An Update From Paris: This Jew is Still Here, and She is Not Leaving


I started about a thousand posts for Ricochet today and abandoned them all. There’s just too much to say about the past few days. I was trying to say all of it. But I realized at last that no, that’s not going to happen.

So I’ll just say this part of it. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve heard me say it already, but that’s okay. The point is important enough that it bears repeating.

If you check the Drudge Report right now, you’ll see a screaming headline:


It links to an article in the Daily Mail. The claim was made by Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle.

Mr. Pollard, it is perhaps true that every Jew you know has left Paris. But it is clearly true that you do not know every Jew in Paris.

I have not left. And I will not. And neither will my father. That is at least two of us. And I know many more.

It is true that in the end, the Nazis managed to drive my family out of France. But not before my grandfather killed thousands of them. If these eighth-rate savages think they’ll succeed in getting my family out of France twice, they will discover that I am my grandfather’s granddaughter.

I’ve been told today that “the odds are against me.” By well-meaning people, I’m sure. First, they are not. That’s absurd. What happened was a horror, and it is by no means over, but if these people think they can win against a determined modern nation-state–once it’s woken up–they are even more out of their minds than it seems. Yes, it’s a war–and that was only the opening shot. But they are not the Nazis. They’re just dumb thugs with a taste for blood–and while France may be quite a sane place overall, God help them if they push the Germans so far that they find out what real Nazis are like.

And if you want to talk about odds, I’ll tell you about odds: In my grandfather’s regiment of 1,250 men, only 250 survived. So don’t tell me about the odds: It just makes you sound like a hysteric with no sense of history or proportion.

And while we’re at it: Let’s remember who won that war.

I am Jewish. I am in France. And I am not leaving–not because of a handful of terrorist swine, and not even if there’s an army of them. This family of Jews will not be driven out of Europe twice. And as far as I’m concerned, the response a Jew should have to this outrage is the one we should have had before–when up against a far more fearsome enemy. We may die, but we’ll die fighting, and you’ll be amazed how many of you we take down with us.

So let me speak personally now to anyone who thinks he’ll get me out of here: We will always have Paris. I will always have Paris. As will all the people who belong here. You, however, will die.

I have much more to say. But there is one more thing that strikes me as more important than all the other things on my mind. There are also many terrified Muslims in France right now. And yes, some of them are my friends–and close ones.

They too are the victims of these savages. They are victims in a double sense: Terrorists are as eager to kill them as they are eager to kill anyone in France. One of the cops they killed happened to be as Muslim, as has widely been reported. And they are victims in the second sense in that they this is only country they have. They will be associated forever with those animals–but they are French citizens. They have no Israel to go to. They have nowhere else to go to. So they will stay here too.

Time asked me to write a short piece about the irreplaceable staff of Charlie Hebdo. It is hard to explain all that they meant to France. But this part is important:

In 2012, in an interview with Le Monde, Stéphane Charbonnier, Charlie Hebdo’s director, was asked if he was tempted to tone down the publication’s inclination toward the inflammatory.

“It may sound pompous,” he replied, “but I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.”

It hardly sounds pompous at all. Especially given that this is precisely what he did.

That is what he did, and it is exactly what I feel.

So no, Mr. Drudge, you got this one wrong. I am a Jew. I am in France. I am not leaving. Neither are many terrified Jews in France. Neither are many terrified Muslims. Nor are we even that terrified, to be honest. In fact, I think I’d enjoy killing these kinds of people every bit as much as my grandfather did, and rather relish the thought.

I will stay here with my Jewish friends; I will stay here with my Muslim friends, and I will stay here for all the journalists at Charlie Hebdo–who were what the West is supposed to be and what I hope it will be again. I will stay here for Charb. I will stay here for all of his colleagues. I will stay here for my Grandfather. And I will stay here because too many Jews have been driven out of Europe–and I will not be one of them.

Never again has many meanings: One of them is that.

I will not be driven out. Not even if I have to personally teach the entire French police force which end of the gun to shoot from. If they’d like some advice about that, I’m happy to offer it; if not, I will confine myself to the obvious and say: Get your act together, and quick, because you need to up your game. But I’m sure you will–practice makes perfect–and Vive La France.

