In its outrage over the mass killings in Paris, the Jewish Journal of Southern California decided to relabel the cover of this week's issue as Jewish Hebdo. The issue also reproduces some of the covers from Charlie Hebdo that offended some Muslims. Editor in chief Rob Eshman explains in a personal message that proclaims, in essence, that when it comes to offense, it's no more mister nice guy. He avoided printing a religiously offensive image back in 2008 and still regrets that decision: "In 2008, I had a chance to make a statement in defense of satire, and I passed….I now see I was wrong."
Enough tiptoeing around terrorists’ sensibilities. Enough kowtowing to the craziest elements among us. Enough pretending that Israel or Israel’s policies in the West Bank or Gaza are somehow the cause of the dysfunction in the Muslim world. Enough thinking that attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions are only a Jewish problem. Enough thinking that it’s OK to mock Christianity or Jews, but not, God forbid, Islam. Enough.
It’s OK to mock everybody and everything. No, it’s not just OK: It’s a matter of life and death. That’s why this week we reprinted the covers from Charlie Hebdo on jewishjournal.com and in these pages, along with essays on the essential importance of satire. And that’s why we changed our masthead this week, for the first time in the paper’s nearly three decades. This week, we are not Jewish Journal. We are Jewish Hebdo.
The events of the past week are yet more proof that the world is in the midst of a long and unfinished struggle against Islamic extremism. All of us who want to live in a free, tolerant society — Muslims, Jews, Christians and all the rest — must find ways to fight back against suppression whenever and wherever we can. If the extremists declare some goofy cartoons of Muhammad as their battleground, then those cartoons must become our battleground. We must defend them, if not on their merits, then on the right of artists in a free society to draw what they want and of publishers to distribute those images. We now see what happens when we cede any freedoms out of fear of retribution or of offending religious sensibilities — the extremists claim our refusal as victory and find new victims to intimidate. By taking up the cause of publishing these so-called offensive works, we are defending not just law, but also morality. We are saying that nothing — no cartoon, no blasphemy, no joke, no satire — is more offensive than the taking of innocent human lives.
More over there.