It may have been coincidental that Monday's terrorist attack at the Boston marathon coincided with Israel's Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. As Israelis participated in ceremonies mourning the dead, many of whom lost their lives in bombings, innocent Americans were killed and maimed while celebrating Patriots' Day. The rest of the United States was hit with the realization that the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, are not a thing of the past.
Mainstream Israel has always grasped this unfortunate fact. Being the target of terror on a daily basis tends to put a damper on wishful amnesia.
This painful reality has some positive side effects, however. It has made the Israeli security services experts at recognizing, preventing and intercepting jihadists. It has led Israeli hospital personnel to excel at handling mass emergencies. It has caused Israeli innovators to wow the world with ingenious prosthetic inventions. And it has provided Israeli medical teams with the kind of training and empathy that enables them to be dispatched to all corners of the globe during natural and other disasters -- the kind that require skills such as searching for bodies buried under rubble and setting up field infirmaries.
It was therefore not the least bit surprising to hear Chief of Emergency Services at Massachusetts General Hospital Alasdair Conn attribute his staff's success this week to Israelis whom he had called in two years ago to "help us set up our disaster team so that we could respond in this kind of manner."
Such cooperative endeavors make much sense. The U.S. and Israel are not merely allies; according to the radical Muslim enemy, they are the "Great Satan" and the "Small Satan," both deserving of, and destined for, defeat.
Here it needs to be pointed out that the culprits behind the Boston bombings have not been apprehended. It is not even certain that the two suspects whose photos were released by the FBI on Thursday are guilty. And even if they do turn out to be the ones who constructed the bombs from pressure cookers lined with ball bearings, their motive has yet to be determined.
The Left is anxious for them to be white, right-wing fanatics who support the Tea Party. The footage of the young men would indicate that this is far from the case. Furthermore, the type of bombs they fashioned happen to be eerily similar those that have been detonated by terrorists in Afghanistan.
But even if the perpetrators are not Islamists, home-grown or otherwise, their actions spurred an interesting interview with Egyptian Salafi cleric Sheikh Murgan Salem on Tahrir TV on Wednesday (translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute):
Interviewer: "Today, we will be talking about the Boston bombings … There were casualties. People were wounded and killed. What is your analysis of what happened?"
Murgan Salem: "In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Obviously, I do not know who carried out that operation, but if it was done by the mujahideen [Muslims who struggle in the path of Allah], it serves as a message to America and the West: We are still alive. Contrary to what you say, we have not died. The [Americans] wanted to send a message to the entire world that they had finished off the mujahideen, not just the mujahideen of al-Qaida, but the mujahideen all over the world. I do not know who carried out this attack, but if it was indeed the mujahideen, it was meant as a clear message to America and to the West … From what I saw on the news, this was the work of amateurs. I do not know who did it, but they have managed to get the message across: We can reach you whenever and wherever we want."
Interviewer: "Whom do you consider to be an infidel?"
Murgan Salem: "Anyone who does not accept Islam. They are either original infidels, like the Jews and Christians, or apostates, like the secularists, liberals, communists or socialists. Whoever does not accept Islam is an infidel. Allah said so, not me."
This interview took place on Tuesday. On Wednesday, while the citizens of the U.S. were shocked by the blast at the fertilizer plant blast in Waco, Texas, Israelis nodded and shrugged at the news that two Grad missiles had struck a residential area in the resort town of Eilat. Because of a miraculous absence of casualties, the rockets were barely reported in media outlets outside the country.
Unlike in the Boston bombings, the terrorist organization that launched the missiles at Eilat immediately claimed responsibility. The Salafist group, the Mujahideen Shura Council (made up of Egyptians and Palestinians who espouse al-Qaida ideology) was proud of its work, though not nearly as satisfied as it would have been had it managed to commit mass murder.
Oh well, better luck next time. And, of course, there will be a next time, in the U.S., as in Israel.
Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"