This story begins in Tel Aviv, not Manchester. In a few days it will be exactly sixteen years since the Dolphinarium massacre. A terror attack against a discotheque that killed 21 Israelis, 16 of them teenagers. The terrorist, Saeed Hotari, was linked to Hamas. The target: Children.
On March 4 1996 two thirteen-year-old boys left their homes to go to Dizengoff Centre. They were friends and it was the first time they had gone out without parental supervision. It was the evening of the Jewish festival of Purim. They dressed in a Purim costume, roamed the centre as thirteen-year old’s do, and then left to take a bus back home. Kobi Zaharon and Yovav Levi never made it to the bus stop.
As they left the mall, a suicide bomber from the radical Islamic terror group Hamas, blew himself up outside the Dizengoff Centre. The streets were full of kids in fancy dress.
The bomber, twenty-four-year-old Abdel-Rahim Ishaq, deliberately targeted children.
Three days ago, a Muslim man carried explosives into a Manchester venue that was full of children and detonated the bomb. Driven by a sickening Islamic ideology, Salman Abedi ruined hundreds of lives. Twenty-two people were brutally slain, many more have suffered life changing injuries, and hundreds of others have had their lives dramatically altered.
Salman Abedi deliberately targeted children. As is likely, others probably helped him choose the target.
His being a Muslim is integral to the story. If he were Hindu, Christian or Jewish this would never have happened. This was a vile, brutal, cowardly and unforgivable attack on innocent children who were all out enjoying a special moment in their lives. This was an attack on the very heart of our society.
Etched in stone
You never forget witnessing the immediate aftermath of a suicide attack. It isn’t just the sound of the bomb, the different types of screams, or stumbling over body parts. Only those who have experienced it would know there is also an unforgettable smell.
In Manchester, eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos survived for a short while after the bomb exploded. Her badly broken body was tended to by a medic. I will not describe her injuries here. She was conscious and asked for her mother. Not everyone is taken instantly. My friend Dominique, brutally murdered by a British suicide bomber in Tel Aviv in 2003, spent her last moments semi-aware of what had happened. Dominique was killed in a tourist pub on a beach front. Among innocent civilians out having fun. Hamas took responsibility for that too.
Ten of the twenty-two victims in Manchester were under 20 years of age. From my experience with children-focused attacks in Israel, this one will leave deep societal scars.
Empty words after Manchester
Even before the blood has dried on the streets, the platitudes start. Some of the first words on the stage at the vigil in Newcastle were to tell the audience that terrorism has no religion. But it doesn’t stop there. Immediately there is the suggestion that the terrorist isn’t a Muslim, that the terror attack is not Islamic. On Facebook, there are scores of posts suggesting that 99.99% of Muslims are not represented by the actions of a single murderous individual. Fearing a backlash against innocent civilians, this tone becomes the underlying drumbeat of officialdom.
It is suggested that if we allow hate and anger to enter our hearts, we let the terrorists win. In city centres, crowds holding meaningless banners gather behind empty statements and hashtags such as #wemuststandtogether trend on Twitter.
A broken trust
I have seen all this before. I watched an entire society burn itself on the altar of hope between 1993-2000. As Israeli streets drowned in the innocent blood of Hamas terror campaigns, the Israelis were told just as we are told, these were the actions of a tiny minority.
The suggestion this is just a tiny minority is dangerous because it is built on a lie. These platitudes, built as they may from good intentions or a lack of options, are laying the seeds of massive societal friction. The status-quo interfaith work makes it all worse not better. In the end we will blame the moderates because we have been told to trust them. That trust only holds if they can deliver us from the extremists. They can’t. Look to Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan. Breaking news: when it comes to Islam unchecked, the moderates lose.
The truth is that we have allowed millions of people to settle in the UK within the mistaken modern mindset that everything is equal. That all cultures, all societal values, all religions, all beliefs, are all somehow the same. That there are no core values worth protecting. The self-hating mindset of the modern left. Some say this foolishness was born from the guilt of the Empire, but whatever it is, we are taking everything we value as a nation and driving it off a cliff.
