I sat down to write a very different article. I was going to say that as angry as supporters of Israel feel about the uneven media response to the attacks in Paris, that we should not use the opportunity to point fingers at the blatant hypocrisy. Rather, I was going to suggest, we should simply acknowledge the horror of the murders and stand alongside those who have suffered, and who as we know from experience, will continue to do so. And later, only when the shock has dulled and it is just the pain that remains, should we gently point out that this is what Israel lives with daily.
I was going to propose that our Facebook responses pointing out that last week’s EU labeling of Israel products contrast so starkly to the import of murder into Europe doesn’t become us. That we shouldn’t stoop to that level. And, I was going to offer, that there is no doubt that the post-Paris Europe will have had their own glimpse of reality without us lowering ourselves to say “I told you so.” I was going to say all of this until I listened to a report on one of the more popular South African radio stations.
The hourly news carried the story of the attacks, and as expected covered global condemnation. And then they chose to offer their listeners a soundbite from Mohamed Desai, leader of the BDS South Africa. Mr Desai is well known to South African Jews as being a relentless anti-Semite in whose presence the song of “Shoot the Jew” was sung with gusto by his supporters. He is a supporter of Hamas, an organization that continues to ask for Jews to be stabbed in their backs as they go about their daily lives.
As expected Mr. Desai condemned the attacks, but added that the BDS condemns all forms of extremism, including those from Israel and Isis. This is what the radio station chose to air at a time when the world sits at the precipice of a war they have no idea how to fight. A war that will be fought in the streets of their cities. In bars and theatres and parks. The BDS should never have been asked for a quote or given the airtime unless it was to ask them how they could with clear conscience encourage the harboring of Islamic terrorist in South Africa whilst condemning the attack in Paris. Unless it was to ask them how they could be so opportunistic and so self serving, whilst simultaneously laying the foundation more terror. They simply play no part in this story and yet were given air-time.
I also watched CNN for four hours last night. And aside from the word ISIS, which was difficult not to use, given that they have claimed responsibility for the attacks, and given that they are promising more of the same, an uninformed viewer would have no idea that the perpetrators were aligned with any religion whatsoever. No one would suggest that all Muslims be ostracised and demonised, but how can this crises be addressed if we are unable to even name a factor in the conflict. As the saying goes, “If we can’t name it, we can’t tame it!”
According to the Pope, World War III has begun. Why the Paris massacre and not those that occur daily should be the tipping point is unclear to me. But the fact that he is acknowledging the magnitude of the danger is encouraging. We are indeed at war, and have been for some time. Whether we have chosen to admit it or not.
But media is sadly very far behind. Little lessons have been learned and the indications are that they will continue to peddle the script that they have been given. And sadly, as a consequence, we have no choice but to continue to point out the hypocrisy even if it’s in bad taste. Because clearly, no one else is going to.