Wednesday, March 23, 2016

23-Mar-16: The morning after Brussels: Reflecting on the responses

When terrorism upends the lives of ordinary people, exacting a price that often ends up being paid over and again for years, its victims sometimes look around to see who, if anyone, understands what they have just been required to start enduring.

People who understand the insult, the pain, the grief, the loss, the sense of outrage and violation. And who understand the measures that victims expect their leaders to take so that something is learned from the awfulness. And so that the likelihood of it happening again, no matter to whom, will be reduced.

That understanding is not always easy to find.

In its place, as some victims of terror including many Israelis (we among them) have learned over the years, come advice and lectures from people who are often, themselves, unaffected in a personal sense by terrorist attacks. That advice, from the perspective of those who have been and often are its target, has frequently taken forms we find surprising, insensitive, unwise and occasionally outrageous.

To equip ourselves with some additional resilience for when the need next arises as it surely will, we have this morning culled a selection of expressions of understanding published in the wake of the savagery that took dozens of lives in Belgium yesterday.

In the selected quotes below, all published in the past 24 hours, much of the sentiment is understandably and thankfully humanitarian and emotional. They include words of encouragement and of outrage; determination and sympathy. (How much of it is genuine and sincere? Since these are politicians, that's not a fair or relevant question to ask.)

As people who have gotten to know terrorism from the victims' standpoint, who are we to deny its value? People reaching out to people, empathizing, sharing what we have in common, understanding, is not only one of the most effective things to do if we want to benefit the other. It's often the only thing that can be done.

Have a look down the list and please ask yourself, as we have today, whether, in each case, you could imagine a similar sentiment being expressed - but with Israel in place of Belgium.
  • Washington stands with Belgium in the face of the "outrageous" attacks - Barack Obama, US President  [AFP]
  • The Brussels attacks were "yet another reminder that the world must unite. We must be together, regardless of nationality or race or faith, in fighting against the scourge of terrorism."  - Barack Obama, US President  [US News]
  • The attacks "have once again shown terrorism's global face." Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu [Associated Press]
  • Those responsible for the "despicable" bombings should face justice - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [AFP]
  • "His Majesty King Abdullah II condemns the terrorist attacks in Brussels" - Abdullah II, king of Jordan [Twitter]
  • "This is a day of tragedy, a black day... [following the] deadliest attacks we have ever seen in Belgium" which were "blind, violent and cowardly... People were just going to work, to school and they have been cut down by the most extreme barbarity." The response? "We will continue to protect liberty, our way of life." - Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel [AFP]
  • "Painful day for Brussels and all Europe. In Jordan with FM @NasserJudeh working together on counterterrorism #united" - Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, tweeting from Amman where our daughter's convicted murderer lives freely, unfettered by any counter-terror measures of which we are aware and in flagrant disregard of basic notions of justice [Twitter]. Ms Mogherini broke down in tears [link] at the end of her press conference with the Jordanian foreign minister yesterday. A photograph from some years ago [link] captures her standing Yasser Arafat, suggesting she knows more about terror than most European politicians. 
  • "Terrorism knows no borders and is a plague to all of us... Correct education is the right answer to ignorance and extremism." Egypt's leading religious figure, Grand Mufti Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam [Associated Press]
  • The terrorist attacks were "cowardly and odious" and Belgium would "respond together with firmness, calmness and dignity" - Philippe, king of the Belgians [ABC]
  • The Eiffel Tower will be lit up in the colors of the Belgian flag - Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris [Twitter]
  • "Terrorists struck Brussels but it was Europe that was targeted - and all the world that is concerned." - French president Francois Hollande [Associated Press]
  • "What is necessary now is that we show our collective strength and uphold the values of freedom and solidarity." - Dutch King Willem-Alexander [Associated Press]
  • We will fight terrorism "with all necessary means" after this "attack on our open democratic society." - The 28 EU leaders in a rare joint statement [AFP]
  • The terrorist threat facing countries across Europe is "very real... We will never left these terrorists win." - David Cameron, prime minister of the UK [AFP]
  • "I am shocked and concerned by the events in Brussels. We will do everything we can to help." - David Cameron, prime minister of the UK [Twitter]
  • "All solidarity now with EU, Belgium... Terrorists will never win: Our European values much stronger than hate, violence, terror!" - German Chancellor Angela Merkel via her chief of staff Peter Altmeier [Twitter]
  • "I think we’ve got to recognize that the threat posed by the modern incarnation of terrorism is one that we have to be vigilant against. I know that Americans have every reason to be frightened by what they see." - Hillary Clinton, US Democratic Party presidential contender [Time]
  • "Do you all remember how beautiful and safe a place Brussels was... Not anymore, it is from a different world! U.S. must be vigilant and smart!" - Donald Trump [Twitter]
  • The Brussels attacks are "just the latest in a string of coordinated attacks by radical Islamic terrorists perpetrated by those who are waging war against all who do not accept their extreme strain of Islam... Radical Islam is at war with us." Ted Cruz, US Republican Party presidential contender [Time Magazine]
  • The Brussels attacks are "another cowardly attempt to terrorize innocent civilians... [and] a brutal reminder that the international community must come together to destroy ISIS." - Bernie Sanders, US Democratic Party presidential contender [Twitter]
  • The blasts in Brussels are "a barbaric crime [that] confirms once again that terrorism knows no borders and threatens the peoples all over the world" - Russian President Vladimir Putin [US News]
  • "All Australians condemn these cowardly terrorist attacks in Brussels. And the Belgian people have our thoughts, our prayers and our resolute solidarity in this battle against terrorism. They are utterly cowardly attacks, attacking innocent people, but we need to be constantly vigilant, vigilance is the key." - Malcolm Turnbull, prime minister of Australia [The Guardian]
  • The beloved Belgian cartoon character Tintin is depicted in tears [AFP]
We continue to scan the online news media for quotable calls by political leaders for Belgium and the EU to exercise compromise, act with reasonableness and restraint, to avoid vengeanceto find a peaceful path, to keep right away from carrying out extrajudicial executions, not to take steps that could further destabilize the situation, to be proportionate in defending themselves from the jihadists.

We plan to let readers know the moment we find them. And yes, we would appreciate your help [send to thisongoingwar at gmail dot com].

No comments: