April 1, 2004
We All Are Israelis Now
An abandoned suitcase in Dortmund's main station gets thousands of people scared of terror. An anonymous bomb threat paralyzes Berlin's airport. In the appearance of the Madrid attacks, international terrorism has outrun everyday life in Europe.
Nobody is safe nowhere anymore: not the tourists strolling through the cities, not the citizens enjoying their croissant in the cafes, not the youngsters letting off steam in discos, not the employees getting to work by suburban railway or underground.
It is obvious to us Europeans: Whatever terrorist organization may have bombed Madrid, they are brutal criminals who stop at nothing, who in a back-stabbing manner slaughter civilians, men, women, kids -- whomever may be where they let their bombs detonate. And because it is obvious to us that we have to deal with murderers -- with mass murderers! -- we just don't want to hear about any political or economical or cultural reasons based on which human beings mutate to terrorists.
We call for "zero tolerance." And in our heads, we practice zero tolerance -- for terrorist murder there is not a whiff of justification!
But have we Europeans always and in every case been so consequent as today, in the days after Madrid? Have we condemned -- do we condemn now with the same rigor the suicide bombings of homicidal mobs of Hezbollah or Hamas against Israel?
For Israeli children, their ride in a school bus has been perilous for years; as it has been for young people visiting a disco, tourists enjoying the sun in a sidewalk cafe and employees on theirÂ bus ride to office.
The horrifying Israeli reality, however, has not inhibited us to assign to the Islamistic terror the aura of the Palestinian David's against the Israeli Goliath's fight. The pictures used by European media to produce such a distortion of reality are always the same ones: state-of-the-art armored vehicles and armed Israeli soldiers against stone-casting teenage Palestinians -- plus scenes of destroyed houses and women and men crying their misery into the cameras.
Who thus could help but to bestow his or her sympathy upon the deracinated and powerless ones? It then takes nothing else but weighty Ariel Sharon justifying the Israeli military action in front of the media -- and in the twinkling of an eye the Palestinian propaganda battle is, with Westerly journalistic support, victoriously slugged out.
This is what has happened for years. We have gotten used to the terror against Israel as a kind of explicable terror, causing, so to say, not completely innocent victims. Moreover, nobody really is forced to pay a risky visit to this small, well-fortified Middle Eastern democracy.
But now, terror is paying a visit to us. And it will stay with us, in our cities, in our cafés, in our discos, in our suburban and underground railroad systems, in our airports. We all are Israelis now! Victims! Innocent victims!
This editorial appeared in SonntagsBlick, the largest circulation newspaper in Switzerland. Â
Frank A. Meyer is the editorial head of the Ringier Publishing House