Thoughts after the Paris attacks – Raymond Wofsy, member of Jews Say No! educator/activist living in Paris.

Jews Against Islamophobia, a coalition of Jews Say No! (jewssayno@gmail.com) and Jewish Voice for Peace-NY (jvp-nyc-coordinating@googlegroups.com), would like to share the thoughts of Raymond Wofsy, member of Jews Say No! and educator/activist who is living in Paris.

I am so sad today. My heart goes out to the families and friends of
the people who were killed and who are still in the hospital.

I feel very touched by these murders. Friends of mine were in close
proximity, and friends of friends are in the hospital or were killed.
One of the restaurants that was attacked is next to a vegan spot that
Felix and I go to often. All of these places are places I know well
and that I could easily have been at or near on Friday.

It feels hard to mourn because so much of the collective mourning here
seems to be centered around nationalism, the French flag, and
celebrating how wonderful France is. I cannot separate French
nationalism from colonial racism, Islamophobia, and imperialism. So
how do I feel my feelings right now? I am sad, upset, angry, but I do
not agree with the French government and I do not valorize the French
state. I am trying to hold all this together and to mourn in a way
that feels right to me.

I believe, as analysts have said, that these terrorist attacks were
not the beginning of a war in France, but the manifestation of wars
France is already participating in, specifically by bombing Syria.
France was at war, is at war, and now we are seeing what war looks
like in our own city. Terrorist attacks happen in many places and
they only get this type of attention when they target Europeans or
people from the U.S. I am especially close to Paris because this is
my home right now. I have been given a glimpse of what it feels like
to live with this type of violence and death, and I am thinking of the
millions of people who live with this type of fear everyday.

In a country where it is illegal to wear a hijab in public buildings,
where my Arab friends talk how strangers look at them with racism and
fear on their faces, about being afraid to go outside, and where
violent anti-Muslim attacks increased 500% after the Charlie Hebdo
attack, I am very afraid of what is to come. I am also heartened by
some of the analysis I am reading in friend’s Facebook posts and in
articles from activist organizations. I am trying to end on a
positive note here, hopeful that we can stand together against this
Islamophobic backlash, which has already started.

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