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August 25, 2016 / 21 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Islam is Not a religion

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

{Originally posted to author’s website, Abu Yehuda)

Today in a 647-word editorial the New York Times has strikingly exemplified the West’s misunderstanding of and impotent response to the threat posed to it by a resurgent, expansionist Islam:

Each new attack, each new convulsion of fear, horror, grief and anger is a progressively greater test of enlightened civilization’s commitment to its core values. …

But whoever struck the blow, whatever its malevolent purpose or toll, the response cannot be to abandon the respect for human rights, equality, reason and tolerance that is the aspiration of all democratic cultures. Though it has become almost a cliché to argue that the goal of terrorists is to bring their victims down to their moral level, it is also a truth, and it must be reaffirmed after every attack.

First, the misunderstanding. The perpetrators of these murderous attacks can’t be “trying to bring us down to their moral level,” because they believe they are on a higher moral level than we are. They are not trying to make us give up our moral principles, which they think are stupid anyway. Rather, they are trying to demoralize us, to terrorize us, to paralyze us so that we will not strike back. To create chaos. To make us see how powerful they are. To make us appease them. To make us submit.

The editors of the Times would have us stress ‘tolerance,’ according to the perception that Islam is a religion like any of the attenuated religions with which we are familiar, a sort of liberal Protestantism or Reform Judaism where they go to mosque on Friday. And if this were a correct characterization of Islam they would be right. But Islam is not a religion in that sense. It is a religion-based ideology, and two of its fundamental principles are that Islam must a) spread throughout the world, and b) become politically dominant wherever Muslims live.

Marxism-Leninism and Nazism were also expansionist ideologies that had a hold on large numbers of people, although without involving religion. The religious basis of Islam only makes it much more effective in gaining and keeping adherents, a task at which it is unmatched. The collection of ideas that make up the Islamic ideology has possibly been the single most effective ‘memeplex’ in human history.

The wave of Islamic conquest that began in the 7th century was a straightforward military campaign. Defeat the infidels’ armies, kill their leaders, enslave or convert the population to Islam, impose shari’a (Islamic law), and move on to the next conquest.

Today the balance of military power is such that the infidels can’t be confronted head-on. But the jihadists understand the weaknesses inherent in Western societies. They believe that they can be cracked into pieces over time by terrorism and taken over by subversion. And the Western leadership often plays directly into their hands

For example, there is no recognition on the part of Western elites that Islam is anything more than a ‘religion’ in the most trivial sense; and therefore it would violate our ideal of freedom of religion to interfere with it in any way. So, although they admit that there is such a thing as ‘radical Islamism’ which engages in terrorism, it is considered wholly separate and distinct from ordinary Islam, which is peaceful and harmless.

They refuse to see that the ideology that is Islam is pervasive; the difference is just that for whatever reason – temperament, practical considerations, degree of commitment – ‘moderate’ Muslims do not engage in violent activities. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of support in the overall Muslim community for extremists, who are often seen as ‘more devout’, better Muslims because of their zeal.

Religion in the West is exempt from criticism, and in the US it receives exemption from taxation as well. Ideology and politics are not so protected. It isn’t considered bigotry to oppose Marxism or Republicanism, and political contributions can’t be deducted from income on American tax returns. The problem is that the pernicious political ideology of Islam rides along with its religious underpinnings.

Criticism of Islam is systematically suppressed by being called ‘hate’, ‘bigotry’ or even ‘racism.’ Organizations like the ADL or the Southern Poverty Law Center see ‘Islamophobia’ as a form of ‘hate.’ along with anti-black racism or Jew-hatred. Although it should be obvious that one can be opposed to the ideology inherent in Islam without hating Muslims, and certainly without being a racist, this distinction is never drawn.

Because it ignores the ideological nature of Islam, the West does really stupid things. For example, the US allows foreign interests in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iran to pump huge amounts of money into mosques and Islamic centers in America. These institutions teach both the religion and the ideology – they are inseparable – convert Americans to Islam, engage in ‘educational’ enterprises in their communities, support friendly politicians, squelch criticism of Islam, and so forth. And of course they pay no taxes.

