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Terror in Madrid

It’s been more than a day since the horrible bombing in Madrid that killed over 200 people who happened to have been unfortunate enough to have been taking a commuter train yesterday… and I’m only posting about it now. For the most part, I’ve been observing the story with an odd sort of detachment – a sense that this is stuff for the major news outlets, and that I don’t really have anything particular to add to the coverage. Not that the blogosphere’s been quiet on the story, mind you. Just the opposite. Damian has some thoughts on the finger-pointing going on for responsibility (ETA? Al Qua’eda? Someone else?) and a very telling picture. LGF reports, among other things, a subtle shift in language used by the media. Imshin has the bizarre rationalization of why the Islamist terrorists would consider Spain a “legitimate” target, and also some poignant words of caution for everyone in the world who thinks terrorism is someone else’s problem. There’s lots more, of course.

But it wasn’t until I read what Lair had posted, that I really felt that someone had managed to put my thoughts into words:

I wake up early, I check a few headlines, and I read about some boom-booms.

Want to know what my first thought was?

“Thank God they weren’t in Israel.”

You don’t see the United Nations creating agencies and commissions and special assemblies concerning the “Basque Occupied Territories.” Where’s Kofi’s statement demanding that Spain return to the bargaining table with the ETA? Where’s the global shunning of Spain’s legitimate government while welcoming the Socialists meeting with the ETA as distinguished guests, potential partners with which to write Madrid Conventions calling for a new land-for-peace territorial surrender?

I have yet to hear the European Union demand the granting of a Basque state (or the acceptance of credentials of a “Basque Observer Permanent Mission”), or President Bush declaring that he’s come up with a Roadmap for them. Mexico and Venezuela are too busy propping up their corrupt crypto-democratic regimes to pay for arms smuggling into Spain with their oil revenues.

Where’s the separate telephone codes? Where’s the top-level two-letter Internet country code? Where’s the cheese-flavored chips with the ETA leaders face on them?

Instead, the battle cry is unanimous: kill the ETA. Obliterate the ETA. Protect Spain’s sovereignty.


I certainly don’t want to belittle the tragedy that has occurred. But whether or not it was the ETA (and it’s looking less and less likely), Lair’s point is a good one: why is it only terrorism when it happens somewhere outside of Israel?

Then I saw this headline:

Millions of grieving Spaniards poured into the streets crying “cowards” and “killers” on Friday as Basque separatist group ETA denied responsibility for the Madrid bombings that killed nearly 200 people.

As darkness fell, two million in Madrid alone joined a mass protest, whistling, banging drums, carrying black crosses or candles, and waving placards saying “No More Killing.”

I’m heartened to see millions marching against terrorism in Spain. But where are the millions marching in Israel? Where are the millions of Palestinians taking to the streets marching against terrorism? Where are the millions marching in Europe for the over three years of incessant terror that Israel has been facing? In North America? Anywhere?

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Hanthala 03.12.04, 11:15 PM

    Can basques vote in Spain?

  • Realist 03.13.04, 1:04 AM

    weird but true fact (I doubted it at first but thanks to my trusty MS Windows calculator and calender I verified it true).

    Yesterday’s attacks in Madrid were exactly 911 days since 9/11 2001

  • 8opus 03.13.04, 4:49 PM

    Apparently the Basque Country is divided into seven provinces. Those living in the three French provinces are citizens of France. Those living in the four Spanish provinces are citizens of Spain, and vote in Spanish elections.

  • Otter 03.14.04, 3:57 AM

    “Can basques vote in Spain?”

    Spanish citizens, sure. Just like Arab citizens of Israel can vote in Israel. But then you knew that already, right?

  • 8opus 03.14.04, 10:24 PM

    … and Arab (and non-Arab) subjects of the Palestinian Authority can vote in Palestinian elections, Otter.

  • Hanthala 03.15.04, 1:21 PM

    Yeah, but Otter, did the Spanish make refugees out of half the Basque population in order not to give them the vote?

  • Josh 03.15.04, 9:08 PM

    Blame Spain for the Next Terror Attack

    Our only hope is this—…to know that you cannot run from our enemies, but we must face them. You cannot reason with them because they are irrational. You cannot talk with them because they will not hear. If Americans must fight this war alone, then so be it. I will have neither respect nor sympathy for those who will pay the price of trying to bargain with the devil.

    I’d like to blame Israel’s leaders too, and specifically the ones who are pushing this retreat from Gaa while under fire.


  • Josh 03.15.04, 9:09 PM
  • 8opus 03.16.04, 4:05 AM

    Hanthala — I think your analogy is falling down. Yes, Spain has obviously made refugees of many Basques (as has France, historically), though I suppose some would argue about who was doing what to whom.

    In all cases, said Basques ended up as refugees outside of Spain into France, or — once — out of France into Spain, and so on. But none of that has to do with giving anyone the vote. Unlike the Palestinians in the Middle East to whom you’re making the analogy, the European countries to which the Basques moved did not shut the Basques up permanently in refugee camps and deny them most rights, forbid house building, create shortlists of jobs they were allowed to do, and so on.

    While there is much to criticize in Israel’s behaviour — and, obviously, in Lebanon’s and Syria’s and so on and so forth — I doubt that veiled references to the Basque country is a good way to do it.

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