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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Morocco’

Radical Islam Spreading in Spain

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Two Islamists have been arrested in Spain on charges of torturing and murdering two fellow Muslims for “abandoning radical Islam.”

The arrests came just days after Spanish newspapers reported that jihadists in Spain are travelling to Syria to help overthrow the government there.

Spanish authorities say the incidents, on top of many others in recent months, point to the accelerating spread in the country of radical Salafi Islam, which Spain’s National Intelligence Center, the CNI, in a leaked secret report — corroborated by the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies, an organization tied to the Spanish Ministry of Defense, in its own recently published a 43-page report entitled, “Islamist Movements in Spain” — states is increasingly posing the greatest threat to national security.

Rachid Mohamed Abdellah and Nabil Mohamed Chaib, both of whom are Spanish citizens of Moroccan origin, were jailed after being questioned by Judge Eloy Velasco at the National Court (Audiencia Nacional) in Madrid on June 28.

Police say the two men, aged 25 and 30 respectively, are members of an Islamist cell based in the city of Melilla, a Spanish exclave on the northern coast of Morocco. They are accused of torturing and murdering two other members of the cell who “adopted Western behavior and tried to disengage from radical Islam.” Spanish authorities say the murders were meted out according to Islamic Sharia law, which calls for the killing of “infidels.”

Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz said the suspects are “capable of carrying out especially brutal attacks,” and share “the same radical orthodoxy” of the Islamists who carried out the March 2004 Madrid train bombings in which 191 people were killed and 1,800 wounded.

At a news conference following the arrests, the Director General of Spanish Police, Ignacio Cosidó, said: “They were part of an extremely radical group, and had committed a double murder of two members of their own organization who had shown signs of wanting to leave. Their ideology is clearly jihadi and they believe in terrorism as a means to achieve their objectives. Therefore, they posed a threat of the highest order.”

Abdellah and Chaib were arrested in the Melilla neighborhood of Cañada de Hidum after an extended confrontation with police, who – pelted with rocks and bottles by local Muslims – were forced to call for reinforcements.

Spanish police further state that the cell was composed mainly of Spanish citizens of North African origin living in Melilla, and Moroccans living in Farkhana, Morocco. The suspects were engaged in recruiting and indoctrinating Muslim youths for training in jihadist camps or war zones in places such as Afghanistan. The cell was notable for its secrecy and for the adoption of strong internal security measures aimed at keeping its activities clandestine.

Members of the cell were forced to live a life of submission to the Takfiri branch of Islam, a violent offshoot of fundamentalist Saudi Salafism, that seeks to establish an Islamic Caliphate [empire] in the Middle East and large parts of Europe. Among other beliefs, Takfiris consider violence to be a legitimate method to achieve their religious and political goals.

The arrests come just days after the Madrid-based newspaper El País reported that jihadists from Ceuta, another Spanish exclave in northern Morocco, have been travelling to Syria to help overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. The report states that one of the jihadists, a 33-year-old taxi driver, Rachid Wahbi, was killed just days after arriving in Syria.

Spanish police say the jihadists, many of whom are Spanish citizens, have been travelling from Ceuta to Málaga and then on to Madrid, from where they board flights to Istanbul. Once in Turkey, they make contact with jihadists who facilitate their entry into Syria.

Police believe the jihadists from Ceuta involve Takfiris who, in the Los Caracolas district of the city, attend a mosque considered the most radical of the 33 mosques in Ceuta because of its links to Salafism. Spanish police say the jihadists also meet regularly in homes in the Condesa neighborhood of Ceuta, where they watch videos on jihad.

Separately, nine Islamists accused of planning terrorist attacks aimed at “liberating” Spain for Islam were found not guilty by the National Court in Madrid in April 2012.

Zohara

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Zohara was born in Morocco. With her husband, she raised a large family. A busy woman, she always seemed to find time to help others in need.

Her daughter, Aliza, told me of the many sleepless nights her mother spent nursing babies. That is not unusual in itself, were it not for the fact that many of the babies she nursed were not her own.

Zohara lived in a cohesive but poor community of Moroccan Jews. She let it be known that if there were any mother who could not nurse her child, she was prepared to help that mother. In addition to feeding her own babies, she would always be available – day or night – to feed other babies as well.

Zohara was not just involved in this great chesed work. Though not wealthy, she managed to help those less fortunate – with food and other needs.

Twenty years ago, Zohara’s holy neshamah was returned to Shamayim. Her daughter, Aliza, rightfully refers to her mother as a tzaddeikit. After her mother’s petirah, Aliza decided she wanted to find a way to honor her mother’s memory in a way that would reflect the selfless life she had led.