Foreign money also goes into educational institutions, endowing Middle East Studies departments that are little more than mouthpieces for pro-Islamic propaganda, giving grants to academics for helpful  research, and – to a shocking degree – influencing the content of textbooks used by American grade school and high school students.

In what must rank as one of the most foolish acts in history since that Greek horse was allowed to enter Troy, US prisons provide taxpayer-funded Muslim chaplains who teach Islam, organize worship services and help inmates convert to Islam. Thus some of the most violent elements in society are indoctrinated with an ideology that lends itself to violent extremism!

So what should the Western response to Islamic terrorism be?

  • First and most important, we must recognize that Islam is not merely a religion that should be given the benefit of ‘tolerance’. It is an ideology that is opposed to the basic principles of the democratic, enlightened West, and should be treated as an enemy.
  • We should stop shutting down criticism of Islam, an ideology, on the grounds that such criticism is the same as irrational hatred of a person because of his ethnicity or race. Criticism of ideologies is entirely legitimate.
  • We should treat Islamic institutions as (anti-Western) political institutions, not religious ones.
  • We should understand that foreign money supporting Islamic causes in a Western country constitutes subversion, and take steps to control it.
  • We should ensure that the history and philosophy of Islam as an expansionist ideology is taught in schools in an honest way (e.g., the primary meaning of ‘jihad’ is not ‘an inner struggle against evil’).
  • We should monitor Islamic institutions for subversive activities.
  • We should not encourage immigration of Muslims to the West.
  • We should eliminate Muslim chaplains in prisons.

The Times concludes thus:

What threatened nations and their leaders can do is to firmly instill the idea that the only sure defense is to stay true to what democratic societies really stand for.

What the editors of the Times intend, of course, is that the West should not allow Islamic provocations to cause us to treat Muslims any differently than anyone else. And they are correct that we should always protect human rights.

But it is not a human right in the West to espouse an ideology that embraces conquest and destruction of Western civilization. Such an ideology contradicts “what democratic societies really stand for,” and tolerance for it is no more justified than tolerance for smallpox or polio. It is suicidal.

Vic Rosenthal

A Soldier’s Mother: What Religion Are We?

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Apparently, this is a question asked by a child of his mother. I don’t know what she answered him. None of my children ever asked me this question. They have asked me what month we are in…in fact, when my oldest son first got married, my daughter-in-law was surprised that my youngest daughter, then about 11 years old, didn’t know the months of the year.

Aliza responded that, of course, she did know the months – Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev…

What religion are we? Perhaps I can offer this mother the answer that she should provide for her child…

We are Jews – not Jewish, because the “ish” means something like…it isn’t that we are something like Jews…we are Jews.

We are the descendants of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob. We are the children of Sarah, of Rebecca, of Rachel, of Leah. We were lead into freedom by Moses; we were protected as we walked through the wilderness. We created a home, built a Temple and worshiped our God, the One and Only God.

We were exiled and returned, exiled and returned. This is our land. During the centuries we wandered, searching for home, we struggled but survived. We taught our children to read, long before other nations even had an alphabet. We created a just society where the poor are taken care of, the evil ones punished. We have held to laws that demand social justice, compensation for injuries, honoring elders, protecting children. We are Jews.

We have built a land like no other in the world, where kindness…yes, kindness, is an integral part. Last week, a young man directed us to a store and then told us it might be closed. He asked for our phone number, said he would walk there while we drove around the long way and he would call to tell us if it was opened…and he did. Today, waiting in a long line to exit a parking lot, a man waved his arm telling me to lower the window, handed me a cookie, and told me what blessing I should say on it.

When a security guard was attacked in our neighborhood, within a week, over 50,000 shekels (just under $15,000) was raised in days to help his family cope. When a young woman was suddenly orphaned, her father murdered, days before her wedding, she responded by inviting all of Israel to the rescheduled celebration – and they came…from all over Israel, from the United States, even from Australia. We are Jews.

