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Calling Terrorism by Its Name

April 22, 2013 | by Rabbi Benjamin Blech

Why the Boston massacre can happen again.

Now we know.

The heartless and heinous terrorists responsible for the Boston marathon bombing were brothers granted political asylum in the United States. It was due to the kindness of this country that they were able to find the freedom denied them in their native Chechnya. The older brother, Tamerlan, fatally shot after firing assault rifles and lobbing pipe bombs at pursuing police, was here as a legal resident. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, in serious condition after being found at the end of an intensive manhunt that brought Boston and its neighboring areas to a total standstill, was a US citizen, naturalized in what can only be called a gruesome irony on September 11 of last year. And this is how they repaid their adopted country in blood.

They were the ones who left the backpacks at the marathon finish line, capped with explosives as well as with nails to increase their horrific impact on innocent men, women and children. They were the ones who calmly walked away as the area filled with the screams of the injured who lost limbs and legs, the blood of the maimed who went from runners to lifelong cripples, and the cries of those who witnessed a tragedy beyond the capacity of words to describe.

And we now know too that Dzhokhar spent the days after the barbaric attack tweeting out rap lyrics and partying with his pals. “I’m a stress-free kind of guy,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

There is much that remains a mystery. We still do not know if they acted alone. But what is already clear is that the older brother became a radicalized Muslim and managed to influence his sibling to join him in his pursuit of jihad.

Like so many before them, these were terrorists with a cause. They were able to rationalize their inhuman behavior.

“Anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.” – President Obama

It took President Obama one day after the Boston massacre to come to the conclusion that when we are the targets, “Anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.”

What a striking difference.

When terrorists fired rockets at civilian centers in Israel, the mass media – including the paper that prides itself on being the world’s “newspaper of record” – went out of their way to identify them simply as “militants.” Militant is a word that is morally neutral. The word terrorist on the other hand is a pejorative. It doesn’t hide the evil nature of the act; it is always bad, it is an unforgivable act of wickedness. And that is precisely why the New York Times, the Associated Press, Reuters, and countless publications persisted as a matter of policy to camouflage acts of terrorism in the Middle East with cleansing euphemisms and to mislabel terrorists as “freedom fighters”, “rebels”, or simply “militants.”

When the target was Israel, the New York Times and much of the rest of the world heard no terrorism, saw no terrorism and reported no terrorism. Unprovoked rockets from Gaza aimed at civilians in Sderot and neighboring areas were daily occurrences for years. But of course they were fired merely by militants.

As Eric Draitser perceptively pointed out, an astounding change has occurred in the lexicon of the mainstream media in the United States in the past week. Chechen Islamists are no longer being referred to as “rebels” and “freedom fighters.”  In the wake of the news that Chechens were involved in the Boston bombing, the language immediately shifted.  The Associated Press, Reuters, and countless other media and news outlets published articles discussing the “jihadist threat” from places like Chechnya where “suicide attacks, blood feuds, and hostage crises” are routine.  

We’re still far from acknowledging the truth about terrorism.

But when the issue isn’t Boston we’re still far from acknowledging the truth about terrorism. Political correctness remains sacrosanct and the expression of moral judgment in a political context persists in staying forbidden.

Where is the outrage when we learn that this very week two terrorists, Allam Kaabi and Salah Hamouri who planned and carried out the 2001 assassination of Israel’s tourism minister, Rehavam Ze’evi and plotted to assassinate Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef – described in press releases simply as “recently released prisoners” in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit – will be honored at a ceremony at the Bourse de Travail of the municipality of St. Denis, a suburb of the French capital of Paris, to be joined by a representative of Amnesty International.

Where is the outrage when we read of the major celebration to be held this coming Friday, March 29, in the Arab world to mark the 11th anniversary of the martyrdom death of Ayyat Al-Akhras who, at the age of 17, became the youngest female Palestinian suicide bomber when she killed 2 Israelis near a Jerusalem supermarket on March 29, 2002 and – in the words of the inscription beneath her photo in the official tribute to her – "Never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision." (Quran, Sura 3:169, translation Sahih International).

And where is the outrage when we learn that the terrorists honored most highly amongst Palestinian society are those who have killed the greatest number. Abd Al-Baset Udeh, killer of 30 at the Passover Seder massacre in Netanya, had a soccer tournament for 14-year-olds named for him. His brother was honored with distributing the trophies. Dalal Mughrabi, terrorist bus hijacker, who led one of the most lethal terror attacks in Israel’s history in 1978, when she and other terrorists killed 37 civilians, 12 of them children, has had summer camps, schools, graduation ceremonies and sporting events named for her, as well as many TV documentaries honoring her. Thaer Hammad, who as a lone gunman murdered 10 Israelis in 2002, was glorified by the official PA daily as “the hero of the Intifada."

This adulation of the worst terrorists and praise for their heroism reflects the policy of the present leadership of the Palestinian Authority. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, whose name is invariably prefaced in the media with the adjective “moderate,” not too long ago issued

“Greetings of honour and esteem” to mass murderers, whom he publicly named, one by one:

“I send greetings of honour and esteem to all prisoners... Said 'Ataba (serving life sentence for murder in terror attack)…Marwan Barghouti (serving five life sentences for planning murderous terror attacks)…Ahmad Sa'adat (serving 30 years in prison for heading the terrorist organization PFLP; honored on PA TV for planning the assassination of Israeli Minister Ze'evi in 2001, but never tried)….Aziz Dweik (Hamas leader, chairman of Palestinian parliament)…Jamal Huweil (life sentence for planning terror attacks)…Jamal Tirawi (life sentence for café suicide terror attack)… Greetings to you from our people.” (Source: Fatah’s Facebook page, Mar. 28, 2013)

Heroes gain followers. As long as those who are brazenly and barbarically responsible for the murder of innocents receive the world’s adulation instead of contempt and condemnation, we will unfortunately continue to spawn more and more of their disciples.

I am afraid that Boston will happen again until terrorists the world over are branded as pure evil – not only when they threaten us personally as Americans but wherever they make their fiendish appearance.

It is time for us to proclaim unequivocally that anyone guilty of indiscriminately murdering innocents, no matter how just he believes his cause, no longer deserves to be part of civilized society.

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