In central Afghanistan, an 8-year-old girl was killed last week when a package she was given by members of Taliban exploded. She was told to take the parcel to a nearby police checkpoint. She did not know that she was carrying a bomb, which Taliban set off by remote control.
It was easy to miss this piece of news, because it barely made the news. It was not a headline on network television. It made The New York Times, but not on the front page – a page 5 story on Monday gave the report of the Afghani child’s murder three paragraphs in a story that, led by “meanwhile,” turned to other developments in the region.
“Insurgents,” the Times reported, tricked the girl into carrying the Taliban bomb.
Not “terrorists.” Not “fanatics.” Of course, not “murderers.”
Such journalistic neutrality in coverage of the Middle East is expected by people familiar with reports of the ongoing Arab-Israeli “peace process,” where Palestinians who took the lives of innocent civilians were routinely described as fighters or guerrillas or militants.
For years, atrocities committed by Muslims or Arabs were routinely accorded minimal coverage, either because of lack of access, or fear or reprisals, or the sheer regularity of Muslims and Arabs killing each other or killing Jews.
When Israel has defended itself, it routinely has been subject to wider opprobrium.
This double standard in the Fourth Estate is not new. But the scant attention paid to the death of an innocent girl, at the hands of her Islamic countrymen, is still shocking.
To paint Islam in broad strokes as a religion of unbridled hatred is spurious – the faith, like any other, has its share of saints and sinners, people of good will and those of the worst intentions. But anyone interested in honest peace or honest dialogue must recognize an honest fact: the vast preponderance of international terrorism in recent decades has been committed by individuals raised and identified as Muslims.
It was not bigotry, but a recognition of proven facts, which led Yair Netanyahu, son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to declare last week on Facebook that “Terror has a religion and it is Islam.”
It is easy to criticize Netanyahu’s son, as happened, but hard to refute the reality of Islamic terrorism.
Years ago, Golda Meir famously said that “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”
Last week, it was not an Israeli, not a Jew, but an Afghani – they are not Arabs – Muslim who fell victim to irrational hate.
Meir’s time of peace still has not arrived.
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