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May 31, 2016 / 23 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘answer’

Lieberman Isn’t the Answer

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

The new Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, isn’t the solution to Israel’s security problems. The solution is stated clearly in the opening of this week’s Torah portion, Bechukotai:

“If you walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments and do them, then… you shall dwell safely in your Land. And I will give peace in the Land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid, and I will remove evil beasts out of the Land, neither shall the sword go through your Land” (Bechukotai, 25:3-7).

Would that G-d would remove the evil beasts from our Land with their butcher knives and swords!

It is obvious that salvation will not come from the new Defense Minister, nor from new elections.

The holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Yaacov Abuchatzera, z’tzal, grandfather of the Baba Sali, explains that all of the terrible tribulations that fall upon the Jewish People, as set forth in the Torah portion, Bechukotai, stem from sexual transgressions. “Both the Rishonim (early rabbincal authorities) and Achronim (later rabbinical authorities) have stated that the majority of man’s sufferings, whether through pestilence, war, or famine result from transgressions to the Brit” (See the book, “Abir Yaacov,” section, Pitochei Chotam; Bechukotai).

In the beginning of the Torah portion, in reward for keeping the commandments, G-d promises the Jews that there shall be ample rain in the Land of Israel, agricultural blessing, abundant harvests and produce, victory over all enemies, and peace in the Land. But should the Jews stray from the Torah, and fall into sexual transgression by violating the Brit, then great trouble and hardship begins:

“But if ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments; and will not do all My commandments, but break My covenant (Brit); I also will do this unto you: I will appoint terror over you, even consumption and fever, that shall make the eyes to fail, and the soul to languish; and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set My face against you, and ye shall be smitten before your enemies; they that hate you shall rule over you; and ye shall flee when none pursue you” (Bechukotai: 25:14-17).

If the Jewish People continue to violate the Brit, the punishments become worse and worse. The meaning of guarding the Brit is not merely the obligation to circumcise our children, but also to guard our sexual purity. This is what differentiates us from the gentile nations, and this is what guarantees our settlement of Eretz Yisrael, as Hashem promised Avraham in the Covenant of the Brit (Bereshit, 17:8-10). As the Torah portion of Achrei Mot makes clear – the punishment for sexual misconduct is national destruction and exile, G-d forbid, from our Land (Vayikra, 18:28).

In his commentary to the Torah portion, “Bechukotai,” Rabbi Abuchatzera writes in no uncertain terms:

“A person who comes to serve G-d should first rectify any blemish to the Brit in the proper fashion, and afterward begin to serve G-d…. When the Brit is blemished and has not been rectified, everything is canceled and considered naught.”

It is not enough that we be diligent in keeping the Torah but lax in our sexual lives. Rabbi Abuchatzera explains that the sufferings described in the Torah portion result if we blemish this part of our lives:

“Even if you will do all of the mitzvot, I will consider that you have not done them. Even if you will observe My statutes with love, I proclaim that you have despised My statutes. And even if you will perform My judgments with great joy, I proclaim that you have abhorred them. All of this is because you violated My Brit and have not rectified it. For this reason, everything you do is considered canceled and as naught. Therefore, whoever desires to do penitence, let him first rectify blemishes to the Brit, and after that, the things he does to please G-d will succeed.”

In another place, the Torah speaks about the Israeli army: “When you go out to encamp against your enemies, you should keep from every evil thing. If there be a man among you that is not pure by reason of impurity of a seminal emission that chances by night, he shall go abroad out of the camp…. For the L-rd your G-d walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you, and to give up your enemies before you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He see no unclean thing in you and turn away from you” (Devarim, 10-16).

All of our security and wellbeing, both in a national, military sense, and in the camp of our homes, depends on our sexual purity. The Talmud explains that the meaning of “you shall keep from every evil thing” means that you should not gaze upon the beauty of a woman, because a man shouldn’t have sexual thoughts in the day and come to seminal impurity at night,” (Avodah Zara 20A). This includes Google gazing as well.

