Friday afternoon, international authorities announced that they intercepted two explosive devices originating in Yemen and destined for two synagogues in Chicago. The discovery of the packages containing the bombs—the first one in England and the second one in Dubai—set off a panicked hunt for additional packages from Yemen on planes coming into New York, Philadelphia, and Newark, and on a truck that was stopped by law enforcement officials in Brooklyn. What does it mean?
It means that al-Qaida’s networks in the Arabian Peninsula are very active. It means that al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Aulaki, the onetime “moderate” Imam in Virginia who inspired Major Nidal Malik Hasan to shoot 12 of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, is trying to kill as many of his fellow Americans as he can before the Obama Administration catches him in the crosshairs of a drone attack. It means that the Yemeni government is weak. Were it strong, it would have either found those devices before they left Yemen or, alternatively, it would have ensured those bombs reached their destinations by providing the sort of logistical support that only Arab and Iranian security services can offer terrorist groups.
Most important, it means it’s OK to kill Jews.
These two explosive devices, directed at the president’s hometown on the eve of midterm elections, constitute an information operation. While the message is not particularly sophisticated, what makes it interesting is that the perpetrators seem to have come to a perfect understanding of their target audience. After all, what do two synagogues in Chicago have to do with anything in Yemen?
President Barack Obama, Homeland Security chief John Brennan, and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs all carefully declined to take the opportunity of the well-publicized threat to make any comment whatsoever about the fact that American Jews were being specifically targeted by terrorists, to reassure the Jewish community that it was being protected, or to denounce the planned attacks on Jewish places of worship.
And yet, in the next few days, someone in the media—I don’t know exactly who, but someone—will argue that these synagogues were chosen because the president’s former chief-of-staff, a Jew, wants to be the next mayor of Chicago. Hence, this is, in reality, a message to the White House to stop targeting Yemeni militants.
Absurd? Sure it is. But it is more plausible than the notion that American Jews and Jewish houses of worship in Illinois were targeted because of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, or the Golan Heights, or Shaaba Farms, or because of the existence of the State of Israel itself. Someone is surely going to make that argument, because almost all Arab terror against Jews is now attributed to—and excused by—the Arab conflict with Israel, which has become a free pass to commit acts of terror against Jews.
Terror, violence, and bloodshed against Jews now come pre-packaged with a sanctimonious justification. It’s not seen as crazy, sick, irrational violence. It’s political violence. Terrorist violence is irrational and incomprehensible—unless the victims are Jewish. Why do terrorists bomb America, bomb London, bomb Madrid, bomb Casablanca, burn Mumbai? Because they’re crazy, that’s why. With the Jews, well, there’s the occupation. There’s Israel. There’s America’s support for Israel. Terrorism may be abhorrent, but when it comes to the Jews the terrorists themselves have a lot to be angry about. Accordingly, we’re supposed to regard these acts with both horror and reason at the same time—“sure, it’s not pretty, but we get it.” In other words, terror against Jews may produce violence and bloodshed but not moral revulsion.
The target of this attack was Jews, but the target of the information operation is all Americans—including the Americans who rationalize terror attacks against Jews. We created the context for operations like this one and we will see many more of them, bombs and much worse, against Jews and non-Jews alike, for our enemies have taken stock of our character. We are looking for excuses not to fight them. And we accept their phony justifications for the killing of Jews.