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Obama: Europe a target? Not news to Europeans

“A fast-moving, atmospheric thriller. Best to start reading this one early in the evening… unless, that is, you don’t mind losing a night’s sleep!” ——David Hunt, best-selling author of The Magician’s Tale

Why do we Americans have such short memories, and why do we always seem to focus on ourselves, ignoring or forgetting the lessons to be learned from others?

While president Barack Obama was visiting France in April, without a word of commentary to set Obama’s statements in a historical context, ABC News reported him as saying “I think that it is important for Europe to understand that even though I’m now president and George Bush is no longer president, al Qaeda is still a threat and that we cannot pretend somehow that because Barack Hussein Obama got elected as president suddenly everything’s going to be OK.”

Some Europeans legitimately took offense at the suggestion that they have failed to grasp the threat posed by extremist violence. Paris has experienced deadly bombing episodes periodically for decades, long before 9/11 awoke the sleeping American giant.

On October 1, 1995, The NY Times’ Alan Riding reported that “It is probably fair to say that if Paris were not normally such a safe city a recent spate of terrorist bombs would not have been so disturbing. Parisians — and visitors to Paris — are used to feeling secure here. And now, metaphorically speaking, they have to look over their shoulders.”

What many had already forgotten in the fall of 1995 were the bombings of the mid-1980s. Here is the NY Times, again (in an April 15, 1992 report): “The Tunisian leader of an Iranian-backed group that killed 13 people and wounded 303 others in a series of bomb attacks in central Paris in 1985 and 1986 was sentenced to life imprisonment by a special anti-terrorist court here today.”

Little attention was given in the USA to reports of an even older bombing incident in Paris. On November 13, 2008, CBC News reported “A University of Ottawa sociology professor has been arrested in Gatineau, Que., in relation to a bombing that killed four people near a synagogue in Paris almost three decades ago. Canada‘s Department of Justice confirmed that 56-year-old Hassan Diab was arrested Thursday, Agence-France Presse reported.”

That bombing occurred on Oct. 3, 1980, outside the Rue Copernic synagogue in Paris.

Live and learn?

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