I will not be leaving.


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There are 77 comments.

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  1. Thatcher

    Oh, Claire.

    Somewhere, your grandfather is applauding proudly from the wings.

    May you and your family be safe.

    • #1
    • January 10, 2015, at 1:54 PM PDT
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  2. Inactive

    While I certainly admire your stand, it is a shame that it has come to this.

    • #2
    • January 10, 2015, at 2:06 PM PDT
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  3. Inactive


    You may not have been able to say everything you wished but what you said was well worth reading.

    • #3
    • January 10, 2015, at 2:10 PM PDT
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  4. Inactive

    It is true that in the end, the Nazis managed to drive my family out of France. But not before my grandfather killed thousands of them. If these eighth-rate savages think they’ll succeed in getting my family out of France twice, they will discover that I am my grandfather’s granddaughter.


    • #4
    • January 10, 2015, at 2:14 PM PDT
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  5. Founder

    Gorgeous prose and genuine courage.


    • #5
    • January 10, 2015, at 2:20 PM PDT
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  6. Member

    As long as there is a Berlinski in Paris there will be a Paris. Bravo!

    • #6
    • January 10, 2015, at 2:35 PM PDT
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  7. Member

    Claire, I’m praying for your safety and the safety of your family and all of your friends.

    • #7
    • January 10, 2015, at 2:46 PM PDT
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  8. Member

    Thanks, Claire. I had been hoping that you and Annika would offer more insight into why one of you is staying in Europe and the other is headed to Israel. I’d like to hear the perspectives of our Israeli members as well, including Judith Levy.

    I applaud the sentiment. But France does not allow you a gun to defend yourself with. So, like most things we discuss on Ricochet, it sounds like a noble principle which is unlikely to be manifested in action.

    Do you expect any significant attempts to eliminate “no go zones” in the near future, for example? What do the first political ripples in Paris look like?

    In any case, I’m glad you are determined to beat the odds, whatever they may be.

    • #8
    • January 10, 2015, at 2:56 PM PDT
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  9. Contributor

    Jewish males in France have been instructed, for some time, to remove their headcoverings in public. Jewish schools and groceries have been targets of violence. Jewish synagogues have been made nearly invisible, for their own safety, and require armed guards.

    Claire, do you attend synagogue? Do you shop regularly at kosher butchers, bakeries, and grocery stores? Do you find yourself often in the vicinity of Jewish schools? Do you dress in a way that makes you stand out as Jewish? If not, then your risk profile just isn’t the same as those who do.

    It’s one thing to be Jewish in Paris. It’s another to be open that you’re Jewish on Paris’s streets. Being Jewish in Paris won’t make a difference unless and until it’s safe to be openly and proudly Jewish.

    • #9
    • January 10, 2015, at 2:57 PM PDT
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  10. Coolidge

    Thanks Claire. Stay strong.

    • #10
    • January 10, 2015, at 2:58 PM PDT
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  11. Contributor

    French emigration to Israel (aliyah) jumped 63% in 2013, to around 3,500 people. In 2014, it doubled to 7,000 people, beating out Ukraine as the #1 source of immigration to Israel. I just returned from an Israel trip, and heard a lot of French wherever I went.

    • #11
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:09 PM PDT
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  12. Inactive

    Aaron Miller:But France does not allow you a gun to defend yourself with.

    I live in a state that allows a person of my background the easiest possible access to a gun. I could go out tomorrow and probably buy an AK-47 in a NY minute.

    Here’s the thing; I don’t want to own a gun and if I have to in order to defend myself, my government isn’t doing its job and American society has failed.

    In fact, I would define this heinous scenario as a violation of my personal right to the pursuit of happiness.

    • #12
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:10 PM PDT
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  13. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author

    Aaron Miller: But France does not allow you a gun to defend yourself with.

    Look, Aaron, this may be true in some legal sense, but somehow those terrorists did manage to get their hands on them pretty easily.

    And that’s all I’ll say about that.

