On January 27th 2015, commemorations were held world-wide in remembrance of the Holocaust. Seventy years after the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, these ceremonies are as necessary as ever, as evidenced by the past year’s rising tide of anti-Semitic attacks the world over. And while it may be impossible to stop every terrorist attack everywhere in the world, the manner in which societies and individuals react to such atrocities is just as important as “killing the bad guys.”
A case in point would be the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in early January. In the aftermath, a two million-strong march was held in the heart of Paris in support of freedom of expression. The phrase #JeSuisCharlie became the most widely used hashtag in Twitter’s history. To meet the increased demand from multitudes of first-time readers seemingly eager on making a statement against extremism, the publication run for the magazine’s January 12th 2015 issue was increased from 60,000 copies to three million, and increased again to five million, and yet again to seven million copies.
Marches, Twitter campaigns, and a massive surge in readership-yet largely relegated to the background was the fact that Jews were specifically targeted during those three terrible days in Paris. Indeed, for months before the Paris terrorist atrocities, Jews in much of Europe had been subjected to a relentless wave of vicious anti-Semitic attacks. An atmosphere of raw, unchallenged hatred for all things Jewish preceded the events in Paris, and the warning signs were there for anyone who cared to pay attention. When Jews in Denmark trying to hold an event calling for religious coexistence are chased off the streets by “Allahu Akbar” screaming-black-banner-waving thugs, then very soon someone will get it into their head to try to kill Jews in Paris.
Marches, Twitter campaigns, and millions of new readers are momentary, short-term reactions to a very long term problem which has been building up for years. In the wake of such atrocities, it is natural for individuals to feel a strong need to act, and nothing repudiates terrorism as effectively as standing with the intended targets and victims, by making a stand with the Jewish communities of Europe and the world over.
And one effective, long term method of displaying solidarity with Jewish communities worldwide is to show the same enthusiasm for their publications as the world has displayed by scooping up issues of Charlie Hebdo. To repudiate global extremism, one only needs to act on a very local level.
Şalom, the Turkish Jewish weekly tabloid, isn’t exactly an easy publication to find in Istanbul unless you know where to look. Despite a circulation of just a few thousand, Şalom has for nearly seven decades managed to put out a highly professional and relevant newspaper (far more substantial and better produced than the hopeless Syrian regime supported mouth pieces Al-Baath or Al-Thawra), with some of Turkey’s most prominent writers and journalists writing for it over the years.
Any community newspaper is a chronicle and journal of the times and events of that community’s history and its place in the world, the events that they were effected by or had an effect on, the opinions, hopes, dreams and fears of that community and its individuals; as a source for witnessing history, websites don’t come close.
And few things strike at the heart of a community’s sense of safety or belonging as attacking or intimidating its publications. For a community to lose its publication would be a devastating blow to its sense of identity, history and continuity within the larger society it inhabits.