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When terrorists become lone wolves

By Emily Gian 

A strange thing happened since May during the time in which I have been on maternity leave. 

I might have missed reading about it because I was preoccupied with other things, but it seems that the war on terror has been eradicated from almost every part of the globe. 

It is true that in many places people are still being murdered at an alarming rate, in the most gruesome of circumstances and in seemingly ever-increasing circumstances, but the dirty deeds are no longer being perpetrated by “terrorists”, but rather by large numbers of “lone wolves”, particularly in the Middle East but elsewhere such as Nigeria. 

It is also true that there are violent wars being fought in different parts causing great upheavals and movements in population giving rise to crises such as that in Europe where several governments have agreed to take in large numbers of poor refugees from places like Syria, where people are fleeing from a bloody civil war which has thus far taken a quarter of a million lives, many through the infamous barrel bombing perpetrated by the Assad regime, aided by Hezbollah. 

And the large powers are struggling to contend with these groups of lone wolves throughout the world. The Russians are in Syria bombing all and sundry but we are not sure who their targets are – the lone wolves of ISIS or the rebels – but reports suggest that they are also claiming civilians in their erratic bombing sprees. 

Last month, the United States took out an alleged Taliban hideout in Afghanistan which happened to be a field hospital and a number of civilians and volunteer doctors were killed while Saudi airplanes are accidentally killing civilians in large numbers in their battle against Iranian backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. 

I might have been somewhat preoccupied so I missed the part where the world has looked away. 

I missed the worldwide condemnation of such events although I did not miss the fact that recently, Saudi Arabia, which oppresses women and gay people and like Iran often hangs them in the streets, was elected to head the United Nations Human Rights Council

Against this backdrop, I have managed to notice, through reading international news reports, the growing level of incitement to violence against Israelis by the Palestinian leadership (both Hamas and the Palestine Authority), in its media and its mosques. In particular, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has been conspicuous in this incitement. I read his tirade about Jews desecrating Muslim and Christian holy sites with their “filthy feet” and I saw his repudiation of the Oslo Accords in the United Nations (which makes it difficult for the parties to sit down and negotiate a final peace settlement including an end to the occupation of territories and security for both sides of the conflict), and his responses to several murderous attacks on Israelis, praising the blood spilt by his own people, and I noticed his failure to condemn the shootings, firebombing and stabbings against Israeli civilians, many of which were proudly described by relatives of the perpetrators and others as righteous attacks on the Jews. 

So as I sat down to write last night, I switched on Israeli television, and was faced with scenes that I have unfortunately become accustomed to seeing over the past few days. Visions of multiple terror attacks in Israel, this time two in Jerusalem where three Israelis were murdered, and another two attacks in the city of Ra’anana. In the last two weeks, there has been over 20 attacks of this nature – a terrorist approaching people and stabbing or shooting. It began with the brutal murder of Eitam and Na’ama Henkin in front of their four children while driving their car one evening, and continued with the murder of Rabbi Nehamia Lavi and Aharon Benita in Jerusalem last week. Since then, attacks have continued around the country. 

So who is to blame for these savage attacks by those who happily fire at vehicles carrying Jewish families to their homes or plunge knives into women shopping in the streets? Is it the killers (or would be killers), is it those who incite the violence, or is it the ones who celebrate in the aftermath? Or perhaps it is the media which aids and abets the terrorists by attempting to deflect from the narrative of murder or attempted murder in order to blame the victim of the depraved act? 

I have almost completely given up on the Australian media, and much of the international media for that matter, because even before opening a newspaper or selecting a new tab on my computer, I am almost certain how this would play out. As long as Jews are being killed and injured – silence. But when the perpetrators are dealt with, there are headlines and they invariably tell you that there was a victim – a “Palestinian killed by Israeli forces”. 

No context. 

The reality was not very far from what I had imagined. For example, the Independent ran with a story on Saturday entitled “A 16-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli police this morning”. It was accompanied on Facebook by the description “he is the seventh Palestinian killed in just 24 hours”. The article went on the mention that the Palestinian boy had attempted to stab Israeli security forces in Jerusalem, but clearly not in chronological order. Because in a world where context does not matter, what the Palestinian did was not important, just how Israel responded.

Even the Australian got in on the act today with the headline “Israeli transport terror raises intifada fears as four killed”. Are they so sensitive that they cannot even call it “Palestinian terror” they have to blame it on Israeli transport? 

This lack of context leads to further absurdities, such as the condemnation by Nabil Abi Rudeina, Abbas’ spokesperson, who claimed this week that Israel had “executed” 15 year old Hassan Manasrah, one of two young Palestinians who repeatedly stabbed and critically wounded a 13 year old Israeli boy riding his bike in East Jerusalem and also stabbed a 21 year old Israeli man during the spree. 

I would expect Australians of all people at this time to understand the callousness of this statement in the wake of the brutal murder by 15-year-old Farhad Jabar who walked into a Police Station and killed civilian IT expert Curtis Cheng. The shooter himself was then shot dead by police and nobody batted an eyelid. The killer was a threat to the safety of others and the police officer acted taking a split-second decision to eliminate the threat.

In the Wall Street Journal, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Bret Stephens wrote about this subject and concluded as follows:-

“Today in Israel, Palestinians are in the midst of a campaign to knife Jews to death, one at a time. This is psychotic. It is evil. To call it anything less is to serve as an apologist, and an accomplice”.

This is what brings me to one of the most disgraceful pieces of journalistic reporting that I have ever read in our local media in yesterday’s Age and SMH, entitled “Wave of lone wolf stabbing attacks in Israel draw controversial response”, penned by, you guessed it, Mid East Correspondent Ruth Pollard.

Pollard opens in Monty Pythoneque style by describing scores of recent stabbing attacks by young Palestinians against Israelis as the work of lone wolves. In doing so, she is not only ignoring the months of racist incitement to violence against Jews emanating from the top of the Palestinian leadership tree and in many cases evidence to the contrary and praise from the PA and Hamas, but she is also demeaning the Palestinian people. 

It seems that in Pollard’s world, these people are automatons with no moral compass and who are so unable to decipher between right and wrong that there is no alternative but to attack and murder fellow humans going about their normal everyday lives and worse still, as demonstrated by the vicious attack on the unnamed 13-year-old boy referred to above, children are being encouraged to join the bloodletting. 

And where does Pollard find a story in all of this? 

The violence and brutality is swept away in the usual manner. The people act this way because they are desperate (never mind that the “desperation” might have been concocted by their manipulative political and religious leaders). 

The story is all about how the victim has responded; how the Israeli people are fighting back against those who attack their defenceless men, women and children. The Israelis are doing exactly what the local authorities here and anywhere else including the United States, Britain and Europe would be doing against crazed lone wolf killers or murderers of any kind – even if Pollard does not consider them “terrorists”. As usual, when the Jews are threatened and assaulted, they are expected to submit to the violence and treat the perpetrators with kid gloves, and not in the way it was done in Parramatta. 

Today’s Fairfax headline has not been kind to Pollard either, when it mentions that yesterday’s attacks were “part of a day of rage declared by Palestinian groups”. 

So what is it Ms Pollard? Lone wolves or an organised wave of (blush) “terror” attacks? 

In this vile way, she treats her gullible readers as fools in delivering the message that Palestinian terrorism does not exist, that Jews are not allowed to defend themselves and that people should look away. 

I’ve heard that somewhere before. 

Emily Gian is the Director of Media & Advocacy at the Zionist Federation of Australia. She is currently on maternity leave