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This week in France a Muslim kid of fourteen attacked, with a machete, a Jewish teacher  wearing a kippa.  His only regret is that he did not succeed in killing his victim.  Jewish authorities have suggested that their coreligionists not wear their kippa until “things quieten down”.  Others have suggested that all of us, Jews and non-Jews, wear a kippa out of solidarity and defiance.  Neither is likely to happen.  “Things” are not going to “quieten down” – ever – and it is hard to imagine Christians and Muslims agreeing to wear the cap, the yarmulke, outside a synagogue, even if the same optimists go on to propose that on other occasions everyone puts a cross on the lapel of his or her coat, and later that everyone replace the cross with a crescent.  A bit like everyone in New York, Jews, Protestants, Muslims and immigrants from every country on earth, wearing a shamrock, dressing in green and pretending to be Irish Catholics on Saint Patrick’s Day.

We used to talk cynically about the “good old days”.  Maybe they really were.  Remember when it would never have entered our mind that anyone could blow himself up in the middle of a crowd or crash a plane into a skyscraper or kill cartoonists or randomly open fire in a Paris street or music-hall ?  The evil genie is out of the bottle.  The terrorists are all around us, ready to strike when HQ decides to activate its sleepers, or when an individual fanatic decides it’s time to strap on the explosives and do the work of Allah.  We may be lucky enough to live through a lull period.  But there will never be an end to the threat, the massacre waiting to happen.  What could possibly restrain the jihadist from fulfilling his mission and destiny ?  Governments might agree to tighten security, to reinforce surveillance and to punish the assassins who managed to survive what was meant to be mass murder followed by their suicide.  Martyrs don’t mind execution and even life-imprisonment is hardly a deterrent for the masochist maniac.  The times they are a’changing.  They have already changed – forever, if not for … good.  We are fighting an uphill battle we can’t win.

So, que faire ?  What to do ?  No point in praying or even depending solely on increased security and sanctions.  The only way is patient education.  It could take generations, centuries.  But unless we succeed in unbending the warped minds of religious fanatics, we will live in fear and in harm’s way.  We may not be able to destroy it, but we can continue to ridicule religion.  Hopefully the brainwashed will one day realize that religion poisons everything, including their own minds.