Kenya vs Paris

This morning, I posted the following question on my Facebook page:

Serious question…not sarcastic: For those who have changed their FB photo to show a French flag: why didn’t you change to a Kenyan flag when terrorists murdered 147 people in Kenya?

What’s the difference?

A number of people offered a variety of answers to the question; some were very well thought out answers. And that question continues to nag at me.

The only times that I have changed my “profile pic” to show some form of solidarity has been when it had to do with Israel and no other country. That does not mean that I am not sympathetic to the plight of others. It does not mean that all I care about is Israel (although Israel IS the main focus of my interests, care, attention etc).

But, as I looked at my newsfeed and noticed many of my FB friends had altered their pictures to have a flag of France overlaid on their faces, I began to think and wonder: back in April there was another human tragedy that was also perpetrated by radical Moslems (Note to President Obama: that is how it is pronounced, in case you were unsure) wherein 147 people were murdered in Kenya.

I do not recall world-wide shows of solidarity and marches. I do not recall Rabin Square filling up at the first opportunity to show Israel’s solidarity with Kenya. I do not recall flags…but there is a reason for that last one: Facebook never made it an option! Facebook seemingly made an “editorial” decision that the terror attacks in France “earned/deserved” a temporary flag of solidarity and that those who were murdered in Kenya did not deserve that honor.

And those thoughts led to the question I posed on Facebook. There are many similarities between the Kenya attacks and the ones in France. Just the numbers alone are similar: in Paris (129 last count) and in Kenya (147) are quite similar. The perpetrators (radical Moslem terrorists…did I already mention that?) were the same. The “GOALS” of both attacks was the same.

So, what were the differences? For a start: The color of their skin. One country that was attacked sported white skin and the other, black. Beyond that is the economic standing of both countries. France is part of the G5 (or 6, I have lost count). They are part of the EU. They are synonymous with culture and art and so much history. And then, there is Kenya. Yeah, Kenya. Hmmm…yes, a country with poverty, severe issues with potable water: yes, a real Third World country.

And perhaps, just maybe the world prejudice is peeking out from behind the curtain. That curtain of being PC and singing kumbaya and looking out for the rights of all the world’s citizens. This curtain has been pierced by the actions (or lack of action) by millions of people who reacted to the Kenya attacks one way and the France attacks a different way. (I know many have written and posted about the world reaction when Israel is attacked compared to how they react when it is not Israel. Fair enough. But that is not my point today)

And it is prejudice and the belief that one “way” is the right way and all others are wrong, that got us to this point in the first place. It is the belief by Moslems that their religion is the only true religion and has made it their mission to establish a world-wide Caliphate. It is that prejudice that has led to thousands of murders and maiming all over the planet.

All I am saying is that terror is terror and we need to take a long, hard look in the mirror when we rally at the side of the victims. Yes we should empathize, and yes we are free to show our solidarity. But we never should do that through the prism of prejudice and bigotry.

About the Author
After living in Chicago for 50 years, the last 10 of which Zev Shandalov served as a shul Rav and teacher in local Orthodox schools, his family made Aliya to Maale Adumim in July 2009. Shandalov currently works as a teacher, mostly interacting with individual students.