    • #13
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:11 PM PDT
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  14. Podcaster

    Never again

    • #14
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:14 PM PDT
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  15. Member

    Clearly, Claire, I forgot who I was talking to.

    • #15
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:20 PM PDT
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  16. Inactive

    “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” — Winston Churchill, October 29, 1941

    • #16
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:20 PM PDT
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  17. Member

    If France (or the U.S. for that matter) cannot do better than Hollande, prepare the Underground.

    • #17
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:25 PM PDT
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  18. Inactive

    Bon courage, Claire! Our prayers are with you and the good people of France!

    • #18
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:26 PM PDT
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  19. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author

    Son of Spengler:Do you shop regularly at kosher butchers, bakeries, and grocery stores?

    Yep! Highly recommend this one--best fellafel in Paris, by far. I gave up on the Moroccan Jewish bakery next door to me, because frankly, its rival half a block down is better. But I would shop there regularly their rival didn’t sell the best pain aux céréales in Paris.

    I live in a traditionally Jewish neighborhood. I’m surrounded by synagogues. Several Jewish schools in my neighborhood. Not sure how to “dress in way that makes me stand out as Jewish,” (people could debate what would do so, but probably not in a tasteful way). People who like killing Jews would probably find the name “Berlinski” more than enough reason to do so–not to mention the that I look as if every one of my ancestors probably came from the same Lithuanian shtetl. So I reckon my risk profile is probably good enough to say, “Sure, there’s a non-zero chance that some lunatic will want to kill me.”

    But I walk past Jews in tzizit and kippahs every day, and really, no one looks at them twice. We’re mostly–apart from weeks like this–just getting on with our lives. Not leaving.

    • #19
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:27 PM PDT
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  20. Inactive


    Here’s the thing; I don’t want to own a gun and if I have to in order to defend myself, my government isn’t doing its job and American society has failed.

    Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened, as evidenced by illegal immigration and the lack of border security.

    • #20
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:30 PM PDT
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  21. Thatcher

    Claire, you have always been of the best things about Ricochet. We have been educated by you on Twitter from Turkey, helped to understand what was going on there when no one else was talking about it. We laughed with you at getting locked in your apartment. We mourned your loss with you. Please be safe dear Claire, you are in our hearts and prayers.

    • #21
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:36 PM PDT
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  22. Inactive

    Claire Berlinski:

    Aaron Miller: But France does not allow you a gun to defend yourself with.

    Look, Aaron, this may be true in some legal sense, but somehow those terrorists did manage to get their hands on them pretty easily.

    And that’s all I’ll say about that.

    Bottom line is that the bad guys buy Black Market. Has nothing to do with the law.

    • #22
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:43 PM PDT
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  23. Thatcher

    Oh yes and I forgot to add….BRAVO! Kick a$$ and take names!

    • #23
    • January 10, 2015, at 3:46 PM PDT
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  24. Member

    I applaud your sentiment — but that’s it; you’re otherwise being foolish (with a dose of solipsistic tossed in).

    I write this as one who is in-gear to make Aliyah (emigrate to Israel), from the Boston area, in a couple of months’ time. (So certainly, I might share a bit of the solipsism fever — so sue me, at least I can assure you that the Tsarnaev horrors have never figured into my decision, nor have the growing numbers of high-potential jihadis at universities in my area.)

    It’s not a question of whether the enemy assailants are mere street thugs or top-caliber Nazi-style killing machines. (And the latter are present in various formations throughout Europe anyway — we call them Hizballah, and they’re funded by Wannsee-conference-caliber genocidal fanatics in Tehran.)

    It’s not a question of Charlie Hebdo, as significant and outrageous as that slaughter has been, nor is it even a question of Charb’s courage and martyrdom.

    It’s quite simply a matter of Jews having the freedom and sovereign empowerment to designate our mortal enemies unreservedly and explicitly, and thereupon to annihilate them before they can annihilate us (and/or to exact devastating and deterrence-restoring vengeance relative to same).

    That is the *only* meaning of “Never Again” that truly matters to Jews qua Jews. Any other meaning you wish to impute to that expression has to do with the post-Holocaust responsibilities of the Christian West, the French among them.

