The real victims are

SETH J. FRANTZMAN

are perpetrators and victims. He sees a person assaulted or hears about a rape or someone being abused, and he believes that in each incident there is a person who perpetrates the crime and a person who is the victim. Then one becomes more “enlightened” and learns that the victim is not as interesting as the perpetrator. The perpetrator’s life story and mental state are deemed important in order to understand “why” he or she committed the crime. Then one grows even older and wiser and comes to learn that when there is a crime, the actual victim is the perpetrator’s ethnic or religious group, which will be viewed negatively because of what he did. In the end, one learns that the real victim in every crime is the wider society – particularly the group the criminal came from.

This is how one grows up in modern Western society. In this world the “victims” of World War I, far from being all the soldiers or civilians killed, were the Germans because, as the aggressors, they were punished by the Versailles Treaty. The victims of the Holocaust were not the Jews who died but the Palestinians who saw the survivors sent to their homeland. The victims of the three recent acts of terrorism by Muslims from east Jerusalem are not the 11 dead and 70 wounded Jews, but the Palestinian Arabs who might lose work because of the actions of their countrymen. I

REMEMBER the first time I learned how this “true victimhood” works. I was a college student in Tucson, Arizona. Along with everyone else, on September 11 I awoke to news of the terrorist attacks. But a day later, when I began to read the local papers, I was astonished to learn that the true victims were not the 3,000 dead Americans but the nation’s Muslims, because after 9/11 they would face increased scrutiny and perhaps even hate crimes. There were soon marches in my city, not to condemn terror or support the families of the victims, but to reassure Muslims. Muslim human rights groups became wealthy off the notion that Muslims were victims. As if to reinforce this notion, the BBC published a story on July 24 by Heather Sharp entitled “Palestinian workers fear backlash.” There was no story about fears by Israelis of more bulldozer attacks; the only people who were truly victimized, it seems, were Palestinians. The story relates how Palestinian face “widespread discrimination” and how they “fear revenge attacks. They say stones were thrown at them as they worked near a right-wing neighborhood.” (What exactly constitutes a “right-wing” neighborhood, according to the BBC, is not clear.) It turns out, according to the BBC, that “in both attacks using construction vehicles, the motives of the attacker remain a mystery – local press reports suggested that the attackers had previous involvement with crime and drugs, and no links to militant groups have emerged.” There is no mention of the fact that both attacks were directed at Jews and Jews only.

ONE IS reminded of the closing scene of the film A Time to Kill (1996), when the white attorney of a black man accused of shooting three white rapists of a black girl in the American South is giving his closing statements. Realizing he cannot convince the white jury to acquit a black man, the lawyer asks them to imagine the raped girl was white. In the case of these Jerusalem attacks one must do the same. One must ask viewers of the BBC to imagine that the drivers were settlers driving over Arab children. Then one must ask oneself, would the media claim that “settlers fear backlash”? After Timothy McVeigh bombed Oklahoma City, were we told that the real victims were right-wing militias and Christian conservatives who now feared a backlash? The real victims of terror are the people who die and are injured. There are no other victims. We must therefore steel ourselves against the media’s ever-present attempts to turn innocent Afghan children into the “real” victims of 9/11. The real victims of 9/11 were those who died that day. Elizabeth Goren-Friedman, 54, Jean Relevy, 68, and Batsheva Unterman, 33, were the victims of the bulldozer terror attacks in Jerusalem. They and the 50 wounded. No one else.

The writer is completing his doctorate at Hebrew University.

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