Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defied any number of weak, equivocal political narratives underfoot this Sunday in his statements at the Grand Synagogue, clearly stating: “The truth and righteousness are with us. Our common enemy is extreme Islam – not Islam, not regular extremists, but extreme Islam.”
The Jerusalem Post reports that when Netanyahu took the podium, “the cavernous sanctuary resonated with shouts of his nickname, ‘Bibi, Bibi.'” His biggest applause came when he mentioned both the blessing of Jews being able to live in France… or relocate to Israel:
I want to say to you what I say to all our Jewish brothers, that you have a full right to live secure and peaceful lives with equal rights wherever you desire, including here in France. […]
…these days we are blessed with another privilege, a privilege that didn’t exist for generations of Jews – the privilege to join their brothers and sisters in their historic homeland of Israel.
The full text of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech is available in English here. He saluted the bravery of all those who stood up against the terrorist cell that attacked Charlie Hebdo magazine:
Today I marched through the streets of Paris, in one line with leaders from around the world, in order to say that terror must end. It is time that we fight against terror together. And I would like to use this opportunity to salute the French security forces who acted with remarkable bravery, as well as to express my appreciation to the Malian, who is a Muslim, who helped save seven Jews.
My dear brothers and sisters, I came here from Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, to share in your pain over the murders of Francois-Michel, Philippe, Yoav and of Yohan, who bravely tried to grab the terrorist’s gun and was fatally wounded. The memory of our four holy brothers will be forever engraved on the hearts of our people.
Netanyahu expounded on his point about the unified threat of Islamism, and the need for a unified response:
Today we bow our heads in memory of the victims in Paris. However, as representatives of an ancient and proud people, we stand tall against evil because we can overcome it. “The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread” – because truth and justice are on our side. And here is the truth: Our shared enemy is radical Islam, not Islam and not just radicals – radical Islam. This form of Islam has many names: ISIS, Hamas, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, al-Shabab, Hezbollah; but they are all branches from the same poison tree.
Although the various factions of radical Islam are given to local bloody conflicts, including amongst themselves, they all share the same aspiration: To impose a dark tyranny on the world, to return humanity one thousand years to the past. They trample anyone who does not share their path, first and foremost their Muslim brothers, but their greatest hatred is saved for Western culture, that same culture that respects freedom and equal rights – all the things they so despise.
For this reason it is not a coincidence that radical Islam has sought to destroy Israel from the very day it declared its independence: Because Israel is the only Western democracy in the Middle East, because Israel is the only place that is truly safe for Christians, women, minorities, that respects all human rights.
He stressed that the entire civilized world is under attack, pointedly refuting the notion – fashionable in many Western political circles – that all of the West’s problems with Islamist terror would vanish if Israel went away:
Well, here is another truth: Radical Islam does not hate the West because of Israel. It hates Israel because it is an organic part of the West. It rightly views Israel as an island of Western democracy and tolerance in an ocean of fanaticism and violence that it wishes to impose on the Middle East, Europe and the entire world.
Israel is not under attack because of this or that detail of its policies, but rather because of its very existence and nature. But we are not the only ones under attack. Look around you: The entire world is under attack, the entire world – the Twin Towers in New York, the subways in London and Madrid, tourists in Bali, students at schools in Russia and Pakistan, a hotel in Mumbai, the mall in Nairobi.
A very short path connects the issuing of the fatwa against the author Salman Rushdie, the murder of Theo van Gogh in Holland and the attacks on Jews in Israel and around the world – it is a short distance from this to the murderous attacks in Paris on the office of Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket not far from here. These are not isolated actions and we must see what they have in common. Otherwise we will not be able to fight against terror in methodical and consistent manner.
We must recognize that there is a global network of radical Islam at work – a network of hatred, fanaticism and murder. I believe that this threat will only grow larger when thousands of terrorists come to Europe from the killing fields of the Middle East. The danger will grow much greater and will become a serious threat to humanity at large if radical Islam gains control over nuclear weapons, and therefore we must use all means to prevent Iran from acquiring an atomic weapon. We must support each other in this fateful struggle against radical Islamic fanatics wherever they are.
Israel stands with Europe and Europe must stand with Israel. As the civilized world today stands with France against terror, so must it stand with Israel against terror. It is the exact same terror. Those who slaughtered Jews in the synagogue in Jerusalem and those who slaughtered Jews and journalists in Paris belong to the same murderous terrorist movement. They should be condemned in the same measure and they must be fought in the same manner.
Netanyahu repeated this message during a visit to the Hyper Cacher kosher grocery store where an associate of the Charlie Hebdo shooters took women and children hostage, murdered several of his captives, and was ultimately shot down by the police. “There is a direct line between the attacks of the Islamic extremists around the world, and the attack here at the kosher grocery in the center of Paris,” he said.
The Jerusalem Post quotes Netanyahu warning French Jewish community leaders, “If the world doesn’t unite against terror, the plague of terror that we saw here will increase in a way people cannot imagine.” He listed the evidence for his belief in one universal threat, which will prevail unless it meets an unflinching unified response from the civilized world, including Muslims who want no part of Islamist terror. Is there any evidence that could be introduced to disprove his diagnosis, any political theory or moral argument that could displace his recommended solution? No problem has ever been solved by refusing to see it clearly, and evil has never been routed by those who were afraid to call it by name.
His statements this weekend echoed a theme he has repeated several times over the past year, in which he ties various agents of Islamic extremism into a unified threat the Western world must confront directly. As he put it to the United Nations General Assembly in September, “ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree. When it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. And what they share in common, all militant Islamists share in common.”