The day after last Tuesday’s bombings, the headline of the French newspaper Le Monde declared: “We are all Americans now.” It was an extraordinary gesture, especially from the French and especially from Le Monde.

But the more appropriate headline, both in Europe and in America, would be: “We are all Israelis now.”

Israel has never been the victim of a terrorist attack of the same size as the bombings in New York and Washington. But in the past year — since Yasser Arafat initiated his new war against Israel — terrorists have killed or wounded more than 1,000 Israeli civilians. Compared to Israel’s population — less than 6 million people — that’s the equivalent of 44,000 civilian casualties in the United States.

The terror we experienced last week is what Israelis have lived with for decades, and the motive of the terrorists is the same. Their motive is not solely a hatred for Jews, though that is an important component. Their motive is a wider hatred for the West: for the free, secular society that allows us to flout Islamic law; for the industry, technology, and economic freedom that makes us wealthy; and for the military might that makes us invulnerable to conventional attack. The terrorists grasp this commonality, and they hate America, not only because we support Israel, but because Israel shares and represents our values. As a Palestinian cleric declared last year in a sermon at a Gaza mosque — a sermon broadcast on Arafat-controlled television — “Wherever you are, kill the Jews, (and) the Americans, who are like them.” This is the enemy against whom we have urged the Israelis to exercise restraint.

It is conceivable that, for many people, the plight of the Israelis was not fully real until we faced the same kind of attack here in America. Now they have no excuse.

The most contemptible cowards, however, are those university leftists who are now urging Americans, not to sympathize with the Israelis, but to sacrifice them. These are the people who tell us we should respond to terrorism, not by liquidating the terrorist organizations and their backers, but by “looking at the reasons why we are hated in the Islamic world.” The reason they usually single out is our support for Israel. So, to mollify the friends of Osama bin Laden, we are supposed to abandon 5 million Jews to a new holocaust.

The accomplices of these intellectuals are the myopic pragmatists at the State Department who are trying to force further concessions on Israel. By supporting the Palestinian cause, they hope to convince more Arab nations to sign on to our anti-terrorist coalition. The nation’s compromiser-in-chief, Colin Powell, is even entertaining overtures from Syria and Iran. The idea, apparently, is to launch a war against terrorism by cozying up to terrorists.

This is just a continuation of the real cause of the terrorist threat against the United States. That cause is not our support for Israel, but the principles behind the disastrous “peace process” we have foisted on Israel.

If we were to follow the advice we have given Israel for the past decade, we would respond to last week’s terrorist attacks by opening up negotiations with Osama bin Laden. We would invite him to Camp David for peace talks, where we would agree to install him as dictator of his own quasi-government, supported with American foreign aid. After every new bombing and every new slaughter of American citizens, we would have to declare our renewed dedication to this “peace process” and invite bin Laden back for more negotiations. We would have to smile and believe his lies every time he tells us that he just can’t control the suicide bombers who keep laying waste to our cities.

If this sounds utterly repugnant — if it sounds like a prescription for suicide — remember that this has been our officially sanctioned Middle East policy for the past eight years. What America owes Israel now is a long, abject apology — and carte blanche to do whatever is necessary to fight Palestinian terrorism. That includes arresting Arafat, shutting down his Palestinian Authority, and then going after the primary state sponsor of Palestinian terrorism: the dictatorship of Syria.

It is being said that this crisis will show us who our friends are. But we need no crisis to know who our best friend is, and always has been, in the Middle East. Our best friend is Israel, and we should begin by vowing to support that friend as loyally as she has supported us.