Toulouse Terror and the Questionable Promise of Zionism
One of the unfortunate consequences of being a political observer for too long is that you develop an allergy to demagoguery. Such was the case for me during this terrible week, while the Jewish victims of yet another “misunderstanding of Islam” were airlifted and buried in Israel. Not only several Israeli politicians, but also quite a few people on the street, caught in a sentiment of solidarity and grief, called upon the Jews of France to part with the land of their exile and to return “home, where they will be protected”.
I’m certain that those Israelis meant well. It is part and parcel of the Zionist identity to compare and contrast the feeble existence of the Jews in Diaspora, fully dependent on the goodwill of the Gentiles for their safety, with the armed might of the Jewish State which does not bow to anyone and has no other priorities besides the security of Israel. Unfortunately, this warm and naive belief is shattered when we are forced to face reality.
Hearing the terrifying account of the point-blank execution of Miriam Monsonego (8 years old), one could not but recall another gruesome slaughter of Jewish children and their parents, almost exactly a year ago. Then, too, the dedicated Muslim killer couldn’t stand the thought of leaving with the job half-done, so he went back into the blood-drenched house of the Fogel family to snuff out the life of a baby. All this happened in an area nominally under Israeli control. The Arab murderers, who were in due course apprehended and sentenced, acted out of contempt for Israeli justice. They knew that the Jewish State will simply not be brave enough to exact the only logical punishment for their crime against humanity. It will let them live – until the time comes to free them in exchange for some poor Jewish hostage, most probably – taken in uniform and formerly known as a “soldier”.
Indeed, only the Jewish state could be so dismissive of its own principles and of the safety of its citizens so as to exchange more than a thousand killers and wannabe murderers for one soldier – and, in a supreme fit of irony, Gilad Shalit is a French citizen as well. While more than a 30 years ago France quite rashly let go of one of the most useful inventions of the Revolution and retired the guillotine, still it is hard to imagine that, would he been taken alive, the Toulouse murderer would be exchanged for some unfortunate corporal – not because France doesn’t value its soldiers, but because it has a clear concept of national security intertwined with national honor. While The Toulouse jihadist preferred to die, the Itamar butchers went to jail with their heads held high – they know they will be free before long.
And what of this cherished independence of action? If the President of France will determine, that the growing threat of Islamist terrorism in France has a foreign sponsor, and will resolve to destroy this threat by the force of arms, he will be vigorously supported by his Western allies and many others. Instead of bloviating about the possible implications of the French action on the prices of oil and leaking hair-rising tales of retaliatory strikes against Americans to the New York Times, President Obama would declare how proud America is to help its historical ally in this moment of righteous vengeance. And when the Leclercs and the Mirages would rain fire on the enemy, the international media would graciously overlook the collateral damage to civilians.
Whereas in Israel, on June 1, 2001, after the “Dolphinarium” massacre in Tel-Aviv, where the lives of twenty immigrant children were extinguished by a Muslim killer, the government of the Jewish state, led by no other than a hero, Ariel Sharon, was simply too afraid of its friends in Washington and Europe to go to war against those who sent the murderer. Only after September 11 and a few more massacres did Israel unleash its wrath – and even then, the arch-criminal Arafat was shielded from Jewish justice by American pressure. Even now, with a nuclear threat looming over Israel, the elected leader of the Jewish state must go to Washington to make the case for his people’s right to fight for their survival, and instead of a firm commitment all he gets is the nebulous Presidential promise “I have your back”, which was immediately voided by an endless stream of warnings about the consequences of war amid zero talk about the consequences of a nuclear blast in Tel-Aviv.
Close to home and in real life, only a few days ago a million Israelis were forced to cower in shelters and pray for the success of their costly anti-missile defenses, while rockets and mortar shells fell on their cities and villages. Israel didn’t invade Gaza. It did not even target the leaders of the Islamist regime. Instead, it opted for a speedy return to the status quo, which allows Hamas to replenish its arsenals with bigger missiles, capable of reaching Tel Aviv the next time. True, strategic calculations played their part – but also fear of casualties among the troops. Today, the world knows that in the warped calculus of Israeli public opinion the life of a soldier costs more than the life of a civilian he’s supposed to be protecting.
Israel is not a paper tiger. Time and again, with their backs against a wall, Israeli warriors performed miracles of bravery and sacrifice. Yet we must be honest with ourselves and our Diaspora brethren – when the former President of the Supreme Court boasts that he made Israel fight terrorism “with one hand tied behind its back”, when in the international arena Israel’s right to defend itself is constantly called into doubt, when the country accepts a monstrous deal to set free hundreds of murderers for one soldier and new criminals, fresh from killing children, march into Israeli prisons without fear, the main purpose of Zionism is lost. If Israel prioritizes other values and interests over the imperative to protect Jewish lives at any cost, then its promise to the Jewish Diaspora is a lie.