We do not blame the victim.
At least, we should not. The perpetrator alone is guilty.
That is as true in the recent attack on the offices of a French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, as with any other crime.
In the Charlie Hebdo case, 12 people were murdered at the magazine’s office; a rookie female police officer was shot the next day while responding to a routine traffic accident one block from a Jewish school, and four people were killed as they shopped for Shabbat in a kosher market, including the 21-year-old son of the chief rabbi of Tunis.
Those 17 dead and the many others who were injured did nothing to deserve what happened. Only the terrorists were at fault.
In this case, though, the immediate victims were not the terrorists’ true target. Society in general was the target. It is the real victim. The goal in the Charlie Hebdo attack was to strike fear in the hearts of journalists and others in order to control what they write, what they say, and even what they draw. It was an attack on free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom in general.
While the terrorists in the Charlie Hebdo case are responsible for the deaths and the injuries, it is the ultimate victim – society – that is to blame for what happened, because it encouraged the terrorists to commit such acts.
Western nations especially insist they will never negotiate with terrorists, because to do so sends the message that terrorism pays dividends. Yet their actions belie their words.
Late last year, for example, Sweden announced that it will recognize “Palestine” as a state, only to backtrack a day later by adding “in the future.” The British House of Commons, not long after, voted 274 to 12 to recognize “Palestine” immediately. The vote was nonbinding, but it echoed loud throughout the Arab world, and especially in the dark corners where terrorists skulk.
Then there was the December 30 Security Council vote on a Jordanian proposal to force a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians within a year; to end the Israeli military presence in the West Bank within two years; and to establish east Jerusalem as the capital of “Palestine.” At the council table was Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian Authority’s spokesman at the United Nations, sitting at a desk with a plaque in front of him that read “State of Palestine,” itself a tacit acknowledgement that such a place legally already exists in U.N. eyes.
France was among the eight nations that voted yes; others included China and Russia. The United States and Australia voted no, and five nations abstained. An abstention is as good as a yes vote, because it fails to acknowledge the misguided nature of the resolution.
What did this vote say to the world, and especially to the terrorists and would-be terrorists? It said that terrorism pays.
Thirteen states essentially blamed Israel not only for denying “justice” to the Palestinians, but also for all the evil that terrorism inflicts on the world. Jordan’s ambassador, Dina Kawar, said as much when she spoke to reporters after the vote. The “Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the crux of the conflict in the Middle East,” she said.
The underlying message is clear: Israel is the real reason the most demonic of terrorists, the Islamic State, beheads people; why Bashar al-Assad so far has killed nearly 110,000 Syrian civilians, including 29,000 women and children; why al-Qaeda and Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad continue to pose threats to the innocent in the Middle East and around the world.
Force Israel to “do the right thing,” and the world will sleep better at night.
Truth has no place here. Yes, Israel has been reluctant to reach an accord with the Palestinians. Yes, it even has done some things that clearly are obstructionist. Israel, however, also has shown that it wants peace; the Palestinians have made no such showing. More to the point, the Palestinians have done nothing to suggest they can be trusted to keep such a peace, or even intend to do so.
Israel is being called to task for its reluctance to make peace with a supposed partner in whom it has no faith, and for good reason.
There are still textbooks in use in Palestinian schools that portray Israelis especially and Jews generally as evil monsters with a genocidal agenda, that deny any connection between Jews and the Land of Israel, and that extol the virtues of “martyrdom.” There are no such depictions of Arabs or Palestinians in Israeli textbooks, but the world is oblivious to that distinction.
In the PA, streets are named after so-called “martyrs,” and their families receive PA stipends.
The PA leader, Mahmoud Abbas, says he recognizes Israel, but refuses to accept it as a Jewish state. He also pledges that “Palestine” will not allow Jews to live within its borders. The world ignores what this means: the forced expulsion of as many as 800,000 Jews, should they choose to remain in their West Bank homes.
Instead of forcing the PA to be an honest partner for peace, the world blames Israel.
Consider how the so-called Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions movement explains itself on its website: “In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. A truly global movement against Israeli Apartheid is rapidly emerging in response to this call.”
What happened in France last week is a direct outgrowth of this kind of behavior on the part of the West. With every vote at the United Nations, with every statement by a western leader about Israeli intransigence, with every joining of an academic or religious group to the BDS movement, would-be terrorists are being told that terrorism pays dividends.
This time, the victim truly is to blame.