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The Battle Against Terror Is Our Battle

Rabbi Eckstein kneeling down to pray in Paris

January 7, 2016

Dear Friend of Israel,

A year ago today, the world was stunned by the events unfolding in Paris.

First, brothers Sherif and Said Kouachi – both masked, dressed in black, and armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles – forced their way into the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, killing 12, including staff members, security personnel, and a guest. The next day, a lone gunman armed with a pistol and a machine gun shot several people in a Paris suburb, killing a policewoman. And the following day, while the brothers were engaged in an 8-hour standoff with police, gunman Amedy Coulibaly took several people hostage at a kosher supermarket in Paris, demanding the Kouachi brothers be allowed to go free. Coulibaly killed four hostages before commandos stormed the supermarket, killing him and freeing 15 other hostages.

The motivation for the interconnected crimes became clear when officials listened to the testimony of witnesses who had heard the gunmen shouting “We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed” in Arabic. Charlie Hebdo, a satirical publication, had often featured unflattering cartoons of Mohammed. The brothers, both Islamic extremists, were voicing their outrage with their targeted murders. And a sympathizer was coming to their defense with a hail of bullets in a Jewish grocery store.

Now, we have seen more heinous attacks by radical Islamists – in France, in Mali, in California, and elsewhere. These attacks have become all too familiar. Yes, they outrage and grieve us. But surprise at such acts of violent extremism ceased long ago. In Israel, we have lived with them for many years. And now, the rest of the world is coming to know – sadly – the reality Israelis face every day.

In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, and similar attacks throughout the world, I fear all of us are losing our surprise at such violence in the name of extreme Islamist ideals; this violence has become "business as usual."

My friends, the battle against this extremism is not just Israel’s battle. It is our battle. Let us pray for the day when the free world will unite, with firm resolve, to fight it. And let us pray for the day when God will bless His world with the most precious gift of shalom, peace.

Rabbi Eckstein praying

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