Our camps are to be holy. Sexual transgressions cause the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, to flee. Without the protection that the Shechinah affords, our country and our homes are vulnerable to all sorts of misfortune, G-d forbid, whether it be enemy knives and missiles, or health, livelihood, and marital problems at home.

Lag B’Omer celebrates the secrets of Torah which Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai revealed in the holy Zohar. Like Rabbi Abuchatzera, he repeats, again and again, throughout the Zohar that the key to personal blessing and national security is the guarding of the Brit. This Lag B’Omer, may the deep messages which we learn from the masters of the secrets of Torah illuminate our path back to Hashem and lead us to peace in our land.tzvi fi

Tzvi Fishman

What Will I Answer?

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Each of us has a holocaust hiding in the closet. For the religious, it is that G-d turned His back on them. For the assimilated, it is that enlightenment refused to conceal the fact that they were Jews. We all stand bare, on the edge of the unresolved pit. Everyone and his holocaust.

From the edge of that pit we crawled and a state was established. We thought it would answer our questions. The religious thought that the Mashiach was just around the corner. The secular thought that the state would make us normal. It would bring peace and we would become just like the rest of the world.

But nothing is solved today. It is only the cattle cars, always waiting patiently, that unite us. Yad Vashem has become our Holy Temple; the Temple of Existence. The Defense Minister is its High Priest. IDF officers are its Priests and Levites.

I try not to use German products, my foot will not touch German ground and I grow a beard only to exact revenge for those Jews whose beards the Nazis forcibly cut. But what will I answer the Aryan grandson who feels no remorse for the deeds of his grandfather? After all, now I am the criminal. I am the last of the colonialists. And I know that it is the same anti-Semitism flowing through the veins of the young people. What will I answer them? What?

Existence at the edge of the unresolved pit, existence that hides questions in the closet, existence that flees a message, existence bereft of destiny, existence for the sake of existence – has stripped me of justice.

Suddenly I wake up, dressed in an SS uniform. And in Europe they point at me,

They throw mud at me. I am the new Nazi. And I try to flee. What will I answer? What will I answer?

The Priests and Levites point at the soldier from Hebron – the “Eastern Jew.” It’s because of him, just because of him. The angel of death has awakened over me. And pushes me back to the pit.

Moshe Feiglin

The Answer to Globalized Jew-Hatred

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Abu Yehuda}

It’s a truism these days that traditional Jew-hatred has moved up one level of abstraction and turned into psychopathic Israel-hatred. Indeed, excessive concern over the question “is anti-Zionism antisemitism?” usually indicates that the questioner is guilty of both. There’s nothing surprising about this: in this day of globalization of trade and communications, Jew-hatred has globalized as well.

The centuries of dealing with Jew-hatred have made us familiar with various strategies for self-defense, although before we had a state and an army there weren’t many effective ones.

One of our perennial favorites was to appeal to the local prince or emir either by flattery, argument or bribery to try to get him to protect us against the pogromists that were always ready to loot, rape and murder in Jewish neighborhoods. This strategy sometimes worked temporarily, but sooner or later a friendly official would be replaced by one who “did not know Joseph” or a bribed one would raise his price to more than we could pay.

There is another strategy, which is to give nothing and fight our tormentors. Unfortunately the odds were usually so lopsided – as in the case of Bar Kochba or the Warsaw Ghetto – that although we kept our honor, we lost our lives.

Note that our enemies today do not even give us the choice to die on our feet or live on our knees: they want us to kneel so they can cut our heads off.

Zionism was, among other things, an attempt to give us the option of not only fighting, but winning. It has been the most successful strategy of all to protect our people. Zionism’s answer to Jew-hatred was to change the odds, to fight the British colonialists and the pro-Nazi Arabs at the same time in order to create a Jewish state with a Jewish army that would not have to beg for or buy its survival.

Great sacrifices were made to this end. When it became clear that neither the British nor the Arabs were prepared to let us have the homeland that the world had promised us, the Zionists of both the Left and the Right fought and died for it. The odds were not in our favor, but the Jews had the will to win – why shouldn’t they, when they felt their backs against the walls of Hitler’s gas chambers?

