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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘western’

Cat Rescued from the Western Wall [video]

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Somehow, a cat found itself stuck in the Kotel wall.

Using Jewish ingenuity, along with some tables, chairs and shtenders, prayer-goers helped the cat get down.

Jewish Press News Briefs

From The Sbarro Bombing To ISIS : Islamist Terror Fed At The Trough Of Western Appeasement

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s blogsite, The Lid}

Fifteen years ago Palestinian terrorists blew up a pizza place in the heart of Jerusalem.  One month later, other Islamist terrorists blew up the World Trade Centers in NY, the Pentagon Building in Washington DC, and were foiled in their attempt to destroy the Capital building by the brave passengers of Flight 93.

It is important to remember these acts, not simply to memorialize the innocent victims whose only crime was to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, but as a reminder that even today, fifteen years later terrorism still suckles at the teat of political correctness and Western World appeasement.

From ” A Personal Account of the Bombing” by Rabbi Binny Freedman:

Her eyes, I think, will stay with me forever. Imploring, beseeching, full of so much sadness. I think the shock of where and how she was, was sinking in. I can’t begin to describe all that was in those eyes.

Yesterday; Thursday, August 9th the 20th of Av, on my way to work, I found myself walking down Yaffo street. Hungry, I decided to stop and grab a quick bite… at Sbarro’s Pizza.

In the past 5 years I have frequented this establishment exactly twice. Walking into Sbarro’s there is a larger area for sitting in the front, but the back looked a bit cooler and quieter, so I decided to grab a seat in the back. That decision saved my life.

Waiting on line, when they brought me the baked Zitti I asked for, it was cold. So I asked the woman behind the counter if she’d mind warming it up. “Ein Ba’ayah”, no problem, she said with a smile. I will always wonder if that was her last smile on earth… A couple of moments later, a fellow from behind the counter came to the back with my baked Zitti. Then he started to speak to someone at one of the tables… That baked Ziti saved his life.

At about 2PM, I both felt & heard a tremendous explosion, and day turned into night. And then the screaming began. An awful, heartrending sound; the sound of people coming to terms with a whole new reality, of people not wanting to comprehend that life has changed forever. Those of us sitting in the back were spared, but I was afraid of panic, so I started yelling at everyone to quieten down; not to panic. The ceiling looked like it might cave in, but there is always the danger of a second explosion, detonated on purpose shortly after the first… But then I smelled smoke, and was suddenly afraid the restaurant might be on fire. So we started climbing our way through the wreckage to the front.

Would there be another explosion? Would the roof collapse? Were we making the wrong decision, climbing through? There are moments that last a lifetime… There are no words to describe what the front of Sbarro’s Pizza looked like in the immediate aftermath of that explosion. A woman was lying near the steps to the back. Her eyes were staring straight at me, following me. So full of pain and longing, sadness and despair. I dropped down becide her trying to ellicit a response to see if she could speak. And then I watched the life just drain out of her. I tried to get a pulse, to no avail. She died there, on the steps in front of me. She was lying by the table I had decided not to sit at…

There were bodies everywhere, and those images are in my mind; they won’t let go. A child’s body under the wreckage; a baby-carriage; limbs and a torso; A woman holding a motor-cycle helmet and screaming next to a person on the floor who had obviously been someone she was with… And then the mad rush to help the ambulance and emergency crews get the wounded out. They were obviously afraid of a second bomb, so there was no medical effort inside beyond getting the wounded on to stretchers and out. A religious Jew missing at least two limbs in tears and shock; what do you say? “yehiyeh Be’Seder” it’ll be all right? Will it?

I happened to sit a bit to the left as you walk towards the back, and so the wall behind me shielded me from the blast. Another fellow whom we went back in to get wasn’t so lucky. Sitting only 5 or 6 feet to my left, he caught the full force of the blast and was thrown in the air. When we got him on the stretcher he was bleeding profusely and was missing a leg… There are no words to describe what that man’s hand, clenched around my arm, felt like. He just kept looking from me to his leg and back again. I started saying Tehillim …
So many mixed emotions fill my head today. I came home last night and gave each of my children a very long hug… But there are so many families today who are waking up to the reality that life will never be the same. 17 funerals with friends and families saying goodbye to those they loved so, whose only crime was a desire for a slice of Pizza on a beautiful Jerusalem afternoon…

Terrorist Ahlam Tamimi helped to plan the Sbarro attacked and drove the murder to the pizza shop in Jerusalem in August 2001.

ahlam-tamimi

On the day of the massacre (9th August 2001), she personally transported the bomb (10 kg) from a West Bank town into Jerusalem, concealed inside a guitar case. Taxi cabs brought her and an accomplice by the name of Al Masri, a young, newly-religious fanatic, to an Israeli security checkpoint and from there into Jerusalem.

