Tuesday, December 02, 2008

2-Dec-08: Mumbai questions

How are we going to effectively confront terrorists when we can't even identify them as such?

It's the question of all questions. And it's asked very effectively by Tom Gross who used to be the Middle East correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph and now produces incisive columns on a freelance basis. He has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, entitled "If this Isn't Terrorism, What Is?"

Please read the whole thing. A few more of Tom Gross' questions about Mumbai and the media's coverage follow:

Why are so many prominent Western media reluctant to call the perpetrators terrorists?
Why did Jon Snow, one of Britain's most respected TV journalists, use the word "practitioners" when referring to the Mumbai terrorists? Was he perhaps confusing them with doctors?
Why did Britain's highly regarded Channel 4 News state that the "militants" showed a "wanton disregard for race or creed" when exactly the opposite was true: targets and victims were very carefully selected.
Why did the "experts" invited to discuss the Mumbai attacks in one show on the state-funded Radio France Internationale, the voice of France around the world, harp on about Baruch Goldstein (who carried out the Hebron shootings in 1994), virtually the sole case of a Jewish terrorist in living memory?
What is the motivation of journalists in trying to mangle language - such as going out of their way to refer to terrorists as "militants," as one Mumbai story on yesterday's Times of London Web site seemed to do? Do they somehow wish to express sympathy for these murderers, or perhaps make their crimes seem almost acceptable?
How are we going to effectively confront terrorists when we can't even identify them as such?
Additional painfully sharp questions are posed by Dennis Prager, another incisive observer, in an article he calls "The Rabbi and the Terrorist".
Why would a terrorist group of Islamists from Pakistan whose primary goal is to have Pakistan gain control of the third of Kashmir that belongs to India and therefore aimed to destabilize India’s major city devote so much of its efforts -- 20 percent of its force of 10 gunmen whose stated goal was to kill 5,000 - to killing a rabbi and any Jews with him?
The question echoes one from World War II: Why did Hitler devote so much time, money, and manpower in order to murder every Jewish man, woman, and child in every country the Nazis occupied?
Why did Hitler - as documented by the late historian Lucy Dawidowicz in her aptly named book “The War against the Jews” - weaken the Nazi war effort by diverting money, troops, and military vehicles from fighting the Allies to rounding up Jews and shipping them to death camps?
Prager's article, which is certainly worth reading through in its entirety, ends with these two final points:
One is that it is exquisitely fitting that the same week the murders in Mumbai were taking place, the United Nations General Assembly passed six more anti-Israel resolutions. As it has for decades, the U.N. has again sanctioned hatred for a good and decent country as small on the map of the world as the Chabad House is on the map of Mumbai.
Two: Statements from Chabad in reaction to the torture-murders of a 28-year-old Chabad rabbi and his wife called on humanity to react to this evil “with random acts of kindness.” Evil hates goodness. That’s why the terrorists targeted a Chabad Rabbi and his wife.
At almost every opportunity, we (the authors of this blog) personally try to explain to whoever will listen that the war against the terrorists is going badly, and it's going to get much worse. Most people don't really understand how dangerous terrorism is to every last one of us. Nor are they likely to understand how on-the-ball the questions we have mentioned here are.

Failing to understand these things, whether you are a journalist or a politician or the person in charge of security for a major railway station, is a life-and-death matter, and mostly the understanding is just not happening.