Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Norway's Tragedy a Wake-up Call?

At least 76 people have been murdered in Norway in the country's  most shocking and horrific terror attack in the country's history. Words are being thrown around - as is the blame. Already, people are criticizing the police for not getting there fast enough, for not being prepared. My country is prepared for such a massacre of innocents, and let me tell you, there is, to mangle Tevye's quote from Fiddler on the Roof, no great honor in being prepared.

We are prepared because we have been living this reality for decades. Our children are raised with the same trauma these Norwegian youth are feeling. Those that survived will be afraid - afraid of the dark, of being in places where things aren't locked, of noises and things that move quickly in the peripheral of their sight.

If they are like my youngest daughter, they won't believe their parents can protect them - we failed already once and cannot be trusted. In my case, perhaps it is guilt by association - I'm a parent...and little 3-month-old Hadas Fogel's parents didn't, couldn't protect her. She was murdered when Arab terrorists slit her throat - a baby only 3 months old. They murdered her two brothers at the same time, and killed by their parents - Udi and Ruthie Fogel. So my daughter doesn't believe we could protect her either.

All evidence points to the fact that Ruthie Fogel managed to protect her two small sons by blocking the door behind which they slept. This information came out later and that thought brings my daughter comfort and last night, for the first time in months, she slept with the window opened and the door to her bedroom unlocked.

I did not tell her about what happened to the children in Norway. She has suffered enough trauma and I do not want to bring it all back to her again after she has, slowly over the months, begun to put this behind her.

The children of Norway, in fact all of Norway will cry rivers of tears, only to find that even when you think you have cried your last, there is more. And they will wonder at the hatred of one man, who could inflict such suffering on those he never met, those who did nothing to him, those who wanted to live.

Labels are needed, or so people think, to make put this tragedy into terms that can be understood, blamed. "Christian fundamentalist" is one that is being spread around.

I think the point here isn't the religion, so much as the action and, perhaps even more important, the reaction after the fact.There were those who jumped to the conclusion that this must have been done by Muslim extremists. That was wrong.

Now, because it was done by a Christian extremist, there are those who feel Muslim extremism is somehow vindicated, absolved of guilt, etc. One man wrote to me and asked what percentage of Muslims are terrorists. Obviously, if you factor in the hundreds of millions of Muslims in the world, only a fraction of a fraction can be counted as among those who have crossed the line into barbarity.

I asked him a different question. What percentage of terrorists are Muslim? He didn't like that question; didn't really respond to it. We got into a discussion of profiling. He said it was racist; I said it was a necessary evil. He said it was humiliation. I said better the humiliation of one; than the deaths of dozens. I explained that I go through checkpoints every day of my life; the difference in the way I am treated and the way the Arabs are treated is in the few minutes it takes to ask for their identity papers or permits.

He said those few minutes were too long; I said you would not feel that way if it was your child. I told him about Aliza; about the months of trauma she has been slowly overcoming. I sent him links to posts about her. He said he would read them.

Where does all this leave us in relation to Norway. I am left with one final thought. When a Christian extremist murders innocent children on the streets and islands of Norway, the Christian world rises up to strongly condemn, to distance itself from this horror. This is not us, they tell the world. This is not Christian. In our name, this man did not do this.

There were no people dancing in the streets in Norway; no one handing out candies. Even among those who may not consider Norway a friend, even there, there was no rejoicing. The flag at our consulate in Oslo flies at half-mast in sympathy with the Norwegians. Our President and Prime Minister have called and told Norway that Israel mourns with you, that we, more than most nations of the world, know the pain you suffer.

And when a Muslim extremist murders innocent people, children, women...they are rarely condemned by their community and if it happens at all, it is for "external" consumption - leaders who apologize in English while the people on the street are dancing and handing out those candies. The Muslim world does not rise up to strongly condemn, to distance itself. They do not tell the world that this is not their culture, that Islam condemns the murder of innocents, if those innocents are infidels.

There are more examples than I can cite here, but I'll give you two:

When Samir Kuntar was finally exchanged and thus released from his life sentence, the child murderer who decimated the Haran family, he returned to Lebanon a hero, with parades and celebrations.

When the Lockerbie bomber was returned to Libya, he was greeted by the President and welcoming crowds. He blew up a plane and murdered hundreds and no one stood up and said, this is not Islam. You did not do this in our name.

Can you imagine the pain of Norway, if there were a people ready to celebrate what Anders Behring Breivik had done? Can you imagine the agony they would feel watching a population hand out sweets in the streets and dance at their agony?

Days before, the children in the camp were learning about the Middle East and voted, with their limited understanding of what we experience, to support a boycott against Israel. And yet, it was Israel that lowered its flag to half mast in Oslo; it was Israel that expressed support for the people of Norway and offered our deepest sympathies.

The fact that this time, the murderer was not a Muslim, does not change the fundamental fact. No, the vast, vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists - but yes, the vast, vast majority of terrorists are Muslims.

This is the truth of 9/11, of the London bombings, the Madrid bombing, the Bali attack, and virtually all attacks against Israel. That Norway had a Christian fundamentalist perpetrate this vicious attack cannot be used to erase the terrible responsibility Islam must bear; nor can it vindicate all previous suspicions.


NormanF said...

