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.
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20 thoughts on “Manchester, identifying the extremism”
Add the Coptic Children killed today by Isis whilst they were on a visit to the monastery in IL Nima province of Egypt.
Absolutely. The destruction of Christian communities in the ME has been brutal. Some of these are ancient communities tracing their roots right back to the early days of the Church. It is why I simply cannot begin to fathom what groups like the Iona community are doing. Even the Scottish Church has anti-Israel motions coming up. Can they not see what is really happening on the ground over there?
Yes, David, they can.
I wondered how long it would take before this Manchester thing became all about Jews and/or Israel. My best guess was five minutes. But maybe that was the incurable pessimist in me.
Sir, the complete lack of compassion and humanity in your post terrify me.
The “Manchester thing” you so casually refer to, affects us all.
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Actually Stephen it was probably less that 5 minutes before ‘Jooz did it’, posts began to hit Facebook, so your estimate was probably on the slow side. But in dealing with your post directly, your comment highlights the very western misunderstanding so common in these discussions. Show me where the ideologies behind radical Islam recognise borders? This statehood, nationhood, borders nonsense is part of a western mindset. It doesn’t exist in the minds of the terrorists. The attack in Egypt, the attack in Manchester, same same.
“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.”
Well David I hope this is not an anonymous student and the academic is identified. Otherwise folks might think the student might be Izzy Lenga’s borother/sister.
Anyway on a happier note. Great stuff from UCU. I guess Ronnie is going to cost the hasbarsfiosi grandees another 600k o:)
See para 57. I couldn’t have said it better myself and modesty is not my strong point
Stephen – well said, same thought here. On which note David, I didn’t actually think even you would stoop so low as to politicise the atrocity on Israel’s behalf – at least not so quickly. And I take particular issue with your (I assume deliberate) conflation of Hamas with Isis, which confuses the motives and methods of these two groups in the minds of your readers for no good purpose but to perpetuate the status quo of Israeli occupation.
Jane, we are in agreement that the conflation of Hamas with Islamic State is misplaced. The latter has shown a far more responsible approach to fiscal management and is able to provide the most basic amenities for its subjects. This extends to the construct of a primitive but effective energy policy and a the maintenance of a reasonable supply chain of provisions and medical equipment. Conversely Hamas has chosen to direct aid funding, it’s main income outside of extortion and smuggling, to the construction of attack tunnels into the sovereign territory of neighbours, the assembly of arsenals of rockets to launch at civilian populations of its neighbours and the enrichment of its ex-patriot leadership. All of this at the expense of the civilian population that spend 16 hours a day without electricity and are used as human shields when their neighbours inconveniently retaliate against their aggression. This clarification is important. As you say, we wouldn’t want David’s readership to be confused. for no good purpose.
Ian, thank you for your reply. However, in pointing out what you see as the differences between Hamas as Isis – I’ve already commented to David about a few key differences (see my reply to his comment) so I won’t repeat them here – you omit the context of military occupation under which Palestinians in the West bank and in Gaza (notwithstanding the 2005 withdrawal) have lived for decades. Also, in your comment about ‘human shields when their neighbours inconveniently retaliate against their aggression’ you deliberately muddle – actually invert – cause and effect. Let’s remember that Israel is the occupier, and boasts the fourth most powerful military in the world, funded largely by the US. Yet nobody seems to be arguing about Israel diverting its considerable funds to dropping 16 ton bombs on Gaza – except when hostilities break out and Israel sends in the F16s. Moreover, it’s a documented fact that Israel violates more ceasefires than Hamas, though Israel has succeeded in creating a public perception of the opposite.
More things on which we agree Jane. We do drop bombs on Gaza, really deadly ones. We kill lots of people, destroy buildings, disrupt infrastructure and communications and deliberately infiltrate its community with the aim of identifying, locating and eliminating its leaders. It’s known in the west as war and the aim is to completely destroy your enemy. Coming second normally means you’re dead. Luckily we are hugely powerful and have developed and continue to develop new technologies that give us an advantage. We will continue to deploy our arsenal to defend ourselves and our country by standing on the front line against these murderous nutcases and I assure you of this; you can fill every response box of every social media blog with your preposterous, distorted drivel from now until your last day but heaven help you if we fail because you will certainly be next.
Jane. Please don’t try to reduce the horrific attack into a singular event in which the motives and methods of a particular actor (the terrorist) must be analysed to understand the ideology that drives the attack itself.
