Sunday, August 18, 2013

17-Aug-13: On the redness of certain kinds of Scandinavian blood

Screen shot of CNN's coverage of the Norwegian terror killing, July 22, 2011
Over the 12 years since we experienced the death by murder of our 15 year-old daughter Malka, we have tried, by writing and speaking as often as we can manage, to convey the message that her death at the hands of Hamas terrorists has implications for people living their lives far from where we are. 

We have wanted them to understand what the August 2001 massacre at the Sbarro restaurant does not stand for.
  • Malki was not caught in any crossfire. She was not standing between desperate patriots and their goal of militarily defeating a hated enemy. As a schoolgirl, she was not some sort of collateral damage. In the literal sense of these words, she and the other children around her in that pizza shop that day were the killers' primary target.
  • The agenda of the terrorists was not political. They are not freedom fighters. The inspiration behind the murders that day and since then is not that they lack a state. It's that we, our side, have one
  • It was not something out of the blue. It happened in a context in which large numbers of non-uniformed people, whipped up by religious leaders and political demagogues acted (and continue to act) in the most violent and savage ways imaginable against an enemy they have demonized and accuse of every imaginable offence against them. 
  • The terrorism and violence that so completely turned our lives upside down, and brought such bitterness and pain to us, is not a local phenomenon, limited say to Jerusalem, or to Israel. It's a global scourge, being done by people with global ambitions and global resources. It's a growing threat to almost everyone.
Over and again, we encounter people who hear what we say but insist the real victims of terrorism are the victims in their local community. Us Israelis? We and our children had it coming to us. The people who killed Malki and the thousand-plus Israelis killed by terrorist action since Sbarro - they're not terrorists. They're... something else. 

Some years ago, I (Arnold) was in a European capital city where I had just taken part in a conference of terror victims. For reasons I have explained elsewhere, all four of us members of the Israeli delegation were invited to share views with people from that government's foreign ministry the day after the event.

It started politely and pleasantly enough. But towards the end, the political head of the ministry told us that, for the next such gathering of terror victims, his government intended to take steps to bring a delegation of Palestinian victims of Israeli terror. In this way, he said with a degree of visible smugness, both sides of the argument would be presented, rather than just Israel's. I asked to be heard, and said I felt that if his ministry managed to bring along Palestinian Arabs who would link arms with the rest of the terror victims present, as we had all done a day earlier, and declare total rejection and opposition to terror in any form, then all of us would be the beneficiaries; Palestinian Arabs, Israelis and even the citizens of that European country.

This was not the response the politician wanted and my recollection is he grew red in the face. He retorted that we Israelis were not really suffering from terror at all but from a political situation that demanded a political solution. The real victims of terror, the innocent victims, were the people of his own countryThey were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the perpetrators had nothing but hatred on their minds. He added that steps like Israel's building of a security barrier (he called it something else) and armed security checkpoints were making the situation in our country worse and not better. 

My response to the political gentleman was to point out that terror is no respecter of international boundaries and that the innocent of his country were neither more nor less innocent in the eyes of the terrorists than us Israelis are. This, again, was not a view he seemed to want to hear. The meeting, as I remember it, ended on a disctinctly sour note.

This leads us to a sharp column written by Jonathan S. Tobin yesterday in Commentary Magazine. His article is called "Scandinavia: Jews Deserve Terror, Not Us". An extract:
In the view of many Europeans, and in particular Scandinavians, not all victims of terror are alike. If, for example, you are an innocent Norwegian child who is gunned down by a deranged right-wing fanatic, you are deserving of compassion and your killer must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. However, if you are a Jew who is gunned down or bombed by a Palestinian, you had it coming and your killer should be released and honored.That’s the only possible way to interpret the anger being expressed in the region this week in response to remarks made by Israel’s Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Buchman. The ambassador is under fire for asking listeners on Swedish Radio to think about how they would feel if Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of the Utoya Island massacre, were released. Buchman complained that Israel wasn’t getting credit for it’s freeing of 26 Palestinian terrorist murderers in order to entice the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table. But rather than sympathize with the families of Israelis victimized by Palestinian murderers, people in Norway and Sweden are angry about any comparison between their sorrow and that of Jews killed by Arabs. Indeed, as one Swedish paper put it, the families of the Utoya incident are “seething” about the ambassador’s analogy.
Tobin believes this speaks to “some sort of consensus that Breivik’s crimes are beyond the pale while the Jews have it coming when Palestinians kill them”. 

We think he's right. And it's highly appropriate that he relates this to the events of this past week in which we have been deeply involved in protesting the release of a first roundof convicted terrorists, all of them murderers, from an Israeli prison at the behest of the United States and under pressure from the leadership of the PA. 

Concerning this, Tobin writes:
Contrary to the belief of the Utoya families, the blood of the Jews slaughtered in cold blood by the Palestinians that were acclaimed as heroes this week after their release was no less red than that of Breivik’s victims. The grief of their families was no less profound. The outrage of the people of Israel—and all decent people everywhere—about these wanton acts of murder carried out by Palestinians was no less justified. The Utoya families view Breivik’s actions as “unreal” and therefore a random act of madness that must somehow be seen as on a different moral plane from Palestinian killings of Jews. But the rationale of each of those Palestinian murderers—some of whom were personally embraced by Israel’s peace partner, Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas—was no less mad or random… By treating terror carried out by Palestinians against Jews as legitimate, Europeans are signaling not only that they approve of this cause but also that Jewish lives are less precious than their own. The families of the Utoya victims deserve our sympathy in their grief. But they, and other Europeans who are “seething” about any comparison between their children and dead Jews, have crossed the line into anti-Semitism. [Jonathan Tobin in Commentary Magazine]
Some Scandinavians will likely seeth with anger (again) at the suggestion that their views point to a belief that their blood is redder than that of others (i.e. ours and our children's). But until Swedes and Norwegians like those quoted in the Tobin piece get to a better understanding of how terrorism works, who does it and at whom it's directed, they are going to remain prisoners of a dangerous misconception. Scandinavians are, of course, not alone in this.

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