Entrenched apathy and helplessness at its worst
by Alan Simons
Hisham Melhem is Washington DC bureau chief for Al-Arabiya. Last year he wrote an opinion piece titled, “Middle Eastern Christians; death, exodus, betrayal and silence.”
He wrote: “Those of us who have been sounding the alarm about the death of cosmopolitanism, pluralism, inclusiveness and the imperative of maintaining what is left of the once rich human mosaic that was at the heart of what made some of the great cities of the region beacons of culture, are stunned at the general silence, and yes the betrayal of Western societies – particularly the United States – of these communities.”
Last week in an article published on line by Canada’s CBC. “Ramadan attacks leave Muslims wondering: Where is the public outpouring of grief and solidarity?” The article referred to the evil murderers and terrorists who have committed sickening and unspeakable acts of violence and hate towards children and adults this month alone. These include attacks in Bangladesh, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Yemen.
“We tend to pay a lot closer attention to atrocities that happen in Europe or the U.S.,” Qasim Rashid, visiting fellow at Harvard University’s School of Islamic Studies and spokesman for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, told CBC News. Rashid and many other Muslims have taken to social media to express dismay at this seeming indifference.”
The article goes on to quote Anne Barnard writing in the New York Times, “… desensitisation to turbulence in Iraq does not explain the relative indifference to attacks in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh.”
Both Christian and Muslim communities it would seem, are actually stunned by the apathy and indifference towards each other’s horrors.
Indifference? Well, we can look no further than in Israel. Where is the international outpouring of grief for the wave of terror happening there? Palestinian violence and terrorism, since September 2015, has targeted Israelis in 156 stabbings, 96 shootings, 46 vehicular attacks, 1 vehicular bombings, including 40 killed and 517 wounded? (Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC).
For the Muslim, Christian or Jew, the apathy and helplessness we share for each other’s lives has reached a level that is having a resounding affect on our daily life.
With 2.2 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims, together with a mere 16 million Jews in this world, for the love of god surely one would think there might be enough people on all sides willing to come together in solidarity, a solidarity to fight the evils perpetrating amongst us. Yet, for the most part, we watch with careful restraint, avoiding the need to cross that fine line which will bring us in close proximity to each other.
Perhaps this Jewish proverb sums it all up: “Kal yoter lishmor al sak parosheem me’asher al bat m’uhever. It’s easier to watch over a sack of fleas than over a daughter in love.”
Is it too simplistic to say we all have to find a common denominator in which to to quell the passionate dislike we have for each other? Egged on by both right-wing and left-wing political misfits and their minions in Europe and in North America, Islamophobia, Judaeophobia, and hatred towards Christianity, are all finding new breeding grounds with societies that have a loathing for anything that is unlike their own.
The late Elie Wiesel said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
Let us all rise up to this indifference. Surely, it would be a befitting memorial to the life of Elie Wiesel.
(Feature image credit: Pinterest)
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OVER SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”