Last week’s Economist editorial on the atrocities in Paris contained an off-the-cuff slight so subtle that it barely registers. “[The attacks are] sorely testing [Paris’s] reputation for joie de vivre,” the editors quip, “and its resolution not to become Tel Aviv-sur-Seine.”
“Tel Aviv-sur-Seine”? Excuse me? When did “Tel Aviv” suddenly become a lazy byword for “city ravaged by terrorism”?
Do you mean a city that annually absorbs hundreds (if not thousands) of French immigrants, eager to walk upright down the street without fear of being attacked for being Jews? Who believe that Paris has had its day, and Tel Aviv is the city of promise?
Perhaps you mean the city that no matter how many attacks it endures, never loses its “ahavat chayyim” (that’s “joie de vivre” in Hebrew), and whose residents have internalised that revenge is to live, and to live hard and fast and around the clock?
Or perhaps you mean the city that is never, ever, ever subjected to the draconian emergency regulations recently imposed on freedom in Paris, nor ever shuts down synagogues because the state “can’t protect them”. You certainly mean the city that no matter how many alerts, has never been totally shut down like Brussels last week.
Tel Aviv can do quite well without The Economist‘s condescension. Its editors might find that some eastern Mediterranean sea breeze might do Paris well. It is to Israel that Europe now looks to understand how to confront terrorism and thrive in the face of it, not vice versa. Slowly and reluctantly, Europe is realising that there exists only one a model of a democracy that has fine-tuned the art of counter terrorism while preserving its liberty and vivacity, even drawing immigrants from the first world.
Tel Aviv-sur-Seine isn’t the nightmare scenario.
That would be Paris-sur-Yarkon.