Terror Is Terror Is Terror Is Terror

The United States suffered today one of its worst terrorist incidents (and its deadliest mass shooting) in its history, as an ISIS devotee shot up a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, leaving 50 dead and many wounded.

Paris, Brussels, Tel Aviv, Orlando — each of these cities has recently fallen victim to vicious terror at the hands of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. In each case, Islamic fundamentalist terror sought to bring as much death as possible to civilian men, women and children, in the hopes of causing fear and despair. Across these cities, these attacks have left more than 220 dead and scores wounded. Looking at this string of events, nobody would disagree that these were acts of evil, unexcused and undeserved terror. And yet, the reaction to one of these events stands out from the rest.

In the case of Paris, Brussels and Orlando, the greater world community expresses unconditional solidarity with the victim countries and their people. The world community does not seek to victim-blame or excuse the terrorists. However, in the case of the Tel Aviv shooting, in which two operatives from the Islamic militant group Hamas opened fire on a crowd of civilians in a restaurant during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the reaction is quite different.

Tel Aviv was followed by some showing of solidarity, but usually with modifiers and qualifiers. You may have heard or read comments similar to the following in response to the Tel Aviv shooting:

  • “Tel Aviv was horrible, but you have to understand the broader context.”
  • “What a shame. but Israel should stop occupying the Palestinian land.”
  • “My heart goes out to Israel, but we have to remember that there are two sides to every story, so we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.”
  • “So terrible, but imagine if you grew up in the conditions in which most Palestinians live.”

Why does Israel receive such conditioned shows of solidarity? Why do people feel the need to partially excuse or defend the perpetrators of terror against Israel? Why is Israel admonished to act or not act a certain way?

Can you imagine hearing one of the following statements following the other terror incidents mentioned above?

  • “Paris was so terrible, but the French have been involved in colonization for ages.”
  • “The Orlando shooting was so sad, but we have to remember that US forces have been bombing ISIS for a long time.”
  • “At this difficult time, we urge Belgium to show restraint so as to not make the situation worse.”

Statements such as these would be absurd in the context of France, Belgium or the United States- really in any context other than Israel. The double standard is bad enough, but, what’s worse is that many seek to explain or defend the terror against Israel. If you respond to the Tel Aviv shooting with any purported condemnation that includes the word “but,” then you are excusing terror. You are providing a justification for the killing of innocent civilians.

Paris, Brussels, Tel Aviv and Orlando were incidents of terrorism, plain and simple. Whatever Israel’s actions in the conflict, they do not justify shooting random civilians in a restaurant in Tel Aviv, just as any foreign policies of the United States do not in any way justify what happened in the Orlando nightclub.

It is time that people stop looking to explain away these horrendous acts and call them what they are — terrorism without justification. It is also time that the world stops treating Israel any differently than other countries that experience tragedy. The only thing that sets Israel apart from the rest is that tragedy strikes Israel much more often. Israel could use more sympathy and not more scrutiny.