Sunday, March 25, 2012

25-Mar-12: Why are Jewish children killed? What does it tell us about Europe?


Toulouse, France: March 2012
On Friday, CNN ran an op ed under the title "Europe's blind spot on anti-Semitism". It is authored by Frida Ghitis, a Colombia-born journalist who has been published widely in the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune and dozens of publications in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Some extracts:
What would prompt a 23-year-old man, born and raised in France, to chase a small, terrified Jewish girl into a school courtyard, look her in the eye and shoot her in the head? ...I believe an honest examination will reveal a blind spot among those fighting prejudice that has allowed the ancient Jew hatred that infected Europe for centuries to survive. The blind spot is this: When the prejudice - and even the call for murder - is made in connection with the Palestinian cause, people look the other way and give it a pass... Often, when the Palestinian link is made, the prejudice comes from the left, couched as passion for human rights. At times, human rights activists seem to have no problem with anti-Semitism - even of the genocidal variety - condemning it forcefully only if it is accompanied by anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim sentiment. Just days before the Toulouse murders, on March 19, the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva hosted an event featuring a high official from Hamas. That is a group whose easily obtainable charter calls not just for the creation of a Palestinian state, which is something I, like many other people, wholeheartedly support. But Hamas' charter also declares: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it... The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews)..." If a white supremacist organization advocated genocide as this one does, polite society would keep its distance, at the very least. Instead, polite society contributes to a campaign to demonize Israel, fueling the hatred that is then unleashed against Jews in France and elsewhere. Last week, a U.N. official posted to Twitter a picture of a heartbreakingly injured Palestinian girl, tweeting "Another child killed by #Israel ..." Turns out it was a 2006 picture of a girl who died falling from a swing... Why would a man kill small Jewish children? The answer has intrigued historians and psychologists for many centuries. But the more urgent question is what we can do to stop it from happening again. And the answer is that the first requirement is telling the truth about anti-Jewish ideologies.
She mentions a UN official who posted a picture of a heartbreakingly-injured child last week. That woman is Khulood Badawi [2006 photo here]. No mere amateur in the battle for public opinion, Badawi is a seasoned political activist who serves today as the paid Information and Media Coordinator for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs here in Jerusalem. In tweeting the painfully-difficult-to-view photo [it's here], she added this malicious and factually upside-down caption:
“Palestine is bleeding. Another child killed by #Israel. Another father carrying his child to a grave in #Gaza.”
Her dishonest message has been retweeted hundreds of times in the last few days. The reality, as opposed to Badawi's bogus narrative, is this. The picture was taken in 2006, nearly six years ago. Reuters published it then, and like now its value was appreciated by those who want to paint Israel in demonic shades. The actual cause of the child's death (a tragic playground accident) was described this way in the Reuters caption:
“A Palestinian man carries the body of three year-old Raja Abu Shaban, in Gaza August 9, 2006. The three-year-old girl who had been reported killed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza on Wednesday actually died of an accident, Palestinian medical workers said on Thursday. Workers at Gaza’s Shifa hospital said on August 10, 2006 that the initial mistake over the cause of death appeared to have arisen because the girl’s corpse was brought in at the same time as the bodies of the gunmen. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES)”
The real reality is that the imagery of hatred, depicting an imagined Israel that seeks the deliberate deaths of the other side's children, will prevail because it's a narrative and a framework that plays to widely held prejudices.

Frida Ghitis expresses it well: the first requirement is telling the truth about anti-Jewish ideologies.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Even though the article mentions the word 'prejudice' a number of times, it concludes with demanding that the truth be told about anti-Jewish ideologies in order for the killing of Jewish children to stop. In my view, that is like putting the cart before the horse. Instead of merely reacting to the symptoms, which is ineffective, we must be interested and motivated in treating the disease itself. Also, regarding the fact that the Jewish community knows a thing or two about being disrespected, we can ask ourselves which role Jews could play in maintaining the peace in future human society.