Opinion: The West Abandons Israel at Its Own Peril

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ISIS terror in Paris

Victims of ISIS terror lay on the pavement outside a Paris restaurant Friday. (Thibault Camus/AP)

The relativism when it comes to terrorism against Israelis is not only problematic for Israel, but in the end also for the proponents of that relativism. Israel and the rest of the West are fighting the same enemy — radical Islam. Failure to acknowledge this undermines the West’s own fight against it. It is impossible to win a war when you refuse even to name the enemy.

The terror attacks perpetrated by Islamic State in Paris on Friday night spurred a huge wave of solidarity from around the world. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel stands united with France in the fight against radical Islam. Social media networks overflowed with expressions of sympathy, and many people added the French flag to their Facebook profile pictures. Cities around the world, including in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, lit up landmarks in the colors of the French flag.

French President Francois Hollande called the terrorist attacks an act of war, and made it very clear that France would defend itself. On Sunday, French jets struck the heart of Islamic State-controlled territory in the first direct retaliation. According to the French Defense Ministry, 12 aircraft, including 10 French fighter jets, bombed a command and control center, a jihadi recruitment center, a munitions depot and Islamic State training camp in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State’s “caliphate.”

“It was normal to take the initiative and action and France had the legitimacy to do so. We did it already in the past, we have conducted new airstrikes in Raqqa today,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said about the airstrikes. “One cannot be attacked harshly, and you know the drama that is happening in Paris, without being present and active.” A slightly different tone from the one employed when Israel retaliates against rocket attacks on its own civilians.

France Paris Attacks

French President Francois Hollande, left, poses with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Elysee Palace. (AP/Francois Mori)

Other heads of state also spoke plainly after the Paris attacks. US Secretary of State John Kerry stated that America stands in solidarity with France “in outrage for this vicious act of violence.” British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were equally forceful, both declaring that the attacks were a “terrorist outrage” and a “barbarous attack” against all European values.

Interestingly, most mainstream media outlets, which usually bend backward to avoid any mention of the word “terrorism” with regard to terrorist attacks in Israel, found no difficulty in calling the Paris attacks by their rightful name, and the shock and outrage of even the reporters was palpable. Indeed, the Agence France Presse published a chronological list of worldwide terror attacks since 9/11, including of course the Madrid and London bombings, Mumbai, Kenya and many others. Only one country was completely missing from that list: Israel.

Apparently, according to AFP, there have been no terror attacks in Israel since 9/11.

That is the crux of the matter for many Israelis, as the world embraces France with sympathy and solidarity and declarations of understanding that this terrorism must be fought hard, even with the same kind of retaliatory airstrikes that the world so intensely deplores when Israel conducts them.

As Israelis and human beings, we also show solidarity with the French. We only wish this solidarity was truly universal and not something reserved only for Western Europeans or Americans. The Facebook community does not add the colors of the Israeli flag to profile pictures when Israelis are murdered in terrorist attacks. No state leaders declare that it is a crime against humanity when Israeli parents are gunned down in cold blood in front of their children or when a Red Crescent ambulance refuses to stop to help Jewish terrorism victims, causing them to die from their wounds. Somehow, all this is irrelevant because of the fiction of “occupation.”

Israel suffers abuse for daring to defend itself against terrorism. It is subjected to inane scrutiny by a hostile UN, NGOs and human rights organizations, with everyone voicing their opinions on how Israel must “show restraint” in its efforts to prevent its citizens from being knifed and shot to death as they go about their daily lives.

ISIS Yazidi

Yazidi Kurdish women protest against ISIS. (AP/Seivan M.Salim)

Furthermore, this outpouring of Western solidarity — cheap as it is, since declarations, tinting your Facebook photo with the colors of a flag and writing pretty words of solidarity are gratuitous — never extends to the victims of Islamic State outside of Europe. The group has been ruthlessly torturing, raping, enslaving and murdering Yazidis, Christians and Muslims, women, children and men throughout the Middle East. Where were and are heartfelt statements of solidarity with them? Nowhere. What about sympathy and even basic interest in the ruthless terrorism conducted by Boko Haram — now a part of Islamic State — on the African continent? Did anyone put up a Russian flag when 200 Russian citizens lost their lives in a terrorist attack over the Sinai Peninsula recently? No.

Every time the world is hit by mass terrorism, Israel hopes that the world community will finally understand Israel’s predicament. It hoped so after 9/11, the Madrid bombings in 2004, the London bombings in 2005, and even after the Charlie Hebdo massacre last January. However, that understanding is just not forthcoming.

“You can’t fight terrorism selectively,” Netanyahu said. “You can’t say these are the good terrorists and these are the bad terrorists. All terrorists are bad.

“Just as we have condemned murderous acts around the world, so too I expected condemnation to be issued against the murders that occurred yesterday, of Yaakov and Natanel Litman [the father and son shot to death near Hebron]. We are standing on the front lines against terrorism, that is increasingly being transformed from Palestinian nationalistic terrorism to Islamic terrorism.”

No such condemnation from the world will be forthcoming.

However, the relativism when it comes to terrorism against Israelis is not only problematic for Israel, but in the end also for the proponents of that relativism. Israel and the rest of the West are fighting the same enemy — radical Islam. Failure to acknowledge this undermines the West’s own fight against it. It is impossible to win a war when you refuse even to name the enemy.

By: Judith Bergman. This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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