Quote of the week

It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn.

Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.

The journey is part of the experience — an expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the A train to Mecca.

Anthony Bordain
22 June 2007

On "terrorists" and intollerance in Jerusalem

It is reported that the Israeli police arrested an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man yesterday who they say was planning to bomb a gay pride march in Jerusalem overnight. An Israeli police spokesman said police found an explosive device in the man’s bag.

Several hundred ultra-Orthodox Jews held protests against the gay pride march, calling it a profanity against the Holy City. The demonstrators threw stones at police and set fire to rubbish bins. More than 7,000 police were deployed to secure the march. The march went ahead as planned. An internet report states:

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have rioted repeatedly in the past week, burning tires, assaulting policemen and damaging police cars. A 32-year-old ultra-Orthodox man was arrested Thursday morning carrying a homemade explosive device. Under questioning, the man said he wanted to plant the explosive along the parade route, said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld.

Marchers carried multicolored balloons and posters of Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. Three men wore matching pink T-shirts, shiny pink hats and carried pink lace umbrellas. On their shirts were written, “The Israeli Gay Party.”

Strange how homophobia can unite old enemies. I assume that the leaders of Hamas would also be rather upset if a gay pride march took place in Gaza. Some of Hamas’ members would probably enthusiastically cheer on the killing of some homosexuals in Jerusalem. I always find it sad that people who have been persecuted and oppressed – like those Orthodox Jews, the Hamas supporters, some Afrikaners – can turn around and condemn and persecute other groups for no reason than that they are different or affront some strange moral code.

Of course, it is also interesting that the news reports did not refer to the Orthodox bomber as a “terrorist”. I could not find any statements about the “war on terror” (what a ridiculous term) or the evil of those who unleash “terror” against gay men and lesbians. Is this, I wonder cynically, because the target was not “innocent”, “straight”, “pure” “Jewish” or “white” people, but only “filthy” and “perverted” homosexuals?

Or does the Western media reserve the term “terrorist” for those who are not “Western”, but “other” – usually black and/or Muslim? Will an Orthodox Jew ever be called a “terrorist” in the Western media? I doubt it.

It reminds one that concepts like “terror” and “terrorist” have been completely hijacked and politicized by George Bush and his cronies and have, in essence, become meaningless slogans used to brand opponents. Not that meaningless, I suppose, because many people still buy into the division between “our” freedom fighters and “their” terrorists.

When the US or Israel governments bomb civilians it is not called terrorism. It is “war” or anti-terror action. Maybe it is time that we stop using this meaningless but very intimidating term altogether.

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