Thursday, November 19, 2015

About Paris...

You see, that's the problem right there. It isn't about Paris...or, to be more accurate, it isn't ONLY about Paris. I think what happened in Paris is horrific, tragic, barbaric. But the same can and should be said with equal ferocity about the Russian plane the was blown up over Sinai, those massacred last week in Kenya, those who have died in Israel, and those who are murdered in the name of Allah or for the glory of any religion or belief.

I have heard family members speak of the moment when tragedy hits their family. It is called "sudden bereavement." Unlike families that have to deal with loss resulting for a painful, long-term illness, this bereavement comes with shock, because it was not expected. It comes with anger, because a life was not lost, it was stolen. While you can never prepare for loss, there is an element of expectation when someone is informed of a terminal illness in a loved one. The suddenness of loss resulting from a terror attack, particularly when the victim was young, adds an element that is difficult if not impossible to overcome. It's the split second in time that you wish, for the rest of your life, you could undo, change, go back and live again and somehow make the outcome different.

If only...if you only you had taken a different bus, a different road. If he had driven faster or slower; if she'd chosen a different restaurant, mall, concert, or day to go shopping. Why did you have to go that night to that bus earlier or later and it would all be different today. If only...if will be forever filled with "if only." Perhaps the saddest truth is that we only live life once and will often spend endless hours rethinking that one moment, the one where we can never go back and change. That moment, that single moment when the life you knew was suddenly gone, taken, stolen, destroyed...and the worst of it is that the reason is so wrong, the cause so incomprehensible.

I mourn for the nation of France, the people of Paris - the victims whose lives were lost, the families who must now learn to cope, and those who were injured. But I didn't turn my Facebook profile to the colors of France because...because...that was the question I asked myself as I watched others. No, they never changed their flag for all the other victims...but suddenly the question wasn't why they were changing theirs but why, they silently accused, aren't you changing yours?

It is that question that got me to start writing. To write of terrorism, I have done a thousand times and more. What happened in France was horrible as 9/11, as horrible as every terror attack because it is not about the numbers but the people, the person. Each. And. Every. One.

So why didn't I add the French flag? Because the problem isn't isn't Russia and the plane that was blown out of the skies over isn't Kenya, where 147 people were massacred...and it isn't Israel, where a young bride's world was destroyed when her father and brother were murdered, her siblings wounded and terrorized.

The problem isn't New York and Washington on 9/11, or London, or Madrid, or Bali. The colors of the week are not red, white, and blue, not blue, white and red. Not red. Not blue. Not white.

Terrorism is not about flags of nations but about the pain of the victims, the nations. The profile pictures on Facebook is not a measure of how humane you are. It isn't even a measure of how much you support the French in these difficult times. It doesn't say you hate terrorism; it doesn't mean you are more strongly affiliated with what is right and just. It's just a's a meaningless gesture made between you and your Facebook friends...and honestly, how many Parisians are you friends with? Two? Three? So, good on you that you blurred your pretty picture with the French flag...but what does that mean?

It doesn't save lives; it doesn't offset the horrors of the last few days. And, in all honesty, unless you have a lot of friends in France, it doesn't even really show support for the French people. What it did for me this past week, seeing many turning their profile pictures blue, white, and red, is help me crystallize a simple concept.

Terrorism has become universal. But rather than admit that, too many focus for a moment - ah, it's France, how tragic! No, it isn't is everywhere. What Israelis have suffered for decades has come to the streets of New York, Washington, London, Paris and beyond. It has hit the seas, the skies, the cities and more. That people turned their profile pictures to France in particular, was, for me, an affirmation that people didn't get it. Because it isn't about France. It never was...just as it really wasn't just about Israel.

After days of thinking, I wrote this on Facebook. What amazed me is how many people chose to share it, to thank me for writing it. My thoughts on Paris, summed up, are:

Is the act of being blown out of the sky to either be killed during the explosion, or worse, plunge madly down to earth somehow less tragic than being shot to death in a theater? If no, did you put a Russian flag as your profile when ISIS blew up a Russian plane a little while ago? Ask yourself why not.

Is the horrific carnage in the Kenya attack more horrible than what was done in France...if not, ask yourself why you didn't change your profile to a Kenyan flag.

Is gunning down a father and a son somehow less tragic on the eve of their daughter/sister's wedding and before the eyes of his children, wife (siblings and mother)...and worse, having medical emergency personnel open the door...see you are Jews and tell you to call someone else for help...less barbaric than what was done in France...and if not, ask yourself why the colors of your profile picture are blue, white, and red, but not blue and white.

