Thursday, March 21st | 14 Adar II 5779

May 30, 2017 12:41 pm

A View from Manchester

avatar by Robert Festenstein

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Concertgoers fleeing Manchester Arena following last week’s terror attack. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

I live in Manchester. Like many other Jewish residents, I was appalled by the murders of 22 people last Monday, and the maiming of so many others. What has followed has been a mixture of extreme sadness and solidarity, with every segment of the Manchester community declaring their support for the victims and each other. For years, Jews have been the targets of terror in the UK, and the perpetrator of last Monday’s atrocity could just as easily have picked a synagogue or Jewish school for his heinous crime.

On Friday night, four days after the bombing, I went to St. Ann’s Square in the center of Manchester, to see the flowers laid out there in support of the victims and their families.

There were candles, too, and a poster from a local Islamic girls school, made of children’s hand prints in blue and red. There was also a handwritten message saying, “We are stronger together as Brits: many cultures, races and faiths — but one nation under God.”

The poster reinforced to me what Monday’s attack was about, and — more significantly — what needs to be done in response.

The latest terrorist incident was not a cowardly attack. It was a well-planned assault on our way of life. It was a deliberate attack on the values that we hold dear: democracy, pluralism and tolerance.

I was furious when Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the victims as having “died,” suggesting that they had somehow succumbed to a strange illness rather than being deliberately murdered by an ISIS supporter. It took Corbyn some days to use the word “terrorist,” but at the same time, he also declared that somehow UK foreign policy was to blame.

But we shouldn’t be surprised. For far too long, the Left’s stranglehold on any discussion of immigration or Islamic terrorism has allowed underground terror groups to develop and flourish. People like Corbyn have a binary attitude towards refugees: either they are in danger or they are not.

The truth is somewhere in the middle — but the Left does not recognize this. Yes, some refugees are innocent, and seeking a better life. But others seeking “asylum” are ISIS supporters, or those sympathetic to them. Are these people we want to allow into our country?  And what about the refugee who hates Jews and homosexuals, and wants to subjugate women? Even if they don’t want to use violence, aren’t they an equally dangerous threat? But to many on the left, these questions are dismissed, and they believe that these refugees represent to danger whatsoever.

Yet many on the Left try to shut down these debates with accusations of racism or Islamophobia. It is these progressives who protect the extremists from deportation, claiming that their human rights are being violated. They scream Islamophobia when radicals who have taken over a mosque are interviewed by the police.

But what about the people targeted by those that the Left is trying to protect? And what about Muslims who also oppose these extremists?

For years, Islamic terrorist groups like Hamas have loudly declared their desire to destroy Western values and democracy — yet the liberal left has remained silent because they haven’t been directly in the crosshairs. I believe that the teachers of the Islamic school in Bolton — whose pupils produced that touching poster I mentioned — fully recognize this.

Many on the Left dogmatically ignore the multi-faceted dynamics of the Muslim community; in fact, many people there are just as opposed to radical Islam as the rest of us.

Any criminal investigation of individuals should not be restricted by virtue of the individual’s religion or race. The Catholic Church shielded serial abusers for years. No one saw the subsequent investigation that finally came about as an attack on Christianity. Similarly, investigations of radicalized Muslims should not be seen as an attack on Islam. Standing firm as a community is the easy first step, but finding the hate mongers and pushing back against their apologists on the radical left is the necessary — and much more difficult — next step.

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