Sometimes it’s not about us

As we often see after horrific events, much of the social media has expressed solidarity for the last three days with the citizens of France, where 129 civilians were mercilessly slaughtered by Islamist terrorists.

And as we also often see when tens of thousands of people express solidarity with a nation that was targeted by terror, thousands more have chimed in with a chorus of “What about us?”.

They ask why people don’t post Israeli flags on their Facebook pics after terror attacks in Israel, or Kenyan flags after the murderous attack in April that left 147 dead.

They ask how can a French government that has called on Israel to show restraint in fighting terror doesn’t pledge that same restraint in fighting ISIS?

They ask where was the world support and sympathetic outcry after the terror attack in Beirut one day before that in Paris.?

They ask about the different standards that the world holds Israel to when it comes to defending itself and dealing with terror elements?

The list goes on and on. And let’s face it – these are all valid questions.

It’s true. Those of us into Israel advocacy have seen it, said it, repeated it, and posted it on Facebook and Twitter. The world tends to ignore terror attacks in Israel and Africa, with the general exception of people with cultural, historical or religious connection to those lands. This really stinks, but it is what it is.

But when we talk about Friday night’s terror attacks in Paris and showing solidarity with the French people, none of those truths areit’s also irrelevant.

As Israelis, and as Jews, we need to stop making everything that happens in the world be about us.

What happened in Paris on Friday night is not about Israel’s ongoing struggles with the Palestinians. It’s not about the two-state solution, or whether or not Israel should be in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria (depending on your political slant), and it’s not about how can we best defend ourselves against Hamas and Hezbollah.

The attack has nothing to do with the hypocrisy of what the French prime minister has said to or about Israel in the past regarding terrorism. It has nothing to do with Israel’s restraint, or lack thereof, or with the EU decision to label which Israeli products are from so-called “occupied territories.” It even has nothing to do with the cheering and celebrating that we saw in Gaza and other places after the attack.

The Paris attack was about none of that. Not even a little.

It was about terrorists, hell-bent on blood, death and destruction, targeting innocent civilians and celebrating in the carnage that they wrought. We can look at the bigger global picture of how Islamic fanaticism has risen in recent years, and we can discuss appropriate ways in which to deal with it.

But it doesn’t change what this attack was really about. And by chiming in “What about Israel?” or “What about Kenya?” or wherever else in the world, we trivialize Friday night’s 129 slaughtered civilians.

The victims in Paris had nothing to do with the French government’s policies or statements vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They were victims – no less than the Kenyans slaughtered in April, and no less than the Israelis killed in the numerous terror attacks.

Screaming and shouting that it happens to us too doesn’t change that. Neither does giving the world a big mother of an “I told you so” or “Welcome to our life.”

Give those killed on Friday night the respect that they deserve – as victims of terror. And then find a way for the world to see all victims of terror on equal terms.

But attaching the same value to Kenyan, Lebanese and Israeli lives as we do French lives means making all lives equally important. Not equally trivial.

About the Author
Asher Zeiger grew up (well, sort of) in North Carolina and moved to Israel in 1988. He lives in Modi'in with his wife and two daughters, and works as freelance writer, editor and translator. In his spare time, he tries hard at not taking himself or life too seriously (successfully) and at unwrapping himself from around his daughters' little fingers (not so successfully).