The series of terror attacks in Toulouse over the past two weeks have proven several truths. First, that terror is the enemy of reason, tolerance, childhood, and almost everything that allows human civilization to flourish.
It’s important to note that Al Qaeda, whom the French terrorist claims to represent, targeted Muslims and Jews in his murderous spree. That means that, contrary to the message of far-right pro-Israel supporters, it is not Islam that is the enemy, but extremism. Extremists can be adherents of any religion: Islam, Christianity or Judaism. They can be citizens of any country including Norway, France, Palestine or Israel.
The heinous acts of the shooter in these attacks betrayed his cause, his religion and his country. He betrayed the values of tolerance and love inherent in all the major religions, including his own. Now in the minds of many ignorant bystanders he has brought his religion into disrepute. He has immeasurably heightened the level of hate, fear and hostility toward Islam.
There can never be justification for killing children, whether those children are French Jews or Palestinian Muslims. If we want the world to believe in the justice of our cause, whether it be Israel or Palestine, we have to denounce the murder of both.
That’s why the pro-Israel supporters who are clucking about this latest round of Islamist terror are dead wrong. They are hypocrites because they only care about children with Jewish blood in their veins. You never heard any of them cry for the two Palestinian children killed in Israelis attacks against Gaza. Nor did they cry anything but crocodile tears, if that, for the 300 children killed during Cast Lead.
The EU’s foreign minister, Catherine Ashton Taylor unleashed “fury” in Israel with her apt analogy (though much less forcefully made than I have) between the child terror deaths in Gaza, Toulouse, Norway and elsewhere. She said:
…When we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world — we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”
Israelis of course refuse to concede that the children they kill in Gaza are killed in anything other than a pure and just cause. Listen to this rhetorical flatulence from Netanyahu:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that he was “infuriated” by what he called “the comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and the defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli military that he said were “intended to hit terrorists who use children as a human shield.”
Calling an attack that kills children “defensive” and “surgical” seems to absolve it or any of the moral considerations that enter into other acts of war and terror which kill children. The fact that the children killed in Gaza were NOT being used as human shields by any militants is also deliberately obfuscated by the pro-Israelists. Will no Israeli leader ever cry for any child he kills? Of course not. He’s too busy orchestrating the hasbara to mute the moral opprobrium of his next attack.
Let’s be clear: children are the victims of this awful conflict orchestrated by their elders. The children of Palestine are just as much victims as the Jewish child victims of Toulouse. Their deaths are equally troubling, equally heinous.
Finally, there is only one way to end the worst of this mayhem: Israel and Palestine must resolve their conflict. Israel must return, or be forced to return to 1967 borders, Jerusalem must be shared, and refugees must return.
Figures as eminent as current CIA director David Petraeus have conceded that the intractability of the conflict is one of the most incendiary elements that fuels terror and radicalism in the Middle East. Israel’s most extreme supporters bristle and snarl when such comparisons are made. But if Israel continues killing Muslims (and Christian Arabs as well) at the rate it has, hate of Israel (and of Jews) will fester and burst out into similar acts of violence.
No less an Israeli journalist than Akiva Eldar wrote the same sentiment in Haaretz, when he noted that if Israel attacks Iran it will increase precisely the sort of anti-Semitic fervor that Israel was meant to protect Jews from suffering. Eldar says we can expected more Toulouses in that case:
…An Israeli attack on Iran…would be seized [upon] by by right-wing extremists…Thanks to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s babble in Washington…the bill will (also) be submitted to Jewish communities abroad. The State of Israel, which was established as a haven for Jews from those who hate it, may instead wind up becoming a threat to Jews.
Returning to the theme of our respective child terror victims: if we care only for our own dead and shrug our shoulders at the dead of our “enemy” then we betray our humanity.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.