For more than a year the world has been on the lookout for any sign of avian flu spreading from birds to humans. The H5N1 virus has not yet mutated into a form easily transmissible from bird-to-man and thence from man-to-man, but because the devastation from a replay of an epidemic along the lines of 1918 would be so great, the vigilance and preparation has been high and sustained.
And this is a very, very wise course. One that should be emulated when it comes to the often equally deadly virus that transmits the most radical form of Islamist jihadism --the sort that triggers suicidal violence against everyone, including fellow Muslims, but most especially against America and Israel, their allies, and Jews everywhere.
It would be very useful if the world began to think of anti-Semitic rage as a virus that has sometimes consumed large parts of the globe and other times been suppressed to the point of invisibility. We have entered a period where the virus is replicating at an extraordinary rate, and where transmission is easy, and the appearance of the violent derangement that anti-Semitic Islamist extremism produces is both sudden and deadly.
In the years since 9/11, I count five discreet, possible instances of this virus suddenly appearing in the U.S., each of which resulted in death:
None of these five incidents is the sort of terrorist attack that we are most concerned about --the meticulously planned, coordinated attempt to cause spectacular devastation and casualties in the hundreds if not thousands. The London airlines bombing plot, like the London Tube attack, the Madrid rail attack, Bali resort bombing, and the Beslan school massacre are examples of this sort of terrorist atatck, and they rightly receive the bulk of Homeland Security's attention and analysis.