We returned from the Netherlands - Amsterdam, to be precise - a day before the terror attacks in Brussels. We spent several days in a haze of tulips and canals. In the city center, in Dam Square, we saw a man who erected a huge BDS sign, in colors of black and red, which portrayed gory sights that were described as the “horrors of the Israeli occupation.”
Several Palestinians gathered around him, along with two or three women who seemed local, with keffiyehs around their necks. The crowds who crossed the plaza, who were leisurely leaning back on the stone steps under the World War II memorial, trying in vain to catch some sunshine, were completely indifferent to the exhibit of horrors in the heart of the large square. Amsterdam, it seems, was immersed in the serene quiet of the late European winter.
Then, the next day, two suicide bombers exploded in Brussels, the capital of its neighbor from the south. One bomb went off at a train station and the other at the airport, both leaving behind terrible destruction, dozens of fatalities, over a hundred wounded, great terror and anxiety, and a long list of questions that unfortunately seem to have no answers. And if there are any answers, let's face it, they are not good ones.
News commentators claimed that this attack was no surprise for the Europeans, including the Belgians, which raises the first question: If this is how they deal with an expected attack, how will they handle an attack that catches them completely by surprise? Equally as concerning is the next question: What’s next? In other words, what are the Europeans going to do, or rather, what can they do about it, if at all?
In this regard, the bottom line to the flood of words that washed over us after the attacks is that they are not going to do much, and perhaps even less than that.
We're told the Europeans have lost their killer instincts, that they have no idea how to manage wars and certainly not this kind of war. That perhaps even in this war, the third world war according to some commentators, they will have to wait for the American or Russian rescue forces to come and clean things up. They missed the boat, terrorism is already out of control. The horses - as we Israelis tend to say - have left the stables.
We're told that the attackers targeted the Brussels airport as it was easy to get past the security barriers, but terrorism will also come to Germany - despite its stringent security - and to Britain. In short, Europe is at the onset of an attack, which Israel, this time, is not the focus of. ISIS in Brussels does not delve into questions of the occupation in the West Bank and the expansion of settlements, and it also has no intention of giving the impression that this is the focus of their struggle.
And why is this so frustrating? Because in this case, there is despair on both sides. It is shared by those that support terrorism and those who fight it. Because this asymmetrical warfare once again works in favor of the perpetrators of terrorism, and the arsenal used to fight this war is limited despite the billions that Europe will throw at it. Because ISIS is an expression of an evil spirit that settled among the second and third generations of immigrants in Europe. And because all of the explanations of a hotbed that breeds alienation, hostility and hatred, crumble in face of the hard data that shows that a significant proportion of ISIS fighters grew up in homes that do not meet these definitions.
And it's so frustrating because there isn't really a security mechanism that can stop this evil spirit, and because difficult days are ahead for the entire world, not just for Europe. It's also frustrating that commentators, professionals and experts in the field, have so many ideas on how to eradicate terrorism. Why? The answer lies in the following story: Good neighbors visited a Polish mother. "Your daughter," they told her, "is spending time with many men." "As long as it's with many men," the Polish mother answered, "I am not worried. Let me know if she spends time with just one man." In other words, a lot actually means very little. Where there is an abundance of suggestions – could it be possible that there is no solution?