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.