Yesterday, Tom Willcox managed to achieve a new low for BBC journalism. When a worried Jew in France told him that Jews are being targeted, Tom Willcox decided to tell her that “the Palestinians suffer hugely, at Jewish hands.” When she said that Jews in Europe should not be blamed for that, he said he was providing a “different perspective”.
When people are victims of racism and terrorism, is providing this sort of perspective, explaining away the actions of terrorists, the correct thing to do?
As thousands of Shiites are being butchered by ISIS across Iraq, should we inform them that the Sunnis felt mistreated by the Iraqi Shiite government, and that ISIS was formed to express those frustrations?
When journalists are targeted by extremists, should we inform the journalists that their work is offensive to extremists, and the extremists feel they are being targeted?
When Boko Haram kill thousands in Nigeria, should we remind the victims that Nigerian Muslims feel sidelined by the Christian dominated government, and thus turn to Boko Haram to fight back?
If revenge attacks happen against Muslims, should we inform the Muslims that many are angry at them for allowing terrorism to fester within their community, and that many feel threatened by growing Muslim populations?
Of course not. We do not blame the targeted, we blame the perpetrator. We do not blame the innocent, we blame those who deliberately target the innocent. If we seek to explain away the actions of terrorists, we are implicitly justifying them. If we turn the Jews into the guilty, those guilty of anti Semitism will remain innocent as they scare an entire community into hiding their Judaism, or fleeing the country they live in.
Mr Willcox, by responding that way to a poor, scared, Jewish woman, you implicitly justified the anti-Semitism that French Jews face. You told French Jews that they do not have our support as they struggle to maintain some semblance of normal life, but should accept their challenges as punishment for the actions of a government they do not influence. You made the victims the guilty, and the racists, the moral.
That, Mr Willcox, is a different perspective.