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Israelis wonder how to say 'we told you so' in French

Israeli security vendors say interest in their products has picked up in Europe after the November 13 attacks in Paris. Can France really take lessons from Israel about ways to handle terror threats?

A suspicious suitcase on a train from Cologne to the former West German capital of Bonn last week caused some hysteria among passengers, who were forced to dismount in the middle of their journey.

Workers anxiously called their bosses, letting them know that they were running late. A mother called her son's kindergarten teacher, telling her that the boy wouldn't make it to school on time, while trying to figure out whether or not it was safe to stay on the platform.

For many around the world, this situation is a matter of routine. However, for some Germans it meant something to get used to, especially following the November 13 Paris attacks, which increased the feeling that terror can now hit everywhere.

"It's good that we suddenly pay attention to these things," one of the passengers said to a fellow commuter. "I mean, it was surely happening all along, but it's just now that we actually care about it," he added. "Abandoned bags and everything - we didn't think it was so important until what happened in Paris."

Indeed, many citizens of other countries found the social media hype over the Paris attack somewhat disturbing. The popular Twitter hashtags #ParisAttacks and #PrayForParis led to the new hashtag #PrayForTheWorld, reminding the Internet that other countries, too, suffer from terror, and often with underwhelming attention from the media.

A bombing in Beirut carried out by the "Islamic State," which also claimed responsilbility for the attacks in Paris, had killed scores and injured more than 200 people just the day before, but without receiving proper coverage, according to many critics.

But these were not the only voices criticizing Europe's response to the November 13 attacks. Many Israelis were also taking to social media, expressing their condolences, but also calling Europe to rethink its criticisms of the Middle Eastern country.

"I'm not saying I was happy to hear about the attacks," said 31-year-old Assaf, a tech worker who lives in northern Israel. "It was terrible, and I cannot imagine what Parisians must have gone through. I just think that maybe now they realize what we have to deal with on a daily basis."

"I will not even go as far as blaming Europe's open door to refugees, like many Israelis do," he added. "I know terror exists everywhere and that most of the people that take the journey to Europe are actually miserable and they deserve the asylum they are granted there.

"I'm just saying, imagine living like that all the time: under this constant fear, which too many times turns into reality. Even if you blame Israel for its political agendas, can you still not understand the common citizens? Can you still not understand why some of us are skeptical? Wary? Cautious?"

Increased demand for technology

Though many Europeans do not support Israel politically, some countries are considering adopting proven Israeli security technologies.

"I cannot elaborate much on the topic for obvious reasons, but I can say that the terror attacks in Paris are very likely to create a surge in demand for homeland security technology," a captain in an intelligence unit of the Israel Defense Forces told DW on the condition that he not be identified.

"Like it or not, Israelis are well-trained to deal with these cases, and neutralizing a bomb in the middle of a bustling street shouldn't take us more than a few minutes," he added. "These abilities are something other countries want to have, even if it's clearly under unfortunate circumstances."

According to military analysts, the same thing happened in 2001, right after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, when demand for all sorts of Israeli-made anti-terror technologies was on the rise.

"Since the recent events, you can sense increased interest on the part of many countries - among them Belgium, Germany and Italy," Florian Leibovici, a sales manager for BriefCam, which lets investigators review video recordings rapidly to detect suspicious activity, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Tel Aviv

An Israeli surveillance vehicle is exhibited at an expo of Israeli intelligence-gathering technology in Tel Aviv

'Tweets are not enough'

Although many Israelis were quick to show solidarity with Paris, one cannot ignore the criticizing, sometimes patronizing, tone in posts. One Facebook user even asked in Hebrew, "How do one say 'we told you so' in French?"

Following the attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to France and offered assistance, but also used his Facebook page to call for other countries to start paying attention to the threats Israel faces.

"It's time for the world to condemn terrorism against Israel in the same manner that it condemns terrorism in France and anywhere else in the world," he posted.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on Facebook that Israelis "join our fellow French brothers in their deep pain."

But he added: "Crying, condolence messages and tweets of solidarity by celebrities will not be enough this time. ... The free world is under the attack of radical Islam."

"This is the time for an uncompromising war against them," he continued, sparking broad criticism from the Israeli left. "We must go on the offensive, take it to their territory, and not cease until we achieve victory. There is no other option."

Critics were not impressed, saying that the attacks shouldn't be used by Israel as an excuse to justify its deeds in the occupied territories, and that the two countries are handling a completely different situation that should not be presented as similar.

"It's really not about schadenfreude," said Assaf, the tech worker. "It's about the feeling that everyone's turning against us without really realizing what we're going through."

A picture with a pun about the reality of "24/7" terror in Israel has gone viral.

"I don't think this is the right time to condescend the French like that," the IDF captain said. "What we need to do is to offer our help where we can and let them grieve the way they feel is right. And I say this as a private person. As an officer, I can only hope our technologies will never need to be in use again. Neither in Israel nor in France."

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