After Tel Aviv, We Must Hit Back Twice as Hard
There is really only one issue related to Wednesday night’s savage terrorist attack at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market that you need to pay attention to, but it has been obscured by the following:
Mainstream media coverage
The mainstream media cannot bring itself to call the murderous attacks against Jews in Israel terrorism, nor the perpetrators terrorists, which is why the headline that kept repeating itself was “shooting attack in Tel Aviv.” Jews are “shot” by “militants” or “gunmen,” whereas Parisians and Belgians are murdered by jihadi terrorists. This is reminiscent of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” — all people are equal, but some people are “more equal” than others — the “others” being, of course, the Jews. Jewish lives may be destroyed by terrorists and disrespected with misleading headlines.
This is not going to change, not now and not in the future, unless all journalists suddenly experience a moral epiphany of cosmic proportions. We can and should fight it, headline by headline, because good people should fight lies and distortions — but we are merely trying to ameliorate the symptoms of a diseased core, namely the mainstream media’s intense discomfort with the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. For the moment, there is no cure for that.
Responses from politicians and world leaders
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the terrorist attack, conveyed his condolences and said that “there is no justification for terrorism nor for the glorification of those who commit such heinous acts.” This is too little too late, given the fact that only six months ago Ban felt it necessary to express that “it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.” An army of pundits defended his statements following Israel’s outrage, claiming that he was merely “contextualizing.” Unfortunately, when “contextualizing” is premised on manipulation, it serves only one purpose: The legitimization of terrorism against Israelis.
French President Francois Hollande also paid lip service by condemning “with the greatest strength the odious attack.” He expressed France’s “support for Israel in the fight against terrorism.” That is, if you can call forcing “peace initiatives” (that amount to nothing more than backstabbing) down Israel’s throat “support for Israel.”
Perhaps inspired by Ban’s dissembling “contextualization,” the social media sphere was awash with pundits and opinion-makers insisting that the Tel Aviv attacks should be seen in a “broader context,” literally moments after the shots were fired. Not only does the timing betray obvious disrespect for the victims, but it also makes something very clear: When Jews are murdered, there is always a “broader context.” It is never simply a terrorist murder. The first response I got to a tweet I posted about the terrorist attack was, “What about Palestinians killed by Jews?”
None of the above — not the mainstream media, nor the reactions of world leaders nor the social media response — are worthy of attention. It is all a well-choreographed little dance. We fall for the routine, which plays out identically with every terrorist attack perpetrated in Israel, every single time, as if it were new to us.
The only issue we need pay attention to is this: Immediately after the terrorist attacks, Palestinian Arabs in Hebron took to the streets, celebrating the murders. In Tulkarem, they handed out candies in the streets because four Israelis were killed. An evening of good fun, a party brought on by the thought of dead Jews.
On Twitter, Fatah called the attacks the “Tel Aviv operation” and labelled it a “natural reaction.” (Let’s not forget Ban’s “broader context.”) Of course, Hamas celebrated, immediately praising the murderers and wishing them “glory and salutation.” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was “praying for the soul” of the injured terrorist.
These reactions merely confirm what the most recent poll from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed in April, which is that 60% of Palestinian Arabs support “armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel.”
Nevertheless — and presumably because the U.N. secretary-general does not read news reports that do not confirm his preconceived world views — Ban expressed that he was “shocked that the leaders of Hamas have chosen to welcome this attack and some have chosen to celebrate it.” Similarly, U.N. Secial Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov tweeted that he was “shocked to see” that Hamas “welcomes” the Tel Aviv terror attack. He added that “leaders must stand against violence and the incitement that fuels it, not condone it.” What planet are we on? Hamas is a terrorist organization. They are terrorists, not “leaders.” Who could possibly be shocked that terrorists commit terrorism? Only someone who works for the United Nations.
We, here in Israel, however, need to stop acting shocked. We need to stop covering our social media accounts in blue and white, expecting everyone else to follow suit. (They won’t.) And we need to stop wringing our hands at the cold-blooded cruelty of our enemies. (The terrorists ordered dessert and then opened fire on everyone — if that does not qualify as cold-blooded, I don’t know what does.)
We, here in Israel, need to make the terrorism stop. Israel is fully capable of putting an end to terrorist attacks, and that is what it should do. Since October, Israelis have had to put up with a near-constant wave of terrorism that will not go away on its own. One eternal truth has not changed, and it never will: If you are bullied and terrorized, giving in to the bullies and terrorists only yields one result — more bullying and more terrorism. Any child who has ever had to fight it out in the schoolyard knows this. Until you hit back, preferably twice as hard, you are never going to get the bully off your back.
Judith Bergman is a writer and political analyst living in Israel. Twitter @judithbergman.