Terrorism is a hard topic to write about, simply because it seems to hopeless. In the last few days terror has touched very close to home- when the attack in Tel Aviv took place at a restaurant I frequent often, and relatively far away- in Orlando Florida at a club I have never been to.
Terror has been a constant companion in my adult life, the first attempted hijackings occurred when I was in high school. A high school classmate was on the El Al plane that was supposed to have been hijacked by Lylia Kaleb as part of the Black September hijacking.An El Al security guard thwarted that hijacking, others were not as lucky and had the pleasure of spending time in the Jordanian desert including some fellow New Rochelle residents. This was the time the world and Israel lived through the Munich Olympics attacks. As I have written previously terror has struck me personally when my best friend from Elementary school was killed when his TWA plane was blown up over the Mediterranean by terrorist under the employ of Qadaffi. I could continue to list the cases of terror in the world, and they included the many bombings during the Second Intifadah here in Israel- One of them the bombing of a Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem occurred directly across the street from my daughter’s apartment.
The list goes on and on. Of course, one of the most striking elements of the list is that with a few exceptions most of the terror attacks have been done ( Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma bombing being the biggest of them) by Muslim terrorist. Of course, America has suffered far more mass shootings motivated by factors other than political terrorism, and I would be happy to right an article how there is no reason in any sane society to allow its citizens to own AR-15 assault rifles but that is a whole other article.
While the net is full of the arguments whether to call this radical Islamist terrorism or not, I find the argument ridiculous. Why is it important? How does it solve the problem? Yes an overwhelming majority of terrorist have been mMuslim, and yes for whatever reason parts of the Muslim world seem most angry and have been resorting to terror for two generations, but how does this help us? Its been clear to me for a while that one of the reasons we have not solved our problems with the Palestinians for a century clearly has to do with religion. Ok now that we all feel better, and can blame everything on radical Islam now what?
This morning when I read a story about a Rabbi who ruled that girls over the age of 5 could not ride bicycles I said to myself isn’t it time we say that these Rabbis are as insane as the radical Muslims. That is probably true, thankfully they don’t tend to be violent- and their is no Jewish equivalent of Jihad. But how does that help us?.
I have passed my 60th birthday- modern terrorism has been around since I was 13- I am yet to hear a plan how to end it. In Israel, we get into the arguments about yes we should pull out of the territories because it breeds terror or no we should not because its the only way we can stop it, and of course both sides have legitimate arguments, but in the end its once again irrelevant to ending terror. The US has been actively fighting wars against terror since before 9/11. Can it really say its made significant progress?
Do I think President Obama should refer to much of the terror that has occurred in the last few years as Jihadist- sure? What percent of today’s attack should we ascribe to Jihadist ideology and what part to homophobia? We will never know since the shooter is dead, and besides they seem to go hand in hand. But would it make a difference if President Obama said Jihadist terror, I don’t see how?
So I will end my rant tonight where I began- I have no clue how to reign in this forever metamorphosing terrorism. Its disheartening. I have no solutions, I have no insight to spare- just sadness at all the lives that were lost for no reason today in Orlando- last week here in Tel Aviv and forty years ago when my friend who was studying at Harvard and was the smartest person I knew was killed, what lives all of these people might have lived. I am not sure what the total number of lives that have been ended by terrorists in my lifetime is, but tonight I shed a tear for all them.