And so with my daughter, Shani, I waited to meet Aliza. This was a day I longed for. I was shopping for a wedding gown for my youngest child.

There are many ways to shop for a bridal gown. One can purchase or rent one. Another option is going to some of the many gemachim that carry gowns free of charge or for a reasonable price. The gemachim provide the bride with the possibility of finding a gown without paying the huge expense of a new one. (The word gemach is an acronym for gemilat chesed, an act of loving-kindness.)

My daughter and I decided to first try our luck with a gemach. We were told of one run by a woman named Aliza. She had a variety of gowns on display in a Jerusalem seminary for young women. The seminary generously supplied the space for this purpose.

Aliza took us into a small room, full of wedding gowns. She discussed the type of gowns that might appeal to Shani, transforming my daughter into a bride before my eyes.

Aliza does not charge any fees for the gowns she displays. She does it for the pure joy it brings her, and in the knowledge that it brings an aliyah to her mother’s neshamah. She suggests that anyone who borrows a gown from her should consider making a small donation to help her update her supplies. There is no obligation or pressure to do this.

After trying on many different styles, Shani found a gown she liked. But she still wanted to check out other places before making her final decision. Aliza told Shani not to feel uncomfortable about it. She told her she took pleasure in meeting a new kallah, and in fact presented my daughter with a lovely gift for her new home before we left.

I asked Aliza what made her decide to open her gemach.

She pointed to the sign on the door. This gemach was named Zohara, after her mother. The word Zohara means light, brilliance, splendor. The name not only describes her mother’s character, but also the image of a bride on her wedding day.

Aliza, like her mother, is a special woman. In addition to her gemach for wedding gowns, she also runs a gemach that helps disadvantaged families with their daily needs. Aliza’s name is also very appropriate, as she brings joy to others.

May she continue to do chesed.

Rubin Reports: Being an Israeli and a Jew in 2012: Let’s Face Reality Without Illusion, Shrug, and Move Forward

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/
It is the year 2012, which seems to be going by very fast and is already one-fourth finished. People are walking around with smart phones and all sorts of electronic devices undreamed of not long ago. There has been what is called an “Arab Spring”, stoking fantasies about instant democracy. An African-American was elected president of the United States, and that was after his party’s nomination, and thus probably the White House, almost went to a woman!
Times have changed.
Yet the hysterical hatred for Israel in the Arabic-speaking world and among Muslims in general has only increased; the philosophy of rejectionism is as strong as ever or, put another way, even stronger. Indeed, it is no longer safe, and certainly isn’t comfortable, for Jews in much of Europe and even, for those who support Israel, on American college campuses.
Two examples of how the lynch mobs are out in force in places where formerly they were least present.

In previously moderate Tunisia, now under Muslim Brotherhood rule, thousands of Salafists paraded, chanting to kill the Jews in order to enter paradise. The new Tunisian constitution contains a provision that the country could never recognize Israel. Almost a half-century ago, Tunisia’s then leader was the first Arab politician to call for recognizing Israel. We’re still waiting.

In Morocco, perhaps the overall most moderate country in the Arabic-speaking world, a meeting of the Mediterranean Parliamentary Union was held. Israel, which has a parliamentary system and is on the Mediterranean (I can see the sea from my roof), is a member of this group. Consequently one Israeli attended the meeting. The result was a riot in which thousands of Moroccans assaulted the building, and the leader of the ruling Islamist party complained about how the country’s soil had been tainted.
I won’t bother citing a thousand other examples. But with the triumph of revolutionary Islamists and the throwing down the memory hole of decades of disastrous Arab anti-Israel policies, the Arabic-speaking world is becoming more radical on this issue. It is now joined by Turkey and Iran. They hate us; they despise us; they want to kill us.
Yawn.
In this situation there is a strong temptation for Westerners to say that if only Israel didn’t exist (radical version) or if it made huge concessions (liberal version) then all of the problems in the Middle East would go away and all the region’s conflicts with the West would go away, too.
And in this situation there is a strong temptation for Western Jews to say that if only Israel made more concessions on territory or tore down the settlements there would be peace; hate would turn into love or at least benign indifference, and all the problems of the Jews would go away.
And in this situation there is a total temptation for Western leftists—including a disproportionate number of Jews among them—that if only Israel disappeared or made huge concessions than socialist utopia would come speedily in our time.
In fact, for the first time in history we are seeing a concerted, well-funded campaign to destroy the base of support for Israel among American Jews. It is rather ironic that this is happening in 2012.
After all, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, southern Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and parts of the West Bank. Since 1993, Israel has not established a single new settlement nor expanded the geographic size of existing settlements. Israeli governments offered (twelve years ago!) to accept a Palestinian state in all of the Gaza Strip, almost all of the West Bank, and in much of east Jerusalem.
And so on.
Now we are told by the highly publicized and very smug that if only there is an economic boycott of settlements, Israel will be saved.
We are not told that if only there is a willingness among Arabs and Muslims to make peace, plus the total defeat of the revolutionary Islamists, peace is far more likely to be achieved.
That real solution has two differences from the first one:
–There is literally nothing we can do, no concession or risk, which will bring about that outcome.

