Terror against Israel, terror against humanity

Posted: Sep 16, 2004 12:00 AM

Hundreds of children injured in the recent terrorist attack on a Russian schoolhouse suffered wounds so grievous that only specially trained surgeons could treat them. Few Russian surgeons are skilled in dealing with wounds inflicted by urban terror, however, so 10 of the most severely injured schoolchildren are being airlifted to Israel, where dealing with the horrific trauma of Islamist terror is part of everyday life.

"Since terror knows no borders, neither should our solidarity in fighting this evil and helping its victims," says Michael Cherney, of the foundation that bears his name, which helps victims of terror in Israel and elsewhere. (It has the added benefit of educating the rest of the world about Israel's fight for survival against the dark forces of terror.) The foundation was established three years ago after a suicide bomb killed 20 teenagers and wounded more than 100 others in a disco in Tel Aviv. Most of the dead and wounded were recent immigrants from the old Soviet Union.

Russia's grateful acceptance of help contrasts sharply with Iran's refusal last year of any Israeli assistance after an earthquake devastated much of Iran. Doctors and others wanted to share their skills, believing that medicine should know no boundaries, but the Iranian mullahs showed no mercy to their own people. Better that an Iranian child die a painful death than be saved by a Jew. Once more the mullahs illustrated the difference between rigid Islam and the West.

Israel, like the United States, quickly comes to the aid of those suffering in the wake of natural disaster, regardless of the religious beliefs of those in need. The credulous and the ignorant on the "Arab street" - and many Arab journalists who know better - nevertheless have the chutzpah to blame the Jews for the Islamist slaughter of the children of Beslan.

The Middle East Research Institute (MEMRI), which tracks and translates the propaganda of that miserable region of the world, posts a column from the Jordanian government daily Al-Dustour "revealing" that the Jews were behind the massacre in Beslan: Russian intelligence had information that Chechen factions had "contributions . from Jewish oligarchs from the fields of finance, communications, and oil." (These are presumably some of the same Jews who plotted the attacks of Sept. 11.)

In another Jordanian daily, a columnist scolds terrorists who massacre children - but only because a massacre damages the Islamist cause and furnishes a moral context for the "forces of evil" who "occupy" Palestine, Chechnya and Iraq.

A columnist in the Qatari daily Al-Sharq indicts the Russian mafia and intimates its "ties" to Israel. "It is likely that the downing of the plane in Moscow (sic) and the operation against the school in Beslan," he writes, "were part of the struggle that the Putin government is waging against the (Russia) mafia, which has ties to Israel."

We might think this is merely the work of nuts on the fringe, but it's consistent with the barrage of propaganda painting Israel as the "little Satan," acting as surrogate for the "big Satan" across the sea. Millions of Muslims echo these newspaper columnists, condemning the Beslan atrocity not because it was evil but because it is self-defeating and counterproductive, provoking the anger of the civilized.

It's certainly true that violence against Jews can hurt others. Turkey is home to 30,000 Jews, the largest community in any Muslim country. When suicide bombers trained by Al-Qaida targeted two synagogues in Istanbul, they killed six Jews - and 54 others who were Muslims, Christians and followers of other religions (or of no faith at all).

There's a rush in the media - both abroad and here at home - to separate mainstream Islam from the Islamist terrorists, but in the Middle East few Muslims bother to make such a fine distinction. "The painful truth is that the acts of violence and barbarism occurring at present are nothing but the natural consequence of generations of Muslims having been misled and force-fed speeches (filled with) hostility and hatred for others over the course of decades, which deepened the backwardness and the ignorance in the Islamic world," writes columnist Suleiman Al-Hatlan in the daily Al-Watan in Saudi Arabia - where, if we're lucky, we may be watching the beginning of a great awakening.

Jews throughout the world will celebrate their New Year this week, and  the sound of the shofar becomes a clarion call to the entire world to hear the message that terrorism against Jews is terrorism against humanity. Ten Russian children, fighting for their lives in a Tel Aviv hospital ward, can testify to that.