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Reader Post: The False Charge of “Comparing Tragedies”

Arielle Calvo largeAri is a Sephardic Jew from Seattle who made aliyah in 2012. She has a Bachelors Degree in Political Communications, a Masters Degree in Middle Eastern Studies and a penchant for sarcasm.

I’m writing this post because I am angry. It’s a difficult post to write and I hesitated in writing it because it will personally offend some people I care about but like they keep telling me, solving the conflict will not be easy and both compromises and sacrifices are necessary.

These people I am angry with are those sharing headlines, screenshots of (mostly haaretz) news updates that have headlines that mention Israel will be demolishing the homes of terrorists,  how many Palestinians have been wounded in “clashes”, that after such clashes Palestinians will be temporarily banned from the Old City (racist!) and then to pretend there’s balance, “Jewish teen sustains moderate wounds in latest Jerusalem attack.”

To the people that have shared these posts (and there are plenty) any time I have pleaded that they get their sources from outside of Haaretz as well because those stream of headlines are incredibly one sided, I am yelled at to stop “comparing tragedies because it gets us nowhere.”

Let’s be clear, I am not comparing tragedies.

Two parents shot down and murdered in front of their four young children? A tragedy.

A whole family stabbed, the father killed, the mother witnessing her toddler being attacked and her daughter running for help with a knife sticking out of her back while Arabs cheered, spit on her, and laughed? A tragedy.

“Stone” throwers throwing rocks at a car simply because it carried Jews, causing the driver to lose control and later die? A tragedy.

A rabbi and his wife shot to death? A tragedy.

Fire bombs burning down a synagogue or thrown at Rachel’s Tomb (A place holy to all three major faiths)? Slightly less so as, other than a lightly wounded soldier, there were no people harmed, but still, a tragedy.

Molotov cocktails being thrown at Jews near the Western Wall? A tragedy.

A settlement being lit on fire in numerous locations (indicating a clear intention to incircle the settlement and harm as many as possible)? A tragedy.

Various indiscriminate shootings at settlements, cars and people simply for being Jewish? Tragedies.

Sure these are on different scales, murder and attempted murder are much worse tragedies than when attempts were made and people got out safely, but the fact that these attacks are happening (and all of these have happened within a span of days) to people for no other reason that they are Jewish living in their ancestral and rightful homeland is one of the highest tragedies.

I would say the same thing about Christians being persecuted in the same ways (as they are in many Middle Eastern countries, including the West Bank and I’d say Gaza but there are virtually none left there.) If Muslims in the west were treated this way, that would also be a tragedy.

What is not a tragedy is when people are harmed in a riot they willingly took place in.

When you choose to go out and riot, especially in a time when emotions are so high, light your own town on fire leading to an incredible lack of visibility, I’m not saying you are asking for it, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Let me be clear. I do not condone indiscriminate killing of rioters and I believe in non-lethal means of riot control and I don’t wish for anyone to be harmed while they express their right to demonstrate.

However, when your riot is because Palestinians can’t enter the Old City for a couple of days because they have been indiscriminately attacking Jews in Jerusalem essentially every day for over a year (I’ll bet you had no idea that’s the actual reality of Jerusalem and its outskirts these days), when Palestinians have been kicking baby strollers and screaming and spitting on children and their families simply for trying to pray, stabbing Jews simply for walking through the Old City, I ask those same people who accuse me of “comparing tragedies” what the solution is?

Why is it racist to ban the group of people (keep in mind ALL Palestinians are not banned, those who reside within the Old City are allowed to entered) that are repeatedly behind these attacks but the “r” word is completely missing when these attacks have repeatedly and consistently been taken upon against Jews and only Jews?

It’s racist for a country to decrease the number of Palestinians in the old city for a couple of days but not racist when Palestinians indiscriminately attack Jews for days, weeks, months on end? Of course then the term “collective punishment” gets thrown in there but let’s be clear: there is one side attacking the other. What government in the world wouldn’t undertake similar measures in an attempt to calm the madness?

Returning to the riots, why are the headlines always painted as the injured rioters could have only possibly been hurt by the IDF and as if it was their malicious intent? Have you seen the photos of these riots? The air is dense with smoke (some photos even show the smoke emanating from, not Israeli flags, but simply items with a Star of David on them that have been set on fire) and no one, not the soldiers and not the rioters can see very far in front of their own faces.

I am sorry if a rioter gets hit with a tear gas canister or a rubber bullet. That must be really painful. But that is not a tragedy. That rioter made a decision to partake in a violent riot and there was a repercussion.

There also never seems to be the consideration when headlines scream the number of injured Palestinians in “clashes” (never riots that they started) that when there is no visibility, at least some of the injuries are from “friendly fire.” I know the Palestinians get a lot of practice from their childhood pastime of stone throwing (lookin’ at you Jodi Rudoren!) but stone throwing is not always very accurate. (If it was, the rate of Jews killed by them would be even higher.) Nor is an individual’s aim flawless when throwing a molotov cocktail. Stones and molotov cocktails are the mainstay of Palestinian riots.

Why do these headlines and stories always paint things as the IDF maliciously mowing down these protestors and never factor in that the Palestinians have literally lit their own towns on fire and each side can’t see sh*t and in turn, the IDF will harm people they don’t actually intend to harm while Palestinians are just as likely to have accidentally harmed people on their own side? (Let’s not forget the Palestinian guy who recently was injured when he tried to throw a grenade at IDF soldiers but it went off in his hand.) The only reason this isn’t considered or portrayed by journalists is because it would require today’s journalists to actually ask hard, unpopular questions and journalism has become a lazy profession of parroting other lazy journalists.

Of course when I bring up this biased and lazy journalism, the aforementioned group of people who accuse me of comparing tragedies, are prepared to throw out how racist Israel is and are prepared with the exact number of price tag attacks that have happened and the small number of assailants who have been arrested.

Not for one second pausing to consider that spray painting unacceptable and threatening things on property (which is the majority if price tag attacks) is not the same as stabbing a person. Nor do they consider that each and every price tag attack was not done by a different individual. Rather than thinking that it’s a small group of people partaking in such asshole moves and that’s why a small number have been arrested, it is of course assumed to be a widespread conspiracy that everyone in the Judean hills is out partaking in Price Tag attacks and the Israeli government just looks the other way, letting all 100,000+ of those sneaky settler Jews do as they please.

These people accuse me of not working towards peace because both sides blame the other for blood spilled but it blows my mind that the intent behind how that blood was spilled is completely overlooked. In their mindset, I must not be looking for peace because I dare to bring up the malicious and hate-fueled intent behind my people being attacked almost daily. But they are looking for peace because the other side gets a free pass for that malicious intent, that many of their people then celebrate when Jewish blood is spilled?

I’m sorry to them that this reality makes me sound emotionally blinded and like I’m such a right winger (I voted for Kahlon FYI) but that is the harsh reality of this conflict. If people can’t and refuse to discuss the culture that encourages and celebrates these brutal attacks and then becomes outraged and ruins their own towns in response to Israel making attempts to prevent them, (not always perfect but please, show me a government that handles every riot perfectly or even has to deal with these situations regularly) I don’t see that as making process towards peace. I see that as allowing one side to get away literally with murder and supporting murder in the name of calling for dialogue, while the people we need to have dialogue with are stabbing us, shooting us, throwing stones and molotov cocktails at us and lighting fires and then they and the world have the audacity to label us as the murderers. Enough is enough.

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