On the Silence of the Left about Muslim Atrocities

Bradley Burston, a columnist for Ha-Aretz, a “Progressive Zionist” with a taste for even-handedness, has just written a courageous column on the misguided silence of the politically correct “left.”

Muslim atrocities, Muslim victims, our silence

By Bradley Burston

As Jews, we learn not to talk about it. We’re taught, from an early age, that it’s not our business. As leftists, we’re taught to interpret it in the broader context, as the understandable outgrowth of occupation, of colonialism, of Western oppression.

So this month, when a Palestinian toddler named Hassan Abu Nada was killed in the crossfire of a Hamas-Fatah gunfight in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lehiya, we said nothing. His grandmother was wounded. This was none of our affair.

Just as in December, when Palestinians gunned down three children of a Fatah security chief, boys aged three to nine on their way to school. We knew better than to pass judgment, protest on their behalf, raise our voices.

Just as we kept our opinions to ourselves when, in a Frankfurt court, a Muslim woman whose Muslim husband beat her and threatened to kill her, was denied a divorce. Judge Christa Datz-Winter ruled that “the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives,” The New York Times reported. “The Koran, she wrote, sanctions such physical abuse.”

Just as every morning, when the news of a fresh act of moral obscenity reaches us from Iraq, we swallow hard and shut up. On Sunday, for example, when a Sunni Muslim mosque was stormed, its minaret blown to pieces, and the structure set ablaze, in apparent retaliation for a suicide truck bombing the beside a Shiite mosque the day before.

Muslims should be able to worship without other Muslims blowing them to mist. Muslim children should be able to go to school and back without other Muslims shattering their bodies with automatic fire. Muslim women should be able to live their lives without worrying that their husbands are within their rights to beat them and threaten to kill them.

And we, as non-Muslims, should be able to say something about it.

Not a simple issue. Especially for those of us Jews and leftists who were educated at places like Berkeley, where we received our degrees in Selective Blindness, with a minor in Understanding the Roots of Violence when practiced by Muslims.

We were taught to sniff out, publicize, and condemn every instance of racism, violence, injustice, and humiliation practiced by Israeli Jews against Palestinian Muslims. And that was as it should be.

But we were also taught that it was racist to impose our Western values on the acts of Muslims, even, or especially, when it came to the most extreme of Muslims.

We can, with facility, therefore, comprehend all Muslim atrocities against Muslims in Iraq as the direct, understandable, and legitimate response to the American-British occupation.

We were taught wrong.

We can understand terrorism in Bali, in London, in the Twin Towers, as an outgrowth of anger over American expansionism and Israeli military repression.

We were taught wrong.

There are, of course, many Jews whose selective blindness works in the other direction, condemning Muslims at every opportunity, as though that made wrongdoing by Jews eminently forgivable and forgettable. As though we are somehow made moral by the moral failings of our neighbors.

This is what we should have been taught: Violations of human rights are violations of human rights, regardless of the cultural background of the perpetrator, regardless of the background of the victim.

This is what we should have retained: One way to demonstrate compassion for victims is to stop showing sensitivity to their tormentors. Even if both are Muslims. Because it’s our business to cry out. Because the victims are human beings. Because villains deserve to be denounced.

We were taught to feel guilt, when we should have been taught that wrongdoing is the work of the wrongdoer.

In the end, those of us who excuse Muslim fanatics their outrages against their own, those of us who explain away their crimes by blaming them on the West, or on ourselves, are guilty of racism as well.

We are saying, in effect, that they cannot be considered responsible for their actions, as would any other human being.

We are saying, in effect, that we made them who they are.

We are saying, in effect, that the suicide bomber who kills his own, lacks the ability to discern right and wrong. We are also saying, in effect, that they can do what they like, to their own.

There is racism in our view, and megalomania, and arrogance, and cowardice, and weakness. Terrorists know this. They feed on it.

They were taught well.

Thank you, Burston. What took you so long?

7 Responses to On the Silence of the Left about Muslim Atrocities

  1. Cynic says:

    There are, of course, many Jews whose selective blindness works in the other direction, condemning Muslims at every opportunity, as though that made wrongdoing by Jews eminently forgivable and forgettable.

    Hey! What’s this? An attempt to get PC “fair and balanced” onto the stage?

    Is Burston speculating somewhat? How does he know that there is no criticism of individual Jewish wrongdoing by those criticizing Muslims for their excesses?
    Does he imply that there is Jewish cultural “wrongdoing” which is equivalent to Muslim wrongdoing?

    Maybe some of those with “other direction” selective blindness (ODSB?) keep their opinions to themselves and do not publicly say anything because to do so would only fuel the hatred against many innocent Jews around the world?
    There are enough Chomskys and their lies without providing further incentives.
    Wrong in the PZ’s truthful world, maybe, but survival is more important.

    I suppose on the PZ’s playing field checkpoints are equivalent to honour killings especially when mothers bag their daughter’s head in plastic and then hack away at the neck with a kitchen knife to assuage the dishonour because the brothers had raped their sister.

    As though we are somehow made moral by the moral failings of our neighbors.

    Is he projecting the Leftist behaviour to equate the actions of some individuals with that of a culture and ideology?

    Burston if he has woken up should stick to analysing what he was taught at Berkeley and not bring in red herrings.
    Has he realised the Left’s hypocrisy with regard to the ‘scales of justice’?

    Sure there are individuals who behave and think like thugs, but why attempt to extrapolate that to the culture as a whole?

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  3. Arabs Are People Too:

    Richard Landes endorses a column in Haaretz denouncing the silence of progressives when Arabs are killed by Arab terrorists, as if victims weren’t people. “We are saying, in effect, that the suicide bomber … can do what they like, to…

  4. abu yussif says:

    The fact that anyone gives the slightest credibility to the idea of “root causes” for any sort of violence automatically makes personal responsibility a impossible. As long as the primitive “Arab street” (blindly driven by uncontrolled passions and incapable of perceiving a logical thought) is allowed to determine one sphere of the moral equivalent playing field, the moral high ground, which should be our starting point of reference, is simply too far away. It is too weary and difficult to have to blaze new trails on every new atrocity just to establish that something bad has indeed occurred that is really not ultimately the fault of Israel or America. If, like the BBC says, “The truth is somewhere in the middle”, then it pays to cast your position as far to the extreme as possible in order to bring that relativistic “truth” over to where you are. How correct it is that the very first casualty of this long war was the truth. And it has been so long that everyone seems to have forgotten what the truth looks like.

    You have to hand it to the Islamic world with the PR – they really know how to play the Western media like a fiddle.

  5. Eliyahu says:

    you’re right, abu yussif, nobody in the media or in the Western political or diplomatic spheres seems to have asked what were the root causes of the deed of Dr Baruch Goldstein who killed 29 Muslims in the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994. The Root Causes argument seems reserved for Arabs and Muslims.

  6. Alprazolam. says:



  7. […] And, of course, I was talking about the suicide terror campaign against Israel and the eery silence, not only from the “left” — which, it turns out, was celebrating the terrorists […]

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