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Terror victims: Ask not ‘how many,’ ask ‘who’

On the importance of honoring the individual lives lost in terror attacks, wherever they occur

Forty-nine killed in terror attack in Orlando; 14 killed in terror attack in San Bernadino; 129 killed in terror attack in Paris; 32 killed in terror attack in Brussels; 38 killed in terror attack in Tunisia; 1,307 killed in terrorist attacks in Israel since 2000; and thousands more.

Numbers.

After every terror attack we are told how many innocent people have been murdered, how many are injured. Indeed, we are trained to ask: “How many killed? How many casualties?”

The problem is that numbers mask the true story, and that true story unites every victim of a terror attack: they are all innocent human beings with life stories, with lives cut short, with dreams that have come to an end.

I believe we must adjust our focus to ask “who” the victims were, instead of “how many.” And since the radical Islamic terrorists see all of their victims as cut from the same cloth, I believe we should not focus on the general categories such as homosexuals, Jews, secular Muslims, Christians, etc. Instead, we should focus on the factor which unifies all of the victims of radical Islamist terror: human beings from all across the globe who are quite similar to one another in their simple desire to live happy and free lives.

There were those who were fighting illness…

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool was killed by the radical Islamic terrorist in the Orlando nightclub this week. She had 11 children, and had overcome two bouts with cancer. Brenda was 49.

Declan Carty of Ireland was recovering from heart surgery, and his wife, Lorna, took him for a much needed vacation to Tunisia in June 2015. Lorna, in her 50s, was killed (with 37 others) by a radical Islamic terrorist while relaxing along the Tunisian beach.

Shoshana Magmari was a mother of three and a grandmother of five. Shoshana suffered from cancer, and after difficult treatment, was declared cancer free in April 2002. On May 7, 2002, Shoshana and some friends went to celebrate in a club in central Israel where a radical Islamic terrorist detonated a suitcase full of explosives, killing Shoshana (and 14 others). Shoshana was 51.

And those who were supporting family far away…

Joel Raynon Paniagua came to the United States from Mexico, and worked long hours in construction to send money to his family back home. He was killed by the radical Islamic terrorist in the Orlando nightclub this week. Joel was 32.

Ling Chang Mai came to Israel from China. He worked in construction, sending his pay check to his wife and daughters in China. In April 2002, Mai was shopping in a Jerusalem market when a radical Islamic terrorist blew herself up, killing Mai (and injuring 104 others). Mai was 34.

There were those who were connected to the military…

Antonio Davon Brown was a captain in the US Army Reserve. Antonio was killed by the radical Islamic terrorist in the Orlando nightclub this week. Antonio was 29.

Gail Minglana Martinez was married to U.S Airforce Lieutenant Colonel Kato Martinez, who was assigned to the Joint Force Command Brunssum in the Netherlands.  Gail was killed by a radical Islamic terrorist in the Brussels airport in March 2016.  Gail was 41.

Ido Ben Ari, an elite commando in the Israeli army reserves, was shot dead in Tel Aviv last week by a radical Islamic terrorist, while sitting in a café with his family. Ido was 42.

And those who worked in medicine…

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala worked as a platelet supervisor at OneBlood, a blood donation center. His office put out a statement saying that Rodolfo was “passionate about saving lives, and took great pride in the lifesaving work he performed. Rodolfo was often called upon to share his knowledge and best practices with many of the people in his department, and was an integral part of a team of people who work diligently to help save lives.” Rodolfo was killed by the radical Islamic terrorist in the Orlando nightclub this week. Rodolfo was 33.

Mir Sanaur Rahman was a homeopathic doctor in his village in Bangladesh. Last month, Mir was hacked to death by a machete-wielding radical Islamic terrorist. Mir was 55.

Mario Goldin was a doctor who pioneered the establishment of the pain clinic at the Beit Levinstein rehab center in Israel. Colleagues and friends described him as a “genuinely good man” and an outstanding doctor, whose main goal aim in life was to ease the suffering of others. On April 22, 2001, Dr. Goldin was waiting at the bus stop on his way to the hospital when a radical Islamic terrorist detonated a powerful bomb, killing him instantly. Meir was 53.

