We Are All Hostages Now

We really can’t blame them.

If you or I were an Israeli police officer who had relatives living in or near Jerusalem or anywhere in Israel or the West Bank, we would have done the same thing. We would have acceded to the demands the imams who call the shots on the Temple Mount. We would have detained two U.S. lawmakers even if they were scheduled to have a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later that day.

We are reasonable people and would not want to give Palestinian jihadists any pretext to go on yet another stabbing spree and murder people in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

We would not want to worry when our children or spouses come home late from school or work. We would not want to wonder if maybe they were stabbed or run over by a Palestinian incited to murder by Mahmoud Abbas or someone else by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas screaming about how the Al Aqsa Mosque is under attack.

So we would do what we are told by the imams and detained two U.S. Congressman, both in their 70s, one of whom apparently made the mistake of picking up an olive branch off the ground and was accused of praying on the Temple Mount. We would bundle the two lawmakers up, escort them off the Temple Mount, give them a good talking to and then let them go with a warning — all in a great show of keeping the peace.

The Temple Mount. (Photo: Dexter Van Zile)

As much as we would like to think otherwise, we would have done exactly what Israeli police officers did on Thursday, February 22, 2018, when the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf complained about two lawmakers visiting the Temple Mount (Scott Tipton (R-CO) and David B. McKinley (R-WV), declaring that they had prayed on the site, apparently after one of them bent over to pick up a stick. We would have detained them.

Of course, it’s an outrageous violation of the dignity of the two Congressmen and a clear violation of principle of religious freedom.

But doing what the imams say is what Westerners have been trained to do by years and years of jihadist violence. We’ve learned to violate one another’s dignity and freedom just to keep the peace with jihadists.

We don’t want to admit it, but jihadists throughout the world have used terrible acts of terror to get people to submit to their demands, just like an abusive alcoholic trains his wife and children to walk on eggshells in their own homes. We’ve learned to blame ourselves for the bad acts done to us by people who are simply unable to live in peace with themselves and the world around them.

We have learned all too well that if we stand up for ourselves and something bad happens, we’ll be blamed for what happens next.

That’s why law enforcement officials allowed grooming gangs of Muslim immigrants from Pakistan to rape thousands of teenage girls in England —over the course of a decade — before engaging in a serious effort to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. No one wanted to be accused of racism or Islamophobia, so law enforcement and child welfare officials let the abuse continue for years.

That’s why we did little more than engage in hashtag activism when hundreds of young girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

That’s why we did next to nothing when thousands of Yazidis and Assyrian Christians were murdered in Iraq and Syria by ISIS.

That’s why so many of us blamed Israel for the violence directed at it during the Second Intifada and screamed more about Israel’s efforts to defend its citizens than we did jihadists violence against Jews (and Christians.

That’s why European leaders have not responded effectively to the increasing violence against women and Jews in the countries they govern.

We don’t want to admit it, but we’ve learned to walk through our daily lives ignoring the collective knife at our throats, put there by jihadists who use scripture to justify their acts of murder.

Because we are reasonable people want to live without controversy or conflict in our daily lives, we police one another like hostages bound and gagged in someone’s basement out in the middle of nowhere.

We tell one another to stay quiet, not make any trouble and hopefully we’ll get through another day without another bombing, stabbing or mass attack.

It has been like this for a long time in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East. People who live next to jihadists, who share public spaces with them, are unable or unwilling to confront them and as a result, their lives are blighted by periodic, but unpredictable acts of terror.

We are all hostages now.

About the Author
Dexter Van Zile is the Managing Editor of Focus on Western Islamism (FWI), established by the Middle East Forum in 2022.