The only terrorist in Israel is one of Arab descent. At least, that is how it is portrayed by the media and dominant ideologues to the impressionable public either in a willful or extremely irresponsible manner.
Thus, the broadcasting of recent news of terrorist acts perpetrated by Israeli citizens was a surprising turn of events. It has been reported by Israeli and other international media that an ultra-Orthodox Israeli Jewish man, Yishai Schlissel, stabbed six individuals at the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem. This was not the first time this terrorist has committed such heinous acts, as The New York Times reported that a decade ago Schlissel wounded three marchers at a spot not far from Thursday’s attack and was convicted of attempted murder.
The entrenched double standard enacted by the Israeli judicial system is clearly exposed in the treatment given to this Israeli perpetrator. Israeli judges pointedly delineate penalties to perpetrators of criminal acts depending on the perpetrators’ ethnicity and religion. While Israel has criminalized the acts of Arab minors throwing rocks with penalties of up to 20 years in prison, a terrorist like Yishai Schlissel walks out 10 years after his previous conviction for three attempted murders, free to execute another terrorist act.
Now, an even more abominable act of terrorism being reported is that of Israeli settlers in the West Bank burning a Palestinian eighteen-month-old baby alive. Afterwards Hebrew graffiti was found at the house reading “Revenge” and also “Long Live the Messiah.” What is this but a most cruel and gruesome terrorist attack? Again the words terrorist, terrorist act, and extremist are absent from the Israeli authorities pronouncements and sadly also absent from mainstream media.
These most recent iniquitous acts were undoubtedly acts of terrorism. We need to understand that the Israeli government’s failure to portray these acts as terrorism or as being committed by extremists is not inadvertent. Anyone following Middle Eastern news and news on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will easily corroborate the well-institutionalized position of Israel to quickly portray almost any criminal act committed by Arabs as “terrorism” but failing miserably to offer an honest portrayal of terrorist acts as such when committed by Israeli Jewish citizens.
It is precisely this duplicity based on religion and/or ethnicity that is interpreted by many as an institutionalized State policy tantamount to apartheid. It’s equally worrisome to witness the mainstream commercial media outlets following this reckless and derelict trend as their objectivity comes to be seriously questioned. Terrorism and extremism does not have a religion: misguided Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Jews commit crimes in the name of their religion. Terrorist acts are committed by the political right or political left, by people of every ethnicity and from almost every place on Earth. It is wrong to portray Muslims as more prone to committing terrorist acts when we see Buddhists massacring Muslims in Burma, Israeli settlers burning Palestinian houses and innocents alive, and also when we are experiencing a continuous growth of far-right extremist terrorist actions in America.
Again, acts of terror may come from anywhere, from anyone and for any ill-conceived reason. Let us just call it that way and avoid contributing to xenophobic discourses that hurt the very fabric of our society, our civil rights, and also the beauty of our religious traditions.
Image: The Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem by Darko Tepert Donatus: Wikimedia Commons