Photo: Reuters
ISIS fighter in Iraq. 'Calling such people extremists is irresponsible'
Photo: Reuters

Political correctness playing role in clash of cultures

Op-ed: When media define Muslim groups that kidnap and murder innocent people as 'extremists,' what would be the definition of a 'terrorist' group?

The disappearance and presumed kidnapping of three Israeli yeshiva students is a disturbing reminder of the stark clash of cultures in the Middle East, and most notably in the Arab-Israeli conflict.



While Shimon Peres embraces Mahmoud Abbas, prays with him and calls him a man of peace, he and those of his ilk seem blissfully unwilling or unable to see the facts as they are. If he, and those who have pipe dreams about a two-state solution remove their rose colored glasses it becomes glaringly clear this is as realistic as believing we all pray to the same god.


Sure, some will tell you that we do, however anyone who believes that is either denying what the holy books of Judaism, Christianity and Islam say, or has never read them.


I suspect those who kidnapped the missing teenage Jews have indeed read their holy book and believe they are acting in accordance with it.


'Extremists' or 'terrorists'?

Initially there were reports of leaflets being distributed in the Hebron area by what the media dubbed an "extremist" group called Dawlat al-Islam claiming responsibility. They are reportedly linked to another Muslim "extremist" group named ISIS, which has been called more radical than al-Qaeda. More radical than al-Qaeda?


Since al-Qaeda is a "terrorist" group, how can any group considered "more radical" be called "extremist"?


Subsequent to this, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that Hamas kidnapped the teenagers. A large-scale crackdown on them has ensued. Some suggest his blaming of Hamas is politically motivated, since he is against the recently announced Hamas-backed unity government. Another report suggested the Fatah linked al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are holding the boys.


So far, no group has claimed responsibility.


However, the broader issue of how media labels such groups remains.


I believe the media is playing a hugely influential and dangerous role in the aforementioned clash of cultures. How so? By using terminology which ill-defines such groups in the interest of political correctness, at the expense of accuracy, which is supposed to be its core responsibility. Let me explain:


During formative years, children are mainly influenced by their parents, the media and their educators, as well as their friends. If for example one’s parents subscribe to a liberal point of view, as opposed to centrist, they are more apt to label far right-wing conservatives as "extremists."


When the majority of media define Muslim groups that kidnap and murder innocent people as "extremists," how then should one define a far right-wing conservative?


Moreover, if a group that kidnaps and murders innocent people is defined as "extremist," what would be the definition of a "terrorist" group?


The media, parents, educators, religious and political leaders have become complicit in a dangerous role that is increasingly desensitizing us to the stark realities of moral decay, driven by political correctness. This has greater impact on our children since they are more impressionable. They in turn become tomorrow’s adults, and the cycle of decay continues.


Clash of cultures

Whoever the perpetrators of this crime against the Jewish teens turns out to be, we must avoid being seduced by political correctness. We must recognize the stark clash of cultures and stop ignoring the facts in order to advance idyllic agendas which are based on ill-founded wishful thinking, devoid of realities on the ground.


This crime was committed within and is reflective of a culture which sanctions the following:


  • Blaming the Jews for all their problems
  • Religious leaders routinely promote jihad instead of peace
  • Murderers are defined as "martyrs"
  • Financial reward for families of "martyrs"
  • Family celebrations when a child becomes a shahid (martyr)
  • A president (Abbas) who names parks and streets after murderers
  • TV programs which glorify murderers
  • Children’s TV programs showing Mickey Mouse telling toddlers to "kill all the Jews"
  • Political leaders who say, "We love death as you love life"
  • The charter of their main political party (Fatah) calls for the destruction of the state they claim to want peace with. A state, by the way, they refuse to recognize


Prime Minister Netanyahu said he is holding President Abbas "responsible for the safety of the teens." While Abbas himself may not have committed this horrific act, we should not lose sight of the fact that he is the chosen leader of the culture where this crime took place. He sanctions and is complicit in each one of the aforementioned bullet points. Thus, ultimate responsibility rests with him.


Let us not digress into accepting the oft heard dismissive comments such as: These are extremists who only comprise a tiny fraction of the population and don’t represent the majority view. If this is true, why are there no public outcries when crimes such as this take place? How come there are no street demonstrations by average citizens protesting it? Where are the talk shows full of guests from across the social and political spectrum condemning these horrific acts? Why aren’t we seeing newspaper ads saying these groups who commit such violent acts do not represent us?


The fact is we are seeing just the opposite. A Palestinian media campaign is in full swing supporting the kidnapping. It’s been dubbed the "Three Shalits." This references Gilad Shalit, the Israel soldier who was kidnapped and held for five years and freed only after Israel released over 1,000 Arab prisoners, many of them murderers. Some have just been re-arrested in the ongoing crackdown.


Are there Palestinians who disagree with the tactics of terror? No doubt there are some, however if they publicly protest they are harassed, threatened, or worse…


The support for the kidnapping and absence of public protest reflect the stark clash of cultures.


Mahmoud Abbas’ recent remarks calling for the return of the teens is merely PR for the West. If he is serious about the teens being returned, why hasn’t he mounted a major Palestinian lead effort to root out the perpetrators? He, like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, has a long history of making appealing statements in English. It’s what is said in Arabic away from Western media that reflect their real views. The West still hasn’t realized this.


No matter who turns out to be responsible for this crime, a civilized society has to demand better from its media. The dictionary defines a terrorist as someone who "uses violent acts to frighten people as a way of trying to achieve a political goal." Calling such people "extremists" is irresponsible.


Our children deserve better. They deserve the truth. Maybe if the next generation grows up hearing words such as "terrorists" instead of "extremists" there will be less tolerance of it.


Dan Calic is a writer, history student and speaker. See additional articles on his Facebook page .


פרסום ראשון: 06.20.14, 17:29
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