16 November 2015

About the aftermath of Paris massacre

The thoughts below, were penned by David Sigeti on Facebook. Worthy reading.

I have refrained from posting these thoughts for about a day now, because I wanted to hold off from political debate in the immediate aftermath of the atrocities in Paris. Nevertheless, I think that it is important to make this point before the murders in Paris and the reactions to them by governments all over the world fade from the notoriously short attention span of the public mind.

The reactions of governments, including our own, to the terrorist attacks in Paris have mostly been very good. Expressions of solidarity have been the order of the day, and have been unencumbered by the sort of admonitions that undermine a statement of solidarity. There has been no false equivalencing, no admonitions to "both sides" to "refrain from incitement", no statements that imply that France is about to go on some kind of rampage against either its own Muslim population or Muslims in other countries, and no admonitions to France to exercise "restraint", even though the President of France has vowed to wage a "pitiless" war on the perpetrators of the attacks (an entirely appropriate vow, in my opinion).

But the same can not be said about the reactions of governments all over the world, including our own, to the wave of terrorist attacks in Israel over the last couple of months. In that time period, Israel has seen a number of terrorist murders that amount to about the same fraction of its population as the victims of the Paris attacks amount to as a fraction of the population of France. The statements of the American government in particular have shown nothing like the solidarity that it has shown with France, in the midst of an ongoing campaign of mass murder against Israeli citizens. In the beginning especially, the US made vague statements about deploring "violence" and called on "both sides" to refrain from "incitement", even though there was no incitement coming from the Israeli side at all and the terrorist wave was being openly and massively incited by all the political groups in Palestinian society, including the supposedly moderate Fatah, and by all levels of the leadership of Palestinian society, including the media, the religious leadership, institutions of higher education, professional organizations, and, of course, the Palestine Authority and its President, the supposedly moderate Mahmoud Abbas.

In fact, the early statements from the American government could hardly be distinguished from the disgusting statements by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who encouraged "both sides" to "show restraint".
Although American statements about the terrorist wave improved significantly over time due to domestic political pressure, they never approached the straightforward and plainly stated solidarity that has just been shown with France. Other governments, particularly the British and Canadian, made much better statements, but the international response overall was worlds away from the response to the attacks in Paris.

This is a massive and egregious double standard, especially since Israel is every bit as much an ally of the United States as France is, maybe more so. It is hard to imagine a clearer example of the failure of the Obama Administration to show support for Israel when it most needs it.

There, I said it. We can now return to mourning the victims of the attacks in Paris and discussing what we need to do both to punish the perpetrators and to prevent similar atrocities in the future. Let us just remember the massive and disgusting double standard that has just been shown, not just in attention in the international press but in the official statements of governments, including our own, and allow this memory to affect our thinking about Israel's situation in the future.