During the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms, the ghettos, the Holocaust…they hunted us, attacked us, stabbed us, beat us, starved us, humiliated us, shot us, gassed us, cremated our bodies or buried us in mass graves, and still we turned three times a day to this land and prayed. We carried the hope of two thousand years with us. We are an eternal people.

We compromised from the very beginning and so many times since. We do not wage wars against innocents; we do not target babies. We have warned the innocents among our enemies, and our soldiers have paid the price many times and still, we will warn them again in the future when pushed into war. We have sent our sons and daughters to the front lines to fight for this land and more, we have sent our sons and daughters around the world to help others. We are Jews.

We worship One God and believe that His protection is all we ever need. He grants us miracles, often daily, sometimes every hour. The missile hits a room where someone was moments before; it moves to the west, against all odds and misses a building with thousands of people in it. The grenade didn’t explode; the bomb didn’t go off.

We live our lives according to the seasons and the holidays – of freedom, of light, of the harvest, of the new year, of judgment day, of spring, of victory. We are not animals that we eat without thought. We bless the fruits and the vegetables, the bread and the wine. All that we put in our stomach ultimately comes from God. He blesses our fields and they prosper. We are Jews.

We have invented technologies that have changed the world a hundred times over – advanced medical research, telecommunications, security, data. We are a center of hi-tech, innovation, and more.

Our children grow in this land, strong and proud. We march through the streets of our land, unafraid and yet committed to helping others, seeking peace, treating others with respect. Where violence is the rule in many societies, here it is the exception. Crime rates are very low; the quality of life quite high. People are happy in this land; our children are blossoming.

If your son or daughter asks you what our religion is, don’t hesitate to explain. He was born into the religion that was the first to recognize and accept a single God; he has inherited a proud and strong history that stretches thousands of years. He has nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of.

We. Are. Jews.

Paula Stern

UFO Religion Celebrates ‘Swastika Rehabilitation Day’

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

The Raelian movement on Shabbat, June 25, held a worldwide “Swastika Rehabilitation Day,” including flying banners over US cities, to inform people about the ancient, peaceful meaning of the swastika, and to protest attempts to link it with the Nazi atrocities.

“New York State Senator Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) introduced a bill to ban public displays of swastikas,” said Raelian official Thomas Kaenzig, who heads the ProSwastika Alliance. “That would infringe upon the freedoms of speech and religion guaranteed by the US Constitution.”

As you probably already know, for many Americans who are not Nazis the swastika is a sacred symbol, despite its unfortunate association with Hitler. Raelians deplore the Nazi crimes, and say Hitler unfairly besmirched a revered symbol that had existed for thousands of years.

The Raelian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrial beings, whom they call the Elohim (where did they get that one no one knows). Members of this species appeared human when having personal contacts with the descendants of the humans that they made. They previously misinformed early humanity that they were angels, cherubim, or gods.

Raelians believe that Buddha and Jesus, among others, were messengers of the Elohim. The founder of Raelism, Claude Vorilhon, now known as Rael, received the final message of the Elohim and his movement’s purpose is to inform the world about Elohim and that if humans become aware and peaceful enough, they wish to be welcomed by them.

Raelian ethics include striving for world peace, sharing, democracy, nonviolence and ample intimate relations, which is why the Raelian Church has attracted some of its priests and bishops from other religions.

The Raelians use the swastika as a symbol of peace, which has kept them from being allowed into Israel, where they wished to establish an embassy for extraterrestrials. The movement also uses the swastika embedded on a Star of David. Starting around 1991, this symbol was often replaced by a variant star and swirl symbol as a public relations move, particularly to avoid provoking Jews and Israelis.

“It’s a cherished symbol not only by Raelians, for whom it represents infinity in time, but by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains,” Kaenzig explained. “Banning a religious symbol is like banning a religion. It affronts both the members of that religion and a supposedly free society in general.”

