There is an Australian 13-year-old boy that is still missing after the van rampage in Barcelona. There is a Hungarian woman who has just left the hospital. The first two confirmed victims named are an Italian man and a Belgian woman. Israel is still missing contact with three Israelis.
I am a pro-Israel advocate — whatever that really means today. In my reading, it means that I believe in Israel’s right to exist and that the stereotypes about Jews and Israel must change. So, with my own tools, voice, and words, I fight for these goals. Yet, what I am not is a pro-Israel advocate who will always say what you want to hear. What I am not, is a career-seeking advocate who will not say when Israelis or Jewish people get something wrong.
And yesterday, just minutes after the heartbreaking attack in Barcelona, many Jewish people – mainly in the US – and some media – mainly in the US – got something wrong.
Minutes after the attack, there were social media posts spreading, and then articles spreading, both saying that it was an attack against the Jews. While the confirmed news was still scarce and every piece of information was doubtful, there was this one image that served as the anchor to this argument: the sign of a kosher restaurant behind the victims.
Yes, indeed the attack was near those two kosher restaurants. But it was also close to the other 85 different restaurants – the closest being a Basque Restaurant and halal Habibi Restaurant & Sisha Bar.
Facts seem to have little impact on emotionally over-flown situations. And I get it. I really do.
I am educated enough by now to understand that Jews often feel that they are the targets. Most of the times, justly so. I am also aware of the century-long waves of anti-Semitism in Europe. The anti-Semitism that today, I believe, has shifted from East to West. But what I also begin to understand is this special feature, this continuous seeking for the victim role. Needless to admit, I will never be able to fully understand how it all might feel, as I am not Jewish. But I know that I would feel relieved in a way when I wasn’t the target. So I have difficulties to comprehend why one would look and seek to be the target no matter what?
Yesterday’s attack, such as all the major attacks of the last year, was an attack against me, against you, against Europeans, against tourists, against Christians, against Jews. They were attacks against anyone and everyone. We are all in the same dreadful boat together. And in this boat, we can’t maintain a competition on how many Jews died and how many non-Jews died during these terror attacks. These attacks don’t ‘cherry pick,’ and we should stand united against terrorism. Not only in Europe but everywhere, and that includes each attack executed against Israel.
Though it sounds ‘newsworthy,’ I would argue that expropriating these attacks as something against the Jews when clearly they are not – is merely fuelling anti-Semitism in Europe as once again we are putting ourselves as ‘us and them’ while we should all stand united against terrorism.
And I for one, sincerely hope, that by learning the hard way, all these attacks will at least help the European governments and the European Union to wake up and acknowledge what is going in Israel for years, and stop the dual standard, and understand what I can’t repeat enough: We are in this boat together!