The world’s fear of terrorism and terrorists has been misplaced for far too long.
COVID-19 may be our wake-up call that we need to move beyond.
• Beyond our stigmatization of the “other”.
• Beyond our demonization of what we don’t understand.
• Beyond our obsession to protect ourselves from “those people”.
I can point to many examples of our fear of terrorism, and I suspect you can too. Just a few to show how widespread this virus of fear has spread.
• Before I traveled to Gaza in 2012, a spiritual leader in my community warned me not to mention “Hamas” out loud when I was in Gaza; she feared for my safety.
• The estimated U.S. military spending between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021 will be $934 billion. Military spending is the second-largest item in the U.S. federal budget after Social Security. A false security that misleads and distorts reality.
• Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang points out the racist and xenophobic attacks targeting Asian Americans related to the Coronavirus; attacks based on an ugly fear of the “other.”
• Although we no longer see the color-coded terror alerts, the U.S. Government maintains the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative, a joint collaborative effort by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and law enforcement partners. The Department of Homeland Security offers security resources for businesses and communities, as well as a link to leave tips of suspicious terror activity online.
• And Israelis live in a state of perpetual fear of the “terrorists” in the West Bank and Gaza, so much so that every aspect of their lives is governed by their fear — from the checkpoints, to the Iron Dome, to riding on public transport.(It goes without saying that Palestinians live in fear as well, the difference between both is a topic for another blog post, but I’ll summarize by saying that the Israelis have succeeded in labeling Palestinians, and particularly Hamas, as “terrorists,” while the Palestinians have failed in convincing most of the international community that Israelis are “terrorists”.)
NOW, a genuine terrorist has emerged.
COVID-19 is not a person, place or imagined enemy. It is real, and it doesn’t play favorites. Azzam, Taha and Reuven are just as likely to fall victim as Zuhal, Saamia and Lora. False notions of comfort and protection are . . . false. So this is the lesson I’m slowly digesting during my self-imposed isolation at home.
WE ARE ONE!
Your fear is my fear. Your future is my future. Your dreams are my dreams. I care about you as I care about myself. And I know a new path is opening up to a new world for all of us.