And if you say it is because the world woke up and was shocked by the French massacres...ask yourself why the world was not shocked by the downing of a plane with over 200 people, the shooting attack that killed 147 people in Kenya, the tears and agony of a young bride who will never have the chance to have her father at her wedding, to hold her first-born child.

Rather than act superior because you changed your profile picture to sympathize with the justifiable horror of the Paris attacks...perhaps you should examine why you ONLY sympathize with those, leaving the rest of us to mourn not ONLY for those in Paris, but those in Israel, those in Kenya, those who died over the skies in the Sinai.

Perhaps, just perhaps, it isn't those who have not turned their profiles red, white and blue (or blue, white, and red) who are the ones lacking in understanding. Perhaps...just perhaps.

Terrorism will stop when the price is too high for the terrorists. In Israel, the Red Crescent approached the victims - a murdered father and brother, in a van filled with innocent children and the wife of the man, the mother of the boy who was just murdered. And then they drove off because they were Jews.

The Red Cross - who has no problems with using the Christian symbol of a cross and no problem using the crescent of the Muslims, refuses to allow Israel the use of the Jewish star, at least, according to the final negotiated solution, in certain areas. The Red Cross backed the Palestinian version - which suggests that the victims were armed. Seriously? The only person who might have had military training (meaning he might have served in the army) and might have been armed (meaning he was licensed to carry a gun but may or may not have had it with him) was dead. The victims were a mother and five children. The Palestinian "caregivers" opened the door, saw Jews, and told them to call Magen David Adom!

Terrorism will thrive until organizations like the Red Cross, the United Nations, the European Union and others refuse to accept excuses and lies. Until then, it will continue - in Israel, in the United States, in France, in England, in Kenya, in Russia.

There aren't enough colors in the world to stop it until we all recognize the disease for what it is. It isn't about France.


Lynne Marton said...

Paula, you said it. It's a disease - until people acknowledge it, and call it what it is, and stop making those ever so easy to make excuses for it, the world can't hope to win the fight against islamic terrorism. No - I am not being PC - I refuse to fall into that trap any more.This has been the problem all along. If it would have been acknowledged for what it is from the start, and dealt with at that time, we would not be in this hell we are in now. The world was cautioned - but the world wasn't listening. The world saw what was fomenting in the ME and blamed it all on Israel.
I posted something earlier this evening - the whole post is appropriate - and the last line reads: My French Friend, How does it feel to feel like an Israeli?
The word apathy comes to mind when I think of the lack of feeling from the world for the years that Israel has gone through all the wars and battles with the terrorists. It didn't hit all of you, so it didn't matter to you. But now - it's all coming around to you - the horrors of the terrorism - right to your front doors.
Do you recognise that insidious disease now?

Frank said...

Maybe those people who changed their avatar, they just wanted to show their support for the people in France without analysing it too much.Do you want a mourning contest?
You forgot the power of pictures or videos, the attack in Paris, everyone could see it on tv while the russian plane... there was only aa debris in the desert.Don't you remember the world wide condolence for the Russians in 2002 because of the north-east theatre siege?

Netivotgirl said...

Brilliant! Every word here TRUTH- EMET- waiting to be shouted from the rooftops of the world! Your pen is incomparable in expressing my thoughts and feelings. I conclude reading your posts with a satisfied, "Ah! She's done it AGAIN!" May He give you strength to keep writing your amazing posts for many years to come dear Paula!

Larry Butchins said...

Brilliant Paula, as usual. I don' t always agree with you, and we are often on different sides of the political divide, but this piece was marvelous. It was one of the reasons I removed the French flag overlay from my profile pic. I'm not sure if you recall my particulat story, and I won't go into it now, but terrorist murders just before acwedding are something I am sadly only too aware of.

Larry B

Larry Butchins said...

it's theater people; spectacle, the biggest boom gets the attention...we need to fight it the same. way: here's a three-point plan:
1. cut off their money supply. why are the western forces not targetting their oli wells, their bank accounts ( they must have them smewhere), their sources of supply. they must be purchasing equipment, vehilce - rows of toyotas!
2. find young people who were seduced by the potent magic juice of ISIS social media, advertising, music, messianic songs of blood and glory, and who were turned into sex slaves, child soldiers, who just wanted to go home and were held captive...find them, put them in front of cameras and paint a dishusting picture of life in an ISIS camp ...not so glrious, not so mythical...
3. hit them with ground troops so hard in classic military action. they have bases, they have towns, they have supply lines. smash them militarily. no more "war by remote control".
and 4 - because there always needs to be a last word - stop this bloody excuse-making and tell it like it is. it's islam people, coming to a neighborhood near you...soon! the good ones will crawl out of the devris and makes themselves known...but the baddies are living among them.

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