To see these scenes repeated in Boston filled me with a terrible sadness.
It was all so sickeningly familiar: the happy crowds, the sudden ear-shattering explosions, the dazed and wounded lying bloodied on the ground. Like every Israeli who lived through the nightmare years following the Oslo Accords, which allowed terrorists free access to our cities and countryside, I can recall weeks and months when such scenes seemed like an almost daily occurrence.
To see these scenes repeated in Boston filled me with a terrible sadness.
After my birthplace, New York, Boston is my favorite city in America, one with which I became intimately familiar when my son was at Harvard a few years back.
A college town filled with ambitious young people, a town of libraries and bookstores and institutions of higher learning, it’s a cultured place, a city of many different languages and ethnic backgrounds. It’s a place for young people to follow their dreams.
Israel, too, is a young country where decent, hardworking, talented people work to fulfill their life’s calling; it is a place of opportunity, a place with a great mix of ethnic backgrounds. It is no coincidence that terrorists – fanatical losers who discard every opportunity to make a decent life for themselves in favor of the joy and “glory” of ruining other people’s lives – chose Boston.
But they could also have easily chosen Tel Aviv. Indeed, Russian intelligence recordings of conversations between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother actually discuss him going to “Palestine,” and he rejects the idea because “he doesn’t know the language.”
It makes me sad to see the people of Boston, and Americans in general, forced to struggle with the reality of terrorism. Like Israelis at the beginning, they, too, have their clueless pundits who resist facing the obvious, thus putting themselves and their fellow Americans in danger. Chief among these is new Secretary of State John Kerry, who, with amazing and boundless ignorance, compared the victims of the Boston bombers to the terrorists on the Mavi Marmara – a group of people who were on their way to join their jihadi brothers in Gaza and were killed by the IDF in self-defense.
He is not alone. There seems to be almost a willful ignorance on the part of some Americans, as there was among the leftists in Israel. Before the Tsarnaevs were identified, Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce cautioned readers against “jumping to conclusions” to blame the attack on “foreign terrorism.” One talkbacker wholeheartedly agreed: “I’ll bet good money it’s a right-wing nut job,” wrote Linda Ginsburg. “Today is April 15, Boston Harbor was where the original Tea Party took place and the ongoing gun safety legislation makes it the mostly likely suspect.”
The discovery of the bombers’ true identity soon afterward left such people in a terrible quandary, not unlike those “peace now-ers” who found themselves trying to explain away “peace partner” Yasser Arafat’s involvement with the slaughter of Israelis.
Some Americans, like Mark Juergensmeyer, professor of sociology and director of global and international studies at (where else?) the University of California, Santa Barbara, rose to the challenge, saying that “religion in the Boston bomber case also seems to be a secondary aspect of their motivations. Like the other cases in recent years, it is an expression of the rage of angry young men. The details of his connections to… jihadi ideology that accompanies some aspects of the rebellious movement are yet to be revealed.”
The barrage of indisputable evidence linking the Boston bombers to Islamic jihad, will, thankfully, make it nearly impossible for such people to persist in their delusions. Even CNN (Certainly Not News), usually a most proficient and consistent apologist for murderous Islamic excesses, gave in. Citing an unnamed US government source, the network admitted that “preliminary interviews with Tsarnaev indicate the two brothers fit the classification of self-radicalized jihadists.”
Why would new immigrants from a Chechen background who had taken full advantage of America’s generosity in the form of scholarships, welfare, food stamps and even a marriage to a lovely all-American girl, want to kill Americans? Wasn’t it the Russians the Chechens hated? Journalist Nadja Vancauwenberghe, an expert on Russia, shed some light on this in an eye-opening piece in USA Today.
“By 2000, radical Muslims were using the Chechen war front as a jihadist playground,” she wrote, quoting their leader Doku Umarov as declaring, “Our enemy is not Russia only, but everyone who wages war against Islam and Muslims.”
Unfortunately for Americans – who had the temerity to fight back against 9/11, taking the war against jihad to the places that nurture this sickening culture of hate and violence – they must now deal with being on the jihadist hit list. As Dzhokhar Tsarnaev admitted, his brother “wanted to defend Islam from attack.”
As an American, I fully understand how my fellow Americans – used to freedom of movement and openness of heart – find this new reality hard to swallow. Police shoot-outs, dead and wounded policemen, people being confined to their homes while police hunted terrorists in their midst – all this must have felt like a horror movie for the untried citizens of Boston, to say nothing of the trauma of seeing blood on the familiar streets of their civilized city. But the sooner Americans realize that, like Israel, their fate as a free nation is to be on the forefront of this terrible modern war, the better it will be for them, and the more effectively they can protect themselves.
Thankfully, in Israel, the years in which naïve ideologues refused to understand that no terrorist acted alone seem to have passed. Now most people here understand the nature of the terrorist mind, which does not fit into the neat liberal scenario of the oppressed and underprivileged. So many terrorists have been gifted with talent and education and have come from rich homes and doting parents.
After 9/11, it should be clear to all that every terrorist identifying with Islam is nurtured by the same ideology, the same religion, the same set of beliefs reinforced by clerics in mosques, online, and in every town and village where Muslims live, and that no terrorist act is an isolated incident.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the united world of radical Islamists to inspire a terrorist. And that unity exists. Like an odorless and transparent poison gas, it has been unleashed all over the world, touching Muslims everywhere.
Nonie Darwish, the remarkable Egyptian-American human rights advocate and author of Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, had this to say in her article “The Nice Muslim Family Next Door”: “Some of the nicest people I know are Muslim, but that must never blind us from understanding the risk we are taking when we allow the building of hundreds of mosques financed by Saudi Arabia, as well as [allowing] millions of Muslims to migrate into America at a time of a fierce, sophisticated desire by Islamist groups to spread Islam throughout the world, and to radicalize impressionable youths by stoking anger against the Western nations, people and values.”
Inevitably, despite those who persist in their pre-9/11 naïveté, Americans are being forced to undergo the same brutal transformation we Israelis did to ensure our survival. Faced with the evil of bottomless Islamist barbarism, their virgin spirit of carefree freedom will never be the same again.
The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen agrees: “It would be wrong and a cliché to say we lost our innocence on Monday afternoon as a plume of white smoke drifted high above Boylston Street, as blood pooled on the sidewalk across from the Boston Public Library, as severed limbs lay amid the bruised and the bloodied and the stunned, their ears ringing…. We lost our innocence on another perfect day, in September, 12 years ago…. But we lost something Monday too – we will never feel safe again in our own town.”
I’m so sorry, Kevin, and so sorry, my dear city of Boston. But take comfort in this: Like we Israelis, you as a free people will find the strength you need to survive and triumph. We salute you and yours in your just battle to preserve your way of life in your beautiful town.