There were those who were educators…

Darryl Roman Burt II, who worked at Keiser University, “was always interested in making positive impact on people’s lives,” according to the university president. Darryl was killed by a radical Islamic terrorist in the Orlando nightclub. He was 29.

Mohamed Amine Ibnolmobarak was a teacher at ENSA Paris-Malaquais architecture school. Mohamed was killed by a radical Islamic terrorist while sitting in a Paris café with his wife in November 2015. Mohamed was 29.

Louba Lafquiri taught at La Vertu Islamic School in Brussels. Louba, a mother of three, was killed by a radical Islamic terrorist in the Maelbeek train station in Brussels in April 2016. Louba was 34.

Richard Lakin was a career educator who wrote a book titled “Teaching as an Act of Love: Thoughts and Reflections of a Former Teacher, Principal and Kid.” Richard was riding a Jerusalem bus in October 2015 when radical Islamic terrorists shot him in the head and stabbed him multiple times, killing him. Richard was 76.

And those who were students…

Martin Benitzez Torres was studying in university to become a pharmacy technician. Martin was killed by the radical Islamic terrorist in the Orlando nightclub this week. Martin was 33.

Sabrina Fazal was studying in university towards a nursing degree, and was a mother of a 1-year-old son. She was killed by a radical Islamic terrorist in the Maelbeek metro bombing in Brussels in March 2016. Sabrina was 24.

Bella Schneider was studying for a nursing degree. On March 20, 2002, Bella was riding a bus on the way to school in northern Israel when a radical Islamic terrorist boarded the bus and detonated a bomb he had strapped to his body, killing Bella (and six others). Bella was 53.

And there were those who were still only in their teens…

Akyra Monet Murray was an honors student who graduated third in her class and signed a letter of intent to play college basketball.  She was in Orlando on a post-graduation family vacation earlier this week when a radical Islamist terrorist killed her in a nightclub.  Akyra was 18.

Joel Richards was a talented football player who had “the world at his feet,” according to the Birmingham County Football Association. Joel was killed by a radical Islamic terrorist while on vacation on the Tunisian beach in June 2015. Joel was 19.

Gilad Sha’er was loved by all his friends, and was described as “a good kid, a gifted child — always smiling, even as a baby,” and as “a boy who loved to learn, to do everything for the community and for society.” On June 12, 2014, radical Islamic terrorists kidnapped and killed Gilad while he was on his way home from school in a Jerusalem suburb. Gilad was 16.

Students. Teachers. Soldiers. Relatives working hard to support their families. Medical practitioners. Survivors of illnesses. Teenagers. Mothers. Fathers. Brothers. Sisters. Daughters. Sons. In the United States. In Brussels. In Israel. In France. In Syria. In Tunisia. In Turkey. In Bangladesh.

Innocent lives snuffed out.

People throughout the free world must take the time to read about each and every person being killed by radical Islamic terrorists. Switching from listing victims as mere numbers, to recognizing that regardless of where they were killed they were all valued individuals who had dreams and contributions yet to fulfill, can motivate the free world to unite and take action to eliminate this evil force.

If not, the result is already all too clear: many more innocent lives will be lost.

Half a year ago, my office at the World Zionist Organiation started a Facebook page called ISRAELI LIVES MATTER featuring information and a photo about the innocent victims of terror in Israel. This has helped me to internalize the degree of loss which my country has suffered because of terrorism, and strengthened my resolve to remember these victims as individuals and not as a statistic.

Today I announce a new Facebook page: INNOCENT LIVES MATTER.  This page will include details about the lives of victims of terror from all over the world.  I invite you to “like” and “share” this page.

It is time for the world to stand together and finally make the declaration: Innocent Lives Matter.

About the Author
Dov Lipman was elected to the 19th Knesset in January 2013. He is the author of seven books about Judaism and Israel, and holds rabbinic ordination from Ner Israel Rabbinical College and a masters in education from Johns Hopkins University. He has been at the forefront of combating religious extremism in Israel and is a leader in efforts to create Jewish unity both in Israel and around the world. Former MK Lipman is invited to speak on behalf of the Jewish state both in Israel and around the world and serves as a political commentator for i24 News and ILTV. He currently serves as Senior Manager - Community Outreach for Honest Reporting.
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