–Thus, we do not have the power in our hands to resolve this conflict. We can stand up, sit down, walk by the way, or return to the 1967 borders and it won’t matter.
About 25 years ago, I was convulsed with laughter when covering a Palestine National Council meeting in Algeria while watching a young American Jewish Peace Now kid try to explain to a group of Fatah guys that they really did just want a state of their own to live alongside Israel. They kept explaining to him that this wasn’t the way they thought at all. They wanted “all of Palestine from the river to the sea.”
This well-meaning boob thought he knew the Palestinians’ actual political stance better than they did.
It is not comforting to acknowledge that there simply isn’t going to be any formal peace agreement or end of the conflict. I won’t say “never” but I’m pretty sure for the next 30 to 50 years, and somewhat less certain for the rest of this century.
But, of course, in time anti-Semitism in Europe went away—oops! It didn’t, but you know what I mean.
Does saying these things make me “right-wing”? Not at all. It is also the consensus position of the great majority of left-of-center Israelis and it should be the position of liberal Jews in other countries. The whole point is that this is not a matter of our will or preference or program but something that is being forced upon us.
Sure, I want a two-state solution, but not as a launching pad for the next round of would-be genocide. I want the ideal solution of peace and a good neighborhood but I don’t expect that to happen. Not my fault; not our fault.
Let’s face reality, stop blaming ourselves, and get on with our lives. Let us improve Israel’s society, economy, and culture. Of course, let’s also defend ourselves. Let us try to preserve as much as possible of the rapidly disappearing Jewish people. And if you want to boycott someone, why not start with those who insist on remaining our enemies and who would like to murder us?
Makes sense to me.

Demand for Sharia Law in Libya Growing

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

The call for Sharia law to inspire legislation is gaining traction in Libya, with Islamists rallying across the country on Friday against the emergence of secular political parties.

The demonstrations were comprised mainly of members of the conservative Muslim Brotherhood and ultra-conservative Salafis. Men holding copies of the Koran protested in squares in Tripoli, Benghazi, and Sabha.

In the wake of the recent Islamic electoral successes in Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, Islamist parties in Libya are expected to fair very well in elections for a national assembly, expected to take place in June.

The Late Rabbi Raphael Baruch Toledano

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

   In last week’s column about the collection Mekabtziel published by Yeshivat Ahavat Shalom of Jerusalem, we noted that the volume contained a number of articles and studies on various subjects. One of the articles featured a biography of Rabbi Raphael Baruch Toledano, rabbi of Meknes, Morocco, written by one of his students, Rabbi Avraham Amar.

 

   The Toledanos are a famous rabbinical family whose forebears lived in Toledo, Spain, as their name indicates. Members of this family have served as rabbis in Jewish communities in various countries, especially in Morocco.

 

   Rabbi Raphael Baruch Toledano was a great rabbi and leader of our people. He was born in Meknes, a city which was for a long time a center of Torah that Morocco’s Jews called Kenessiya Shel Torah. It was also known as the “Jerusalem of Morocco.” His father, Rabbi Yaakov Toledano, served there as rabbi. His mother, Chana, was the daughter of a well-known family.

 

   While very young, Raphael Baruch already excelled in Torah studies and people foretold a great future for him as leader of our people. He was also special in his moral qualities. He was a devoted son and was very careful not to cause any grief to his father. When he was about nine years old he became very sick. He suffered great pain and he groaned constantly. A friend who visited him tried to comfort him, but to no avail. Whenever his father looked into his room, he momentarily stopped groaning but the painful sounds resumed as soon as his father left. He explained to his puzzled friend that when his father looks at him he gathers all his strength to overcome his pain in order not to hurt him.