As everyone knows, the Jewish state was established and beat back several additional attempts to destroy it. Israel now has a powerful army, one of the best air forces in the world, and a nuclear deterrent, even a second-strike capability. We have changed the odds.

But our enemies in the West and the Muslim world changed their strategy as well. They realized that they couldn’t get rid of the Jews by frontal attack, at least not today. So they launched a broad diplomatic and psychological campaign, aiming to weaken the Jewish state to the point that it could ultimately be overrun. The Arabs, the West and the Soviets with their international Left fellow-travelers all participated. Today it is a global enterprise in which everyone does their part.

The American State Department has fought against the Jewish state since its inception. Today it works tirelessly (usually with help from the president and his administration) to reverse the outcome of the 1967 war and return Israel to the indefensible borders of 1949. It also refuses to accept the Jewish ownership of any part of Jerusalem. The Obama Administration has followed a policy to strengthen Iran in the region at the expense of Israel and other former US allies.

The PLO, for its part, works in accordance with its “phased plan” initially developed in the 1970s to establish an Arab-controlled enclave in the land of Israel which can serve as a base for terrorism and ultimately an additional front in a regional war. It cooperates with the UN – an organization that is supported by the US and Europe – to present itself as the representative of an oppressed ‘Palestinian people’ who claim to be the real owners of the land of Israel. Also financed by the US and Europe, the PLO mounts a continuous series of diplomatic initiatives against Israel and incites and supports terrorism against Jews, although it somehow manages to maintain that it is not responsible for it.

The European Union and individual European governments (especially Germany and the insufferable Scandinavians) pump massive amounts of money into the PLO and anti-state NGOs staffed with Jewish Israeli traitors and international anti-Zionist activists. They cooperate with the PLO’s diplomatic initiatives and psychological warfare operations designed to demonize and delegitimize Israel. The NGOs, since the 2001 “anti-racism” conference in Durban, South Africa, have succeeded in promulgating the wildly incorrect – but powerful – myth that Israel practices apartheid and commits ‘genocide’ against the ‘Palestinians’.

Arab petrodollar-funded academics established anti-Zionist Mideast Studies departments in American Universities, while Arab and Muslim immigrants in the US supply the foot-soldiers of an increasingly militant anti-Israel campus activism.

Hamas, which could not exist without ‘refugee’ aid from UNRWA, the UN’s special ‘Palestinian-only’ refugee agency, initiates periodic wars against Israel which terrorize the population and serve as jumping-off points for worldwide anti-Israel activism. It also mobilizes Sunni Islamic opposition and motivates suicide bombers.

Finally, Iran, previously considered a ‘rogue state’ but now increasingly a partner to the US and Europe, provides money and weapons to the Lebanese Hezbollah organization, a global terrorist enterprise which comprises a very serious military threat – today, the most dangerous one that Israel faces – on its northern border.

It is remarkable how practically the entire world can cooperate against Zionism, when it is unable to cooperate on almost anything else!

The psychological campaign has been particularly effective, both in enlisting people outside of Israel, many of whom have never met an actual Jew, and in sowing doubt among and weakening the will of Israeli Jews.

As a result, almost any military action by Israel, no matter how serious the provocation, is immediately denounced by the world media as “disproportionate” or worse. Western governments, especially the US, take action to restrain Israel.

A small but very vocal minority of Israelis has internalized the anti-Zionist ideas of our enemies. This minority has members in important positions in the media, the judiciary and even the army, and can have a disproportionate influence on the government’s decisions. Together with the coordinated international pressure that has been detailed above, the result is to paralyze our government and make it unable to take strong action against foes like Hamas and Hezbollah. It is apparently unable to declare the PLO an enemy, or even to stop providing logistical support (food, water, electricity and until recently, cement) to Hamas at the same time that Hamas prepares for war against Israel.

It does take action against Jewish nationalists, whose activities – despite an all-out effort to pin a case of arson/murder on them – appear to be limited to small-time assaults and vandalism. It punishes a simple soldier for killing an incapacitated terrorist who had just attempted to murder a Jew. In this way, it believes it will show the world that Israel is a just and humane society.

