Editorial: The goals of terror

Would Obama dare tell Russian to make goodwill gestures toward the attackers?

April 1, 2010 02:58
3 minute read.
Wounded woman is carried into an ambulance outside

Moscow wounded 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

As Jews worldwide prepared for Seder night, the Russian capital was rocked by twin blasts that left 39 dead and scores wounded, some of them critically. Muslim terrorists in the Caucuses apparently blew themselves up during the morning rush hours with the aim of killing as many passersby as possible.

Yesterday, two more explosions were detonated in Kizlyar, near the Dagestan-Chechnya border. As crowds gathered after the first car bomb went off, another was triggered to hit onlookers and rescuers.

We in Israel are unfortunately no strangers to such fiendish targeting of innocents and the subsequent exploitation of the initial shock and confusion to draw more blood.

Yet unlike the Russians, we are also increasingly accustomed to sinister insinuations that we bring the bloodletting on ourselves.

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MIDWAY BETWEEN the Moscow atrocities and the follow-up Kizlyar bombings, US President Barack Obama held a joint press conference with his French counterpart at the White House (as the culmination of a meeting in which the visitor was accorded all the outward signs of friendship and warmth denied to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on his recent trip). Nicolas Sarkozy made it a point to stress his unequivocal “solidarity with President Obama in condemning the settlement process.”

He added that “the absence of peace in the Middle East is a problem for all of us, because what it does is keep feeding terrorism all over the world.”

Sarkozy’s inescapable subtext was that Israel’s failure to appease the Arab world is what spawns and intensifies terror. Were Israel more pliable, terror would diminish everywhere. By extension, therefore, Israel is guilty of inflicting the terror it provokes on nations far removed from it geographically and politically.

Whether or not Obama shares the perception of Israel as the proverbial match that threatens to ignite the world’s tinderbox, he chose not dissociate himself from Sarkozy’s comments, and that same day in a TV interview urged Netanyahu to “take some bold steps” to advance peace efforts.

Israel does indeed have every interest in an accommodation with the Arab world, but a cursory look at why its “bold steps” have failed thus far should be enough to show that the source of that failure is abiding Arab intolerance of the fact of the Jewish state’s existence.

Obama and Sarkozy alike should have deduced from the attack on New York’s Twin Towers, and all those other Islamist terror strikes worldwide unconnected to the war against the Jewish state, that it is a sham to argue that as long as Israel doesn’t mollify the Arabs, the world will know no respite from Islamist belligerence. The terror spate in Russia should serve only as the latest evidence of Islamist terror’s global agenda, and the latest reminder of the spuriousness of the notion that Israel is to blame for global Islamist aggression.

Russia’s own leaders would probably be the first to dissociate their own travails from whatever is unleashed against Israel. Yet the series of blows they have now suffered underscores the commonality of our experiences, even if no camaraderie is expressed toward Israel. The explosions in Moscow and the Caucuses give the lie to contentions that were Israel to give in, the world would be spared strife.

BUT THERE is also a lesson for us locally. The Kremlin’s reaction to this week’s blasts has been strikingly different from the platitudes, the hemming and hawing, the attempts to find an evenhanded, politically-correct note that so often characterize international responses in the aftermath of terror attacks against Israelis. And both Dimitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin have been entirely devoid of the self-blame and fault-finding introspection often rife here. Putin flatly promised to “track down and kill the organizers of this disgusting crime.”

Medvedev depicted the terrorists as “beasts” and declared the Russian security forces would “mercilessly smoke them out of their sewer holes.”

Such language from Israeli leaders, followed by action along the same lines, would likely have stirred animated controversy at home, and would certainly have raised an earsplitting ruckus abroad. For a start, one wonders what Obama and Sarkozy would have had to say about it.

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