The threat of violent jihadist ideology, which sacrifices the jihadists’ own children’s lives, provokes utter helplessness in people. The only card its opponents have—the fear of death—has no effect on it.
Terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, etc., and their state sponsors such as Iran elicit this helplessness. They want to eliminate their enemy—not in self-defense, but for ideological reasons. They will target all those whose values run counter to their own and whose influence they fear.
The West, with its commitment to human rights and the sanctity of life, has no idea what to do with this ideology. The West knows these terrorists’ intention is to force the submission of the kuffar West to Islam. Radical Islamists have shamelessly flaunted their philosophy and ceaselessly reiterated it so often that people unconsciously assume that it cannot be serious if it is so out in the open.
The West instinctively knows that radical Islamists are ferocious and implacable, and helplessly assumes it cannot stop them. It projects this impotence onto the apparently powerful Jewish state. It has repeatedly declared that Israel must confront this problem alone. The West also does not recognize the harm it does when it declares that Israel itself is the problem. They know that this poses no danger of backlash from Israelis. Confronting Israel’s enemies, on the other hand, would provoke violence in their streets and an oil embargo. Thus, the West thought it could allow itself to deny that it is also a target of radical Islam, even though, again and again, radical Islamists declare the West to be their mortal enemy.
The fearful West allows the demonization of Israel to go unpunished and even excuses it. “Microaggression’ against any other group is grounds for social media expulsion, cancel culture and demonetization. But when it comes to the demonization of Jews and Israel, suddenly the specter of free speech is raised. Even though microaggression today causes mostly hurt feelings, demonization causes hate crimes, death and war. Despite this, the world continues to minimize the genocidal ambitions of Israel’s enemies.
The facts have always been known, but have now been exposed in full. Yet even when the facts are undeniable, the West, including friendly countries, will find a way to minimize, ignore, deny or even blame the Jews for them.
Too many good people are involved in these denials despite the unspeakable atrocities Hamas committed against Israel and its endangering of Gaza’s own population. They think they are shrouding themselves in holiness because they care about their enemy more than themselves. But in fact, they despise themselves and unwittingly sacrifice even the Palestinians.
Tragically, all of this occurred at a moment when better things seemed possible. Clearly, the Abraham Accords and the dialogue between Saudi Arabia and Israel were unbearable to the enemy. They became desperate to upset the balance of power.
The attacks struck at our greatest source of pride: Israel’s success, vaunted intelligence and military power. They showed our arrogance not towards the Palestinians, but towards God and the miracle of the State of Israel. We were guilty of hubris, and we paid the price. Yet there is a silver lining to all this horror. Israel has instantly overcome the polarization, hatred and confusion of the past year, including in its relationship with the Diaspora. What has resulted is extraordinary unity. Even the Israeli haredim are volunteering for IDF service.
This unity must be preserved and protected. All people with influential voices, most of whom I believe have the best of intentions, must take the time to analyze the situation fully and listen to all sides. They must make sure to speak politically and spiritually from a place that strengthens this unity and brings more understanding instead of indulging in indignation and blame. There is now no room for any sector of Israeli society to hate any of the others.
Many Jews believe we must prove our goodness by supporting the seeming “underdog” at our own expense, regardless of this underdog’s genocidal intentions: See how good we are, they think, how elevated and special. Yes, the Torah teaches us to love the stranger. But it never taught us to love our mortal enemies.