Such attempts are less likely to succeed even than the hasbara which promotes Israel as an enlightened state and a popular destination for gay tourism. It is the international equivalent of a Jewish community trying to beg or buy safety from the local princes. It is a Diaspora response, not a Zionist response.

Israel’s public behavior needs to change. Our officials need to understand that neither the Arabs nor the West accept the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. They did not accept it in 1948, they do not today and they will not tomorrow. This is not based on a rational calculation of interests; it is a result of deeply felt anti-Zionism, which is globalized Jew-hatred. Our adoption of Western humanist values to an even greater degree than the West itself is never enough for them; and the Arabs rightly hold us in contempt.

Therefore there is no point in trying to hold off the pressure from the US and Europe by making concessions to the Arabs, on the grounds that these minor retreats aren’t dangerous and will make us look good. We cannot ‘look good’ to those who hate us, and the demands for concessions will never end.

There is no point in behaving humanely to those who would behave toward us as the Islamic State does in Syria, if we let down our guard. There is no point in giving up our honor as the owners of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in order to keep the Arabs quiet. And there will be no point in not using artillery and air power, including even tactical nuclear weapons if appropriate, to shut down the missiles from southern Lebanon.

Zionism indeed changes the odds and makes it possible for the Jewish people to stand up and fight, and to win. But to realize the change we must use the power of our state and our army.

The world will not understand the need for a Jewish state, no matter how we behave. But it can be made to understand that there is one and that it will fight fiercely and without quarter against anyone that tries to destroy it.

Vic Rosenthal

How to Answer an Israel Boycott

Monday, April 25th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary website}

Friends of Israel have watched with alarm as the BDS — boycott, sanction, divest — movement has sought a beachhead in this country on college campuses. The BDSers have failed with most academic institutions rejecting calls to divest from companies that do business with Israel. But just as insidious are the efforts to exploit scholarly associations in order to try and ban contacts with Israeli schools and scholars. The first great success they had was with the American Studies Association, which voted to boycott Israel in 2013. Since then others, such as the National Women’s Studies Association, have followed in their footsteps. These boycotts have been roundly condemned as both discriminatory and unhelpful to the cause of peace by reputable scholars and university presidents. But that’s left those who consider these attempts to exploit any influence these groups possess to aid in a war that aims at the destruction of the Jewish state frustrated at their inability to stop a determined minority of Israel-haters from hijacking organizations whose purpose has nothing to do with the politics of the Middle East.

But it turns out there is something that can be done about it. With the help of some enterprising legal minds, a number of prominent members of the American Studies Association are suing the ASA and the leaders behind the boycott of Israel in federal court. On the surface, that sounds like a nuisance suit that might be a waste of the court system’s time. But a closer look at the effort shows that this legal attack on the BDS movement is on solid ground.

Legal scholars Eugene Kontorovich and Steven Davidoff Solomon laid out the rationale for the suit in an article in the Wall Street Journal back in December.

In passing the boycott resolution, the ASA violated the terms of its corporate charter, which just happened to be approved by Congress when it was founded and the District of Columbia Non-Profit Corporation Act that requires an organization to operate only within the provisions of its charter. Promoting a campaign to stigmatize Israelis and to deny them access to U.S. institutions is not only an act of despicable prejudice. It has nothing to do with the ASA’s purpose of promoting scholarship about American studies and therefore changes the very nature of the group.

According to Jerome Marcus, lead counsel for the plaintiffs:

This case stands for the simple proposition that nonprofit corporations must pursue the lawful purposes for which they are established, for which they receive nonprofit status, and for which they raise charitable contributions.

By stepping beyond the purposes for which it was founded in order to become a vehicle for political advocacy, the ASA violated that charter, which is not only filed with the IRS in order to maintain its non-profit status but is, in legal terms, a contract with its members. Moreover, the method by which the ASA leaders managed to pass the resolution also violated the rules stated in that same charter.

