What happened in Paris makes me sick to my stomach. It is terrifying, disturbing, unsettling. It is inhumane treatment of others as well as inhuman, not in character for a rational, feeling, thinking, compassionate human beings. This is not normal and absolutely 100% deserves all of our attention.
Paris deserves all of the news coverage, social media posts. Facebook profile pictures in the colors of the French flag, prayers and thoughts being sent out from all over the globe. I am not by any means trying to take away from the legitimacy of what happened and how everyone is affected by it. So many lost loved ones or experienced something that they never felt they would in the safety of the western world.
For many children, this will be their 9/11. It will go down in history as one of the most tragic terror attacks to hit a nation, especially a western nation. I do not write this to disagree with any of that. This tragedy breaks my heart as it does yours. But that is just the thing—what I said before, a western nation was hit and the world is ablaze with reactions. But what about Beirut, which suffered two suicide bombings in a Shiite neighborhood that killed over 40 and injured over 230 people. And what about Baghdad? Where over the past day there was a roadside bomb that killed and injured over 20 people and a suicide bombing at a Shiite funeral that killed at least 21 and injured 46.
Oh but these are against Muslims, you say—the same people that everyone lumps together with ISIS in the “safety” of our western bubble. Yet ISIS took responsibility for these attacks just as they did for Paris. Just as they did for the Russian passenger plane that went down, killing the over 200 passengers aboard. Muslims are not ISIS. Islam is not extremism. They are attacking “their own people,” who in no way resemble them, just as they are attacking us, the privileged, westerners who see their entire religion as the enemy.
And ISIS is the enemy. They lack human compassion, what they stand for is outright objectively wrong. Of course it is. So why do we not mourn in the same way for all whom they attack? And what about Israel? And yes, I know, this is where you dismiss me and say “She’s probably just another Jewish girl from a middle-class American family, living in Israel, of course she cares about Israel and this whole article is just to get us to take pity on their situation.”
Well, that’s not true. Yes I’m Jewish. Yes I live in Israel. Yes it sickens me and terrifies me every time there is a stabbing, a car ramming, or a Molotov cocktail that injures another of my fellow Israelis.
But it also sickens me when Israeli forces kill innocent Palestinians because their own ”government,” Hamas, has no compassion for human life and sees its people only as shields. I am not writing this so you take pity on either side in this conflict; they both deserve our sympathy and compassion, for the conflict is a beast that discriminates against no one. And I’m not writing this to make you feel bad about not sympathizing with every single tragedy throughout the world. There are too many to count.
I’m writing this because I am genuinely perplexed and am trying to make sense of it all.
But it makes no sense. This is senseless violence and hate. And in a way, our reactions are senseless too. So many of you have been to Paris, you know the culture, the sites, you posted pictures today from your trips to the Eifel tower saying how sad it is that this beautiful place is going through this.
But many of you do not know Israel. You do not know Beirut or Baghdad. You do not know Kenya, where a university was attacked in April and 147 were killed, but most of you probably did not even hear about it. I hadn’t heard about it until I sat down to write this.
You write what you know. You express what you feel. You react to what the media shows you. I can’t decide what makes me more angry- the overwhelming response and support to the Paris attacks not being shown to all these other tragedies, or the people who say to stop using it as an excuse to shine light on these other tragedies because if one does this they are taking away from this particular tragedy.
But that is why I write this. In the hopes that we can all see that the world is bleeding. It hurts. Everywhere and everyone is affected and this whole situation is messed up. There is no denying that. But recognizing one tragedy in no way takes away from another. Using a more recognized tragedy to bring light to a lesser known one—like Baghdad and Beirut—or to a more controversial one—like Israeli-Palestinian conflict—is not an attempt to dismiss Paris. It is merely using what people are already familiar with in order to raise awareness and support and recognition of something that deserves just as much awareness, support, and recognition–no more and no less.
I am not saying not to mourn for Paris. By all means, go ahead. I mourn for them as well. But I also mourn for the Muslims who were attacked by their own extremists in places like Beirut and Baghdad, as well as in Palestine where Hamas, extremists currently flying under the radar with ISIS’ attack on the Western world, are constantly making their own people targets in Gaza. I mourn for the Israelis who continually are attacked by Palestinians who were bred in a culture of hate- hate that makes them victims as well because their children grow up not knowing any better and sacrifice themselves to the Israeli gun for the sake of stabbing one person with their blade “in the name of Jerusalem.”. When stabbings are happening daily in Jerusalem, where is my Facebook alert that my sister who lives there and my friends are ok?
A few weeks ago there was a stabbing at the central bus station right at the time I normally would have been there getting on my bus to commute back to Tel Aviv. Where was my option to alert my loved ones that by some twist of fate my plans changed that day and I was safe from harm? And this goes for Palestinians as well. The conflict is complicated and both sides are suffering. Palestinians and Israelis who were under fire last summer should have been able to alert the world to their suffering while the rest of us sat safely on our smart phones and behind our laptops. And places likeBeirut and Baghdad, perhaps seen as part of poor Arab countries without a need for the western comforts of Facebook alerts deserve them just as much.
Terror become so commonplace here in the Middle East that people think we don’t need these things because we are used to daily attacks. And we are. And that is even more terrifying. We all need to support one another. The world is a messed up place right now. It is terrible. We all deal in our own ways. But don’t minimize others’ suffering to bring attention to your own. Recognize that we are all humans. We all deserve to mourn and be mourned for.
We are Paris. We are Baghdad. We are Beirut. We are Israel. We are the Palestinians. We are the human race. And we can do better.