I recently read an opinion piece that concluded in stating that the objective (and thus the success) of the increasing number of Islamic terrorist groups is to force the Western world into a war. Not a war in the Middle East, as you might assume, nor a war on the physical streets of Europe, but rather a mental war, where disagreement becomes the foundation for hate, intolerance and categorization. The greatest success these brilliant strategists — we must give credit where it’s due — have achieved is to drive us further apart from one another. It’s no question that murdering innocent civilians will infuriate the public, whether that public is Israeli, French, Kenyan or Russian makes little difference. It’s the way we choose, or would like to choose, to respond that separates us. This divide grows further until ultimately, the liberals hate the conservatives more than they hate the terrorists (the same is true vice versa, as well as across every group with a defined opinion on the subject).
I can’t say I haven’t fallen victim to these tactics. Only those who’ve completely ignored recent global events can make that claim. After all, ignorance is bliss.
The budding rift dividing us became strikingly apparent following the devastating attack in France this past weekend. As events were yet unfolding my social media was reflecting very opposing convictions. The majority of my acquaintances in America were advocating pro-gun laws and closed borders, while my European contacts, primarily those in Germany, were expressing concern for refugees. Those in other countries were blaming Hollande, the French Prime Minister, for his choice involvement in Syria, yet many others argued violently for peace, love, and fluffy things for all — demanding, with heated naiveté, that everyone believe everything will be just fine and we should just stop fighting, and still others were busy complaining about lack of French support when Israel experiences terrorist attacks.
All this took place before the clock struck 12:00 (or 00:00) on Friday the 13th of November 2015. The body count hadn’t yet been completed and around the world people were already busy pushing their own personal agendas onto the helpless lives that lay in pools of blood and their panicked families and loved ones who likely didn’t yet know whether or not to begin grieving. We couldn’t even wait until it was over to start arguing with one another. Take a moment to think about that. ISIS has already won.
But that doesn’t really matter does it? We will continue arguing anyway.
That being said I want to take this moment, 4 days after the attacks, to put some of these arguments to rest. This is just my opinion, and I’m nobody just like the next nobody, so take it with a grain of salt.
Before I continue I recommend my select readers view some videos or read some background information on the Syrian civil war and what events transpired leading up to the present (including your very own country’s involvement). This is a good start.
I’m going to address these issues backwards, as some of the questions will answer themselves as we go along.
It’s no coincidence that I am writing a blog for the Times of Israel — I am, at least in part, Israeli. As such my response to the question of French empathy with Israeli civilians when we are under attack will probably be one of the least objective opinions defined in this post.
Is it a problem that the general French population tends to side with the terrorists which attack Israel? Absolutely. Is it a French problem alone? Not at all.
World media has been notoriously in favor of Palestinian, Syrian, Lebanese, etc. terrorists when their attacks are aimed at Israel. The bias against Israel is rather unfounded. There are over 200 land disputes worldwide and tens of occupied territories, several of which have experience repeated rounds of massacres, pogroms, and attempts (failed or successful) at ethnic cleansing. Nobody cares. The reason these “nobodies” usually cite for not caring is that Israel is a “western” country and therefore we should know better — I won’t get into all the reasons why Israel is by no means “western” and Israelis, and Jews, are by no means “whiter” than Jesus was (and he was just about as “white” as your stereotypical Taliban member). I don’t know where this leaves England/Britain (half of which is occupied territory), France, Spain, America, and so on, but should they hold their Western selves to the same standards their economies would have shriveled post-boycott a hundred times over.
At least half of Europe and all of the U.S is occupying or colonizing someone else’s territory. It’s a messy business, let’s leave it at that.
With that in mind, we have to seek out the difference between Israel and all of these western countries. One comes to mind quite quickly. I’m sure you can guess what it is. From that we can safely conclude that the one-sided biased against Israel presented in formal and social media is an obscured variety of anti-Semitism. Whether the French public is a product of the media, or whether the media is a product of the French public, is a complicated question. Even if it were a chicken or egg situation, would it really matter?
We can draw comparisons between present day France and Israel all we want, and while these comparisons may be 100% correct — down to France’s involvement in Syria as a cause of the attacks (especially since they didn’t distribute flyers, send text messages, or audio alerts in Syria before they dropped their bombs), to its following raid and arrest tactics — the fact of the matter is the world will never look at it the same way. The only thing we Israelis can do is continue to show compassion, empathy, and for godssake already, put more money and effort into some proper PR.
Indeed, witnesses of the Black Friday attacks stated that one of the terrorists yelled that the attacks were revenge for France’s involvement in Syria. There’s a high probability that this is true. However, not a year ago, ISIS murdered two Japanese citizens because Prime Minister Shinzo Abe donated funds to aid refugees. Japan doesn’t have a proper military, so there’s no way they could have attacked ISIS either before or after the beheadings. This holds some weighty implications for Europe which, apart from Hungary and Poland, which decidedly opted out of absorbing any refugees, has at the very least donated supplies to Syrians. If ISIS beheads citizens of every country that had any positive impact upon Syrian civilians, we are in for some good times.
It’s probably true that the Paris attacks were retaliation for France’s bombings in Syria, but does that mean that if France stops bombing ISIS, everything will be daisies and butterflies? No. Of course not. These guys want their caliphate and they will stop at nothing to get it. So Western world, you have two choices, either get rid of ISIS and Assad to provide these people with a decent home to return to or start handing out citizenship cards to all of those refugees. Some of them will stay in your countries anyway, but I can promise you all of them will if you don’t do anything about it. So no, everything will not be fine; no one is going to be receiving ample amounts of peace, love, or fluffy things in the coming months. Brace your delicate flower headbands for the rough and tumble, for it shall come.
On that note, I’d like to turn to one of the most irksome dilemmas, and here once again, my subjectivity will show its true colors. I know I will take a few bullets for this one but it’s something I feel desperately needs to be said.
(to be continued)