By RUTHIE SOUDACK There are people, beloved friends, who will not like this post, but I have to write it. It has been brewing inside me, along with the grief over the terrible attacks in Paris, the terrible attacks in Israel, the terrible attacks worldwide.
I consider myself to be in the center politically, sometimes a bit to the right, sometimes a bit to the left, depending on the issue. I speak Arabic to an extent, I made Aliyah to Israel because I felt that Jerusalem was my heart’s home, that every step I took was taking me to Jerusalem. However it was the Arab presence here that created a comfortable cultural crossroads for this woman whose soul never felt Western. I say this as a sort of disclaimer for what will come next, which I am absolutely compelled to say.
Whenever a terrorist attack is committed against Israelis, there are many people, in Israel and abroad, who jump to justify it by stating that Palestinians are in a state of such despair that they have nothing to lose, inferring that Israel and the “occupation” are responsible for this terror. First it is because of the settlements, and next it is because of the separation wall, and then it is because imams incite by claiming that Jews want to pray on the Temple Mount (and seriously, why the *&#% shouldn’t they???). I could go on about where this despair could be directed (why not towards Palestinian leaders, who pocket the millions of dollars donated to them to build Palestine, for example), or how it is stoked, prodded, encouraged, imbibed in Palestinian mothers’ milk and in the Palestinian educational system, and sanctioned by the international community.
The latest attacks were supposedly over the Temple Mount. Jews have now been categorically forbidden to pray there, in Judaism’s most holy place, and cameras are being installed to enforce this, but the terror on the streets and in the trains and in the cars of Israel continues. I am not claiming that all is pleasant in the territories nor that Israel is blame-free, however every terror attack brings us further and further from the possibility of coexistence. But this is not really where I want to dwell.
What I want to ask now is this: Are the perpetrators of the attacks in Paris suffering from despair? Is despair what lies behind terror? Does despair excuse terror? Or is despair just the pretext for legitimizing terrorism directed at Israel, while terrorism directed at Paris (or New York, or anywhere-other-than-Israel) is so very rightfully condemned? Why is terrorism horrible everywhere, except when Israel is targeted? Jews have been the target of anti-Semitism from time immemorial, and Israel has been the target of terrorism since its establishment, long before the West Bank and Gaza were “occupied” in 1967, long before there were settlements.
And for weeks now, Israelis have been stabbed or run over in the streets, and the world remains silent. World leaders call only for restraint in Israel’s reactions; the European Union labels products from the territories; and academics, musicians and artists boycott Israel, whose Arab citizens have more opportunities than in any other country in this region. But there are no condemnations of the stabbings, no show of solidarity. No one superimposes the Israeli flag on their Facebook profile picture, and nobody volunteers to “ride with us,” as they did for Muslims, fearful for their lives, following the Charlie Hebdo attack, and the attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris in which Jews were targeted. But the world will ride with the Muslims. And that is EXACTLY what is happening. THAT is the point.
I am not an Islam-basher. I have Muslim friends all over the world, there is much I love about Islamic culture, I majored in Islamic art during my master’s studies, and I am offended by the anti-Muslim emails that I often receive. BUT…
Islam is supposed to be the religion of peace. However, with very few exceptions, ALL terror attacks anywhere are perpetrated by Muslims, and most of the world’s current conflicts involve Muslims as well, and the brutality is utterly unthinkable. I accept that Jihadism and fundamentalist Islam do not represent the views of the majority of Muslims, but where are they? Where are their voices? In Israel, the peace movement is so vocal and present that its representatives have, ironically, even come to blows with those on the right end of the political spectrum. Where are the Muslim peace rallies? Where are the Palestinians who want peace, the Arabs who want peace?
In this current round of violence in Israel, terrorists range from 12-year-old boys to 72-year-old women (the photo in the press showed a sweet, smiling elderly lady in a leopard-print head scarf, holding a bouquet of flowers – anybody’s grandmother). THIS is what makes me despair. What is left? Where is the outcry? Where is the Palestinian peace movement, or the Muslim peace movement in France or America or ANYWHERE for that matter? How can we make peace with a people that doesn’t want peace, that doesn’t cry out for peace?
Terrorism is horrific. Everywhere. The killing of innocent people is unacceptable. Period. It makes no difference whether it is people at work in the twin towers, or fans of a heavy-metal band in the Bataclan theater, or a father and mother shot dead in front of their children in an Israeli car, or young women captured as sex slaves in Tunisia. Terrorism causes people to suspect passers-by on the streets and to question the legitimacy of the refugee status of people whose lives have been utterly devastated by it. Terrorism destroys lives and souls and it is destroying the life and the soul of our world. It needs to be condemned. Everywhere. In Beirut, in Paris, in Nairobi, in Madrid, in New York, and yes, ALSO in Israel.
Let’s all post an image of a suffering planet earth on our Facebook pages. Let’s call a spade a spade and stop pandering to political correctness, to the prejudice of the BDS movement and the rampant apologetics for Palestinian atrocities. The only way to save our world (if it is not already too late) is to stand up unequivocally against terror of any sort, against evil, against the undermining of humanity. To see, but really SEE, truly understand, that the only way that anybody will survive is if we learn to live in peace with one another, and QUICKLY find a way to make that happen.
Ruthi Soudack, originally from Vancouver, arrived in Jerusalem for a short visit three days after the beginning of the first intifada, and has been here ever since. She is a traveller, yoga teacher, writer, translator, editor, storyteller, musician, and occasionally, a stand-up comic.
“originally published in the Times of Israel.”