TEL AVIV – Israeli lawmakers opened the Knesset session this week by expressing their condolences to the victims of the attacks in Orlando and Tel Aviv, and equating the two acts of terror.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said that the four Israelis murdered in Wednesday’s attack in Tel Aviv and the 50 murdered in Orlando were all killed not because of what they did but because of who they are.
“On one side there are those who define themselves by hatred of the other, by murderous Islamist fanaticism, by the attempt to drag us back to the Middle Ages,” the Jerusalem Post quoted Lapid as saying.
“On the other side is us, all those who define themselves by tolerance, acceptance of the other, and the ability to live together with those whom we disagree with. There is one thing you can’t be in this war and that’s neutral. Everyone must choose a side.”
“We are in the midst of a global war,” he said, adding that the U.S. and Israel are on the same side “in this war against extremism and against hatred.”
Amir Ohana, the ruling Likud party’s first openly gay Knesset member, said that the targets in both attacks are “all those who do not adhere to the [terrorists’] radical worldview” and added the entire “free world are the targets.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) expressed his condolences before lambasting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman for not doing enough to defeat terror at home.
“I will not offer the American government any advice from here,” Herzog said. “I am leaving that task to Israel’s security leadership which always knows how to advise others, to write books, Facebook posts, and tweets on fighting terror. I have only one request from our leadership: Start dealing with our terror.”
“I don’t think we are destined to face swords forever. Whoever is unable to change our reality – to fight for a better future for our citizens and the region and pay a personal price – is unfit to be a leader in Israel,” he added.
MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said the attacks were motivated by a fear of the other.
“Hatred prevents people from accepting the right of others to live their lives without regard to religion, race, gender, nationality, sexual preference, or gender identity,” Rozin said.
The hatred comes from fear of those who are different, and an inability to accept the other. All incidents of horrible murder encourage hatred and deepen fear. The fear is natural and clear, but it is important to remember that most humans are not racist and do not hate. We all have to try to put ourselves in the shoes of the other. Terror is terror. No motive can justify murdering innocents.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein told his American counterpart, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, that the war on terror must be fought with a united front.
“Terror strikes everywhere, and it does not differentiate between Orlando and Tel Aviv,” Edelstein said. “Unfortunately, the Israeli people know well the feeling of sadness and anguish caused by such events. We must join hands in the fight against global terrorism.”