How Shall We React to the Terror in Paris?

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World Trade Center’s spire lit in France’s colors: blue, white and red.

Our prayers are with the victims of the horrible terrorist attacks across Paris. Now is the time to grieve.

The natural reaction is to strike back and avenge the carnage. But before we do, let us pause and consider our actions, making them deliberate and thoughtful, to do more than lash out and punish: Who is the enemy and how do we best work to defeat them in the long-term war of ideologies in which we are engaged?  We are compelled to answer this question before we can take the next step.

It is enticing to react and retaliate, but violence untargeted or mistargeted will serve to create more victims and foment more hatred. The threats are real, but we need to know who the adversary is and the most effective ways to combat the enemy. Precipitous action will do far more harm than good.

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Walls of the Old City Jerusalem lit with image of French flag.

Sadly, some struggle to support the French, seeing this tragedy as an opportunity to say “turnabout is fair play” due to perceived and real anti-Semitism in France. We are better than that. The Jewish values of chesed (kindness) and rachamim (mercy) compel us to reach out and provide comfort and support. Our compassion helps us to rise above all kinds of hatred and Judaism becomes a beacon of light to the nations.  We reach out to the people of France with a unique understanding of the pain and suffering they endure, uniting with them in a battle against the darkness.  We need to declare the principles of liberté, égalité, fraternité belong to all of us.  By doing so, we demonstrate that our values give us strength, the strength to love others and the strength to fight when we must against those who would eradicate us.

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