To reduce suspicion, they dressed as Israelis and the bomb was not detected. Tamimi, who inspired, planned and engineered the Sbarro attack, personally led her “weapon” – Al Masri – to the target she had carefully selected. The Sbarro pizza restaurant, because it was located in the heart of Jerusalem and on a hot summer vacation afternoon it would be teeming with women and children. Tamimi instructed Al Masri to wait fifteen minutes before detonating the explosives to give her sufficient time to flee the scene safely. He followed her orders. As to this being (as some journalists have implied) an act of momentary madness or lack of sound thinking, take into account that a short time prior to Sbarro attack Tamimi carried out a ‘dry run’, placing an explosive inside a downtown Jerusalem supermarket (Hamashbir Lazarchan) which exploded causing damage but resulting in no injuries.

Fifteen people were murdered in the attack, 7 of them children. Ahlam Tamimi was captured, jailed for the murders, but released from an Israeli jail in 2011 as part the prisoner exchange for the kidnapped Israeli, Gilad Shalit. To this day she has shown no remorse for her mass-murder.

 Fifteen innocent people were murdered by Tamimi and her associate:

15 victimsMay the  names of the dead always be for a blessing:

  • Giora Balash, 60, of Brazil
  • Zvika Golombek, 26, of Carmiel
  • Shoshana Yehudit Greenbaum, 31, of the U.S.
  • Tehila Maoz, 18, of Jerusalem
  • Frieda Mendelsohn, 62, of Jerusalem
  • Michal Raziel, 16, of Jerusalem
  • Malka Roth, 15, of Jerusalem
  • Mordechai Schijveschuurder, 43, of Neria
  • Tzira Schijveschuurder, 41, of Neria
  • Ra’aya Schijveschuurder, 14, of Neria
  • Avraham Yitzhak Schijveschuurder, 4, of Neria
  • Hemda Schijveschuurder, 2, of Neria
  • Lily Shimashvili, 33, of Jerusalem
  • Tamara Shimashvili, 8, of Jerusalem
  • Yocheved Shoshan, 10, of Jerusalem

The fault for this massacre goes much further than the terrorists committed the horrible act, Hamas the terrorist group the bombers were associated with, or Fatah the ruling party of the Palestinians which still celebrates the murderers as heroes.

When Yassir Arafat started on his murderous rampage in 1964 (three years before the 6-day war), he was treated like the animal he was.  Then slowly through a combination of Arab Oil power and the world’s continued hatred of Jews, the murderous rampage was treated with appeasement. Thanks to that appeasement the radical Islamic world was taught that terrorism is a legitimate means of political expression. That appeasement directly lead to 9/11/01, al Qaeda, ISIS, and every other Islamic terror organization in the world today.

The Sbarro bombing was not the first of these horrible murders, or the deadliest. A little over a month later another terrorist attack, this time in the United States captured the world’s attention, and drove the United States to become actively involved in the war against terror.

After 9/11, for the first time in its history the US treated a terror attack in Israel the same as any other act of war against civil society (at least until the Republicans lost congress in 2006 when things began to revert).

After election day 2008 under the leadership of new President Barack Obama the US reverted back to the pre-9/11 mentality.  Even worse this country stopped fighting a war to wipe out the fanatical Islamists.  Fifteen years after Sbarro, and almost 15 years after 9/11/11, thanks to a President who believes in leading from behind, the Islamists have the United States on the run.

This horrible bombing was part of what has become known as the second intifada. Israel and the Palestinians had been close to a peace deal where Arafat would get almost everything he asked for, but neither the terrorist or his people were ready for peace so Arafat walked away from the talks and authorized a wave of horrible homicide bombings. Everyone including the former President, said that Yassir Arafat walked away from a “sweetheart” deal. Note: Prime Minister Comb-over Ehud Olmert offered a similar deal to PA President Abbas who never replied to his offer.

