Berlin's Brandenburg Gate with the Israeli flag projected onto it on Jan. 9, 2017 to pay tribute to the victims of the ramming attack in Jerusalem (Photo/JTA-Getty Images-AFP-ODD ANDERSEN)
Berlin's Brandenburg Gate with the Israeli flag projected onto it on Jan. 9, 2017 to pay tribute to the victims of the ramming attack in Jerusalem (Photo/JTA-Getty Images-AFP-ODD ANDERSEN)

Israeli flag a welcome sight in European cities

They may have been mere gestures, but they made quite a statement.

After a Palestinian terrorist rammed his truck into a crowd of Israeli soldiers on Jan. 8 in Jerusalem, killing four young cadets and injuring 15, one might have expected the customary response from Europe — that is, no response. Much of the world dismisses or ignores terror against Israelis, seeing it as an unfortunate by-product of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or as something Israel brings upon itself.

But this week we saw something new.

In surprising acts of solidarity with the victims of this heinous attack, Germany’s leadership on Jan. 9 projected the image of the Israeli flag on Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate. Two cities followed suit the next day: In Paris, the blue-and-white was projected on City Hall, while an Israeli flag flew at half-mast on top of the municipal building in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. All three nations issued statements of condolence.

They weren’t alone. Even the notoriously Israel-biased United Nations blasted the attack. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement that he “condemns the terrorist attack by a Palestinian assailant,” adding that “all those responsible for such acts must be brought to justice, condemned and disavowed.”

The U.N. Security Council similarly condemned the truck ramming, expressing condolences to the families of the victims and to the government of Israel. And the European Union put out its own statement condemning the attack.

Does any of this indicate a change in global attitudes toward Israel? We shall see. As reported in this issue, this development is likely linked to the spread of terror across Europe, which in turn has created an empathy toward Israel and its fight against terror.

The coming presidency of the ardently pro-Israel Donald Trump, the growing influence of Shiite Iran, the ongoing war against ISIS, the promising behind-the-scenes alliances between Israel and several of its Arab neighbors, the calamity taking place in Syria — all presage major cracks in the geopolitics of the Middle East.

No one can predict where this is going. But the recent activity seems to show a renewed willingness to differentiate between legitimate political actions and pure terror. Ramming a truck into a group of young soldiers on an educational outing is clearly in the latter category. We extend our condolences to the families of the Israeli soldiers. And we welcome shows of solidarity from every ally.