeli leader told Arutz Sheva here, an Israeli radio news service.  Sharansky heads up the Jewish Agency, which assists Jews abroad to move to Israel.

So it has been this past week — on a global scale, jihadi violence in several countries of varying degrees of savagery.  Then on an individual level, a successful and cosmopolitan father of three young children says that "for the usual reasons" he has concluded that Paris is not safe for Jews.  Or at least, the price of making it safe for Jews in the face of jihadism is too high for his children to pay.

In Europe, Sharansky was criticized for saying that Jews had no future there.  But his analysis is blood-chillingly credible in a week in which there is no present for Christians in Libya.



NationalPostFather Raymond J. de Souza, "This week in jihad." National Post, (Canada) February 19, 2015.

Reprinted with permission of the National Post and Fr. de Souza.

The Author

desouza Father Raymond J. de Souza is chaplain to Newman House, the Roman Catholic mission at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Convivium and a Cardus senior fellow, in addition to writing for the National Post and The Catholic Register. Father de Souza is on the advisory board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.

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