«Jewish Observer»
November 2002
5763 Kislev

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We, "Russian Israelis", glued our eyes to TV screens during the Moscow tragedy. It was not only because we are connected with Russia through our memory of that life, our friends who still live there. There was an old sense of deja-vu that sent shiver down our spine. We have seen all of it many times. Palestinian kamikaze pose in the same way before a TV camera and then blow themselves up at a children's disco or at a Jewish wedding. Arabian kamikaze women look the same, their shawls up to the eye-brows and plastids stuffed with iron cuttings round their waists.

Schematically the "Nord-Ost" (North-East) tragedy look as follows: civil people went to a musical in the center of their capital and were taken hostage by merciless scum who threatened to kill them. The situation is very familiar because in Israel we are all hostages of the terror and there are several millions of us here, not merely a thousand. We find ourselves in the same situation as tourists of Bali Island, as citizens of Washington D.C. while a sniper-killer was chased after, as spectators and actors of "Nord-Ost".

What differs is that in Israel it is a continuous process. We go out shopping, send our children to school, go by bus to work or by car somewhere for the weekend and each of us becomes a hostage.

We have no guarantee that we will return safe and sound, that a school bus with our child won't be blown up, that a "shakhid" with a bomb round his waist won't penetrate into a grocery where we buy food and that a car where we drive together with children won't be shot at by a Palestinian sniper. For all that, our secret services have prevented hundreds of acts of terror. 175 might-have-been kamikaze are kept nowadays in Israeli jails. If we transfer this number into saved lives we will receive thousands of might-have-been victims. One-time splashes of bloody terrorism like the one in Moscow are really outrageous. But the routine of terrorism is even more outrageous.

In early last century writer and journalist Vladimir Korolenko published his essay on introduction of the capital punishment in Russia after the sedition of 1905. The essay was titled Everyday Occurrence. Just think it over: murder as an everyday occurrence. Terror became an everyday occurrence hundred years later. Moscow tragedy could not but stir up the whole world. But, frankly speaking, I doubt this painful lesson has been learned.

No sooner had the hostages been released, the Russian Federation called on foreign states to extradite Chechen separatists to Russia claiming they were organizers of armed units who are now in a number of countries, also in the West. But Europe remains Europe.

While these lines are being written a so-called "World Chechen congress" is taking place in the capital of Denmark. The Danish side has repeatedly been informed about Russia's most serious preoccupations in this respect, but the homeland of Hamlet remained adamant and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Per Stig Meller stated, "Denmark is a real democracy and the right to an assembly is observed here without demur. The abolition of the congress would be a step against constitution".

Frankly speaking, there is nothing new in the position of Denmark for Europe. Recently, an internal report of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has been made public in Israel. It turned out an informational bomb and deserves quoting: "EU representatives Xavier Solana, Miguel Maratinos and Alister Kruk have of late maintained contacts with Palestinian terrorist organizations (FATH, " The brigade of martyrs of Al-Aksa" and KHAMAS) in order to persuade them to declare about cessation of hostilities. The general direction of these contacts is the Palestinian declaration about the cessation of hostilities inside the "green line". Alongside, the armed struggle against the occupation beyond these borders becomes legitimate in conformity with the general concept of all European countries that consider PA an arising state and support the idea of the struggle against occupation. Europeans are trying to persuade Palestinians that the declaration on hostilities' cessation will bring them a bigger international support. Virtually, Europeans offer a certain kind of selection: those who will live and who will die. If you kill adult Jews-men outside the "green line" - Europe will support you. Several days later, after the report of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a Palestinian car filled with explosives smashed into pieces a passenger bus on Karkur crossroads. Fourteen innocent people were killed.

The only sober evaluation of the situation was suggested by the former British Prime Minister baroness Margaret Thatcher. She emphasized that the security of Israel influences the security of her country. "Israel is on the front line of terror, and the West is not far from it... After the events of September 11 and those in Bali it became clear that all of us are in the eyeshot of the evil power", - she said. Lady Thatcher did not know at that time that Moscow was the next.

But the human community is not able to learn lessons and correct mistakes.

The European Union acts as if Cote d'Azur were not of the same tourist demand as island Bali before the Islamic act of terror, or as if a politically correct Denmark had no popular sites visited by people from countries unloved by terrorists. Somebody forgets that in an untroubled Europe it is much easier for blockheads legally residing there to take hostages than anywhere. Whether citizens of Europe want to live in a new reality of global terror or not, they have to get accustomed to this. The routine of terror demands not only security measures but also huge expenses on this security. Actions like the siege of "Nord Ost" are not possible in Israel by definition, but we pay too much for this impossibility.

And some more words about terror as an everyday occurrence. I have not yet managed to discover the nature of this wonderful ability of Israelis to live normally in abnormal circumstances. To some extent, I found the answer in contemplations of an inhabitant of Kiriat-Arba, a town that suffered a lot from Palestinian terror. He wrote, "Explosions thunder again. I'm driving from Ephrat to Kiriat-Arba. I take fellow travellers, a man and young girl. All of a sudden, I calm down. The girl is speaking about some trifles on the phone. But what made me calm down? We are going in the darkness through Arab villages where snipers ensconced. But the girl is calmly discussing her love affairs. And in the USA one sniper intimidated two million people. Thus, who is stronger, them or us?"


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