By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
The latest Jihadist attack in and on Paris (not the first and, alas, probably not the last) is now the main topic in Israel just as in the rest of the world. Even the terrorist attack near Hebron on a Jewish family on its way to a celebration that killed a father and a son and injured others took second place in the headlines.
In addition to all the theories and prognostications, I hear also this:
*After having downed the Russian plane and after arrests in Brussels, and then what happened in Paris, it’s obvious that Islamic State (ISIS, ISL Da’ash) is going beyond the Middle East. Some say because it’s being defeated there, others because it’s getting more and more recruits from outside.
*Some Israelis perhaps vainly believe that Europeans may now know better what we’ve to endure here and thus judge Israel’s government less harshly when it takes measures that some consider harsh and “asymmetrical” to protect its citizens.
*It’s understandable that Netanyahu should want the international community to condemn terror attacks in Israel the way it condemned the terror attacks in France. Needless to say, nobody – probably including the prime minister – thinks that this will happen. The world doesn’t like to see Palestinian attacks on Israelis as terrorism but as just retribution for the occupation. That’s very painful to most Israelis almost irrespective of their political affiliation.
*What happened in Paris last Friday night is likely to further strengthen the right-wing party there and similar parties in the rest of Europe. As these tend to be more friendly to Israel, the Europeans may be less preoccupied (some say: obsessed) with boycotting Israeli goods, a campaign largely driven by the Left. The Israeli Right that now governs the country may feel reassured by this.
*Jews in France who may have hesitated to move to Israel for security reasons may now realize that Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are safer than Paris. Many of them are already here, some part-time. Others may now join them and stay for good.
*As hard as we try to affirm that the terrorists don’t represent Islam, it’s becoming very difficult to distinguish between them and mainstream Muslims especially as Muslim organizations seem reluctant to condemn the terrorists. Though this may be only due to their fear of reprisals, Islamophobia is gaining adherents.
*Though all democracies affirm their duty to welcome asylum seekers, some try to get out of their obligations by questioning the motives of those who seek refuge in their countries. The fact that a few of the terrorists got into Europe as Syrian refugees is grist to the mill to the anti-immigration lobby, which, of course, is a branch of the Right.
*Though Israel has tried to keep out of the Syrian conflict and only to maintain the borders on the Golan Heights (occasionally responding to stray fire), this may change now, even after Netanyahu’s visit to Putin, and that’s a cause for worry. Rumour has it that Netanyahu sought Obama’s support when the two met recently to annex the Golan, but by all accounts such a move would cause outrage in the world.
It’s understandable that Israelis would want to relate what happened in Paris to what’s happening here. However, much of the world seems to think otherwise.
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By Rabbi Dow Marmur.