Tel Aviv and Boston


By Naomi Ragen


It was all so sickeningly familiar: the happy crowds, the sudden ear-shattering explosions, the dazed and wounded bloodied on the ground. ­­Like every Israeli who lived through the nightmare in the years following the Oslo Accords, which allowed terrorists free access to our cities and countryside, I recall months when this type of thing seemed like a daily occurrence. These scenes repeated in Boston filled me with a terrible sadness.

After my birthplace, New York, Boston is my favorite city in America. A college town filled with ambitious young people, libraries, bookstores and institutions of higher learning, it is a cultured place; a city of many different languages and different peoples. And like Israel, it’s a place where the decent, hardworking and talented can work to fulfill their life’s calling. It is no coincidence that terrorists, fanatical losers in so many ways, targeted Boston. In this case they might have, and almost did, choose Tel Aviv instead. Indeed, Russian intelligence has recordings of conversations that tell us as much.

It makes me sad to see Boston, and Americans in general, forced to struggle with the reality of terrorism. Like Israelis, at the beginning of Oslo, they, too, have their clueless who resist facing the obvious. This includes their new Secretary of State, John Kerry, who compared Boston’s victims to the terrorists on the illegal provocation journey of the Gaza/Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, who were killed by Israelis in self-defense.

Kerry’s naivete was not uncommon. Like the leftists in Israel during Oslo, the willful ignorance of some American commentators stands out. Prior to the bombers being identified, Esquire Magazine’s Charles Pierce rushed to judgment by admonishing readers against “jumping to conclusions” and not to blame the attack on “foreign terrorism.” This elicited a reader’s comment that she’d “bet good money it’s a right-wing nut job.” Mark Juergensmeyer, a professor at the University of California, added, “Religion in the Boston bomber case also seems to be a secondary aspect of their motivations. Like the other cases in recent years, it is an expression of the rage of angry young men… connections to… jihadi ideology that accompanies some aspects of the rebellious movement are yet to be revealed.”

They were soon revealed. Indisputable evidence linking the Boston bombers to Islamic jihad makes it impossible for such delusions to remain. The question persists as to why new immigrants from a Chechen background who had taken full advantage of America’s generosity in the form of scholarships and welfare and food stamps want to kill Americans. Nadja Vancauwenberghe, in USA Today, quotes a Chechen Jihadi with the answer. “Our enemy is not Russia only, but everyone who wages war against Islam and Muslims.” America responding to 9/11 is, by this definition, a legitimate target, as is anyone who has the temerity to fight back against terrorism.

Israelis have also come to realize that no terrorist acts alone. Most Americans will better appreciate the twisted terrorist mind as they learn to ignore the neat liberal scenario of the oppressed and underprivileged being the source of modern terrorism. But more often than not, the many who do terror are privileged and educated members of their society. Americans will also increasingly realize that Jihadi terrorists are all nurtured by a similar ideology which is reinforced by clerics in mosques, informed by postings online and like an odorless and transparent poison gas, seeps throughout the Muslim world, creating terrorists wherever it goes.

Nonie Darwish, the Egyptian-American human rights advocate and author of Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, recently said: “Some of the nicest people I know are Muslim, but that must never blind us from understanding the risk we are taking when we allow the building of hundreds of mosques financed by Saudi Arabia, as well as…millions of Muslims to migrate into America at a time of a fierce, sophisticated desire by Islamist groups to spread Islam throughout the world…”

Inevitably, Americans are being forced to undergo the same brutal transformation we Israelis did during Oslo. The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen says “…as a plume of white smoke drifted high above Boylston Street, as blood pooled on the sidewalk across from the Boston Public Library, as severed limbs lay amid the bruised and the bloodied and the stunned, their ears ringing … we will never feel safe again in our own town.”

I’m so sorry, Kevin, and so sorry, my dear city of Boston. But take comfort in this: Like we Israelis, you as a free people will find the strength you need. We salute you and yours in your just battle to preserve your way of life in your beautiful town.


Naomi Ragen is an American-Israeli Orthodox Jewish author, playwright and women’s rights activist. This column originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post and is an abridged version. The full version is accessible at http://www.naomiragen.com.

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