In the hours after armed terrorists had launched deadly attacks in Paris, the world seemed to join as one to condemn the atrocity. Among those declaring themselves utterly horrified by the Paris massacres were more than a few terrorists.
It was a moment that, quite literally, defied belief.
Senior figures from Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad — all groups with lengthy and sinister records of murdering civilians — issued statements condemning the inhuman actions of the so-called Islamic State. “Barbaric,” was how many of the groups described the Paris massacres in their statements to the international media.
ISIS has already demonstrated that it can push the bar so low that even the most contemptible organizations cannot support their methods. After all, even al Qaeda leaders pleaded with ISIS’s predecessor, asking if it might consider easing up on the public decapitations of Shiite Muslims in Baghdad’s streets.
But, while al Qaeda was concerned that its former franchisee’s tactics would prove counter-productive, the condemnation that we heard in recent days is something altogether different. What we see now is a cynical display of opportunism and hypocrisy.
The Paris attacks are being used by terrorist groups to try to scrub their names, to put themselves on the right side of the humanity-versus-barbarians contest in an effort to confer legitimacy to their cause and their tactics.
Consider Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States and others: Hamas said it strongly condemned “the acts of aggression and barbarity” committed by ISIS in Paris.
But then, just five days later, a Palestinian from the West Bank town of Dura walked into a building in Tel Aviv, found a group of Jewish men praying, and proceeded to stab as many of them as he could, killing two. He told police investigators, with remarkable clarity, that he had come into Israel “to kill Jews.”
By then, Hamas had apparently recovered from the shock of the Paris attacks. It heartily congratulated the Tel Aviv killer, calling his attack “heroic,” and urging more of the same.
Hamas doesn’t just praise terrorists as heroes, it has conducted dozens of terrorist operations, blowing up civilian buses, restaurants and nightclubs, and killing hundreds of civilians.
Similarly, Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and cat’s paw of Iran’s regime, has a lengthy track record of international terrorism. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called the attack in Paris, you guessed it, “barbaric.”
That’s the same Nasrallah that presided over the heroes’ welcome for Samir Kuntar, the Hezbollah operative released by Israel in a trade after he killed a four-year-old Israeli girl, Einat Haran, by smashing her head against a rock.
It’s the same Nasrallah whose Hezbollah operatives, according to Bulgarian officials, blew up a bus filled with young Israeli tourists, killing five, their Bulgarian driver, and injuring 32. It’s the same Hezbollah that, along with Iran, carried out the worst terrorist attacks in Argentina’s history, blowing up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy.
Hezbollah works closely with Assad’s regime in Syria. Assad, incidentally, also condemned ISIS’s Paris attacks as “savage terror.” That’s rich coming from the man who drops chemical weapons and barrel bombs on his people.
Also joining in the Paris condemnation was Islamic Jihad, another group that has made terrorism its stock in trade, which called the attacks “a crime against innocent people.” But, much as Hamas and Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad doesn’t count any Israelis or Jews as “innocent people.”
To make the obvious but necessary point that all terrorism is wrong, Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan said it’s time to stop the “my terrorist is good, yours is bad” duality. Of course, he meant the world should turn against his foes, the Kurds. But Erdogan perhaps forgot he has given enthusiastic support to Hamas.
If there is any chance of stopping terrorism, it is vital to stop excusing the use of violence against civilians for political purposes no matter what the cause. To many Palestinians and their supporters in Europe and in Arab countries, murdering Israeli civilians is somehow not terrorism.
As long as some causes are viewed as justifying violence against civilians, all would-be terrorists will think theirs is the cause whose ends justify the means. Just ask the terrorists who cynically condemned the Paris attacks.