“Previously, the swastika had only positive connotations of good luck and well-being,” Kaenzig said. “Continuing to associate it with Nazis gives them credit for it, probably the last thing their victims would have wanted. Would Senator Kaminsky also ban the Christian cross? Remember, tens of millions were murdered under that symbol in the Americas, Africa and Europe, and the Klu Klux Klan also used it.”

Kaenzig said the swastika was a Jewish symbol too, for a very long time. “It’s on old synagogues, like that in Verona, Italy, and in many Israeli sites, including the Second Temple, one of the holiest places for Jews,” he pointed out. “Nobody has asked that those symbols be removed, so why is displaying swastikas more of an issue in New York? Education is the solution, not banning. That’s what Swastika Rehabilitation Day is all about.”

The presence of swastikas in synagogue relief works in Israel is rare, and dates back to the end of the second temple era, when it was used as part of geometrical, rather than religiously inspired designs. The ancient synagogue at Kfar Nahum (Capernaum) bears one such symbol. There are many more swastikas spray-painted on synagogues by anti-Semites than inside synagogues as decoration.

According to Kaenzig, “Shapeways, a 3D printing company, is refusing to print any design incorporating a swastika… We’re asking all Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Raelians to boycott Shapeways services for banning this symbol so dear to us all.”

Shapeways is a Dutch-founded, New York-based 3D printing marketplace and service, startup company. Their users design and upload 3D printable files, and Shapeways prints the objects for them. Now they’ll be boycotted for refusing to make swastikas… It don’t sound like this dog is going to run far…

JNi.Media

John Kerry Stays on Message: Don’t Blame Any Religion for Orlando Terror Attack

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Following cues from his boss, Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized that Americans shouldn’t blame Islam or Islamists for the Orlando terror attack, at a meeting with reporters on Momday, according to a Breitbart report.

“The worst thing you can do is engage in trying to point fingers at one group or one form of sectarianism or another or one division or another. Those are not the values of our country.”

Apparently it’s no longer just the victims who are a bunch of random folks, but the attackers as well.

Kerry also said the State Department would continue to fight “ISIL” the Obama Administration’s preferred designation for Islamic State / ISIS / Da’esh.

Jewish Press News Briefs

There’s Hope for the Left After All

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Sometimes, when all you hear are the radical and loud voices from the extreme left, such as from the No Israel Fund, the Reform movement’s IRAC, and Meretz, you think they exclusively and unanimously represent everyone on that side of the spectrum – all the secular, all the non-Orthodox and all the Leftists.

But now we know they don’t.

A Meretz councilwoman from Raanana tried to initiate a boycott against a popular restaurant in Raanana

The owner recently decided he wanted his restaurant to be closed on Shabbat – and the Meretz city councilwoman went on a rampage, posting her boycott call on the Meretz-Raanana page.

But instead of getting backing and support – she was strongly rebuked by her own constituency, with hundreds of responses from people who were utterly disgusted, repulsed and embarrassed by her actions and anti-religious beliefs.

When you read these responses, you realize that these radical leftwing leaders don’t properly or fully represent their constituencies, and they are very much like the Arab MKs who are obsessed with acting as anti-Israeli 5th columns in the Knesset, rather than working to improve the quality of life of the citizens that voted them in.

It’s responses like these that show me can all live together.

While our society does have many political and religious differences, perhaps those differences are in truth exaggerated and overstated by these radical organizations and their leadership seeking to maintain, fund and promote themselves via a supposed struggle, schism and conflict that no longer actually exists, and which, in reality, has evolved into a straightforward, healthy and respectful diversity of thought among our different sectors.

Today, that is what I’m choosing to believe.

Here are some of the responses:

Nitay Sheinenzon: “As a member of the Meretz party I express objection and repulsion over this shocking post. Every time a place decides to become kosher and offers service to the religious public, it is blessed, every business that decides to rest on the Day of Rest according to our tradition is legitimate, and I wish them a good day of rest and Shabbat Shalom.”

