Islamic State has been slaughtering men, women and children in Iraq and Syria for many months now in its rampage to establish an extremist Islamic caliphate in the entire Middle East. And the world remains silent.
Thousands of women and children have been kidnapped and murdered in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon by Boko Haram, Islamic State’s sister movement whose goal is to establish an Islamic caliphate in Central Africa.
And the world remains silent. Al-Qaida continues to recruit members in southern Asia and to plan murders in the name of Islam and the world remains silent.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas is in control, thanks to financial support from the Persian Gulf states and the EU, and continues to plan and execute terrorist attacks against innocent people regardless of their religion or nationality. Their sole goal is for extremist Sunni Islam to take control of the entire Middle East. And the world remains silent.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah is running the country in the name of its controller, Iran, a country whose raison d’être is the destruction of the State of Israel since it is interfering with the Iranians’ plan to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East.
And yet the world remains silent.
And then there’s a country on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea called Turkey, which used to be the center of the Ottoman Empire. Its extremist Muslim leader has a longterm vision that one day, like his predecessors centuries ago, he will be the caliph of his very own caliphate and will become the leader of the entire world (which will all be Muslim). And the world remains silent.
I am often asked, “Does the world really not see and understand what’s happening?” And the answer is simple: The world sees and understands everything, just as it saw and understood that the Jews were being systematically slaughtered by the Nazis and their collaborators in the Holocaust.
And just as it saw and understood how the Turks murdered the Armenian people at the beginning of the previous century. And just as it saw and understood the genocide the Nigerians committed in Biafra in the late 1960s. The world saw and understood the genocide the Pakistanis committed against Bangladesh in the early 1970s and the genocide in Cambodia in which the Khmer Rouge murdered 2 million of its own citizens. The Indonesian military killed most of the people living in East Timor, the Bosnian Serbs committed genocide, and the Hutu massacred the Tutsi in Rwanda in the early 1990s.
The world knows about all of this killing. Many countries around the world are signatories to the UN Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, but not many are interested in anything that doesn’t concern them directly. Just like when a person walks down the street and passes by a homeless man without even giving him a second look, or teenagers at a club who see a kid being beaten or stabbed, but choose to mind their own business instead of helping him. Many governments neglect their poor and elderly.
We must understand that the term “world” has become irrelevant.
It no longer signifies a unified, homogeneous body. Instead, the world is made up of hundreds of countries, organizations, religions and faiths that contradict each another.
The fact that we all reside on the same planet and all send ambassadors to an institution called the United Nations does not mean we are unified.
The world only responds when it is hit directly.
The Americans finally woke up to terrorism when al-Qaida hit the twin towers in New York on September 11, 2001. They entered Afghanistan only after they realized that the Russians might beat them to it. They responded in Iraq very late in the game and only after they saw that their oil supplies were in danger. And they joined the fighting in the Second World War only after millions of Jews had been butchered, even though the Americans had known for some time what was happening.
Islamic State has occupied extensive sections of Iraq and northern Syria, and along the way raped women, murdered thousands and beheaded “heretics” without too much interference.
But apparently the world hasn’t been bothered by this enough to do anything about it. Boko Haram continues freely with its murderous rampages, and because it doesn’t interrupt our day-to-day schedule, the world just watches silently. In the same way, Hamas has been able to continue terrorizing its own people in the Gaza Strip as the world remains silent.
The world is going to continue ignoring what’s happening as long as it can. Member nations will vote at the UN, they’ll approve parliamentary resolutions and will support the Hague tribunal. The UN Security Council will conduct endless debates, will compose edicts and spout slogans.
History shows that cultural change only occurs following serious crises. That’s why nothing will change until something drastic happens that affects the entire world.
But it will happen. It’s a slow process.
Terrorism affects countries, nations and territories. The more it envelopes Europe, the quicker the world will realize that we need to start fighting it.
We will never be able to completely eliminate jihadist Islamic terrorism, but we must understand that there are more than 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Only a few hundred thousand of them follow a jihadist ideology, and only a few tens of thousands participate actively in terrorist activities. The rest of them just want to live, survive and make a living for their families. The only way we can succeed in this battle is if everyone around the world comes together and works in concert with determination and vision at least as well as the heads of the terrorist organizations do.
The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Translated by Hannah Hochner.