When I went to a the Bar Mitzvah of a family friend in Efrat in the summer of 2005, I was given a ride from Jerusalem by the father of the Bar Mitzvah boy. We engaged in conversation, which he began by saying “we are in World War III.” At first I thought he was crazy. Ten years later, however, it appears that he is correct.
We are at war, whether we admit it or not, against the forces of terror and radicalism. People who would murder 130 innocents in Paris without a second thought. Why? Because they are opposed to the values that we believe in: democracy, pluralism, western thought, justice. These barbarians are going after people like you and me who seek to enjoy an evening at a concert or theater. They are purposefully creating as much damage and tumult as possible in doing so, trying to bring about a continuous reign of terror.
We’re now over 15 years since the atrocities committed on September 11, 2001, and I think some of us were sleeping, dare I say even suppressing the terror that day instilled in us. Now we are woken up once again to the slaughter of innocents, the instilling of fear into our lives with the goal of disrupting our daily rhythm of living. Schools on Long Island have cancelled their trips into Manhattan and people are contemplating changing their Thanksgiving weekend plans as a result of the terror attack.
Let us also know forget the multiple stabbings and shootings of innocents that have occurred in Israel: in the secular, “western” area of Tel Aviv, in the religious community of Gush Etzion, in the city of Kiryat Gat in the northern Negev and throughout Israel’s capital Jerusalem. These are part of a series of terror actions based on the lie that Israel is going to demolish the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Having been in Israel for 2 weeks, I can assert that I felt completely safe and that I was proud our congregation came to support Israel in its time of need. At the same time, I noticed how dead Jerusalem was, seeing hardly anyone on Ben Yehuda Street or Mamila Mall and actually being able to walk in the Mahane Yehduah market on Friday afternoon. It seems that people are doing exactly what the terrorists want and avoiding Jerusalem.
As much as I’d like not to believe it, these signs point more and more towards us being ensconced in World War III. Unlike the previous two world wars, this one is not a war against countries but rather a war of values. It is those who believe in democracy, equality and western thought against those who would like to see the entire world dominated by Sharia law. This is not a war against Islam, and many Muslims (including my friends at the Islamic Cultural Center down the road) are very much pro-western and condemn the terrorist behavior. However, it is very much a war against those radicals and militants who believe we are infidels and heathens and who seek our destruction.
What should we do? We should continue to live our regular lives, not letting those who seek to cause fear and pandemonium actually do so. We should continue to live our lives in accordance with the values that we hold dear. We should outwardly condemn the behavior of those who seek to do us harm while at the same time working towards a world where terrorists and those who hate one for their religion will be uprooted. Let us never forget the Paris attacks just as we will never forget 9/11 and fight for a better world, a better future for us and for our children.