Showing posts with label Terrorism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Terrorism. Show all posts

Monday, January 12, 2015

Je Suis Yoav

Je ne suis pas Charlie.  Je suis Yoav.

Who is Yoav?  Yoav Hattab is one of the four French Jews murdered by terrorists at at the Hyper Cache market in Paris on Friday January 9, 2015.  Mr. Hattab Z"L was not the first French Jewish victim of terrorism in France.  Unfortunately, there have been a number of incidents including a 2012 attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse in which 4 people were killed, including three children.  If the only terrorist incident on Friday had been the attack on the Kosher supermarket, the item would probably not have garnered anywhere near the press coverage that this series of attacks has attracted.

With the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo, the condemnations of Jihadist terrorism were near universal.  I have heard very few suggestions that we should investigate "root causes" or "deal with the underlying problem."  Of course, there will be some who will say that the press should not publish images of the prophet Mohammad or that the press should always take care to ensure that nothing printed offends Muslim sensibilities in any way. There are those who were not too concerned about the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.  But, fortunately, these voices are in the small minority.  Far more commentators and political leaders have spoken in favour of free speech and freedom of expression.

But with respect to the murderous attack on Hyper Cache, some of the responses tell a very different story.  For example, as reported by YNet News, BBC Reporter Tim Wilcox compared the hostage taking at the supermarket to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.  Really Tim?  Seriously?  He later issued a mild apology.  CNN minimized its initial reports of the fact that a Jewish establishment was targeted.  Even so, it became apparent that the terrorist had clearly stated that his intention was to kill Jews.

When terrorist attacks on Jewish civilians occur, many quickly try to take a "balanced" approach and "condemn all forms of terrorism" in their response or speak about root causes.  But what are the root causes of the murder of a group of Jews?  How is it any less outrageous than Charlie Hebdo to see an attack in which Jewish worshipers are murdered while at prayer in a synagogue, because they are Jews?  Just because it takes place in Israel?  Or an attack on Jewish shoppers in a Kosher supermarket?  Atlantic magazine correspondent sent out this spot-on tweet on Friday:  "Selling kosher food is a provocative and vulgar act, sure to arouse the hostility of aggrieved extremists."

There is no way to link Israel's issues with the Palestinians to the murder of Jewish civilians, other than for the sickest of minds.  And by the way, Turkish Recep Erdogan does qualify in this category.  He apparently attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for attending the French protests on Saturday and tried to draw a parallel between the Paris attacks and the Israeli war with Hamas terrorists in Gaza.  Even Hamas apparently issued a mild condemnation of the attack on Charlie Hebdo but was eerily silent, if not supportive of the murder of some Jewish Parisians.

When news of the attack at Hyper Cache emerged, French leader Francois Hollande initially called the attack "an appalling anti-Semitic attack."  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called these French attacks "barbaric."  But when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated his attention to attend the French rally, Hollande told him not to show up.  Defiantly, Prime Minister Netanyahu eventually decided to come anyways, leading Hollande to invite Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to provide some "balance."  God forbid Hollande should politicize this situation.  After all, even though he can bring himself to say that this was an appalling anti-Semitic attack, he would not want to be seen suggesting that there is any comparison between this attack and the murder of Jewish worshipers in a Jerusalem Synagogue.  Or the countless other terrorist attacks that Israel faces on its civilians.  Or attacks on Jews in other parts of the world.

It is about time that France and other countries, worldwide, show the same type of indignation and determination with respect to attacks on Jews that they have shown with respect to Charlie Hebdo.  Terrorism must be universally condemned, whether it is an attack on the Twin Towers, an attack on Charlie Hebdo or an attack on a group of Jews, wherever in the world they might be.  They should recognize what the leaders of Israel have, unfortunately, understood for far too long.  That terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS, ISIL, Al Qaeda, Hamas the PLO and other terrorist organizations  are all in the some category.  All of it should be condemned vociferously.

There is nothing wrong with a button that says "Je Suis Charlie."  But an equal number of people ought to be wearing buttons that say "Je suis Yoav."  An attack on Jews because they are Jews is as egregious as an attack on free speech.  Or as an attack on any other fundamental aspect of a civil society.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dealing with Terrorism: In the U.S. and in Israel

Boston Terrorist Incident
Israelis have been quick to send their heartfelt condolences to Americans on the occasion of last week's terrorist bombing in Boston.  Unfortunately, Israel has far too much experience in dealing with these types of incidents.  Even though this attack was reportedly carried out by two Chechens who had recently adopted a form of radical Islam, it would be quite a stretch to say that this attack has anything to do with Israel - notwithstanding the fact that at least one of the bombers reportedly yelled "Free Palestine" at some point.  The only relationship between this attack and the attacks that Israel has faced so often over the course of its history is that they are both types are cowardly, terrorist attacks designed to kill and maim large numbers of innocent civilians.

Terrorist attacks have a significant effect on the societies in which they occur.  One need only look at the level of airport security that we now all face, post 9/11, to contemplate the effects of terrorism.  In the U.S., the effect has spilled over to security at numerous events from sporting events to political rallies, with airport type security measures so often ubiquitous.  Yet, the U.S. continues to be a remarkably free country, which makes it such an easy target for terrorists and crazed mass murderers.  In fact, given that Congress recently defeated proposed gun-control legislation, it is probably still one of the easiest places in the world to purchase a weapon and commit unspeakable acts of horror.

The Boston attack had nothing to do with gun control but it was an attack that took advantage of a very free society and one that is still free from the daily struggle with security issues of the type that Israel faces.  Unfortunately, here in Israel, Israelis are constantly required to be vigilant about abandoned packages, bags and luggage.  A left back will attract immediate calls for help, calls to the police and quick area evacuations.  This is the sad legacy of numerous terrorist incidents.

Israeli Bomb Disposal Robot
A few years ago, not long after we first arrived here, our son left his school knapsack on the side of the road while playing some sports.  He forgot it there and headed home. Just minutes later, an Israeli bomb disposal vehicle arrived and tore open the knapsack.  The math books were saved, but the durable Roots bag was a distant memory.   Israelis who see an unattended knapsack or other package act quickly.  They know that lives can depend on their actions.

Just last week, while I was leaving the airport, I saw a woman leave her suitcase unattended for a very brief time.  Security personnel quickly began asking about the ownership of the bag and preparing to take action.  The woman returned and received a sharp scolding from the security officers who were ready to have the suitcase detonated.

Israelis are accustomed to facing airport style security in many places - the entrance to malls, concerts, just about any public gathering and even many restaurants and smaller facilities.  This is the burden that the society has to grapple with after so many years of terrorism.  Fortunately the number of these attacks has waned considerably in recent years but the measures are still necessary and very common. 

This same type of security challenge is one which other free, democratic countries, not only the U.S. and Canada, but numerous European countries, are likely to face increasingly over time.  The challenge for these countries, just as it is for Israel, is to find the balance between implementing sufficient security measures and placing unnecessary restraints on a free public.  It seems to me that Israel's airport security, for example, does a far better job in this regard.  There is no need for every single person to take off their shoes  and belt when travelling, just to ensure that everyone is treated equally.  This simply creates an unnecessary convenience for millions of travellers.  

On the other hand, it will certainly be a sad day in the United States and other western democracies if things get to the point where anyone wishing to enter a mall must pass through a metal detector and an airport security type station.  While that is the reality in Israel, Israelis are not wishing it on others.  On the contrary, Israelis are hoping that we will get to the point where these measures will not be necessary here.  Unfortunately, for now, it does not look like that day will arrive any time soon.