The Palestinian Authority and President Abbas still have no desire to make peace. They claim to the world they are looking to make peace with their Israeli neighbors in English and say the opposite in Arabic. The truth that no one will admit is moderates do not run the PA, it is the radicals who still run Fatah, its ruling party. Earlier this week Abbas ghoulishly celebrated the fact that his Fatah party killed its 11,000th innocent Israeli.

The PA still has done almost nothing has been done to prepare the Palestinians for a compromise peace and two-state solution alongside Israel. In fact Jews and Israel are demonized and terrorists are honored. In schools, children are taught that the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion is true and they regularly teach both children and adults to hate the Jewish people. 

This President spent the past eight years doing all he can to force Israel to make one-sided concessions to “moderates” in Fatah who continue in their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, and continue killing innocent Israeli. Via both of his secretary of states, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry,  Obama promotes peace with President Abbas’ Fatah Party even though it  still promotes mass-murderers like the one who blew up a Sbarros pizza place in Jerusalem as heroes.

Until the world recognizes the fruits of their appeasement, horrors like the Sbarro bombing, San Bernardino, Paris, Orlando will continue to happen in Israel, Europe, the US and elsewhere throughout the world, just like the 138 Islamist terror attacks between July 7 and August 6, 2016, that were executed in 22 countries, that killed 1053 and injured another 1659.

 

Jeff Dunetz

Defending Western Values in Brexit’s Wake

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

{Originally posted to New Canadian Media}

“Immigration played a role in the Brexit campaign,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

Since there were only four percentage points between the winning side (to leave the European Union) and the losing side, it is likely that this factor was decisive.

Concerns over immigration have lately been widespread across the West. They seem to have played an important role in Donald Trump’s success in the Republican primaries, and seem to be fuelling the growing popularity of hard right-wing parties in Europe.

These concerns represent a mixed bag. There is undoubtedly some xenophobia, but there are also valid concerns about the risk that immigration places on our liberal values.

I emigrated from Lebanon in 1984. My main motivation was to live in a society that shared my liberal values, where women and gay people are treated more fairly, and where freedom of expression is guaranteed.

Today, I wonder if Canada and the West in general will continue to be a haven for future generations who are fleeing tyranny.

Sharing liberal values

Many of the newcomers do not share the West’s liberal values and do not easily change their outlook once they arrive. As reported in The Guardian in 2009, a Gallup Poll found that “None of the 500 British Muslims interviewed believed that homosexual acts were morally acceptable”.

France fared better in the same poll, and “35% of French Muslims found homosexual acts to be acceptable”.

Both Britain and France have since then legalized same-sex marriage, a step well beyond simply tolerating homosexuality. If Muslims were in the majority in Britain and France, it is unlikely that same-sex marriage would have become the law.

Canadian Muslim reformer, Raheel Raza, wrote in reference to the niqab, “In the 25 years I have called Canada home, I have seen a steady rise of Muslim women being strangled in the pernicious black tent”.

Another Canadian Muslim reformer, Farzana Hassan, wrote in her book “Unveiled”, “To live strictly according to sharia is the goal of conservative Muslim families in Canada. These are the values they are imparting to their young children”.

Equality of cultures

Interestingly, our liberal values often discourage us from fighting back against attacks on these very same values. The politicians who raise concerns about immigration tend to be demagogues, such as Trump and hard right-wingers such as France’s Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National.

If those politicians come to power, however, we cannot trust them to protect our liberal values. Demagogues pander to whatever political stand will get them elected, and hard right-wingers do not favour equal rights for minorities, a core principle of liberal values.

A claim often made by some liberals is that all cultures are equal and, therefore, we have no right to impose our culture on others. Even assuming that this claim is true, it only means that we should not forcefully go into other countries and impose our values there.

It does not take away our right to protect our own culture.

This is not a relationship of equals. It is a relationship of subservience.

For example, extreme conservative Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia expect visitors to comply with their cultural practices, such as women covering up in public, yet we allow visitors and even immigrants to our countries to disregard our values by wearing the niqab in public.

This is not a relationship of equals. It is a relationship of subservience.

Cowering on the sidelines

Moderate Western politicians must protect our liberal values by taking reasonable measures that respect human rights. For example, many Syrian refugees have been welcomed in the West and many more are expected to arrive.

Yet, as noted by Amnesty International, “Gulf countries including Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees”. The West should demand more participation from rich Muslim countries to ensure that refugees find homes that match their social values.

