“The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘Lord, save me!’ The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, He saved me.” (Psalm 116:3–6)
The victims of the Paris attacks were buried at ceremonies in France and Israel yesterday.
As the French president, Francois Hollande, led the tributes, he pinned a medal to a blue cushion on each coffin.
“In the name of the French Republic we make you a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur,” he said, bowing briefly before each coffin.
In Israel, thousands of mourners attended the funeral of the four Jewish victims of terrorism at a kosher supermarket in Paris, joining dignitaries and the families of the four slain.
“On this day, when four new graves have been dug in the soil of Jerusalem, the entire State of Israel embraces you with love,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the families. “These graves are the final resting place of Philippe, Yoav, Yohan and François-Michel. Four dear, upstanding people who loved their fellows. Four people who, like the victims from Toulouse who are buried here, were murdered only because they were Jewish. Their lives were cut short in a frenzy of hatred by a despised murderer.”
On Sunday, in the wake of a series of attacks on what included the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher market in Paris, a crowd of 3.7 million, according to French reports, marched in a show against terror and to honor the 17 victims of the series of attacks.
Some 40 heads of state led the massive unity rally, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu among them.
It is considered the largest demonstration in French history.
On Sunday morning before the rally, Netanyahu described the march as being “part of a renewed struggle against Islamic terrorism that threatens all of humanity.” (Israel HaYom)
The magazine had published cartoons of Muhammad, which is prohibited by Islam, creating a backlash of threats against the publication.
Wednesday’s eyewitness Corinne Rey told reporters that the Kouachis, French-Algerian brothers responsible for the attack, “claimed to belong to al Qaeda.” She said that after they shot up the office, they shouted, “We took vengeance for the prophet.” (McClatchyDC)
Cherif and Said Kouachi who had a history of Jihadi involvement, murdered 12 people that day—including the publisher, his armed bodyguard, two police officers, and several beloved French cartoonists.
As the deadliest terror attack in French history, a grassroots “Je Suis Charlie” (“I Am Charlie”) campaign followed, with international cartoonists drawing their own depictions of what has been seen as an attack on free speech.
Meanwhile, in a final bid to evade the police, the Kouachis were holed up in a printing plant in Dammartin-en-Goele through Friday evening when they confronted police with a spray of live fire and were shot dead.
Around the same time, 32-year-old Senegalese Frenchman Amedy Coulibaly—whom police say was connected to the Kouachis—doubled the horror of Wednesday’s strike with the violent seizure of kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher just hours before Shabbat.
A day after shooting a police officer in Paris, Coulibaly entered the grocery store with guns and a knife. Riddling the room with bullets, Coulibaly killed three patrons and one employee, before taking 16 others hostage.
In the chaos, Hyper Cacher employee Lassana Bathily, a Malian Muslim, managed to hide six Jewish patrons, including a toddler in the downstairs freezer before escaping from the store. (USA Today)
“When I turned off the cold, I put them (the hostages) in, I closed the door, I told them to stay calm,” 24-year-old Bathily said. The employee then turned off the lights, and the patrons hid huddled together until rescuers ended the siege, killing Coulibaly. (CNN)
Coulibaly’s four victims were:
- Store employee Yohan Cohen, 22, who witnesses say intervened to save the life of a three-year-old, thereby stepping into harm’s way and losing his own life.
- Yoav Hattab, 21, who had returned to Paris two days earlier from a Taglit-Birthright trip in Israel. Hattab is the son of the Chief Rabbi of Tunis and was studying marketing and international trade.
- Phillipe Braham, 45, was a computer engineer and father of four. He also was a Torah-observant Jew and a Zionist who dreamed of making Aliyah.
- Francois-Michel Saada, 64, was a pension fund manager and father of two. Both children live in Israel.
All four were buried Bnei Brak, Israel.
In the wake of the attack, a video emerged showing Coulibaly pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, while France’s RTL radio station recorded Coulibaly telling his hostages, “leave the Muslims alone; we will leave you alone.” (Washington Post; Haaretz)
Sunday’s march brought the Israeli prime minister alongside dozens of other world leaders—including British Prime Minister David Cameron, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
On Monday, Netanyahu thanked the French Jewish community for their hospitality, emphasizing that he was moved when he met with the bereaved families.
“I embraced the two brothers and I told them that I understand their feelings very well and that the entire Jewish People embraces the families. This was a moment of genuine Jewish solidarity. The visit to Paris was also a moment of general solidarity with humanity. As soon as the security problem was resolved, thus allowing me to come, it was natural that I come here, it was important that I come here and therefore I came here.
“There is great significance in what the world saw, the Prime Minister of Israel marching with all the world leaders in a united effort against terrorism, or at least in a call for unity. This is something the State of Israel has been saying for many years. This is what we are saying here today with one simple addition: If the world does not unite now against terrorism, the blows that terrorism has struck here will increase in a magnitude that can scarcely be conceived; therefore, I hope that Europe will unite. I hope that it will also take action.
“Israel supports Europe in the struggle against terrorism and the time has come for Europe to support Israel in the exact same struggle,” he emphasized.
On Friday, Netanyahu told French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave that all of Israel, which knows too well the pain of terrorist attacks, was mourning “with our French brothers and sisters.”
The Islamic attack against the Jews of Paris has changed recent forecasts for French immigration to Israel.
Prior to Friday’s attack, Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver had predicted that 2015 would draw more than 10,000 French immigrants to Israel, after 2014 brought 7,000, more than doubling the previous year’s 3,400 immigrants.
With anti-Semitism boiling over, Rabbi Moshe Sabag of the Great Synagogue of Paris estimates that “14,000 or 15,000 immigrants will come to Israel this year as a result of what has happened. There is a sense of insecurity and that these events are just getting worse.” (Arutz Sheva)
Jewish blogger Steevo Le Legende, who lives in Paris, added in an interview with Ynet, “We have been suffering from this situation in France since 2000. … The attacks repeat themselves; we are at the beginning of a terror operation and the Jews are in the front row.”
Before departing for Paris on Sunday morning, Netanyahu issued a welcome to France’s Jewish community: “Any Jew who wants to move to Israel will be welcomed here with open arms.”
While Friday’s incident showed Bathily’s compassion across religious lines, the anti-Semitic acts that have occurred in France since 2010 can be attributed entirely to Islamists, states Michael Salberg, director of international affairs for the New York-based Anti-Defamation League. (CNN)
“Violence against Jewish individuals and institutions in the last five years has all been generated from the Muslim population,” Salberg told USA Today on Friday.
While Islamic violence against Jews has caused several thousand French Jews to leave France, recently Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who is the son of Spanish immigrants, stated before the massacres that the French Republic would be at risk if French Jews fled in large numbers.
“The choice was made by the French Revolution in 1789 to recognize Jews as full citizens,” Valls told Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview. “To understand what the idea of the republic is about, you have to understand the central role played by the emancipation of the Jews. It is a founding principle.”
“If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure,” Valls said. (The Atlantic)
“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.” (Psalm 118:5–7)