The police investigation in Spain found that the man who drove his van into dozens of people in Barcelona was part of a 12-man jihadist cell planning an outrage on a much wider scale.
The thought of what could have been chills us to the bone. It makes us grateful that their dreams didn’t come true. And it makes us vigilant. It does not make us want to run away. It does not send us fleeing for the Israeli hills, as Catalonia’s Chief Rabbi would have us do. Europe is lost, he says. Run, now, before it’s too late.
Get real. Can anyone imagine Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis saying such a thing after the Manchester concert attack, or after London Bridge? Did any of us say, on first hearing the news, ‘Right, I’m off. Where’s my suitcase’?
Europe is not lost. It is under attack, as is the whole free world. The purpose is to divide peoples into ‘us’ and ‘them,’ to foment hate. To jihadists, there are ‘believers’ and ‘infidels,’ and the latter are all fair game, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, nationality, even religion (ISIS has killed far more Muslims than Christians and Jews combined). We’re all their enemies because we’re not them.
That’s why an Israeli citizen walking down Las Ramblas on Thursday was just as likely to be cut down as was a British citizen walking down Las Ramblas. Any Israelis watching Ariana Grande in Manchester on Monday 22 May were just as targeted as anyone else. Women walking in the city of Turku in Finland last week were not stabbed because they were Finnish, British, Swedish or Italian, but because they were within range. Making aliyah won’t help. Terrorists don’t ask to see your passport before deciding whether to blow you up or run you over.
Yes, sometimes we are targets because we’re Jewish, but usually we’re targets because we’re unlike them, because, unlike them, we value life and freedom, and resolve to live in peace with others. And with others we now stand.
Let Catalonia’s Chief Rabbi run if he wants.