Another reasonable measure might be screening potential migrants based on their existing values and their ability to adapt to Western norms such as respect for LGBT rights and women’s rights. Once they have immigrated, there should be restrictions on some cultural practices.

As both Raheel Raza and another Canadian Muslim reformer Tarek Fatah have demanded, the niqab and the burka should be banned in public places.

Those of us who believe in liberal values have a right and even a duty to protect them. Centrist and left-wing politicians should be at the forefront of this battle rather than cowering on the sidelines, leaving the floor to illiberal politicians.

Defending our values is important not only for the West, but also to potential immigrants who wish to leave oppressive societies. Refusing to fight for our values is dangerous for us and a disservice to new immigrants.

Fred Maroun

US Losing Middle East Coalition

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Ever since the seventies, the world has become accustomed to the split in the Middle East, between those countries that support the West – Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Israel, and we might add Turkey to this list as well, and those countries that were members of the opposing, Soviet, coalition: Syria, Libya, Iraq and South Yemen. Lebanon was then between the democratic hammer and the Syrian anvil.

Despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of the eighties, there were no big shifts in political orientation, and the countries that were faithful to the Western bloc led by the United States remained faithful to it until recently, mainly because a new hostile bloc was formed, led by Iran and supported by Russia and China. The stronger the Iranian threat became, the more the pro-Western countries depended on America for support.

Lately, however, the pro-Western coalition has begun to crumble, and two key countries – Saudi Arabia and Egypt – are searching for a new political crutch, ever since it became clear to them that the American crutch is nothing but “a broken reed” (Isaiah, 36:6). A few more countries can be added to this list, mainly Turkey and the Gulf Emirates.

Saudi Arabia

In an unprecedented move, the Saudi kingdom has refused to become a member of the most powerful body in the world, the Security Council of the UN, a body authorized to deal with the world’s security problems and, with the power of the authority vested in it, can even declare war as a world body on a country that violates its resolutions. The question that immediately arises is: why did Saudi Arabia refuse to become a member of the body that is perhaps the only one capable of dealing with Iran’s military nuclear project? Why did Saudi Arabia reject the opportunity to influence events in Syria from within the Security Council? Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia take advantage of the most important stage in international policy in order to take action against Israel?

The superficial reason is that which the Saudi foreign office published, expressing an ethical position: the kingdom will not agree to enter the Security Council until the Council undergoes reforms that will enable it to fulfill its role, which is to maintain world peace. The obsolete apparatus, the wasteful practices, and double standards used by the Security Council all prevent it from fulfilling its role. There are many examples of this: the Palestinian problem has not been solved despite it having been created 65 years ago, and despite the fact that the wars stemming from it have threatened the peace of the entire region and the world several times. The Council allows the Syrian dictator continue slaughtering his citizens for almost three years without imposing effective sanctions, and the Council has failed to achieve the goal of turning the Middle East into an area free of weapons of mass destruction because it has not managed to create an effective method of oversight for military nuclear projects.

Despite the fact that the Saudis do not speak specifically about Iran in their official announcement, it is clear that their reference is not to Israel, from whom they fear no danger, but to Iran, whose nuclear plans do keep them awake at night. However, it is specifically the Iranian nuclear issue which should have pushed Saudi Arabia to become a member the Council; membership could have granted them an active role in making decisions against Iran, so why not join?

In part, the reasons relate to the way that the Saudis see the international alignment of countries recently but is also connected to the customary culture of honor in the Middle East, without which it would be impossible to understand the behavior of the Saudis, proud sons of the desert.

First of all, a person of honor does not join a club where he is considered a class ‘B’ member. In the Security Council there are class ‘A’ members – the five permanent members (the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China) who have nuclear weapons and veto power, and there are class ‘B’ members – the ten countries with temporary membership, who are not allowed to attain nuclear weapons and do not have veto power. Saudi Arabia would in no way agree to be a class ‘B’ member of any organization, and would prefer not to join because honor is more important to it than anything else.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

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

Go East

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

The anniversary of the Yom Kipur War always reminds one of Israeli fallibility, arrogance, and overconfidence, yet at the same time of its capacity to defy the odds and come back from the brink. It was another example of our bringing disaster upon ourselves and then fighting back to survive. After all, that is what the name “Israel” means in the Bible: “to struggle with man and God and survive”.

