(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) After Israel’s Steimatzky bookstore chain canceled a special sales event for the latest issue of France’s Charlie Hebdo magazine following Arab pressure, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed activists of his Yisrael Beiteinu party to purchase thousands of copies of the magazine’s Jan. 14 issue and distribute them to the public.
The issue—printed after 12 people were killed in an Islamist terrorist attack on the magazine’s Paris offices—features a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed holding a sign saying, “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), with a headline above the cartoon reading “Tout Est Pardonné” (All Is Forgiven).
Masud Ganaim, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset from the Ra’am-Ta’al party, sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to intervene to stop the Steimatzky event, calling the sale of the magazine a “very dangerous and stupid” step that would “lead to great uproar and anger among the Arabs and Muslims in [this] country in particular and in the world in general.” Steimatzky itself later canceled the in-store event, but said it would sell copies of the Charlie Hebdo issue on its website.
Lieberman said Sunday said that “we will not allow radical Islam to terrorize us,” arguing that the demands made by Arab Knesset members not to distribute the magazine threatened to “turn Israel into ISIS (Islamic State).”
“It would turn the state of Israel into a country that cows to threats and undermines freedom of expression,” Lieberman said.