The Jewish New Year is about renewal and hope, and that is why I don’t want to sound sour. But, during the High Holy Day period, serious thought is given to the past year as well as to the future. And, who says the state of the world is going to change for the better anytime soon?
Last November 13 in Paris, when ISIS terrorists ripped apart the lives and families of so many innocents, in cold blood for the whole world to see, something happened. While there were many terrorist attacks that preceded it, that one was different.
With that attack, came the global recognition that mass indiscriminate murder could happen in any city’s restaurants, theatres or packed sports stadium. That three-pronged attack was ISIS’ boastful scream that no one in the world is safe.
There were so many terrorist attacks after Paris that, as one horrific event faded to another, each successive blood bath lost its bite on the horrific scale. When ugly circumstance results in the over use of the word “horrific,” the meaning of the word itself falls victim.
While the shock of American-born mass killers in San Bernardino and Orlando rocked the U.S., many people in civilized countries like Canada wondered how anybody in the U.S. can buy military-style automatic assault rifles and then go into a retail store and buy a thousand rounds of ammunition over the counter.
Today’s battleground against terrorism is everywhere. In countless cities, in far flung continents, authorities wonder about the next one; the next suicide bomber in a subway train; or something else besides the obvious attempt on an airplane. Look at what one terrorist did with a truck in Nice.
The enemy is often a citizen of the very country they hate enough to martyr themselves against in the name of their jihadi cause – or because of their own copycat craziness. They are protected by their county’s constitution, which provides them the freedom and opportunity to plan and commit the cruelest of mass murders.
People talk tough, mostly in America, about beating the terrorists. But where is the path to victory? The better question is this: Where is the battlefield? There are suburbs of Paris and Brussels, which are steamy virtual city-states that police and military personnel stay away from thus allowing pockets of lawlessness to take hold.
A good number of suicide bombers begin their road to mass killing by first engaging in drugs and petty crimes. They study the Qur’an in prison where they meet recruiters selling a tale of Muslims ruling the world to angry vulnerable young people, most of whom are unemployed and underprivileged.
Here is a telltale sign of how serious this is. As you may recall, last November, one terrorist in Paris escaped in the early morning hours to Brussels. Salah Abdeslam was the most wanted and hunted man in Europe and yet he remained free for months, almost next door, in Brussels. How many full-fledged enablers were there to help this alleged mass murderer? Worse is the thought of how many sympathizers there were.
We live at a time when, in too many parts of the world, Jewish synagogues, schools and community centres need protection with heavily armed soldiers on a 24/7 basis. The daily threat to Jews is a sickening reminder of the 1930s and of every pogrom and Haman before that.
Our everyday lives are surrounded by friends, fellow students and business colleagues with opinions on Israel. They speak ill of Netanyahu’s politics, which is one thing, but, increasingly, the negative chatter is about the State of Israel itself. It is uncomfortable to hear when it comes in dribs and drabs because friends, colleagues and cohorts try to protect us from an onslaught. But they always say just enough, lest there be any doubt. Social media picks up the slack with often hateful attacks.
And, then, there is the American election with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
It is time to pray.