If I were to listen to the voices, Jewish and non-Jewish, that I hear in such examples as The New York Times, in The New York Review of Books, the intellectual and leftwing talking heads of Europe and the USA, or indeed popular left wing opinion, I would have a depressing sense of impending catastrophe. This week Peter Beinart, in The New York Review of Books, tells us that we Jews neither know, nor understand, nor feel the suffering of the Palestinians, whether under Hamas or the PLO. Ian S. Lustick goes on at length in a one-sided peroration typical of The New York Times that the lays the blame on Israel for making the Two State Solution irrelevant. They are not entirely wrong. But I tell you I am bloody fed up with people lumping all Israelis, all Jews together in their simplistic apportioning of blame, seeing things in black and white rather than in greys. Palestinians are good victims. Israelis are bad oppressors. In fact, both are both. That’s what humans are, a mixture of good and bad.

Some Israelis, some Jews are indeed intolerable racists. It is as true as is the fact that in South Africa under Apartheid there were Jews who acquiesced, who remained silent and failed their moral duty. But it is equally true that many Jews fought long and hard and at great cost to themselves, to oppose Apartheid and to promote freedom for the black population. That the ANC finally triumphed has not replaced immorality with morality, discrimination with equality. Sadly, too often those who suffer respond not by continuing the drive towards greater freedom but by grabbing all they can for themselves. This is the usual consequence of most struggles for freedom. Similarly, in Zimbabwe the relatively benign but overtly racial regime of Ian Smith was replaced by the much more evil and murderous regime of black Mugabe. Good fighters for freedom turn into very bad governors of countries. But that is the price of the struggle. And politics is dirty and messy everywhere.

The role of government is to protect its citizens and the vision of its founders. Israel was created as a state with a Jewish heritage, just as much as Muslim states were established to preserve and propagate Muslim heritage. Most of us would like to see both as tolerant and democratic societies. Israel is imperfect indeed, but it is our homeland. If we care for it we should fight to protect it and to improve it, not to undermine it. We should focus just as much on those who are working hard on reconciliation, on doing good, not just on the bad, on Syrians treated in Israeli hospitals, on Israel providing for Gaza what Egypt is not. But don’t expect this from the anti-Israel amen chorus.

So how are we expected to relate to a dysfunctional Middle East that is constantly stirred up against us by a distorted Western mentality? Surely not by capitulating to its mental diseases. I suggest we try to ignore its pathologies as best we can. But I must stress, I do not advocate cutting ourselves off from the Muslim world. The Middle East is not the only Muslim location. I do not think the divide between Judaism and Islam is either inevitable or healthy. We have far more in common with each other than we do with Western religions. To both of us, religion is not a series of theological propositions but a way of life. However if we want to heal the breach we must look further east.

It always surprises Jews to learn that the Muslims of the Far East, from India to Indonesia, from Cambodia to China, see the Arab jihadis of the Middle East in much the same way that non-Orthodox Jews view Charedim. They regard the Salafists and the Wahhabis as over the top extremists. It’s true in both cases that guilt often leads them to support the pious at arm’s length. The Far East also has its extreme and violent Islamic movements and terrorists, but the general mood of Islam is far more benign the further you get from the Middle East. It is more tolerant, less anti-West, and less fixated on blaming everyone else, especially the Jews, for their own ills. Yes, you can quote me that nasty former Malayan premier Mahathir bin Mohamad, who blamed the Jews for everything. But, thank goodness, he was not typical. I believe Israel should reduce its links with Europe with is ghastly legacy and history. It should be cultivating relations and economic involvements with India, China, Korea, and other emerging powers out in the Far East.

Daniel Goldhagen, the controversial and outspoken American historian who wrote Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, has stirred things up with his latest book about Western anti-Semitism, The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism. Anthony Julius wrote a dismissive review in the Wall Street Journal accusing Goldhagen of sloppy research and unreliable statistics, even if he agrees with the core of his thesis. But even if Goldhagen exaggerates when he says 200 million Europeans compare Israelis to Nazis, let us reduce it by half. The fact is that huge swathes of opinion in Europe and the USA are venomously opposed to Israel’s existence on principle. So who is Israel to rely on? We knew Europe would never go to war to defend the Jews. Now we have seen all too clearly that the USA cannot be relied upon to fight. It is war weary. Israel must defend it itself as best it can, both socially and militarily. It is time to look for friends elsewhere.

