Monday, July 24, 2017

Blood Everywhere

Two tragedies, a few days apart, with very different levels of outrage and very different reactions happened last week. One happened here in the US, the other in the Middle East.

A woman who had called the police to report what sounded like a rape was shot by a police officer.

A family sitting around a dinner table was attacked by a knife wielding terrorist who killed three in the dining room while a woman shielded her young children in another room and was overlooked. 

There was outrage and anger on two continents for Justine Damond, a woman in her pajamas trying to do her civic duty. There was little outrage on two continents for this family who had gathered to celebrate the birth of a grandchild.

Is Justin Damond's death any less tragic because she is white? Does being Israeli Jews diminish in any way the horror of the attack on them? 

From the UK Daily Mail

There was a rather harsh discussion about a story in the UK Guardianshared on Facebook, about how Ms Damond saved some stranded ducklings. Photojournalist Angela Jimenez happened to live at the site of the rescue and caught it on camera. But it wasn't until after Ms. Damond was killed that Jimenez realized that Damond was the "duck lady." 

Yet, one commenter saw fit to write: 
Person 1: Philandos death was more tragic. but the media and the dominant society demonized him.
this article is BS.

Person 2: I read many articles that did not demonize him. And I don't know if it is fair for us to say one person's death was more tragic than another's.

Person 1: i dont think its fair for the media and people like you who want to justify this nonsense article.
police brutality has been happing to POC for far too long and now a bunch of white people care cause its a white woman wgo [sic] saved ducks.... WTF.
Ima [sic] done here.
One line really smacked me right across the face: 
Philandos death was more tragic.   
How can one unnecessary death at the hands of police be more tragic than other? 

The Salomon's kitchen (photo credit: IDF)
On the other side of the world, the Salomon family and their friends were celebrating the birth of a new grandson when there was a knock at the door. They opened the door to welcome the newcomer, but instead of a guest, Omar al-Abed, a 19 year old from a neighboring village, came in slashing. Before he was done, Yosef Salomon was dead, his son Elad and daughter Chaya were dead, his wife, Tovah, was gravely injured. Elad's wife was able to get the children into a back bedroom and call the police. 

Where is the outrage? Hamas called him a hero. UN Secretary General António Guterres issues a statement condemning the terrorist attacks, but no one seems to pick it up. 
The Secretary-General strongly condemns this evening’s stabbing attack by a Palestinian perpetrator, which resulted in the death of three members of an Israeli family in the Halamish settlement in the occupied West Bank. 
He conveys his condolences to the bereaved and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.
The Secretary-General again calls on all to refrain from any actions or words that could further escalate an already volatile situation.
Same guy, regarding the violence in Jerusalem, was on every front page:
The Secretary-General deeply deplores the death of three Palestinians in clashes today with the Israeli security forces and calls for these incidents to be fully investigated. His thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims.
The Secretary-General is concerned by the unfolding violence in the Old City of Jerusalem. He urges Israeli and Palestinian leaders to refrain from actions that could further escalate the situation and calls on all political, religious and community leaders to help reduce tension.
The Secretary-General reiterates that the sanctity of religious sites should be respected as places for reflection, not violence.
Is "victim" the right word here? If you are part of clashes instigated against the police, are you a victim? Or, are you collateral damage? And why would you be protesting metal detectors? Wouldn't you welcome a safety measure to protect you from crazy people? I don't know. Muslim holy sites all over the world have metal detectors at the entrances. I would think if you're not bringing contraband up the road, you wouldn't care if there were metal detectors. On the other hand...

That said, if, after publishing a hate manifesto on Facebook, a knife wielding maniac climbed over the back fence in London or Paris or Chicago and murdered three members of a family, there would be non-stop coverage. If a terrorist was throwing rocks at the British Police or the Gendarmes of Paris, swift police action would be praised.  Where is the outrage for the civilians gathered at the Kotel plaza or the Salomon family?

Life is not fair, and news is not exactly an exercise in equitable reporting. 

Color does matter. Ethnicity does matter. Religion does matter. We may not want to admit it or believe it or accept it as reality, but it does matter. We see that again and again.

We cannot divorce Philando Castile from his role as beloved caregiver and provider for children. That's who he was and how he will be forever remembered no matter what eyewitless news wants to say about him. Justine Damond may be remember by her friends for saving the ducklings, but the rest of the world will remember her as the woman in pajamas who was shot by a cop while doing her civic duty. The Salomon family, however, will sink into relative obscurity because a terrorist attack on an Israeli family is not readily recognized as an act of terror. It's just more dead Jews. 

We cannot pretend we don't see color/ethnicity/religion in our daily dealings. We do and we make judgments accordingly. We are prejudiced by our own life experience. We view life and events through whatever prism we were handed early in our childhood. Going from one extreme to another is not helpful. This is not some sort of Muppet newsflash, folks, it's reality.

In the end, we choose our battles. Same here. 

If you are outraged at the behavior of our police, color be damned; get out there and get your voice heard. 

If you are outraged by the world's silence on terror against Jews, act like a Jew. Raise your kids as Jews. Stand up and be counted as a Jew. Live your life as a Jew. Don't back down, don't hide, and don't be silent. Not here. Not in Israel. 

If you breathe, you get to have an opinion. Exercise your rights as a human. Don't settle for being a silent accessory after the fact. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Silence is not golden.
Silence breeds contempt.

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