I don’t know how many terror attacks you have witnessed with your eyes. So when I see Manchester, I find it astounding that when I bring it together with other radical Islamic attacks that I have witnessed (such as in Israel) or those I have not witnessed (such as those in Egypt), I face criticism for ‘daring’ to speak the truth. The terror attack that I was the most hurt by (although ironically not the one I was closest to) occurred in my local pub. It was claimed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The terrorists? Two British boys who went from the UK to Israel especially to kill innocent people in a pub.
I think that linkage is clearly there. Hamas does too. You can try and disentangle it in your head, but it doesn’t make any difference to what is really happening.
They are not the same, because they have evolved in different environments. One within the confines of a nationalist movement, the other without that restriction. But suggesting Islamic radical ideology doesn’t drive them both just because you have sympathy for the Palestinian cause, that is sick, and indicative of the greatest threat to a Palestinian state that exists – the extremism and idiocy of their supporters
An excellent, all-too-true piece, David. Ruined only by the constant troll Bellamy.
He’s only doing his job Ray. Media Response is an industry now and the main protagonists employ legions of little minions that exist purely to generate output for money. They get allocated targets and work to some nominal quota system based on word count or some such quantifiable measure. The chap here is quite diligent in his duties but I wouldn’t be too concerned about the content. It’s only posting to order.
What nonsense Ian!
So many industries so little time
David. I wasn’t at all trying to reduce the horrific Manchester attack to a singular event – far from it. We all know that Islamic extremism is now a global phenomenon and that our radicalisation of our own youth is taking place in mosques and online. Also, I have every sympathy with you personally for having witnessed such an atrocity in the past. However, the implication of your opening paragraph – Tel Aviv is where the story starts – is disingenuous and misleading. Wherever the story of the Manchester attack (or Kabul, Baghdad, Damascus, Somalia), started, it wasn’t in Israel. That’s what I mean by politicising the atrocity – you transparently used the Manchester attack to demonise Hamas and legitimate Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. The implication, borne out by the rest of the piece is that Hamas and Isis are merely two sides of the same coin, which they are not. And you accuse me of reductionism! Here are just a few of the differences: you touched on the first, which is that Hamas is a nationalistic organisation aimed at ending the Israeli occupation and its associated inequalities – and achieving self-determination – while the aim of Isis is imperialistic, to establish a caliphate. Likewise, Isis considers all non-Muslims their enemy; by contrast, Hamas (unsurprisingly) sees the Zionist regime as its enemy. Unlike Isis, Hamas is an elected political organisation, albeit designated by the West as a terrorist organisation. Hamas derives funds from legitimate sources (even if it uses them to aid resistance), Isis from criminal activity. Finally, Hamas does not recruit British jihadists. I’m sure there’s plenty there for you to take issue with!
Jane – I apologise if my comment about Tel Aviv being the place where this story starts (this story, as in the point I was making) disturbs you. But I personally think you are confusing conflicts. I do not believe I used Manchester (as a political tool) to in any way negate legitimate Palestinian claims. I do not view the fight against Islamism as being part of the discussion over the Israel / Palestinian peace process at all. In fact, Islamism and Islamic groups such as Hamas are enemies of the peace process. As they have proven time and time again (the terror during the Oslo process for example.) When I fight against radical Islam (including Hamas) I do so in support of both Israeli and Palestinian national claims and the personal freedoms of everyone in the region. Hamas has little regard for either. I’d argue all my work is about promoting peace, as I do not believe peace is possible within the environment antisemitism and BDS creates, but that is an argument for another day.
Given your comments I do think you misunderstand Hamas completely. I said Hamas were born within a Nationalist environment. You responded by implying we agree they are a nationalist movement. We don’t and that is not what I said. I merely pointed out that Hamas have evolved the way they have because they are confined within the Palestinian national struggle. Islamism morphs to attack the nearest enemy. Springing from the roots of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas developed within the confines of the cause as a matter of strategy not of belief. The idea of an Islamic nationalist movement is somewhat absurd. An Oxymoron if you will. Can you explain to me how nationalism and Islamist ideology are compatible? I would argue that conflict between them are inevitable.
ISIS and Hamas are different in that the environments they evolved in were not the same. They faced different stimuli and thus evolved as unique and case specific entities. But it is foolish to dismiss the similar roots. If you reject the family connection and claim to fight radical Islam, you will never be able to stamp out the spread. You will be too busy legitimising some of it on the local campus. Which is exactly what this post was about.
On the last point about British Jihadists, I could argue it is just strategy again, but I think I will refer back to the Mike’s Place bombing. How is it Hamas took responsibility for the attack? An attack carried out by two Brits? I thought you said Hamas didn’t recruit Brits.
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