In addition, I believe Judaism has more in common with and is more appreciated by the religion and mysticism of the East than of the West. The West is fixated on pain, suffering, guilt, and negativity. The East has much more positive religious energy. We have been identified with the Western religious tradition for too long. We have adopted too much of this guilt and pain. We could well redress the balance. It is time to think about a new alliance, a new love affair, with the Far East for Israel and Jews in general. I only hope our present leaders, secular and religious, will not be as myopic as those of the past.

Jeremy Rosen

Back in the USSR

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Those among us who are middle-aged or older will remember a song by the Beatles called “Back to the USSR”. Ever since the minor crisis regarding the Asad regime’s use of chemical weapons, this song has been stuck my head.

This minor crisis has revealed, emphasized and demonstrated what we wrote about here long ago, which is the weakening of the Western bloc, especially the United States, and the return of the opposing group to the center of international stage under Russian leadership.  Putin’s article in the New York Times openly expressed his opinion about the old-new international situation, in which the world has stopped being a unipolar system, and has gone back to being a bipolar system, as it was until the end of the eighties, when the Soviet Union collapsed, and the allies in Eastern Europe left it in favor of joining with the Western, democratic world, and afterward, the European Union.

The Russian Bloc is based on non-democratic countries that are hostile to the West, whether from a cultural point of view, like China and Syria, or a religious point of view, like Iran. Countries where democracy is limping along like Venezuela and Nicaragua, also join up with Russia, who doesn’t bother them too much about marginal matters like human rights and political freedoms. North Korea also enjoys China’s and Russia’s political protection, especially in the UN Security Council.

Today’s anti-democratic glue is apparently better than the glue of Slavic identity that formed the “Warsaw Pact” because it is a world view and a cultural perspective. Back then, membership in the Soviet bloc was forced on the states (for instance, in Czechoslovakia and the Soviet invasion of 1968), while today, states freely choose to belong to the Russian bloc. It is not yet a consolidated and unified bloc, but one definitely sees that this union of anti-democratic forces is winning ever more diplomatic territory in the international sphere. There is an important military aspect to this alliance, due to the supply of Russian weaponry to Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

Many countries in the world compare the behavior of the bloc under Russian leadership to the conduct of the West under United States’ leadership and conclude: The United States betrays her friends and abandons them, while Russia is faithful to her friends and defends them. When the world analyzes what the United States has done for states and rulers in recent years it finds Mubarak, who was abandoned by President Obama with the start of demonstrations against him; the president of Tunisia – bin Ali – who was forced to flee from the demonstrations without even one of his European friends  to rescue him; the United States abandons its friends in the Gulf and in Saudi Arabia in the face of Iran’s threatening buildup; the West does not back Israel in its efforts to maintain its security and its strategic assets, and urges it to establish another Palestinian terror country in the mountains of Judea and Samaria, overlooking most of the territory of the State of Israel.

On the other hand, the world sees that Russia defends Iran and its nuclear project in the Security Council faithfully, and even supplies its reactors and the means of defending them; Russia is faithful to Asad and supplies him weaponry, ammunition and means of defense necessary for his survival; Russia supplies China with raw materials and places of employment.

In Economic matters as well, the West appears weak relative to Russia. Since six years ago, the Western economy – Europe and the United States together – has been caught in a structural crisis, not in a recession from which it is relatively easy to emerge. It seems that the unification of currency (the Euro) and production standards are not enough to make Europe into one body, so divisive forces exist there that even threaten the stability of some countries: the region of Catalonia wants to secede from Spain, and the Scots apparently will leave the United Kingdom in another year. Europe is addicted to Russian gas, and to oil that, by Iran’s “good will”, is allowed to pass through the Strait of Hormuz on its route from the Emirates to Europe.

Regarding the issue of Syrian chemical weapons, the West has seemed like a crumbling and disintegrating body, with no leader and no shared agenda. The British parliament is against war, the French is for it, and the American administration says that it’s getting ready to attack, Congress doesn’t support it, the American army is preparing for war and the State Department puts forth a compromise. The right hand does not know what the left is doing, and each one acts according to a different agenda. This is no way to build a bloc of states that is capable of executing a mission that everyone agrees is ethically justified: to defend the citizens of Syria from chemical weapons. And when ethics ceases to be the leading cause for the West, what is left of its values?

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/dr-mordechai-kedar/back-in-the-ussr/2013/09/18/

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