Response to Paris Attacks Mustn't Be Dictated by Grief and Anger

Friday's events were an attack on civilization itself, but harm caused by emotional reactions outweighs the benefits. This applies not only to states being attacked by ISIS, but also to Israelis and their government.

People light candles in tribute to the victims of Paris' attacks,  on November 14, 2015 in Terreaux quarter on the esplanade of Lyon town hall.
AFP

Every civilized person should see himself as if he were present at one of Friday night’s terror attacks in Paris, in which at least 129 people were killed and hundreds more were injured. Every civilized person, regardless of religion or national origin, shares in the deep grief of the French people and in the sense of boundless rage over these savage attacks. France is not the only victim of this barbarity: Every country and every culture — Western, Arab, Christian, Jewish and Muslim — is in the crosshairs of those who have decided to teach a lesson to people who do not accept their criminal ideology.

Unfortunately, it seems these attacks will not be the last in the decades-long battle against terror organizations such as the Islamic State. As if proof were needed, they prove that the wars in the Middle East know no political borders, instead operating like a system of connecting vessels that is spread across the face of the earth. In such wars, immediate responses and strategic measures must not be dictated by grief and anger.

Emotional reactions that called for immediate revenge created the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and the second Gulf war of in 2003. In hindsight, the harm they caused outweighed the benefits. Now, strict observance of the values of civilization, adherence to civil rights — especially that of Muslim minorities — and aid to refugees fleeing from terror organizations can at least thwart such organizations’ ambitions to recruit supporters from these minorities. Physical and cultural withdrawal, the persecution of Muslims solely because they are Muslim and draconic legislation in the name of fighting terror will only aid terror organizations toward their goal of creating persecuted communities in the West.

This advice is directed not only at the states being attacked by Islamic State, but also at Israelis and their government, which views itself as a leader in the war on terror. It may be assumed that quite a few ordinary Israelis and government officials now expect greater understanding, from France in particular and the European Union in general, of the nature of Israel’s war on terror.

There are certainly also some who will regard the attacks in France as suitable punishment for voting to label products from the settlements. Nothing could be more twisted. The terror attacks by Palestinians are not aimed at punishing or sabotaging civilization. They stem from frustration, the lack of economic and political hope and the harshness of their lives under Israeli occupation. It is important to stress this distinction, and not to be sucked into racist and unnecessary comparisons in the wake of the terrible events in Paris.