Years ago, I took part in a seminar attended by community leaders from all over Africa, the Far East, and South America. I was to teach them about social media and how they could better promote their causes and organizations. They asked me to come early and take part in another event before my sessions began, and I agreed. I had no idea that I would leave with so much more than I had come with…a deeper understanding as to why so much evil remains in this world.
I was to be the judge, amazingly enough, of the presentations that they had been working on for the better part of a week. Each group had its own topic and they were to explain the work that they would do on behalf of their topic. One by one, they stood before all the attendees and spoke of what they would do to raise awareness and better the lives of some people. A poverty-stricken neighborhood would get a new park paid for by donations from the campaign one group was going to launch; a women’s health clinic was to be staffed by doctors from around the world, who would come to volunteer. And finally, one group consisting of individuals from several African nations got up to address a problem that plagues their countries. Their topic was “Domestic violence.” They created a very detailed plan for teaching why domestic violence was wrong. As I listened, I realized there was a fundamental flaw in the presentation and so I explained it to them.
In essence, I was telling them that all that they had done was for nothing. You don’t need to raise awareness that domestic violence is wrong. They started to argue with me. Just look at the statistics, they said. And I agreed. Horrific numbers…
But, I answered, there isn’t a human being alive who believes domestic violence is a good thing. You don’t need to convince men that violence against their wives is wrong. Instead, you need to convince an abusive husband that beating his wife because dinner was late to the table is violence; that forcing a woman to have relations is rape, even if she is your wife. When you convince someone that what they are doing is domestic violence, you may well have solved the problem.
I’ve thought often of that seminar over the years and applied what I had suddenly understood to other areas. Mahmoud Abbas is now telling the world that “we are against all forms of terrorist activity.” And so, hearing this, the left shakes their head at this amazing breakthrough; Joe Biden kisses Barack Obama and the two join John Kerry in a quick dance around the Oval Office.
Only this is not a breakthrough. There’s a fundamental flaw in this. Of course the Palestinians are against terrorism. There isn’t a person on earth who is pro-terrorism. The problem is that they do not define terrorism as we do. Even when Abbas condemns terrorism “that affect Israeli and Palestinian civilians” we aren’t speaking the same language, and this is not a reference to English versus Arabic (a whole other issue for pro-Israel activists involves simply the difference in what Abbas says in English versus Arabic).
A bus that is exploded, a family that is murdered, a rocket fired at a city – all these things are simply not terrorism in the eyes of the Palestinians when directed at Israelis. As an aside is a separate issue that Israelis…like Christians…are just infidels, so really, everything is cool and the Koran doesn’t have a problem with infidels being killed off. Use any excuse you want – we’re infidels, our children grow up to be soldiers, we are “occupying” their land and so we aren’t innocent. It doesn’t make a difference – any and all excuses apply.
Until the Palestinians define terrorism as we do – targeting innocent people, unarmed people – regardless of whether they are male or female, old or young, even if they are wearing a green uniform – if you attack them on a civilian bus as they sleep, if you ram them at a bus stop…this is terrorism.
Terrorism has no justification. It isn’t about the occupation. It isn’t about economics. It is not fighting for freedom or rights. It is, pure and simple, an act intended to harm, kill, or cause terror. Abbas condemns terrorism – but does he define blowing up the US army barracks in Lebanon as terrorism? What about the attack on Israeli athletes in Munich? Was that terrorism? They were civilians…and yet Mahmoud Abbas helped plan and finance that attack.
There is no great breakthrough. The left can stop dancing in joy; Joe Biden can stop kissing Obama and send John Kerry back to cause trouble somewhere else. Nothing has changed with Abbas’ latest proclamation against terror. The problem has never been getting the Palestinians to condemn terrorism. Rather, our greatest challenge may well be much simpler – getting them to admit that what they practice on a regular basis is nothing more and nothing less than the purest form of terrorism
It was terrorism in 1972 when Abbas and his cohorts attacked and murdered eleven Israeli athletes in cold blood and it is terrorism today that has cost the lives of dozens of Israelis in hundreds of attacks over the last few months – attacks that have consistently been praised and supported by Mahmoud Abbas.
No human being alive today is pro-domestic violence…pro-terrorism…pro-murder…pro-rape. The problem is always in getting the attacker to admit – it IS domestic violence, it IS terrorism, it IS murder, or it IS rape.
When Mahmoud Abbas stands before the world and admits that he has been (and is) one of the chief supporters of terrorism, then and only then, can the world really begin to celebrate and hope that there’s even a chance for peace.