Rachel Bell

Murder and Political Opinions – Are They The Same?

In response to the SuperMarche terrorist attack in Paris, the Guardian published an impassioned piece calling for Jews to denounce Israeli actions in order to “reduce anti-Semitism and make the recruitment of jihadis more difficult”. The article compares this thinking to the calls to Muslim groups to condemn terrorist actions in the name of Islam. Jews can learn from Muslims in this area, the article claims.

When Europeans are attacked by other Europeans in Europe, it is natural for neighbors to expect their fellow countrymen to condemn such attacks. When European Muslims are the attackers, and a growing number of their radical religious leaders are advocating such attacks, it makes sense that their worried neighbors ask them as a group to condemn radical European Muslims for inciting attacks within their neighborhoods.

Yet there seems to be widespread acceptance of the idea that Europeans killing other Europeans is actually the equivalent to Jewish fellow citizens having potentially unpopular political opinions. But are they really equivalent? To insist that a people must declare as a group that they have specific political opinions about a country in the Middle East in order to avoid being murdered by their neighbors in Europe is not something one should accept as a moral standpoint. Murder and political opinions are not the same.

I have never heard of journalists advocating, say, that all African Europeans disavow acts by African governments in order to avoid being murdered, or Russians in other countries being required to disavow acts by the government of Russia, or Syrians be required to disavow acts by Syria, or any such similar demand of any other people for that matter.  I have certainly not heard journalists suggest that a group of random Muslims in Europe could expect to be attacked for acts of distant unrelated Muslim governments. I have never heard that Europeans might understandably be recruited to murder each other for suspected political opinions, except in the case of Jews.

The idea that Jews must declare their innocence and disavow their guilt worldwide or be subjected to group punishment is the twisted logic for which the term anti-Semitism was coined. To announce that group punishment is understandable uniquely for Jews so they must denounce the cause du jour and that will somehow mitigate anti-Semitism, is to legitimize the very anti-Semitism this unfortunate logic is disingenuously claiming to mitigate.

Jews do not deserve to be murdered for their supposed political opinions, nor does anyone else. I can only hope that European journalists would never claim this to be true for any others, I have certainly never heard this claim be made of any group except Jews.  And no such claims should to be made for Jews either. The murder of European Jews should not be explained as tied to Israel, nor excused as a result of Israeli politics and warfare. It is not. And to use such a tragedy as a platform to further attack all Jews, and Israel, the cause du jour, is similarly inexcusable.

About the Author
Rachel Bell considers living in Israel a challenge, as is writing for a living for over 20 years. Her family, from Tzfat and later Tel Aviv, left her a legacy of commitment to the project of self-determination and indigenous self-actualization called Israel.
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