Comparing the outrage: Beyond Christchurch and Sri Lanka

Palestinian terror attack

A number of high-profile commentators – from Ben Shapiro to Maajid Nawaz – have looked at the Twitter accounts of world leaders like Theresa May, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton. The commentators have made some uncomfortable comparisons about the language used to condemn the terror attacks in Sri Lanka and those in Christchurch.

The language used to condemn the massacre of Muslims in Christchurch does seem more specific with regard to the victims and terrorist and more strident than the condemnation of the slaughter of Christians in Sri Lanka.

While these are possibly important observations that hint at a certain bias among the political elite (to downplay Islamist attacks and to play up White supremacist attacks), the comparisons raise a more important and concerning issue.

New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern was remarkable in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch terror attacks. She showed compassion and grace. She has also made a strong comment about the Sri Lanka attacks, saying “New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism”.

What stands out is the lack of Ministerial response to the Pittsburgh terror attack, where eleven Jews were murdered while praying in a synagogue. The New Zealand Prime Minister referred citizens to the Minister of Foreign Affairs when asked.

Similarly, New Zealand has remained silent on terror attacks against Israel over the past decade. No New Zealand Minister has condemned terror against Israelis since 2006, when Prime Minister Helen Clark said “The message to Hamas and Hezbollah must be that confrontation and violence are destroying the prospects for a peace settlement in the Middle East.”

I hope that New Zealand will live up to the words of the Prime Minister and actually condemn all terror. The next incident – and unfortunately there is likely to be a next one – in Israel will be yet another chance for the rhetoric to turn into action.