Can this effort succeed in brushing back the ASA as well as setting a precedent that may serve to deter other groups from being hijacked in this manner? While there is no way of knowing in advance how the federal courts will decide, the prospects for the suit are better than you might think.

There are legal precedents for non-profits being compelled to abide by the terms of their founding documents. The chief merit of the suit is that the violation of the ASA’s charter cannot be reasonably denied. Boycott advocates claim that the fact that the United States supports Israel brings activism against the Jewish state under the rubric of American studies but this is rubbish. Whatever one may think about Israel, waging an economic war against it or discriminating against its institutions and citizens in no way advances the purposes of scholarly work on specifically American topics. The only way for this to be conceivably possible is for the group to have transformed itself from one dedicated to scholarship into a political organization. And that is precisely what the lawsuit alleges the leaders of the group did when they pushed this resolution through to passage. But by doing so without formally amending their constitution, they violated the law.

Nor can the boycott organizers claim that the vote taken at their convention is implicit permission from the members to do just that and to change the ASA’s purpose. One problem with that claim is that the vote did not conform to the terms of the group’s bylaws. In that case, the indecent haste of the Israel-haters undermined their authority to act.

Nor is there any legal or political precedent that might give the ASA’s leadership the right to act in this manner. Contrary to what one might assume, during the campaign against the apartheid regime in South Africa neither the ASA nor most other similarly constituted groups boycotted that nation. If it had and gotten away with such conduct, it might have been reasonable for its members to think that a similar attack against Israel might be legal even if there is absolutely no analogy between the circumstances of a democratic state with a Jewish majority defending itself against foes determined to destroy it and the white minority regime in South Africa.

Moreover, the terms of the boycott are such that they leave no room for doubt as to the political purpose. The boycott is not rooted in claims of discrimination against Arabs or the manner in which democratic Israel treats Palestinians. Its terms call not merely for any Israeli institution or scholar to disassociate themselves from their country’s policies but to work to change its borders and to potentially replace it with a Palestinian state — the stated goal of Hamas and even that of the moderate Palestinian Authority that regards all of pre-1967 Israel as “occupied” territory.”

Let’s not mince words about the basic purpose of Israel boycotts. Those who advocate for them are seeking to treat the one Jewish state on the planet differently than any other country. By denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination in their ancient homeland and the right of self-defense against those who seek its elimination, the boycotters are practicing a form of discrimination. Though anti-Zionists claim not to be prejudiced against Jews, what they are doing is an act of bias. Acts of bias against Jews are anti-Semitism.

The perversion of a group that was founded to promote scholarship about America into one that aims at attacking Israel is a scandal. But as this suit shows, it is also illegal. Let’s hope that the courts heed the strong arguments in the filing and put the ASA and the entire scholarly world on notice that such illegal and prejudicial conduct will not be tolerated. At the very least, it will stand as a warning to other such associations that they cannot take part in illegal boycotts of the Jewish state with impunity.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Radical Community Groups Condemn NYC Pols’ Trip to Israel

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

A coalition of radical left “community groups” held a protest and press conference outside New York’s City Hall on Monday, Jan. 13. The groups were denouncing a scheduled February trip to Israel by 15 members of New York’s City Council. They want the trip cancelled.

Several dozen people showed up to hear speakers denounce Israel for its “counter-terrorism operations that seek to suppress and control Palestinians,” and for its contribution “to the militarization of police in NYC and around the country.”

The trip is being sponsored by New York’ City’s Jewish Community Relations Council and the United Jewish Appeal.

The protesters included many of the standard groups whose lifeblood is demonizing Israel. They included CODEPINK, Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

The speakers hammered away at a favorite theme they have been playing over the past few months, linking “disregard for justice,” and racism allegedly found both in American police forces and in Israeli security institutions. Of course the standard canard of Gaza as an “open air prison” and the security barrier as a tool of apartheid were repeatedly raised.

One speaker who calls herself a “human and animal rights social justice attorney,” Bina Ahmad, works at the Staten Island Legal Aid Office which played a role in the legal challenge over Eric Garner’s death at the hands of a New York City police officer.

