Close to my apartment block is a hostel for adults suffering from mental health issues. The residents are encouraged to be as much a part of the local community as possible. One man can usually be seen conducting an argument with himself; another seems to be involved in an animated conversation with someone nobody else can see.
I don’t fear them. I suspect that all of us occasionally argue with ourselves or with a foe who is not present to argue back. The difference is most of us don’t do it in public.
My neighbors obviously have to cope with a lot of problems – real and imaginary – that I can only guess at.
Lately, I’ve started to think that those in similar situations abroad are facing a new danger, one they might not yet be fully aware of, and were they to say something they would probably have “paranoia” added to the list of their symptoms.
The mentally ill are facing an extraordinary new image problem through no fault of their own.
In the general eagerness of the politically correct to avoid blaming attacks on terrorists fueled by radical Islam, there seems to be a global trend to try to find a way to pin the motive on psychiatric problems.
Placing the blame on the perpetrator’s psychiatric issues is doubly dangerous: It ignores the possibility of Islamist brainwashing before an attack and, in an effort to avoid charges of Islamophobia at any cost, it maligns another sector, even weaker: those who suffer from mental health problems but who threaten no one (other than themselves in certain tragic cases).
This became particularly apparent last week when a young man, originally described in news headlines as “Norwegian,” stabbed an American woman to death and wounded five other people, including a young Israeli woman who, mistaking him for a victim, had tried to help him.
The Somali-born Norwegian was also said to be suffering from a psychiatric condition.
The likelihood that this was exposure to Islamist brainwashing in one form or another was avoided.
Similarly, stabbing incidents, ax attacks, shootings and a bombing in Germany, France and elsewhere were immediately ascribed to psychiatric backgrounds.
But how can you tackle a problem if you can’t say it out loud? Isn’t the first step to recovery always acknowledging the problem? Is not labeling the mentally ill as serious an injustice as labeling any other sector in the community? Recently I received an email from someone with an Arabic-sounding name and a German address telling me that I “... assume proudly the title of ‘Islamophobe in Chief’ while at the same time accusing everyone of anti-Semitism.”
To which I can only say: (a) You don’t know me, and (b) You don’t know the meaning of the word Islamophobe.
Perhaps I am an “Islamist-phobe.” I am very concerned about the growth of radical Islam. It’s a concern shared by many Muslims.
Some stand up bravely to it; others are paralyzed by their fears.
Among the saddest stories I came across this week was the dismissal of a Palestinian doctor who stopped to help the family of Rabbi Michael Mark after he was shot dead in a roadside terrorist ambush a few weeks ago, leaving his wife and children trapped in the car. In my July 8 column, titled “Summer tears, fears, and rays of light,” the Palestinians who aided the wounded and traumatized family were the “ray of light” – “a reminder that there are good people out there.” I was particularly impressed that the two Palestinian men were willing to talk openly about the need to try to save lives, all lives. Palestinian leaders are happy to be treated in Israeli hospitals, but decry anything that could be considered normalization.
Now “settlers,” including Mount Hebron Regional Council head Yochai Damri, are calling on the government to provide a permit to enable the Palestinian doctor to work in Israel instead of the job he lost.
Another disheartening story came from Rio, where the Olympic delegation from Lebanon proved to be bad sports – refusing to travel on the same bus as the Israelis. The Syrians and Iranians are also going to great lengths to avoid competing against Israelis.
Forty-four years after 11 Israeli sportsmen were killed by Palestinian terrorists at the Olympics in Munich, the world has a long way to go before it can say it has learned the lesson – or even internalized the ostensible message of the Games. (Although this year, for the first time, there is a separate team of refugee competitors.) THE LETHAL stabbing attack by “the Norwegian madman” quickly became old news.
By August 5, one of the biggest stories coming out of London was the group of protesters from the UK branch of Black Lives Matter who blocked the road to Heathrow Airport at the height of the summer holiday season to mark five years since the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by British police.
The movement is growing, and it’s growing more radical.
Last week, Black Lives Matter adopted a platform singling out Israel (what a surprise) for special denunciation, calling for boycott, sanctions and divestment actions and linking the black cause with the Palestinian one.
It was a move decried by several left-wing Jewish groups who felt BLM had gone too far: “The platform’s assertion that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian people is outrageously incorrect, and deeply offensive to those who have lived through an actual genocidal attempt to exterminate an entire people or who are descended from and related to victims and survivors of genocide – as many J Street members are,” wrote J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami in a blog.
“The characterization of Israel as an ‘apartheid state’ is also misleading and unhelpful.
The best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the occupation is to address the unique and specific circumstances and conditions underlying them, without insistence on fitting them within the ill-fitting framework of a different conflict from a different time and place.”
I’d be interested in knowing who is financing BLM’s “fact-finding” trips to “Israel-Palestine,” and why this is considered so central to its cause.
Efrat resident Ardie Geldman, who recently met a group of Quaker high schoolers on such a trip (they probably wanted to see how “a settler” lives), discovered the latest mutation of the Black Lives Matter mantra. When he suggested that “All lives matter,” he was firmly told that that is a “racial slur,” denying the special situation of the blacks.
I’m not sure where this is going, but I fear that some activists are blindly following a moral compass that has accidentally set them in the opposite direction to what they intended.
Recently, I came across a quote sometimes credited to judicial philosopher Zechariah Chafee, “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.”
It seems as good a rule as any for these perplexing, politically correct times.
And you should be very careful about whom you are calling firstname.lastname@example.org
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