America and worldwide Jewry share terrorism worries

Two points of special interest to Jews emerge from all the recent bombings and bomb scares focused on American targets, from Saudi Arabia to the Olympics.

To begin with, America's enemies tend to also be enemies of Israel and Jews. Enemies of Israel and of the Jews tend to be the enemies of America: In recent years, terrorists have made that formula increasingly clear.

Those who bombed the American military in Saudi Arabia were certainly enemies of Israel — and of American support of Israel. But make no mistake: The bombing was mainly against America and its presence in Saudi Arabia.

America threatens those who fear its effect on the traditional Muslim way of life. The Muslim terrorist movements are centrally anti-American.

Similarly, the fringe terrorist movements imbedded in some of our home-grown militia forces are anti-American. They are not the first movements that, in the name of "Americanism," would destroy basic American values. And it is no coincidence that these movements tend to be bigoted and anti-Semitic.

So, in both cases, the formula works: Anti-American attacks are anti-Jewish attacks and vice versa. In the case of foreign policy and Israel, this connection has become ingrained in the American consciousness. And Americans recognize that attacks here by Muslim terrorists don't happen simply because this country supports Israel. American Jews can worry less about that than they used to, although they still have to help Americans understand that point clearly.

But what can be done about such terrorism, made easy by access to increasingly fatal knowledge and technology? As one Israeli expert pointed out after the Olympic episode, three basic terrorist sources target America: international terrorists, mainly from some quarters in the Muslim world; home-grown fringe groups; and mentally unbalanced individuals such as the Unabomber.

In tackling international terrorists, there is one prime deterrent that America has not always pursued as diligently as it might. A handful of countries — such as Iran, Syria and the Sudan — have made much of that international terrorism possible. Largely out of economic interests, European nations have remained generally reluctant to support tough American sanctions on these terrorist nations.

Unfortunately, America's recent supplicant efforts with Syria have only strengthened that Mideast regime's position. Citizens should try to strengthen the resolve of the White House and Congress on this front.

Beyond that, there seems to be only one remedy with respect to both international and home-grown terrorist groups: intensified intelligence, the infiltration of those groups. That is a touchy civil liberties matter, but we can no longer afford to be finicky, as long as we maintain the distinction between what these groups believe, or say, and what they plan.

As for the mentally unbalanced individuals, there is little we can do except try to keep better controls on explosive materials. Some would call this an invasion of rights, but again we can no longer afford to be finicky. Those controls might help with respect to organized terrorist groups as well.

What we can no longer afford are know-nothing comments to the effect that "the best way to get rid of terrorists is to pay attention to their complaints." The organized terrorist groups' basic complaints are that America exists at all, that Israel exists at all and that Jews exist at all. Those are not negotiable complaints.