Ever since I first heard of the “Jews as canaries” idea, I rather liked it. It states that the way a place treats Jews is a good indicator of how other groups will be treated down the line, and when things start getting bad for the Jews, it’s gonna start going downhill for a lot of other people in fairly short order.
However, the idea of looking at the Jews and using them as a barometer for how things are going, no matter how practical it might seem, doesn’t appear to be taking much hold in the world. In fact, just the opposite seems to be developing — problems for the Jews tend to get swept under the rug.
Let’s look at a few examples. Recently, the London tabloid The Sun put up a graphic charting Islamic terror attacks since 1993 — and didn’t include a single incident in Israel. (Online story has expired, but discussion here.)
How about another? OK, let’s look more historically. The creation of Israel in the 40’s led to a great number of refugees created. The United Nations has two organizations devoted to helping refugees — one for the 800,000 Palestinians displaced at that time and their descendants, one for everyone else. But neither group ever troubled itself with the 800,000 or so OTHER refugees created at that time — the Jews who lived in Arabic and Muslim lands who fled TO Israel, often with barely the shirts on their backs. Those people are essentially lost to the world. It’s like they never existed.
But that’s all right with them. To them, “refugee” is synonymous with “victim,” and they don’t want to be considered victims. They looked at their situation, shrugged, and GOT ON WITH THEIR LIVES. They decided that they weren’t going to be Egyptian/Jordanian/Lebanese/Syrian/Iraqi/Iranian/Moroccan/whatever refugees; they would leave that all behind with barely a backward glance and become ISRAELIS. They gave up everything they ever had and, with the help of their new homeland, started living. The greatest tragedy of the Palestinians is that the places that gave them shelter refused to let them get past their victimhood and become part of their nation. And let’s not forget that Jordan killed far more Palestinians than Israel ever did when the Palestinians attempted to overthrow their government in the Black September uprising of 1970-1971.
OK, how about a third example? People often say that since September 11, 2001, there hasn’t been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. While that’s largely true, apparently nobody else remembers an Egyptian man shooting up Los Angeles International Airport on July 4, 2002, killing three people before a security guard killed him. I wonder if the fact that the part of LAX he shot up was the El Al ticket counter, and it was an El Al security agent that killed him (after being wounded himself) is what allows this incident to fall down the memory hole.
OK, a fourth demonstration. Here’s something from the “Standing Headlines” drawer — “Terrorist attack in Israel threatens fragile cease-fire.” Let’s look at that carefully. If there’s a cease-fire, that means that both sides stop attacking. If one of them attacks, then the cease-fire isn’t THREATENED, it’s OVER. But by couching the incident in those terms, the implication is that one side can attack without violating the agreement, but any retaliation would irrevocably shatter the “delicate truce.”
And all those calls for “Israel to show restraint” or “demonstrate patience” makes me wonder if we are witnessing a new low in language. “Patience” and “restraint” are now to be measured in dead Israelis, and seem to be pushing the idea that there is a “tolerable” level of terrorism against Israel — that it should only be taken seriously when it reaches certain levels, but a few dead here and there are simply part of the routine cost of living. I’ve tried to find an explanation that doesn’t reek of cold racism and anti-Semitism, but I’ve failed.
(added at last minute before publication) Today provides a perfect example. There was a suicide bombing in Israel recently, killing numerous innocent people. There also have been literally dozens of rocket and mortar attacks on Israel in the past week or so. This morning Israel blew up a van carrying four Hamas terrorists and a cubic assload of homemade rockets. Naturally, it’s that last action by Israel that is “threatened an already tattered truce.”
I’ve said many times before I consider myself a Zionist, but apart from principle, there’s a strong element of pragmatism behind my support for Israel. History has shown us time and time again that the “canary in a coal mine” rule of thumb holds a lot of merit. Having the Jews around to let us know when things are going bad is a very, very useful thing. And to let that incredibly useful barometer be destroyed would be the ultimate proof of its truth.