Friday, June 22, 2007

On "terrorists" and intollerance in Jerusalem

It is reported that the Israeli police arrested an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man yesterday who they say was planning to bomb a gay pride march in Jerusalem overnight. An Israeli police spokesman said police found an explosive device in the man's bag.

Several hundred ultra-Orthodox Jews held protests against the gay pride march, calling it a profanity against the Holy City. The demonstrators threw stones at police and set fire to rubbish bins. More than 7,000 police were deployed to secure the march. The march went ahead as planned. An internet report states:

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have rioted repeatedly in the past week, burning tires, assaulting policemen and damaging police cars. A 32-year-old ultra-Orthodox man was arrested Thursday morning carrying a homemade explosive device. Under questioning, the man said he wanted to plant the explosive along the parade route, said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld.

Marchers carried multicolored balloons and posters of Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. Three men wore matching pink T-shirts, shiny pink hats and carried pink lace umbrellas. On their shirts were written, "The Israeli Gay Party."

Strange how homophobia can unite old enemies. I assume that the leaders of Hamas would also be rather upset if a gay pride march took place in Gaza. Some of Hamas' members would probably enthusiastically cheer on the killing of some homosexuals in Jerusalem. I always find it sad that people who have been persecuted and oppressed - like those Orthodox Jews, the Hamas supporters, some Afrikaners - can turn around and condemn and persecute other groups for no reason than that they are different or affront some strange moral code.

Of course, it is also interesting that the news reports did not refer to the Orthodox bomber as a "terrorist". I could not find any statements about the "war on terror" (what a ridiculous term) or the evil of those who unleash "terror" against gay men and lesbians. Is this, I wonder cynically, because the target was not "innocent", "straight", "pure" "Jewish" or "white" people, but only "filthy" and "perverted" homosexuals?

Or does the Western media reserve the term "terrorist" for those who are not "Western", but "other" - usually black and/or Muslim? Will an Orthodox Jew ever be called a "terrorist" in the Western media? I doubt it.

It reminds one that concepts like "terror" and "terrorist" have been completely hijacked and politicized by George Bush and his cronies and have, in essence, become meaningless slogans used to brand opponents. Not that meaningless, I suppose, because many people still buy into the division between "our" freedom fighters and "their" terrorists.

When the US or Israel governments bomb civilians it is not called terrorism. It is "war" or anti-terror action. Maybe it is time that we stop using this meaningless but very intimidating term altogether.


Michael Osborne said...

Pierre, you doubt orthodox Jews would be labeled terrorists in the Western media. Doubt no more. The Kach party of Meir Kahane have routinely been called “terrorists” in the media; in fact both the Israeli govt and the US State Dept have officially designated Kach as terrorists. (Recall also that Begin’s Irgun and the Stern gang were also widely regarded as terrorists.)

You observe rightly that Hamas, like the Israeli terrorist who was caught about to bomb the march, would not take too kindly to a gay march in Gaza. Take it one step further: In almost Arab country, the police, rather than protecting the parade from murderous homophobes, would beat the marchers senseless. (Homosexuality is punishable by stoning in some of them.) Sometimes I think those most vociferous in their criticism of Israel – which, G-d knows, richly deserves reprobation -- need to be reminded that Israel is in some regards a haven of human rights compared to its neighbours.

Anonymous said...

Pierre, you way off line on this one. When does BBC or CNN label Palestinian suicide bombers as terrorists? They are referred to as militants.

The intl media prefers not to use the word terrorist.

At least in Israel the police allow these gay pride marches to go ahead and do not allow the terrosit tactics of the ultra religious to dictate what can and cannot happen. (I am an orthodox Jew and completely oppose these hardliners.)

Wahsington Post:

"In a statement, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called the shooting "a reprehensible act by a bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist who sought to attack innocent Israeli citizens."

The New Republic


Judge: Suspected killers of Jewish terrorist unlikely to be indicted
Jewish Terrorism Is Still Terrorism

ADL Condemns Murder of Israeli Arabs by Jewish Terrorist

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affaris:

PM Sharon's statement following the terrorist attack in Shfaram

CNN: State Dept lists terror groups

(There is an Israeli group there)