After this week’s terror attack Israelis were pleasantly surprised (if that’s the right term) and even gratified to see symbolic expressions of support extended to us from around the world. This is in stark contrast to previous attacks where, besides pro-forma lip service with words of comfort for the wounded victims and the bereaved, there was little identification or sympathy with Israel as a a nation. More often, we were cautioned to “exercise restraint” in dealing with the terrorists, as if we usually go on a carpet bombing rampage – and is if those nations themselves never seek retribution from their own terrorists.
Speaking at Esenboğa International Airport in Ankara following his official visit to Iraq, Prime Minister Yıldırım offered his condolences for the victims in the Jerusalem and Baghdad attacks.
Deputy Turkish Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said separately, “We once again denounce a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. Humanity demands the world’s nations unite against terrorism.”
This has upset the terrorist supporters.
A Turkish hashtag called “Palestinian resistance is not terrorism” cropped up, and Islamic Jihad’s Palestine Today was proud that for a brief time the hashtag was trending.
Equally unusually, the cities of Berlin, Rotterdam and Paris lit up their monuments with the Israeli flag, in a similar way that other cities lit up their own monuments with French or German flags after terror attacks on their soil:
Several commentators noted the incredible similarity yet such a huge difference between two pictures of the Brandenburg Gate taken in the space of one lifetime:
Israellycool reports that even the usually lukewarm State Department issued a strong message of support:
For instance, the US State Department condemned the attack (which is expected), but the condemnation was actually strong, without any call for all sides to show restraint or work towards peace.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s horrific vehicular attack by a terrorist in Jerusalem. There is absolutely no justification for these brutal and senseless attacks. We condemn the glorification of terrorism now or at any time and call on all to send a clear message that terrorism must never be tolerated.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the four Israeli soldiers who were killed, and we hope for a full and fast recovery of those injured.
That I did not expect.
The Jerusalem Post speculates that Europe’s Jihadist problem is making them more sympathetic to Israel (though I would have expected that support to arrive somewhat earlier, given the extent of Arab terrorism in Europe going back decades):
Is terrorism softening European attitudes toward Israel?
When a Palestinian terrorist used a car to ram and kill an Israeli soldier in eastern Jerusalem in 2014, the European Union urged “restraint” and, without condemning the attack, called it merely “further painful evidence of the need to undertake serious efforts towards a sustainable peace agreement.”
Two years later, however, European officials had a much different reaction to a similar attack in eastern Jerusalem, which killed four Israeli soldiers on Sunday.
“The European Union condemns the murder of these four young Israelis, as well as any praise or incitement for terrorist acts,” Brussels said in a statement, which unlike the 2014 communique omitted any reference to the fact that the attack happened in an area of Jerusalem that it considers occupied.
Unusually, following Sunday’s attack the Israeli flag was projected on the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and Paris City Hall, signs of solidarity with the Jewish state permitted by local authorities. Rotterdam City Hall flew the Israeli flag at half-mast.
To Eran and other observers of Israeli-EU relations, this change in tune is indicative of greater understanding and empathy in Europe to Israel’s fight against terrorism following a a wave of terrorist attacks on the continent beginning in 2012.
“I think it’s a new development that sincerely stems from the change in the mind of many people in Europe, in government and beyond, who now understand better than a few years ago the impact and influence of terrorism on the daily lives of innocent victims,” Eran told JTA on Wednesday.
He was referring to the cumulative effect of at least a dozen major attacks on Western European soil since 2012 in which local or foreign jihadists killed hundreds of victims using methods long associated with Palestinian terrorists.
The Israeli government, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular, have been persistently drawing an equivalence between the attacks in Europe and attacks against Israelis by Palestinians.
“The terrorists who attack us have the same murderous intent as those in Paris,” Netanyahu said about the November 2015 Paris attacks. “It is time for states to condemn terrorism against us like they condemn terrorism anywhere else in the world.”
Some European leaders clearly see his point.
Yet the gestures of empathy toward Israel will not likely carry over to EU policy, according to Eran, the former ambassador.
“These gestures are heartwarming and indicative of a positive change, but there is a clear distinction between empathy and policy in the corridors of the European Union, which is likely to remain as critical as ever of Israeli settlements and continue to oppose them on every international arena,” he said.
This was summed up succinctly by the staunch pro-Israel supporter and activist Colonel Richard Kemp:
Indeed, all these warm gestures of support and sympathy ultimately do nothing if they are not backed up by a change in policy. A good start would be to cancel the upcoming Paris “peace” summit:
Seventy countries, along with representatives of international organisations, have been invited to the Paris Peace Summit on 15 January 2017. This, less than a month after the controversial UN resolution 2334 was passed and five days before Obama leaves the White House. Further, the Security Council is scheduled to convene next Tuesday for its monthly debate on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
According to a draft summary statement of the Paris conference, participating countries will stress that they won’t recognize any changes to the “June 4, 1967 borders” including in Jerusalem, except for any changes the two sides might agree during negotiations.
So far, this echoes Resolution 2334 in spirit. However, the proposed summit, like resolution 2334, has not met universal approval.
Israel’s Defence Minister Liberman called this the new Dreyfus Affair, likening this to an infamous Jew hating trial held in France in 1894. Israel has refused to attend the conference – preferring direct negotiations – while the Palestinians welcome the meeting.
Further, the US House of Representatives, which slammed UN Security Council Resolution 2334 – calling for it to be “repealed or fundamentally altered so that it is no longer one-sided and anti-Israel – has spoken out against the Paris conference.
Will those 70 nations – the number eerily reminiscent of the 70 nations who would go up to Jerusalem on the Festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) to offer sacrifices to G-d at the Holy Temple – remember their support for Israel after the terror attack? Or will they sadly prove that their support is “from their lips and outwards” only?