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If only the world had valued Jewish life, it might have saved its own skin.
In both the World War II and the current global war on terror, the attacks on the Jews were precursors to broader attacks that were in the planning stages on a truly massive scale.
Hitler was oppressing Jews back in 1933. But the world was pretty accustomed to anti-Semitism, wasn’t all that outraged by it, and so, amid all the signs that this guy was a monster, decided to give Hitler a pass. Hitler took advantage of the time allotted him, built up his army, and ended up killing millions of Russians, British and Americans … in addition to half the world’s Jews.
It is clear that the same thing has now transpired with global, Islamic terrorism. When Arab terrorists first started killing Israeli schoolchildren back in the 60’s and 70’s, the world turned a blind eye and dismissed it as a regional conflict. Dead Jews were not big news. The world, which had already absorbed the idea of 6 million more dead Jews, didn’t take terrorism seriously. The reaction of the world community was to view the Arab attacks as legitimate skirmishes with Israelis – an outrageous notion, to be sure, given the fact that the Arabs were directly targeting civilians and non-combatants.
A truly outrageous case in point was the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games of 1972. So casually was this tragedy taken that, amazingly, the games continued the very next day. Unbelievably, the German government released the three captured hijackers a few weeks later, and they promptly returned to a hero’s welcome. One must seriously wonder what would have happened had the dead athletes been American, German or British. Would their deaths have been treated so cavalierly? Would these governments have allowed the games to continue before the victims were even buried?
The legacy of the Munich Olympics was not even one of sympathy for Israel, but of a heightened awareness of the Palestinian cause. In this respect, the Munich massacre was a watershed in the history of terror because it taught the terrorists that they actually further their cause – with publicity and public sympathy – by killing innocent civilians.
The same was true of the horrific murder of wheelchair-bound passenger Leon Klinghoffer aboard the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1983. Here, the world barely reacted to a truly gruesome murder involving an invalid being shot in his wheelchair in front of his wife, and then pushed overboard into the ocean. Shockingly, the Italian government later released the terrorists who perpetrated this unspeakable crime. And through all this, the world largely remained silent.
That is, until the terrorists stopped killing only Jews and began killing people on the streets of New York, Bali, Madrid and Moscow. Now everyone recognizes that terrorism is an evil that threatens the entire world, not just Jews.
I do not believe Jews are more intelligent than other people. Less so do I believe Jews possess any physical superiority over any other nation. I do, however, believe Jews are God’s chosen people, responsible for imparting to the world the message of God’s law. It is therefore no coincidence that those who hate God hate the Jews as well. In this respect, the Jews have served as an almost infallible early-warning system, alerting the world’s leaders to the next great evil that will stalk the earth. If the world would just learn to be sensitive to Jewish life, it would save its own behind as well.
Even if we ignore the idea of the Jews as the chosen people, the fact is the Jews have, unfortunately, served as an effective early-warning system precisely because thugs, bullies and murderers usually attack the most vulnerable targets first. People who crave unbridled power always start with the weak. Jews have been easy targets. They are a tiny nation whose refusal to adopt the religious mores of their neighbors have branded them as outsiders. They have therefore been attacked and scapegoated by evil regimes throughout the generations, and had the world simply looked at who was picking on the Jews, they might have easily identified the next great threat to their own security.
The Cold War is another modern case in point. The Soviet Union presented the Western powers with the possibility of a war of annihilation through nuclear holocaust. We are fortunate that the Soviet Union today is no more. But again, the world could easily have been alerted to the danger posed by Stalin had it simply studied how he treated the Jews. For Stalin had a plan – not completely dissimilar to Hitler’s – to exile and then exterminate his Jews. So, while so many leading Western intellectuals were enthralled with Stalin, praising him as a visionary socialist leader, all that had to be done was to study his treatment of the Jews to discern his true nature.
America today faces the growing evil of Islamic terrorism. But it is an evil that could have been averted. Successive American presidents bear responsibility for not responding to terrorist attacks on Jews.
Jimmy Carter, who still to this day remains one of Israel’s biggest critics, viewed Israel as the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East. He didn’t see the rise of Islamic fundamentalism coming in Iran or act effectively.
Ronald Reagan, for all his considerable achievements as president, especially his victory in the Cold War, didn’t get it either. When 250 American Marines were killed in a dastardly terror attack in Lebanon in 1983, he withdrew the troops, thus giving the terrorists a substantial victory. They learned that America could be cowed.
Reagan also sold AIWAC radar aircraft to Saudi Arabia, even as that country poured out incessant bile against Israel and promised its destruction. But Reagan’s biggest blunder with regard to Islamic terrorists was thinking he could gain the release of hostages by selling the terrorists arms. And with regard to Saddam Hussein, the Reagan administration went so far as to vote to condemn Israel after it attacked the Osirak reactor. Again, had the United States studied Saddam’s hatred of Israel, it could have easily served as a warning of the danger he posed to his entire region and the world.
President Bush Sr. also didn’t get it with regard to Saudi Arabia, the nation that supplied the 13 men who perpetrated the greatest civilian massacre against America in its history. He became too friendly to a regime that positively loathed the only democracy in the Middle East, simply because it was Jewish. That kind of anti-Semitism should never have been rewarded with a presidential friendship.
But for me, it is especially Bill Clinton who will forever be remembered as the president who blew it in the war on terror. He treated Israel and Yassir Arafat as if they shared a moral equivalence and invited Arafat to the White House more than any other world leader – a truly nauseating fact and one that rewarded terror against Jews in particular. Not many years later, the Palestinians – represented by Arafat – would be dancing in the streets as Americans were jumping from 110-story buildings.
Clinton also ran from Somalia and lobbed a couple of missiles in the direction of al-Qaida after the bombings of our African embassies and the USS Cole, all of which contributed to a culture of not seeing terror for the danger it was. (Republicans in Congress only made matters worse by opposing even Clinton’s tepid response).
Obviously, at this point, we don’t need Jews as the canaries in the coal mine. We’ve been attacked ourselves, and more and more nations understand the evils of terror. Jewish life is being valued again. Suicide bombings in Israel are being deplored for what they are – wholesale slaughter, not the natural outcome of an “occupation.” The beheadings of Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg are recognized as barbaric crimes against humanity. The tragedy is that if the world had valued Jewish life more all along, it would have faced terrorism more forthrightly and we wouldn’t be in this horrible situation today.