Charlie Hebdo Attack Is a Wake Up Call for Israel, Too

Freedom of the press is a key component of freedom of speech, without which there is no democracy. Israel must ensure that threats on reporters don’t become actions.

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A rally in Amsterdam following an attack on the Paris headquarters of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, January 7, 2015.
A rally in Amsterdam following an attack on the Paris headquarters of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, January 7, 2015.Credit: AFP

The terror attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, in which 12 people were killed, was a strategic strike. It targeted a vital asset, not only of the French Republic, but of the entire free world.

The murderous attack was designed not only to take the lives of courageous and determined French journalists and caricaturists at an editorial meeting, but also — and mainly — to strike at freedom of the press everywhere.

It’s not yet clear whether the perpetrators have attained their goal and are sowing paralyzing fear among other journalists and media outlets. This goal must not be achieved; it would only encourage similar acts. And so democratic institutions and journalists everywhere must stand together against this murky wave that threatens to undermine freedom of the press and expression all over the world.

In Israel, as in other countries, people were appalled by the attack. Even people who had never heard of Charlie Hebdo, a publication with no parallel in Israel, could be no less than deeply shocked by the scenes broadcast from Paris.

The attack in Paris’ 11th arrondissement should rouse Israeli public opinion over events here too and serve as a warning sign. Israel has already seen a terror attack against a commentator – Zeev Sternhell – because of his opinions. Other journalists fall victim daily to threats and intimidation because of their opinions and worldviews.

These threats have increased in recent years; they include threats against certain journalists’ lives. At Charlie Hebdo, the attack was preceded by a series of threats.

Freedom of the press is a key component of freedom of speech, without which there is no democracy. The state must protect it as a precious asset.

In light of the increasing threats against Israel’s journalists, Israelis must take a determined stand so that here too threats do not become actions. The road could be shorter than we think.

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