Beliefnet
If only the world had valued Jewish life, it might have saved its own skin.

In both the Second World War, and the current global war on terror, the attacks on the Jews were precursors to broader attacks that were in the planning stages on a truly massive scale.

Hitler was oppressing Jews back in 1933. But the world was pretty accustomed to anti-Semitism, wasn't all that outraged by it, and so, amid all the signs that this guy was a monster, decided to give Hitler a pass. Hitler took advantage of the time allotted him, built up his army, and ended up killing millions of Russians, British, and Americans, in addition to half the world's Jews.

It is clear that the same thing has now transpired with global, Islamic terrorism. When Arab terrorists first started killing Israeli schoolchildren back in the 60's and 70's, the world turned a blind eye and dismissed it as a regional conflict. Dead Jews were not big news. The world, which had already absorbed the idea of six million more dead Jews, didn't take terrorism seriously. The reaction of the world community was to view the Arab attacks as legitimate skirmishes with Israelis, an outrageous notion to be sure given the fact that the Arabs were directly targeting civilians and non-combatants.

A truly outrageous case in point was the massacre of eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games of 1972. So casually was this tragedy taken that, amazingly, the games continued the very next day. Unbelievably, the German government released the three captured hijackers a few weeks later, and they promptly returned to a hero's welcome. One must seriously wonder what would have happened had the dead athletes been American, German, or British. Would their deaths have been treated so cavalierly? Would these governments have allowed the games to continue before the victims were even buried?

The legacy of the Munich Olympics was not even one of sympathy for Israel, but of a heightened awareness of the Palestinian cause. In this respect, the Munich massacre was a watershed in the history of terror because it taught the terrorists that they actually further their cause--with publicity and public sympathy--by killing innocent civilians.

The same was true of the horrific murder of wheelchair-bound-passenger Leon Klinghoffer aboard the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1983. Here, the world barely reacted to a truly gruesome murder involving an invalid being shot in his wheelchair in front of his wife, and then pushed overboard into the ocean. Shockingly, the Italian government later released the terrorists who perpetrated this unspeakable crime. And through all this, the world largely remained silent.

That is, until the terrorists stopped killing only Jews and began killing people on the streets of New York, Bali, Madrid, and Moscow. Now everyone recognizes that terrorism is an evil that threatens the entire world, not just Jews.

I do not believe that the Jews are more intelligent than other people. Less so do I believe that the Jews possess any physical superiority over any other nation. I do, however, believe that the Jews are G-d's chosen people, responsible for imparting to the world the message of G-d's law. It is therefore no coincidence that those who hate G-d hate the Jews as well. In this respect, the Jews have served as an almost infallible early warning system, alerting the world's leaders to the next great evil that will stalk the earth. If the world would just learn to be sensitive to Jewish life, it would save its own behind as well.

Even if we ignore the idea of the Jews as the chosen people, the fact is that the Jews have, unfortunately, served as an effective early warning system precisely because thugs, bullies, and murderers usually attack the most vulnerable targets first. People who crave unbridled power always start with the weak. Jews have been easy targets. They are a tiny nation whose refusal to adopt the religious mores of their neighbors have branded them as outsiders. They have therefore been attacked and scapegoated by evil regimes throughout the generations, and had the world simply looked at who was picking on the Jews, they might have easily identified the next great threat to their own security.

The Cold War is another modern case in point. The Soviet Union presented the Western powers with the possibility of a war of annihilation through nuclear holocaust. We are fortunate that the Soviet Union today is no more. But again, the world could easily have been alerted to the danger posed by Stalin had it simply studied how he treated the Jews. For Stalin had a plan, not completely dissimilar to Hitler's, to exile and then exterminate his Jews. So, while so many leading Western intellectuals were enthralled with Stalin, praising him as a visionary socialist leader, all that had to be done was to study his treatment of the Jews to discern his true nature.

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