Ahmad demanded to know whether the politicians were going to tour the separation barrier or the devastation in Gaza. She reportedly analogized Israel’s “occupation of Palestine” to the New York Police Department’s “presence in communities of color.”

“Do not neglect your official responsibilities to our diverse city by touring an apartheid state,” the coalition members had written in a letter to the council members scheduled to be on the trip.

The critics also blasted the sponsor, NYC’s JCRC, which “has helped undermine the basic civil rights and liberties of our city’s Muslim residents.”

City Council members who will be part of the delegation to Israel include Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mark Treyger, Brad Lander, Antonio Reynoso, David Greenfield, Rafael Espinal, Darlene Mealy, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres, Andrew Cohen, Donovan Richards, Eric Ulrich, and James Van Bramer.

Egregious misrepresentations of reality were stated as fact by various speakers, including public aid attorneys and academics.

Conor Tomas Reed is an educator and graduate student at the City University of New York. He blathered on about Israel’s “segregated workforce” and “wage discrimination along ethnoreligious lines,” and insisted that those participating in the city council junket were taking an “anti-labor” stand.

David Galarza, a Puerto Rican activist chanted “Puerto Rico, Palestine, Occupation is a crime!” He also compared the 1963 firebombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama in which four little black girls died, with the death of four brothers on a Gaza Beach during this past summer’s Operation Protective Edge.

Photographs of the two bombing incidents were held up as Galarza called out the eight names of the dead children. Problem is, it is still not known how exactly the four Bakr boys died on that Gaza Beach this summer, and what they were doing there, near a munitions cache, during a war.

Here is a portion of the letter sent to the council members in protest of the trip to Israel:

As New Yorkers, we recognize that the struggle for social and racial justice in our own city is deeply connected to that of the Palestinian people. Israel’s callous disregard for international human rights norms and the impunity enjoyed by Israeli police and occupation forces cannot be viewed apart from the near-total lack of accountability mirrored by the NYPD and other police forces as they target communities of color in the United States.

In recent weeks, many of us joined demonstrations to protest the killings of countless Black people by police forces across the country. Members of City Council also protested these killings. However, these gestures are wholly incompatible with participating in a private tour funded by special interests hoping to legitimize Israel’s laws discriminating against its Palestinians citizens and the violence it inflicts upon Palestinians under military occupation. To demonstrate in support of racial justice while participating in a tour of apartheid is a fundamental contradiction.

International law requires Israel to protect the civilian population in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, yet it has repeatedly failed to do so. The world has witnessed Israel’s increasingly horrendous war crimes, from the fatal shootings of protesters in the West Bank5 to the horrific slaughter in Gaza. Strengthening cultural, business, and educational ties to a state engaged in these ongoing transgressions is not a proper goal for our city.

At a time of public outrage over police brutality, participation in a delegation ignoring Israeli policies that inspired and reinforced unjust tactics of the NYPD can only aggravate New Yorkers’ concerns. Any trip in support of Israel conflicts with a concern over domestic police abuses.

And here is a sample of the signatories to the letter:

Jewish Voice for Peace – New York; Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel; CUNY for Palestine; Students for Justice in Palestine Chapters: Hunter, Pace, NYU, Columbia, CUNY School of Law; Women in Black Union Square; Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism; Librarians and Archivists with Palestine; Center for Constitutional Rights; International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network – New York; New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA); Al-Awda NY; The Palestine Right to Return Coalition New York City; Labor Against the War; Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation; Trinity Lutheran Church (Brooklyn); American Muslims for Palestine; National Lawyers Guild, NYC Chapter; West-Park Presbyterian Church; Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER); Coalition International Socialist Organization (ISO); Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV)/Organizing Asian Communities; Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC); Park Slope Food Coop Members for BDS; Irish Queers

The nine day trip is scheduled to start on Feb. 15.


Lori Lowenthal Marcus

The Only Commonality Is Mass Killing

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Originally published at The Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Aaron Alexis murdered 12 people and injured at least eight more at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard before he was shot and killed by law enforcement professionals. It is tempting to compare Alexis to a suicide bomber, especially now that we have heard rumors he opened a website under the name “Mohammed Salem.” However, clear thinking demands that temptation be resisted. Let me explain why.

