Reacting to Terror

Like most others, I was once again horrified to witness yet another terrorist attack last night. There was a new target in this attack but unfortunately, we have seen these tactics too many times before.

As the details of the ‘incident’ slowly filtered through, we saw the standardised reaction that we have sadly become all too accustomed to. The tweets of “shocked and appalled at events in [insert here], thoughts and prayers with the victims and their families” will start to appear and this will soon be followed by messages of how “we will not let the terrorists divide us”.

I am certainly not attacking either of these sentiments but simply reflecting the sad reality that we have become so familiar with how to react to such events. In fact, I deliberately avoided describing my reaction as ‘shocked’ because it simply isn’t true anymore.

Within the Jewish and pro-Israel communities there is another predictable reaction that we have grown used to seeing. Within minutes of the news of a possible attack, I saw one Israel advocacy organisation retweet, “You know where the driving-over-people kind of terror started? In Israel, by Palestinians committing jihad.” [1] I don’t deny the truth in this sentence but it bewilders me that some people believe that the way to gain sympathy for Israel is to say these things while the attack is still potentially ongoing.

While I fundamentally disagree with using these events as a tool for advocacy, there is no denying the connection of vehicle ramming attacks to Israel. Many have rightly pointed out that the UK news coverage when referencing similar attacks have not mentioned events in Israel. I particularly found this puzzling in the aftermath of the Westminster Bridge attack. In this case the news broadcasters were comparing the method of attack to events in Nice and Berlin but were these attacks really the right comparison? Both the Nice and Berlin attacks required a degree of planning in order to obtain heavy goods vehicles with which to inflict maximum damage. The Westminster Bridge attack on the other hand had far more in common with the type of random car rammings we have seen in Israel.

Here is where I believe Israel does have a role in the aftermath of these events in Europe. In the news coverage following the terrorist attack in Barcelona I have repeatedly heard journalists ask how we can better protect against this “new form” of attack. For this it makes complete sense for the world to look at Israel and learn more about the security measures that can be put in place to protect pedestrians.

I understand why there is frustration within the pro-Israel community regarding the lack of media attention to the car rammings Israeli civilians have had to suffer. It is vital that we educate the world about the security situation in Israel but we cannot expect sympathy from the people of Barcelona, London, Nice or Berlin if our immediate reaction to their tragedy is to attempt to hijack their grief.

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About the Author
Public Affairs Manager for the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC)
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