Nir Koren: “Really? Boycotting a restaurant because it’s kosher? As a Meretz voter, activist and member of the Meretz Conference, I am ashamed that this announcement was posted on a page with my party’s name on it.”

Arik Meshulam: “As a complete atheist, I don’t give a hoot which restaurant is open on Shabbat and which is closed. If a person has decided to close his restaurant on Shabbat, it’s his business, why would you force him to keep it open? It’s his private restaurant. You’re just as bad as the religious people who force businesses to close on Shabbat.”

Erez Wohl: “I join the extreme leftists who think this post is embarrassing. We thought we were past the phase of hate for the religious in Meretz L.”

JoeSettler

Rivlin: Faithful Jews Are not Anti-Christian or Anti-Muslim

Monday, December 28th, 2015

President Reuven Rivlin told Christian leaders Monday that “a faithful Jew cannot be anti-Christian or anti-Muslim.”

He added that “we all have a duty…to show the world that the conflict in this region is not a war about religion; it is a war against hate.”

Absent from his speech was the questing of how to deal with clerics who preach hate in the name of their religion.

Hosting the traditional annual reception for leaders of Israel’s Christian communities to mark the civil New Year, he praised the 50-year-old fifty-year-old Nostra Aetate declaration, which defined the Catholic Church’s policy against anti-Semitism.

President Rivlin added:

I was honored this year, to meet with the Pope in the Vatican, where we spoke about how this relationship has grown stronger over the years….. Pope Francis said, ‘A true Christian cannot be an anti-Semite’.

Let me say – a faithful Jew cannot be anti-Christian or anti-Muslim….

I am proud that Israel protects the freedom of worship and expression for everyone, of every faith. It is not enough for us to only be a safe home for Christians. We want the community to prosper, and play a part in Israeli society.”

He said this mission as President is “to build bridges between our communities, in the Holy Land and around the world…and show that people with different beliefs can live side by side, and even together; in schools and universities, in the workplace, in parliament, and even on the soccer field.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Research Links Being Religious with a Happy Life – but only for Jews

Friday, December 25th, 2015

Observant Jews are happier with life, and Jews living in Hareidi cities can expect to live longer than others, according to a new study by the Taub Center for Social Studies.

However, the researchers cautioned:

It is important to note that the relatively positive self-reports of Hareidim may also be due to a social norm that frowns on complaining, and would particularly disapprove of ‘airing one’s dirty laundry’ in the context of a secular survey.

Previous studies have concluded that religious involvement is a factor in satisfaction with aspects of living, and Taub researchers reported:

Relatively high percentages of Hareidim attest to being very happy with their relationships with family members: 80.2 percent versus 62.7 percent or less in other population groups….

A relatively low percentage of Hareidim report feelings of loneliness. Only 11.4 percent of Hareidim said that they were lonely, compared with at least twice that amount among other groups.

The link does necessarily apply to non-Jews. The researchers stated::

A rise in satisfaction levels moving up the religiosity scale does not appear among non-Jews. About 37.7 percent of non-Jewish respondents in the study who identified as very religious or religious felt lonely – more than the not very religious (30.7 percent) and the non-religious (30.0 percent).

The report also stated that Hareidim can expect to live three years longer than others in Israel.

A direct link was found “between a city’s socioeconomic and the life expectancy of its residents” but the trend is different for Hareidim in Beit Shemesh, Bnei Brak and Jerusalem, according to the study.

The researchers also noted a study carried out in 1996 that showed that national religious Jews living on kibbutzim have a lower mortality write than secular kibbutzniks.

The 1996 study stated:

These findings indicate that, even in closed and highly-structured communities such as kibbutzim, level of religious observance has an impact on health status.

The latest Taub study noted that then-Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s drastic reduction in child welfare payments more than a decade ago, in addition to the global financial crisis in 2008, “hurt Hareidi families financially” but also ” led many Hareidim to vocational study and employment.”

 

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/research-links-being-religious-with-a-happy-life-but-only-for-jews/2015/12/25/

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