As an Israeli criminologist who has studied suicide bombers for almost two decades—making extensive observations of and conducting numerous interviews with those who failed, as well as with those who dispatch the bombers, with family members of suicide bombers and decision makers and elites in their society— I can say with confidence that the differences between mass killers in the West such as Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris at Columbine, and yes, Aaron Alexis at the D.C. Navy Yard, and suicide bombers are categorical and insurmountable.

After the Sandy Hook tragedy, Eric Lankford, an American criminal justice professor, sought to show that America’s lone shooters have more in common with suicide bombers than is commonly believed. But his op-ed piece, “What Drives Suicidal Mass Killers” (New York Times, 12/19/12), is fundamentally flawed. America has certainly suffered enough with the recent Sandy Hook, Aurora and other tragedies, but clear thinking demands we realize that even if someone is characterized as a “shaheed” (a martyr for the sake of Allah, including suicide bombers), the differences between mass killers in the West and suicide bombers are categorical and insurmountable.

The overriding distinction between the two is their native cultures: the suicide bomber’s education and attack preparations are diametrically opposed to that of mass killers, as is their socialization. Suicide bombers are radical Islam’s celebrated heroes, its darlings, whose acts are viewed by the larger culture as exemplary and heroic; in contrast, the West’s mass killers are aberrant individuals isolated from their resolutely life-affirming culture.

Specifically and most importantly, Western culture in general, and American culture in particular, cherishes life. American children are raised in the belief in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; they are raised to embrace life and respect the lives of others. Clearly there are a disturbed few who kill others, but those are not the heroes of the American people: their murders and subsequent own deaths do not bring honor to their families or elevate them in their society’s collective memory.

But that is exactly what does happen in radical Islamist culture. In Gaza, for example, children collect cards of shaheeds, the same way American children collect baseball cards. It is absurd to think that anyone would propose National Park Stadium be renamed Aaron Alexis Stadium, and the absurdity illustrates and emphasizes the difference between American mass killers and Muslim suicide bombers whose names emblazon schools, sports teams, stadiums and public squares.

The Western mass killer’s acts are motivated by individual pathology rather than by collective ethos. The individual’s aberrant thoughts trigger the plan for a mass killing. The suicide bomber is not driven by psychological pain, although he is selected because others see him as weak or vulnerable. A culture that celebrates death and declares to the West that “we love death as you love life” is the petri dish in which suicide bombers develop.

Another distinction is that suicide bombers are not lone gunmen, instead, they are merely tools in a comprehensive, well-advertised terrorist production, manipulated to achieve political goals. To understand the significance of the difference, try to imagine Dylan Klebold or Eric Harris as inanimate objects whose owner chooses not only the location of the killings, but also the date, the weapons and even the victims. The suicide bombers’ locations are chosen by others to ensure that the greatest possible damage will be inflicted; the bombers usually have little or no advance notice. A suicide bomber, in contrast to Adam Lanza, will never embark on his mission by first killing his own mother—the most significant and beloved person in his life.

The mass killers choose their victims, the locations and the timing of their deeds, usually planning their acts meticulously over a long period of time. For the suicide bomber, his body is the murder weapon. His death is the only way to achieve his true goal: to enter paradise physically, where 72 virgins and the rivers of wine await him, and spiritually, by bringing honor to himself and his family. All this is possible only if his corporeal being merges with the bomb fragments to bring death to others, an ideal far removed from Western moral conceptions of life and afterlife.

A Western mass killer’s death is not a precondition for the mass murder; the deaths of those they have selected is what matters. The suicide bomber, however, is on a mission aimed at propelling himself toward a better future in the afterlife, where he will be able to enjoy everything he was unable to enjoy or achieve while living. America’s mass killers have no future: they will be vilified and not celebrated, and in contrast to radical Islamic culture, their families will suffer ignominy and isolation. We have already heard the anguish suffered by Aaron Alexis’s mother, who, in a public statement, expressed deep sorrow over the pain caused by her son. She also said she was glad her son was in a place now where he can no longer do any harm to anyone.