Jews and Christians don't raise their children up to do evil. Islam does. The acts of a psychopath is treated as a righteous response of shame and horror in the Western World. In Islam, it is celebrated and the evil man is transfigured into an Islamic role model, a figure of virtue. No one in Norway is going to ever cheer Brevik, name squares after him and tell children they must follow in his footsteps. In the Arab World, someone who murders infidels gets an honorable reception! This is the gulf between the two societies. The evil in them is of a vastly different qualitative nature. I won't go into discussing how morally sick Norway has become with Jew hatred and Israel bashing that a monster like Breivik could be spawned from its midst. I will only point out anti-Semitism is not only the Jews' problem. I don't think they wil be learning anything from their own pathology in Norway.

But that is the point. Suffering and death isn't limited only to Jews. Someday perhaps, the world will learn that lesson. Until then we'll have to live with all the moral deceit, hypocrisy and double standards.

Anonymous said...

Good article,
Unfortunately , most people have
trouble translating the facts since they are blinded by anti- semitism .
Most are not seeking the truth because they have a problem , it's
so easy to blame the Jews for everything maybe it's genetic .
Easau hating Yaacov .

ProphetJoe said...

Another good post, Paula.

Robert Avrech of Seraphic Secret has a post about the Norway massacre and notes where the patterns of behavior can be seen. Muslims have a "legitimate" branch of theology which espouses violence against non-Muslims. It teaches hatred and Muslim superiority. There aren't (at least not in the mainstream) branches of Christianity, Judaism, Taoism, Buddhism, etc. which teach violence. Some might be viewed as anti-social (by keeping to your own groups) by outsiders. But no mainstream denominations teach violence and profess death like the segment of Islam which the terrorists follow.

cathrineinisrael said...

Actually, the criticism that the police have gotten are more than fair because the police have been really incompetent on the border of being ridiculous. The government said that they didn’t have money for the police, but now suddenly they have coughed up 20 million Nok kr. The blame game hasn’t not only affected the police, but we who are member of FrP (The progress party) which is also pro-Israel have been pointed fingers at. I actually started to cry because that monster was also member of FrP and pro-Israel. I realized that I am not going to stop standing up for something I believe in because of the monster. He and I are two completely different people.

I appreciate those kind words from the Israeli Prime Minster and the Israeli President. I have actually read the letter from the Israeli President to our king. When people in Norway say that they are traumatized and when some people say that it’s hard to go back to their daily life, that’s when my respect for Israel grow stronger and I bow in the dust for Israel because I know that Israelis have it not easy with facing terror every day, and when Israel is struck by tragedy Israel go back to their daily life. That makes me more proud to say that I am pro-Israel, and standing up for Israel alone with almost 20 people against me in my class, makes it easy.

Muslim or not, he is a terrorist and he had the same goal as for example Al-Qaida. I have trouble with watching his picture in the newspaper and on TV because in my eyes, he’s not a human at all.

NormanF: You know what? I am sick and tired that Israelis say that Norway is bashing Israel. Saying that Norway is bashing Israel is like saying that all Norwegians are supporting Palestine. I can prove that you are so wrong if you think all Norwegians are anti-Israel. I am a good example that not every Norwegian is anti-Israel. I am very pro-Israel.

A Soldier's Mother said...

Hi Catherine,

First, I want to offer my deepest sympathies over this horrible, cowardly, terrorist act. To target the young, any young - is despicable. To hide behind religion - any religion, is horrible.

Second, I want to thank you and so many other Norwegians for supporting Israel. I do not believe this animal that did this is pro-Israel or that he acts in the name of God. I do not want him to be found insane because he should pay for what he did in this world and in the next.

If he were a true friend of Israel, he would understand these types of actions do nothing to further our cause - or his own. In my name, he did not do this horrible thing and, in your name, because of your courage to stand up and condemn it, he didn't do it in your name either.

May peace return to your beautiful land. I have always dreamed of visiting Norway...some day, perhaps. I meet many Norwegians who come to vacation here in Israel - they are always polite, beautiful people. I'm so sad that some of the horror we live with so often, has come to stain your country.


cathrineinisrael said...

Dear Paula,

Thank you for your kind words. I hope that one day you will visit Norway. Norway is such a beautiful country. Norway is not as bad as many Israelis may think. It's not like we are savages. I am not going into details, I knew a Israeli that I had fallen for, and he was suppose to come to Norway this summer, but his mom said no because apparently all Norwegians are racist towards Jews and Israelis and that it’s not safe here because there are lots of Muslims here. He and his mom based everything on what they had heard in the media. He said that all Israelis think that about Norway, and after he said that everything went downhill. When I was in Israel, people didn't say anything bad about Norway when I told them that I was from Norway. When I first met him, he said that they don't talk about Norway that much in Israel. Then I get smacked in my face with that we Norwegians are racist. It's really frustrating. The friction between Norway and Israel has actually ruined for me.

I visited Israel in February with my mom and dad, and my mom really liked Israel. When we were waiting at the airport, she said that it’s not the last time she is visiting Israel. Since I am going to take a year abroad in Israel (actually I am going tomorrow. Can’t wait!), my parents are planning a trip to Eilat.


P.S. I am sorry if it was too much. It's just frustrating that some people base their opinion about something they have heard in the media. :@)

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