My Word: Seen, heard, ignored and the absurd

It was a week of moral outrages.

Hamas Operative (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas Operative
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The world is a mess. And it is spinning very fast. No wonder bits and pieces keep breaking off. Or maybe it’s just my head that’s spinning as I try to keep up.
Last week, I was asked by a London-based radio station to discuss the incident in which Palestinian Authority quasi-minister Ziad Abu Ein died, according to the autopsy report of a heart attack, shortly after scuffling with border police at a protest. “The Palestinians can turn him into a martyr, but nobody can turn him into a saint,” I pointed out, noting Abu Ein had been extradited from the US to Israel to face trial for his part in a terror attack that killed two teens in 1979. He was later released in a prisoner swap.
I’m not sure whether the interview was broadcast or not. Perhaps the producers got another point I made: That there are bigger stories in the region.
As it turns out, there are bigger stories outside the region too.
Eyes this week were firmly set on the siege in Sydney, for example. The incident in which a former Iranian held hostages in the Lindt Cafe, demanding an Islamic State flag and voicing Islamic State slogans via the staff and customers he held captive, is not being described as a terrorist attack, noted a friend.
Even after Man Haron Monis and two hostages died, the Australian press referred to him only as a “gunman.”
Monis was described as a “lone wolf” with a disturbing history, including being charged as an accessory in the murder of his ex-wife and sending hate mail to families of fallen Australian soldiers.
If asking for an Islamic State flag is not the (literal) sign of some kind of affiliation to the Sunni jihadist terror organization, I’m not sure what is: Perhaps as 2014 draws to an end it doesn’t count unless you behead an infidel and post the video on YouTube.
Australians were obviously not used to terror attacks and I hope they never do need to adopt the instincts that are second nature to Israelis. Most of the Israelis I know in Sydney quickly contacted family and friends to let them know they were all right. I messaged a former Brit who lives there because she hadn’t checked in. She seemed surprised but touched by the gesture.
I don’t think the world has fully understood that it is at war. And the Palestinian-Israeli issue is not at the heart of it.
I keep correcting people who speak of six Islamic State victims who have been beheaded.
That’s six Westerners, I note. Countless people – Christians, Yazidis and Muslims – have been killed in this particularly gruesome way, but the Western world didn’t notice. Didn’t want to know. They remain nameless.
Taliban gunmen, I’ll call them terrorists, for argument’s sake, butchered more than 100 students and staff at a Pakistani school on Tuesday, but, unlike the Sydney siege, the story did not disrupt regular broadcast schedules in many Western media outlets.
The children cut down in their prime will soon be forgotten in the West, like the 200 or so Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in March, or the already-forgotten 47 killed in a bomb attack on a Nigerian school just last month.
The Iraqi government, or what’s left of it, issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the murder of some 150 women and girls in Falluja for refusing to serve as Islamic State sex slaves. This follows the publication of what is reportedly an Islamic State manual on how to treat female captives (and wives).
Terror attacks are taking place all over the world, the vast majority of them being perpetrated by Muslims.
Jerusalem Post staff met this week with a visiting journalist from China’s prestigious Southern Weekly. Wu Mengqi candidly discussed the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories as well as in China, stressing his right to freely express his own opinions.
The average man on the street there is pro-Palestinian, Wu said, but something has changed recently. Terror has come to China’s streets, too. The frenzied knife attack at Kungming station in Yunnan province in March that left nearly 30 people dead is believed to have been carried out by Muslim separatists from the Xinjiang region, far from the site of the massacre. It has left people so nervous, Wu said, that there is a danger that even a perceived attack could cause a stampede in a crowded station with catastrophic consequences.
The Uighur separatists might not be a part of global jihad but it’s clear from where they drew their inspiration.
Scotland recently held a polite plebiscite on splitting from the United Kingdom; Catalans in Spain also held a good-spirited symbolic vote on independence. They didn’t go round stabbing, hacking and beheading innocent victims at prayer, school or on their way to work.
One response to the “non-terror” attack in Australia was the #illridewithyou campaign offering support for members of the local Muslim community who fear the ugly backlash of Islamophobia.
I was more impressed with the condemnation by local Muslim leaders of the siege in which two innocent people tragically lost their lives. The battle against the distortion of Islam hijacked by terror groups and organizations throughout the world has to be fought by brave, moderate Muslims.
It takes only a few terrorists to cause tremendous devastation; that’s why it’s so important that the vast numbers of the moral majority speak out.
And if you need a reminder of how low terrorists will stoop, consider this: The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced on Monday that it had thwarted a terror attack in which the Palestinian would-be bomber had cynically planned to get a permit to enter Israel for medical treatment, disguise herself as a pregnant Jewish woman, and carry out a mass-casualty attack in Tel Aviv.
This week, we were subjected to so many moral outrages that it’s hard to fit them all within the confines of a column of this length. I think the chutzpah award goes to Ireland, but it’s a close call.
After members of the Irish parliament accused Israel of “genocide” and “apartheid” earlier this month before passing a non-binding motion recognizing a Palestinian state, I should not perhaps have been surprised at the turn of events this week when the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland reportedly banned any mention of Israel at a Holocaust Memorial Day event in January. It later backtracked – although I dread to think what its members are going to say about Israel, in the circumstances. We can’t be far from the day when “enlightened” Europeans drop any reference of the Jews in relation to the Bible.
Meanwhile, in what is being described as a “diplomatic tsunami” for Israel, the ironically named European Court of Justice in Luxembourg temporarily at least removed Hamas from the EU’s list of terrorist organizations until it had received additional evidence to support the designation. Apparently the 10,000 or so missiles launched from Gaza – some from hospitals and schools and every one of them aimed at Israeli civilians and civil targets – do not count. And the numerous dead victims of terror, including the three teenagers abducted and murdered in June, can’t speak.
The idea of convening a special meeting to discuss Israel’s purported war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention the same day was also more bemusing than amusing.
As one Israeli official commented: “Think about the absurdity. The Geneva Convention, which is supposed to deal with war crimes, did not meet about [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, [Libya’s former leader Muammar] Gaddafi, or Boko Haram, but only about Israel.”
The move, like this winter’s fashion of voting for Palestinian independence, is being described as largely symbolic. That’s what scares me: symbolic of what? The right thing to do is cut off the Medusa- like heads of terrorist organizations instead of trying to clip the wings of those fighting for freedom, but the current atmosphere only fosters the growth of more terrorists, or deranged gunmen.
The world has become more dangerous for everyone, everywhere. I don’t want someone to ride with me; I want the world’s leaders to make life’s journey safer for us all.
The writer is editor of The International Jerusalem Post.