Judging from afar here in Israel, the reaction in the US to the atrocious
violence carried out this week during the Boston Marathon is
While vowing, as President Barack Obama did, to “find out who
did this” and make sure they “feel the full weight of justice,” Americans seem
determined not to give in to fear and despair as the perpetrators of this
heinous crime would have them do.
Even in the immediate aftermath of the
bombings, the world was uplifted by stories of runners who stubbornly finished
the race. Some continued running to hospitals to donate blood to the dozens
seriously wounded by the two explosions.
Bostonians answered the call to
help house runners who were unable to get to their hotels near the blasts. And
it goes without saying that next year the 117-year-old marathon will take place,
as planned, on Patriots’ Day, which commemorates the Battles of Lexington and
Concord, the opening battles of the American Revolution.
regrettably, intimately familiar with the challenges faced right now by
Americans of coping with the physical and psychological effects of terrorism.
This time it was Israelis turn to be inspired by another people’s refusal to be
intimidated by a cowardly act of terrorism. Even so, Israel had a small part to
play in helping Americans cope.
Though American preparedness for attacks
is part of the cultural legacy of September 11, Israel has contributed its share
to helping Americans respond to such violence. During the waves of attacks by
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Fatah-affiliated al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades and other
terrorist groups starting in the late 1990s, Israeli doctors gained unique
experience dealing with the injuries caused by bombs packed with nails, ball
bearing and scrap metal such as the ones that went off at the Boston Marathon on
Monday. Israeli triage expertise, gained on the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem
and elsewhere during the second intifada, has been shared with Massachusetts
General Hospital, one of several medical centers that treated victims of the
Boston bombings. And Israeli physicians helped to set up the hospital’s disaster
team to better prepare it for responding to such attacks.
Israelis’ expertise at responding to terrorism is directly related to
deep-seated beliefs. Both countries place a high value on life and value the
sort of freedom that enables innovation and creativity needed for technological
Unlike for most acts of terrorism, the perpetrators of the
Boston bombings remain unknown – at least as of this writing. Not knowing toward
whom to direct one’s outrage can be frustrating. But perhaps, as Commentary’s
Jonathan Tobin has pointed out, there is a small blessing in a temporary state
of ignorance: It checks our natural inclination to jump to conclusions about the
political ramifications of the attack. We do not know whether it was a
right-wing extremist, an Islamist or some other fanatic who planned and executed
As a result, no one – neither on the Right nor on the Left
– can exploit the tragedy to further a particular political agenda. Americans
can, instead, focus on healing the pain caused by this crime.
such as the Boston Marathon bombings help us appreciate all the more lives free
from terrorism and fear while emphasizing the fragility of our peaceful
existence. At the same time, Americans’ refusal to cave in to fear and despair
is truly inspirational.
Love of freedom is seen by terrorists as a
weakness because fear of losing this freedom can be exploited. It is also much
easier to carry out terrorist attacks in an open society. But terrorists fail to
see that it is precisely this freedom which makes America – and Israel – so
great and so resilient to the threat of terrorism.