Israel is tritely known as the start up nation, the incubator for ideas and products that change our lives – usually for the better – in an increasingly high-tech world. Your ever-smaller cell phone, that GPS app that saves you 7 minutes on your commute to work, that suddenly non-invasive medical procedure and those persimmons that magically never seem to go bad, those were all created in Israel, and tested on Israelis, before getting the OK to go global.
So too, alas, with the modern scourge of undiscriminating Jihadi mass murders, occasionally referred to as terrorism by Western media. Like the most famous of technology companies, Jihadi terror tragically also uses Israel as its R&D center, and the Israeli populace, it pains me to write, as its guinea pigs.
After doing so with suicide bombings in the 90s, Palestinian Jihadists (whether of the admittedly religious Hamas variety, or of the “secular” Al Aqsa Martyrs brigades of the PLO) invented, tested and made ever more lethal truck terrorism, stabbing rampages and mass shootings through Israeli “experiments,” that is, through attacks on Israeli moms, dads, sons, daughters and grandparents. Palestinians saw that those indiscriminate and savage murders of Israeli innocents going about their day not only didn’t backfire politically or trigger any meaningful Western outrage, they instead earned Palestinians an endless stream of gushing profiles in liberal media outlets, a global pulpit, wall to wall political support, and the permanent benefit of any moral doubt with Western intelligentsia. There are many psychological reasons why this is so, why so many who might be expected to know better instead respond to plain evil with moral acrobatics, overwrought compassion and Orwellian understanding. Regardless, it is no coincidence that the mass-killing tactics developed in Ramallah, tested in Jerusalem and rewarded in Norway are becoming ubiquitous in London, Nice and, now, New York City.
If we don’t grasp that the mass murders committed by ISIS have their genesis in Yasser Arafat being rewarded for mass murder with global (including, at times, liberal Jewish) adulation, we will fail – whatever else we do to fight Jihadism. The usual methods when terror hits the West — vapid prayers, outdated diversity sloganeering, misplaced concerns over ever-yet-to-materialize “backlashes,” and narcissistic hashtags — have been turned by their sheer frequency into rancid insults that just pile onto fresh and never ending injuries. They are at best an impotent form of self therapy, at worse, an encouragement to terrorists, a sign that nothing need change in their macabre strategic calculus. It is clearly past time to look at more forceful solutions.
If we don’t grasp that the mass murders committed by ISIS have their genesis in Yasser Arafat being rewarded for mass murder with global (including, at times, liberal Jewish) adulation, we will fail – whatever else we do to fight Jihadism.
But killing ISIS thugs in Iraq and Syria, while laudable, is not enough, as this Uber driver on a legal visa turned Jihadi ought to show. Cluster bombs in Kabul and Raqqa have done little to protect those walking about on London bridges, in Paris markets or on Catalonian esplanades.
Closing borders will also do little: homegrown terrorists abound, whether they be second-generation immigrants or native converts to Islamist nihilism.
Rather, and as a first step, it is high time that we partner with Arabs and Muslims who have an interest in such and wage a concerted psychological war on the rabid religious ideas that underlie Jihad. It can be done, though explaining how exceeds the scope of this column. What is clear is that any assault on Jihadi ideas must attack that poisoned tree at its root not selectively prune only some of its most obtrusive jagged branches. There can be no exceptions in fighting terrorist ideas: the fetid poison of Hamas and Hezbullah are the same as that of Boko Haram and Al Qaeda. That remains true whether or not the former dress their primitive, supremacist savagery in talk of occupation and human rights in order to disable part of our moral immune system. That, along with the usual military means, may well make a difference. Because if Jihadist lunacy can be exported by Saudi Arabia and others via madrassas, so too can a version of Islam that is hostile to terrorism and shames it as cowardly, unmanly and sinful.
But that too, while desperately needed, isn’t enough. Which brings me at long last to my point: it is time to stop giving the Palestinians a free pass. If terrorism is rewarded or even explained away when it targets Israeli innocents, the record is unequivocal that the same terrorism will then spread to Europe, Canada, India, the US… If despicable apologists for Palestinian Jihad like Linda Sarsour and BDS are for no logical reason treated like paragons of humanism (including by how many Jews?), then so too will apologists for terrorism in Paris and Barcelona become normalized. Our willful, convenient moral blindness to the depredations of Palestinian terrorists operates as a tactical beacon to other Jihadis.
It is very comforting to think “oh, that’s different… that can’t happen to us, those attacks are not the same.” But they very much are the same. And for terrorism to fail in the West, as it must if we want to keep enjoying the fruits of the enlightenment, it has to fail everywhere. If Europe wants its streets back, it must help Israel secure hers. It has to become taboo to target any civilians, for any professed cause, at any time — not just those in European and American nightclubs.
Alas, what happens in Jerusalem does not stay in Jerusalem.