My fellow Spectator blogger Douglas Murray wrote a powerful post yesterday. Like him, I was disturbed by the way the Bulgarian bus-bombing and the Manchester terror trial were treated in the media.
You won’t hear me say this very often, but I don’t think Douglas has gone far enough. For once, I think even he has pulled his punches. ‘What links these two events across a continent?’ he asks. ‘The answer is ideology. It is an ideology which deliberately targets Jews as Jews.’ I know what Douglas means: that there is a deeply entrenched anti-Semitism at the heart of the politics of extremist Islamism which strips its victims of humanity. We tip-toe around this phenomenon at our peril. But even describing this as an ideology is to give it a veneer of intellectual structure and logic it does not deserve. The events in Bulgaria and Manchester were driven by pure, irrational racism.
The real question we need to ask ourselves (and I salute Douglas for beginning this process), is why neither of these stories made more of a splash here? It is interesting to compare the coverage of the Bulgarian atrocity compared, say, to the blanket front pages devoted to the Batman massacre in Colorado. There is no hierarchy of suffering for the victims’ families. But there is no comparison in global geopolitical terms between an act carried out by a lone psychopath and a terrorist attack on Israeli citizens on foreign territory.
The low-key coverage of the Manchester terrorist trial is less easy to explain. I understand why a gunman opening fire on “innocent” cinemagoers is more shocking than the slaughter of Israelis (none of whom are entirely innocent of Israel’s crimes, according to the sick anti-Semitic logic which has seeped even into the judgements of international newsrooms).
Why did a plot by Oldham couple, Mohammed and Shasta Khan, to attack Jewish targets across Manchester raise barely a journalistic whimper? What does it mean when British people from one community are prepared to inflict pain, suffering and even death on members of a neighbouring community? Where does such hatred come from? Is Israel seriously at the root of it? Or have we become so inured to the mood music of anti-Semitism that it is simply not news any more.