The Word 'Terrorism' Gives Monsters Too Much Credit. This Is Murder.

After 18 hours in which a woman was slaughtered in her own home, and a pregnant woman stabbed, maybe it's time to call the monsters who do things like this by their proper name: murderers.

The husband and children of Dafna Meir mourn near her body during her funeral ceremony in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Otniel, January 18, 2016.
Reuters

Maybe, after all this killing and crippling and making of orphans, it's time we got real.

Maybe, after all this denial and finger pointing and exploitation of tragedy for political gain, the moment has finally come to stop pretending.

We, all of us, no matter what our politics, our nationality, our faith, all give terrorists too much credit.

Starting with those of us in the news media.

Maybe it's time to recognize how terrorism warps us. To recognize that that's what terrorism is for. 

After 18 hours in which a woman was slaughtered in her own home in front of her children, and another woman, who was pregnant, was stabbed with a knife that pierced her lung, maybe it's time to call the monsters who do things like this by their proper name: murderers. Merriam-Webster tells us that terrorism is "the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal."

Merriam-Webster is giving the terrorist too much credit.

The actual act we have come to know as terrorism, that is, the premeditated killing of innocent people one doesn't know, hews a lot closer to the dictionary definition of monster: a powerful person or thing that cannot be controlled a person of unnatural or extreme wickedness, or cruelty." 

Maybe it's time that those of us whom the Holy Land holds in a visceral grip, examined in a new light the uses to which we – yes, non-terrorists like us – reflexively put terrorism to use, how we leverage it to shore up our own beliefs, prejudices, self-justifications, righteous anger and, in particular, our selective condemnations of terrorism as a function and an indictment of the Other Side.

I do not accept that murder is an answer to injustice.

I do not accept that murder is understandable and excusable and legitimate as a form of resistance, or revenge, or deterrence. Murder is not God talking. Murder is not justice served. Murder does not produce freedom. Murder is the polar opposite of self-defense.

Murder is the work of monsters. 

Maybe, instead of making murderers into household names,  those of us in the news media should focus instead on the names and deeds of the victims of murderers, and on the loved ones whose lives will never ever be remotely the same.

Maybe I should take my own unsolicited advice. 

Dafna Meir, slain in the stabbing on Sunday night, is said to have fought the attacker and kept him from entering the house in which three of her children could hear the terrible sounds of the attack.

She was a nurse, a person whose advice and care was of invaluable help to large numbers of people. She was a mother to four children, and also to two foster children, who will need to grow up without her, because one evening, just after dark, there was a monster at the door.

The next morning, there was another monster, at a different door. He attacked Michal Froman, daughter in law of the late rabbi and peace activist Menachem Froman. He stabbed her in the upper body. The condition of her unborn baby was not immediately clear.

After the attacks, there were those who asked if the left was willing to condemn attacks by Palestinians against settlers.

Here, perhaps, was another lesson in what murder does. It lets you know who looks at people as human beings, as opposed to those who look at people, ordinary people, as nothing more than villains, and therefore, legitimate targets.

There were many voices of condemnation on the left, from organizations like Peace NowRabbis for Human Rights, and others, as well as from 
individuals. But from those on the hard left who react with hair-trigger immediacy to every act of violence by Israelis, there was exactly the silence we have come to expect.

It is the silence that says "We'll reserve comment until Israel and / or the extreme right reacts with something we can sink our teeth into and condemn."

I do not accept that silence is an answer to murder.

I do not accept that silence on the crimes of one side does justice to either side.

I do not accept that murder is an act of self-defense. But speaking out against murder – all murders – certainly is.