The left in Israel self-destructed in 2000. When the true horror of the mistakes they had made, developed into the nightmare scenario we see today. A wall on one side and a blockade on the other.
Hatred in the Mosques
So people talk about extremist mosques, trying to hunt for the imams who spread hate. We hunt for these mosques like we hunt for the extremists. Looking for someone holding a proverbial gun. In truth, it is like constantly searching for the mice rather than the hole that they come through. It is a game that we are playing to make us all feel better. When we catch an Imam who has crossed some line we hold his eventual deportation up as a victory, when we arrest a suspect in a terror plot, we are ‘winning the war against terror’.
Then there is the inevitable explosion. Dead bodies are in the street again.
In July there will be a march in central London celebrating ‘Al Quds’ day. The Islamic Human rights commission are currently advertising it. Hezbollah flags will be present at the march. So too Hamas flags. The advert for this march can freely hang in a mosque. It would not be considered extreme.
In many mosques antisemitism spreads unchecked. Anti-western ideologies are not even recognised for what they are. The idea of a ruling cabal exists in the undergrowth. Charlie Hebdo, 9/11, 7/7, Nice, Brussels and even Manchester can be considered to be western false flag operations that were organised to make Muslims look bad. None of this is considered unacceptably extreme.
Hamas, the civilian murdering radical Islamic terror group can be praised, and nobody would even blink. Only if that link is crossed, if somehow ISIS becomes the identifier, only then do we move into ‘unacceptable’ mode.
It isn’t just in the mosques
Imagine I am standing in a university somewhere in the world. I have a discussion with a university lecturer. I ask her what she thinks of the ISIS bombing in Manchester. The reply “it is not for me to tell ISIS how to lead their resistance”.
As will be explained in part two of my expose on Warwick, this is exactly what a student heard from an academic at Warwick university when she asked about Hamas terrorism.
What is the difference? You cannot speak of eradicating extremism and then make it possible for Hamas terrorists to be honoured on campus. Just eighteen months ago, as blood started spilling on the streets in Israel again, vigils were held on UK campuses for the dead terrorists. Last August a thirteen year old Israeli girl was stabbed to death as she slept in her bed. If you honour her attacker with a vigil on campus, the university authorities will most likely protect you.
On our campuses, it is considered legitimate to consider Hamas a resistance force. When we object, we become labelled as troublesome paid Israeli stooges. My complaint to Warwick will no doubt fall on deaf ears. But if they legitimise the Purim massacre, they legitimise Manchester.
It isn’t different
There are differences between ISIS and Hamas but there are similar roots. The core element to discuss is the action. The action is universally wrong. Whether it is a British 8-year-old girl at a concert in Manchester or a 13-year-old boy in fancy dress in Tel Aviv. There is never an excuse for that type of barbaric behaviour.
If you suggest one is abhorrent but the other is somehow legitimate, then it becomes about the perspective of the attacker. You give him the power to decide when it is right and when it is wrong. So if you justify Hamas, then you justify Manchester. The distinctions are Western concepts in your head. They are your mistake. These differences simply do not exist in the mind of the terrorist.
Worse still, we allow for such a ‘legitimisation’ to breath and develop in our society. If it send signals that it is sometimes okay, then we should not express surprise when it surfaces with such brutality in our streets. We speak of eradicating extremism and yet we allow it to grow and develop. In the mosque, on campus. Even the leader of the opposition called Hamas his ‘friends’. That is the Hamas that blew up Israeli children at Purim. He may as well be praising ISIS, what is the difference?
For over two decades I have been fighting against radical Islamic hate. Whether it is called ISIS or Hamas. Only when people begin to recognise the battle is the same, will we even begin to have a chance at winning.
My thoughts and prayers are with all the 22 victims, with those that were injured in the attack, with all their families, with all their friends and with those that were emotionally scarred by it.
Crowdfunding to fight Jew hatred
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