The world is a funny place, where acts of terror can come from our friends and enemies alike. The assault on Paris, one of the world’s very special cities, devastated people all over the world, making the job of recruiting against Daesh easier for anyone willing to take charge. Also this week, a Spanish judge issued warrants for the arrest of Benjamin Netanyahu and several of his associates for the attack on a humanitarian flotilla of six ships trying to bring aid to Gaza. The unprovoked attack in international waters led to the death of nine aid workers at sea. A tenth died later of his wounds.
First, Paris. The news comes in slowly, but as of this writing, all of the attackers have been identified as French or Belgian citizens. The fake passport, suggesting one of the attackers had come through refugee processing in Greece, did not apparently belong to the individual beside whose body it was found. I share the grief felt by many for the brutality and inhumanity of this attack. I am ashamed by those Americans who call for the banning of Muslim refugees from Syria as a result of it. I am embarrassed by the governors who claim that their states will not accept Syrian refugees, as I ponder their stupidity in believing they have the ability to bar them. And I won’t even deign to comment on the members of the Republican Clown Car and the claptrap they’re spouting. We are Americans who form a nation of immigrants.
Some of our ancestors came here with prices on their heads from foreign sovereigns. Some came because of the promise of freedom and land to explore. The reasons were as myriad as the waves of immigrants who have come to us. But all came and were welcomed, sooner or later, except the most recent ones. Their time will come. But 99.9% of the refugees are innocent people escaping a war-torn country where their lives were in danger on a daily basis. Where their children were at risk and food and water were becoming scarce. The bigotry and animus shown to these people is incomprehensible in a nation that has done similar things in the past.
The amount of fear mongering and hate speech now heard on our airways is unbelievable, as are the various comment sections in newspapers and internet sites. I might even ask “Where are the Christians now?” You’re certainly loud enough when telling people who they can and can’t marry, or what a woman can do with her body, citing Leviticus. How about looking to the teachings of the man you claim to revere and adore. He said that we should comfort the afflicted, and help the poorest people we can. But I guess that doesn’t count.
Bibi on the other hand is being charged with the assault he ordered in 2010 against aid ships trying to get medicine and food to the people of the Gaza Strip. The blockade by Israel of Gaza was inhumane and cruel. Innocent people suffered because of the policies followed by Bibi. But he crossed the line when he called for a raid on a humanitarian convoy. A practice nearly uniformly honored, the bringing of aid to civilian populations during a time of war or other tragedy, was ignored and trumped by Bibi’s insular and insane desire to prevent aid from reaching those he was oppressing.
Spain has made something of a practice of indicting political figures once they are out of office. Its work with Pinochet first brought this practice to international notice. It is widely rumored that Bush and Cheney find themselves happily ensconced in the interior of the US, with no plans of traveling abroad for fear of Spain doing the same thing to them. (Too bad the Spaniards don’t practice “extraordinary rendition” as Bush and Cheney did in kidnapping targeted enemies and taking them to friendly states for torture sessions.) To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time a sitting leader has been indicted. It certainly makes it difficult for Bib to travel to any international meetings that may be taking place in Spain.
Three countries: France noble in its mourning, Spain righteous in its indignation, and the US cowardly in the pronouncements of its governors and Republican presidential candidates. Maybe we should take some lessons in good citizenship in the world.