The West’s mass killers have no recruiters, handlers or dispatchers, all of whom are essential in a world where suicide bombers are the logical means to achieve the collective end. In the United States, anywhere and at any time, the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” does not elicit the answer, “A mass killer (or suicide bomber).” However, the Gazan child for example, will not answer “fireman,” “policeman,” or even “I’m going to work in an office like Daddy.” The virtually guaranteed answer is “shaheed,” and his mother will likely cheer.

Radical Islam’s suicide bomber is the manipulated tool of an aberrant death-glorifying culture, while the West’s mass killer is an aberrant member of a robust, life-affirming culture. There are similarities between the two, but it is a mistake to put them on the same level. To blur the distinction is to insult America.

Anat Berko

US, Setting Example For Israel, Releases Taliban Terrorists

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

On 28 July, Jonathan Tobin asked, at Commentary, if the U.S. would release terrorist killers as a precondition for talks – the measure Secretary of State John Kerry was demanding of Israel.

A couple of days later, in an almost supernaturally handy turn of events, we had the answer: yes.  The U.S. did exactly that at the end of July, agreeing to release five Taliban terrorists we’ve been holding at Guantanamo, in order to jumpstart the initiative – mainly ours – for talks with the Taliban.

Daniel Greenfield points out at FrontPage that in June, the Taliban offered to exchange U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for the five Taliban at Gitmo.  The Haqqani network of the Pakistan Taliban has been holding Bergdahl since late June or early July of 2009, shortly after he went missing close to Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan.

But the Gitmo Five were released without an exchange for SGT Bergdahl taking place.  This will have to be a blow to his family in Idaho (not to mention a blow to Bergdahl).

It will also be another blow to U.S. credibility, already on the ropes.  It certainly dents the credibility of detention as a deterrent to terrorism.  Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, had a hilariously timed oped in Friday’s Washington Post online in which he argued that the Obama administration should declare that the “war against al Qaeda” – yes, that al Qaeda; the one that has our embassies shut down across the Muslim world this weekend – is over.  Instead of acting on a war footing and killing terrorists, says Mr. Roth, we should be going with President Obama’s own expressed preference to “detain, interrogate, and prosecute” them.

Now, I have been a critic myself of Obama’s overreliance on drone killings as a method.  And detention and interrogation, while important for intelligence gathering, are not methods of deterrence, nor is prosecution.  I don’t argue for them as a substitute for drone attacks.

I’m getting those points out of the way so we can focus on what matters here, which is that detention is as close to meaningless as makes no difference, if we’re just going to turn terrorists loose anyway, to everyone we might have a yen to have “talks” with.  The Obama administration, just a few days before his oped appeared, provided Kenneth Roth with a conversation-stopping answer to his proposition that we should kill less and detain more.  The answer leaves Roth in the dust:  whether we stop killing terrorists or not, we should release the ones we have detained in order to get terrorists to have talks with us.

I guess, technically, there would be a purpose for detaining a few from time to time, on the assumption that we may want to have talks with their comrades in terror in the future.  This kind of preemptive hostage-taking is gang-and-guerrilla behavior, of course.  The degrees by which the mode of thinking shifts from “responsible statesman” to “mob boss” are not subtle here.

In any case, we can reassure Mr. Roth that the U.S. ended the war on terror in 2009.  Perhaps that’s not the same thing as the “war against al Qaeda,” but in the latter regard, Roth would do well to try and keep up:  al Qaeda has been “decimated” and has been “on the path to defeat” for a year or more, according to the Obama administration.

The die seems to be cast; we can at least hope that God really does watch out for fools, drunks, and the United States, because our president certainly isn’t doing it.  Given the reigning jumble of confused soundbites and incoherent actions that now masquerades as U.S. policy on the global threat of terrorism, we may justly ask, with our former secretary of state: what difference, at this point, does it make?

J. E. Dyer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/us-setting-example-for-israel-releases-taliban-terrorists/2013/08/06/

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