    And frankly, from June 1967 to the present day, the French state has honored its responsibilities (as relates to Jews, both on French and Israeli soil) largely in the breach. I am not one to tut-tut a given nation’s perceived imperatives apprehended in the light of realpolitik, but fetishizing that for decades on end — exacerbated within French/EU borders by an equal fetishization of multiculturalism — and particularly doing so with a determination to brush aside the accompanying moral cognitive dissonance (per, ahem, “Never Again” — if not Christian dictates), has come back this past week to bite with literally the force of bloody massacres.

    And just as frankly, it wasn’t as though the Jews of France, “massacred all day for His Name’s sake,” weren’t providing extensive and intensive early warnings for years on end. Where, pray tell, were the nationwide outpourings of “Je suis Ilan Halimi,” or “Nous sommes Otzar HaTorah,” or more recently “Nous sommes les Juifs des synagogues de Paris”?

    Which last example — happening (or rather, *not* happening) as it did in conjunction with Israel’s self-defense during Operation Protective Edge (Tzuk Eitan) this past Summer — returns me to the matter of Jewish freedom and sovereign empowerment when under fire.

    I arrived in Tel Aviv on a pre-Aliyah “recon” trip for job-search networking on 06 July 2014. The air-raid sirens began wailing at just about 5pm on the afternoon of 08 July, followed by the booms overhead of Iron Dome interceptors taking out Hamas rockets (funded in part by the Nazis of Tehran).

    There had been an astonishing array of Francophone Jews in the Ben-Yehuda Street vicinity where I was sojourning in Tel Aviv — at least up through 08 July. Within about a week, an equally astonishing number had fled Israel for “home.”

    I stayed on because I had to (not unlike Israelis themselves) — I needed to stick to my plans, after all. Indeed, with business as usual proceeding apace in Israel’s high-tech sector (where I was networking), and with my efforts yielding, um, well, network effects, I actually extended my visit. And subsequently, the POTUS very thoughtfully extended my sojourn even further for me with his Hamas-terror-supporting FAA flight ban to/from Ben-Gurion Airport.

    All the while, the IDF was putting the Never Again ethos — the one that matters for Jews — into practice (and itself heroically, and vigorously, into harm’s way), under the pragmatic, inspired, and stubbornly courageous leadership of a prime minister and defense minister possessed of a bred-in-the-bone understanding no less penetrating than Charb’s of what kind of fight we are in, and who really has the will and determination to keep us safe and alive as ethnically, culturally, and morally distinct servants of Almighty God.

    I think these various lessons are not being wasted on most Jews in France by this point.

    • #24
    • January 10, 2015, at 4:01 PM PDT
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  25. Member

    Sadly Western Europe is populated by slavering Jew- Haters and apathetic midgets who emote about cartoonists and yawn about the ethnic cleansing of the most civilised people on Earth.

    Sincere good wishes and my heart-felt respect and admiration to you Claire.

    • #25
    • January 10, 2015, at 5:10 PM PDT
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  26. Member

    Bless you Claire. Paris will shine a little brighter.

    • #26
    • January 10, 2015, at 5:45 PM PDT
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  27. Member

    I will pray for your safety.

    • #27
    • January 10, 2015, at 5:47 PM PDT
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  28. Member

    Vive Claire! Kick terrorist butt! My father’s cousin Charlie Fawcett took the same attitude toward fascists in France and fought the good fight. I am forever enchanted and amazed by the reaction of good people in the face of evil. Your grandfather, Charlie, and now you are heroes.

    • #28
    • January 10, 2015, at 6:03 PM PDT
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  29. Member

    Many Americans (including me) have polished their CWPs since Wednesday. I don’t want to use it but I will. I understand and applaud your reasoning to stay in France.

    • #29
    • January 10, 2015, at 6:59 PM PDT
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  30. Member

    nd if you want to talk about odds, I’ll tell you about odds: In my grandfather’s regiment of 1,250 men, only 250 survived. So don’t tell me about the odds:

    • #30
    • January 10, 2015, at 7:16 PM PDT
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