Let's Not Turn the West Into a Temple Under Siege

What was the U.S. administration thinking when it armed and trained the jihadists, including Osama bin Laden, in their war against the Soviets in Afghanistan?

Tel Aviv city hall lit up in the colors of the French flag at a rally in solidarity with Paris after Friday's terror attacks, November 14, 2015.
Tomer Applebaum

The Israeli tourists in Vietnam who were old enough during the ongoing massacre of village and urban populations by the United States probably did not demonstrate then in front of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. Nevertheless, every so often there would be a small group of demonstrators there from all the streams of the left. It was the only issue on which the political parties Mapam, Matzpen (the anti-Zionist left), Siah (Israel New Left ) and Rakah (the communists) could work together – identifying with the Vietcong and North Vietnam.

The American peace movement brought millions into the streets, some of them waving Vietcong flags at demonstrations. Leaders of the movement traveled to Hanoi to express solidarity with the enemy.

Against the wealthy West, which destroys surplus agricultural produce and sells trillions of dollars of weapons to dubious regimes, there are no longer communists like the Vietcong with whom the left can identify, not because the Vietnamese were victims, but because they were principled fighters.

The politics of compassion sprung up when the revolutions ended and the pampered narcissism of Im offended was born.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is not the Vietcong. Its victims in Paris included Arabs, blacks, whites, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, who were all turned into infidels so they could be targeted by murderous martyrs. But those who paint this as a war of Islam against the West are adopting the jihadist concept. ISIS has murdered more Muslims and Arabs than anyone can count.

The way we are experiencing the massacres in Paris does not resemble the way we experienced the bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz a month and a half ago, or the other bombings over the years in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan , . A lot of innocent blood was spilled.

Thats why the Americans invented the concept of collateral damage, which typifies the post-Cold War era. Israeli news editors are wont to use an even more cynical term, secondary damage.

Thats why at some point we have to remember everything the West has done since World War II in non-Western countries, from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, through Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. To turn the West into a temple under siege is to forget history for the benefit of our wounded narcissism, just because we know and love Paris and fear ISIS, and rightly so, and because Jewish children who are afraid to go to school in Brussels or Paris inspire in us genuine identification.

The fact that we here like to defend Western culture is a bit ridiculous. Still, what was the U.S. administration thinking when it armed and trained the jihadists, including Osama bin Laden, in their war against the Soviets in Afghanistan?

What was the Élysée Palace thinking when it continued – more than Britain or Germany – to participate in wars in Africa and in our region? That French society would not suffer? After all, the Paris attackers were born, or grew up, with a Middle East thats been the scene of persistent bombings since January 1991.

And who established ISIS and armed it, if not the Western allies in this region? There is no conspiracy here; it is a win-win situation for the weapons and war industries.

Ones heart aches at the site of Parisians in mourning. Even if Marine Le Pens National Front increases its strength in the regional elections in two weeks, and even if Europe never goes back to being what it was before the murderous attack, we know that masses of Frenchmen believe that their homeland belongs to all its citizens, of all colors and religions, even to the most alienated residents of Paris poor neighborhoods.

Thats why we didnt see belligerent politicians on French television and we didnt hear omniscient commentators. Its certain that the French Republic will defeat ISIS.