 

   Once, when he attended a Mitzvah meal celebrating the conclusion of the study of a Talmud tractate, he did not partake of any food. Asked by the person sitting next to him why he was not eating, the boy explained that on the preceding day he had visited his father at the Beth Din. Just as he entered the Beth Din hall, he heard the man his father had found guilty bitterly criticizing his father. He could not restrain himself and reproved the man. But his father was not pleased with his son’s reaction. “One does not insult a person,” he angrily said. To atone for having angered his father, he had decided to fast an entire day.

 

   One of young Raphael Baruch’s teachers was Rabbi Chaim Berdugo, a very learned man who had been the teacher of all the great rabbinic scholars residing in Meknes. Raphael Baruch was a very diligent student. He did not like superficiality and always strove to attain a full and deep understanding of the Sugya they were studying. His fellow students looked up to him. His teacher’s face shone with joy and pride when Raphael Baruch offered comments and solutions of his own on Halakhic matters and problems the class was discussing.

 

   Raphael Baruch was greatly influenced by another teacher, Rabbi Chaim Messas, an extremely pious man who was a Gaon in Torah. Rabbi Messas taught the students Gemara and also talked to them at length about man’s duties to the L-rd and their fellow men. When Rabbi Messas taught Gemara, he addressed his students’ minds, and in his talks he appealed to their hearts. His students treasured his words which found expression in their conduct.

 

   Raphael Baruch was Rabbi Messas’ star pupil. He sought to follow the path of his teacher and to adopt his pious customs. Though young, he rose at night for Tikkun Hatzot. He sat on the ground, prayed and wailed and shed tears over the Shekhinah’sexile and the desolation of Zion.

 

   Many years later Rabbi Raphael Toledano settled in Israel in the Zikhron Meir quarter in Bnei Brak. His neighbors knew that he was rising for Tikkun Hatzot because they would hear the sounds of his wailing and crying during the night. Rabbi Shemuel HaLevi Wosner, the rabbi of Zikhron Meir, mentioned this when he eulogized Rabbi Raphael Baruch Toledano.

 

   The Hazon Ish praised and admired Rabbi Raphael Baruch Toledano. When Rabbi Toledano once visited the Hazon Ish, the Gaon said to one of his students as Rabbi Toledano was leaving: “True fear of the L-rd emanates from this man.”

 

(To be continued)

Shabbat Lights

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

I was thinking of my mother today. I realized that I still have much to learn from this wise woman. G‑d blessed me with my special mother who serves as my role model, my caretaker, my friend, and above all, my inspiration.

My mother was a chemist by profession in Morocco. She gave it all up to migrate to the United States for a better life for her children. Her parents lived with us and she took care of them to their last days. As I grew up, my mother was a dressmaker, a plumber, an electrician, a chef, a dancer, a doctor, a psychiatrist, and most of all she was the best wife and mother a family could ask for.

Why am I telling you all this? I grew up in a traditional, kosher and G‑d fearing home. As I started my family, I became more observant. I started teaching my mother about the beauty of Shabbat and of reading Tehillim.

Once, as we escorted the Shabbat away and welcomed back the week, the phone rang. My mother was calling, excited to tell me what had happened to her Friday afternoon, half an hour before candle lighting time.

“Now I know that G-d puts us in circumstances solely to help others grow spiritually,” she said.

That Friday afternoon, my mother had decided to go downstairs to get her mail. She grabbed the keys, put on her slippers, and headed downstairs. As she turned back to her apartment, she looked for her house keys and realized that she had taken the wrong set. She panicked and hoped that her next-door neighbor was home from work. She started knocking. Her neighbor opened the door and was kind enough to call the maintenance worker to help open the door.

The neighbor then turned to my mother and asked her if she lit candles Friday night.

“Of course,” my mother replied. She then asked my mother to help her set up the candles and teach her the prayers so she could start lighting candles every Friday night.

My mother was overjoyed with this mitzvah. They both stood close together, reciting the Shabbat prayers. Within five minutes, the maintenance worker showed up and miraculously opened my mother’s door without a problem. My mother kissed her teary-eyed neighbor and they wished each other a Shabbat Shalom.

The best-kept secret in this lifetime is not the best spa, the best chocolate, nor the best diet centers. It is Shabbat. I had a friend who used to tell me that if Hashem would tell her that it was all right not to observe Shabbat, she would be very upset. Family time, rest and spirituality come full circle. During these 25 hours, we are suffused with appreciation for our loved ones and for the Divine.

If you want to experience a sense of peace and connection to the Al‑mighty and to your family, light candles this Friday night and pause. Carefully gaze at the flames and praise Hashem and bless your loved ones.

Was my mother’s story just a coincidence or a wonderful miracle? You be the judge!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/shabbat-lights/2008/06/25/

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