Zero Tolerance for Terror

As Jewish communities throughout the world prepared for Shabbos, our hearts and minds were filled with fear over the fate of the hostages in the kosher supermarket in Paris. Following word that the police had stormed the store and rescued some of the hostages, a collective wave of grief washed over Klal Yisrael upon learning that four Jews, Hy”d, had been brutally murdered, and others wounded.

Our hearts go out to the families of the Kedoshim, may Hashem comfort them among all the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim. We also offer our deepest condolences to the family of the policewoman murdered by the terrorists.

On Sunday, there was a massive “unity rally” in Paris against terrorism and extremism, with world leaders in attendance. That’s a somewhat heartening event after the heartbreaking murders that took place last week.

But one demonstration won’t undo 40 years of Europe’s policy of appeasing terrorists, caving in to blackmail, and condemning Israel’s fight against terror. It’s a demonstration that’s 40 years too late. It’s a demonstration that ignores why such terrorism has become rifer and more deadly.

Europe, with France as one of the leading culprits, has been giving terrorists a free pass ever since the early 1970s, when the terrorists of the PLO, PFLP, Black September and other murderous organizations hijacked airliners and killed Israeli athletes. When Abu Daoud, the mastermind of the Munich Olympics massacre, was detained in France, the French simply set him free, after the German government refused to allow him to be extradited to their country. Several years ago, German newspapers revealed that in the 1970s, the German government had been in secret talks with Black September, which promised to desist from future attacks on German soil as long as they wouldn’t be prosecuted.

France has long lacked the courage to fight government-sponsored terrorism. When President Reagan sought to retaliate for the Libyan bombing that killed American servicemen in Berlin, then-French President Mitterrand refused to allow American warplanes to fly over France, thereby adding 2,600 miles to an already-dangerous mission. It’s no coincidence that arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat’s family lived in France, and that the mass murderer received medical treatment there.

The same soft-on-terrorism approach was adopted by Italy. When the Achille Lauro hijackers landed in Italy after being intercepted by U.S. F-16s, the Italian government refused to arrest the murderers, instead allowing them to fly to Tunisia, despite the vociferous protests of U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.

The reason Europe has been soft on terrorism is because of its tacit bargain with the perpetrators of terror. As long as terrorism was only directed at U.S., Jewish or Israeli targets, there was an understanding that Europe would be spared. In exchange, European governments were willing to turn a blind eye to the waves of terrorism inflicted on Israel as malls, cafés and hotels were targeted. And European governments were willing to go one step further: they would not only maintain a stony silence while Islamic terrorists targeted Israel, but also condemn Israel when it attempted to defend itself. In other words, Europe decided to pay the terrorism protection racket at the expense of the Jewish people.

Now they are paying the price.

While Europe needs unyielding courage to confront radical Islamists and recognize for once that Hamas, ISIS and Hizbullah are all cut from the same terrorist cloth, it also has to have the backbone not to pass draconian measures that will impose on the practice of religion, no matter the creed. Europeans must make the fine distinction between terrorism and legitimate traditional religious practice. The rise of radical xenophobic right-wing parties in some nations of the EU should sound alarm bells among those who cherish Western values. The answer to terrorism does not lie in the promotion and advocacy of religious intolerance and racial hatred.

The nations of Europe have to finally recognize that when they attack Israel for defending itself against Hamas or Hizbullah, they are supporting terrorism; that throwing support behind the notion of a Palestinian state in the U.N., in effect, sends a message to terrorists that their genocidal ways are effective. Instead of condemning Israel, Europe should applaud it when it destroys terrorist infrastructure. Instead of threatening to stop arms to Israel, as the UK has done, Europe should be at the forefront of supplying Israel with arms. Instead of boycotting Israeli goods, Europe should be their number-one consumer.

French President Hollande has promised military protection for the Jewish community in France. Once again, Jews are behind barbed wire in Europe. That’s a superficial and intolerable solution.

Ultimately, the fates of all mortals are solely in the Hands of our Creator. Yet humanity is obligated to engage in requisite hishtadlus, and this includes France showing zero tolerance for terrorism in France and in Israel.