talking to (European) friends these days I more and more felt I had to go into the Jerusalem-incident once moreand add some more European perspective before Shabbat cuts me short tonight.
When I mentioned what had happened in J’lem on Wednesday a reaction I saw a lot was exactly the one that had already outraged Spirit of Entebbe’s Claudio reporting about ARD (a major German public TV station) covering the incident:
Two hours after the attack, when the identity of the assasin had long been clear […] ARD[…] titled “construction vehicle rammed bus – 4 death in Jerusalem, perpetrator not clearly known”, thereby allowing the massacer to be placed near a traffic accident. Even at 10 pm ARD’s teletext spoke of a “man”, who “presumably (!) [was] a Palestinian”.
Unbelievable for people like Claudio and me who (unfortunately) have become too used to Israel’s constant threat from terrorism but quite normal to low-brow Europeans thinking in European ways. They don’t think of terrorism first. They think of a tragic accident. So did I when the first airplane hit the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.
“If that happened in Europe chances are it wouldn’t make it into the newspapers at all. Just because it happened in Israel it is broadcasted all over the world.”,
one of my friends commented when we talked about the Jerusalem-incident. The remark made me emphasise that this hadn’t likely been an accident. Yet still he stressed:
“This isn’t terrorism. This is just a guy going berserk. It’s tragic yet you know there was that guy nearby who went berserk, too, and it hardly made it into regional newspapers […] “,
continuing with what Maks in his comment stated about NZZ (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, a Swiss newspaper commonly known for its rather unpolitical reporting yet with too many rather anti-Israeli lines on its records) questioning whether it was justified to use weapons against the person running amok.
Another person went direction of another one of Claudio’s remarks:
[…] And, who knows, perhaps the murderer had a couple of good reasons for his deed. Thereto Hamdan for instance, a Muchtar from Sur Bahir, who had a couple of rumors at hand […]: “There’s a rumor going on that some haredi students had thrown stones at him and cursed him at the construction site before the attack. Perhaps he was so angry that he decided to go on a rampage.”
Okay, this is a rather classic one. The old dispute about reasons. Of course rather reasons for Palestinians to kill Israelis, rarely the other way round (how come there are always double standards when it comes to Israelis and Palestinians?). There is always a reason the Pali went berserk for there is always some relative that has been [insert human right abuse here] by Israelis.
The thing is part of it might be true. True for one the Israeli aren’t angels – who was living in that hell of a place? – and there have been single persons doing wrong, which of course hardly is something Israel has a monopole on (whoever is without sin may throw the first stone). And true for, second, the different ways reality is perceived by people living within “Israel proper” and the PA. Or better to say “made to be perceived”. Need an example? Take the fence or wall or whatever you’d call it. Right, the one that I’ve been missing in the media lately. For Israelis it’s important that this fence/wall has reduced suicide attacks to perhaps 1% of what it was before for Israeli officials are now enabled to check every person coming into Israel e.g. for explosives. For Palestinians it is a symbol of them being locked away and spied after by Israel. Or take Gaza. When Israel ceases delivering gasoline to the Gaza Strip from its point of view it does so because it is exactly that gasoline that Qassam-rockets are fueled with. For Gaza residents it is of course that gasoline that is missing in their cars and – worse – the ambulance cars. Besides those two governmental elites the next thing that makes peace so hard to achieve in Israel is that there is nobody being wrong but rather two parties being right. But that would lead off topic here.
However what stroke me talking to my friends was that they were right too. That stepping back and having an European glimpse at the whole situation might be beneficial from time to time. It is true that – as tragic as it was – what happened in Jerusalem on Wednesday was no more no less than a single person running berserk. That this person happened to be a Palestinian might have been no more then bad luck, actually with life in Jerusalem it could as well have been an Israeli. But this didn’t happen in Germany or Spain or the US. This happened in Israel where people are used to see every murder as a terror attack and everything has a meaning. A terrible, frightening one. Perhaps one should consider for a moment that what the rampage in Jerusalem had one really important meaning: That people are suffering there. On either side. That people have reached the borders of what they can endure yet are fighting on for a normal life on a daily basis though sometimes the battle is lost. This is human, no more, no less.
Something needs to be done in order to lead them back to a normal life.