The Great Debate
“Jews have no problems with Arabs.”
Those were the words of Benjamin Hattab, the father of Yoav Hattab, one of the four killed last week in an attack on a Paris kosher grocery store, which followed the Charlie Hebdo shootings. Hattab is Tunisian and serves as the chief rabbi of the Muslim-majority North African nation — his comments, made in an interview after the attack, referred to his experience in Tunisia, not in France.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an impassioned call for French Jews to immigrate to Israel, after a series of attacks that began on the day of the Charlie Hebdo massacre killed four in a kosher supermarket in Paris. To many, it seemed like the most natural response he could deliver. After all, this is Israel’s stated raison d’etre: to provide refuge to persecuted Jews, wherever they may be. Underlying this sentiment is a deeper one, shared by Israelis across the political spectrum. It is the idea that Jewish life is at its most meaningful, and relevant, if carried out in the Jewish state.
In early 2015, the civil war in Syria will turn four years old. If current trends hold, the terrible conflict — which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions — will almost certainly continue to rage through the end of the year. That’s my prediction.