God is NOT Fixing this ….

 

It isn’t every day I come across a theologically provocative new story headline like the  New York Daily did this morning in the terrible aftermath of the mass shooting that took place in San Bernardino, California—which claimed the lives of fourteen people, while injuring over twenty.

The headline said, “God isn’t fixing this,” which referred to the many lawmakers who offered up their prayers for the victims, but failed to act when it came to enacting stricter gun control laws. The article listed a number of tweets from the various GOP presidential candidates, where each of them “offer their prayers for the victims.” The article neglected to mention how President Obama himself, offered his prayers for the victims and their families.

Gun violence is a complicated issue.

I have always felt that some of the gun laws need tightening. More psychological background screening is a good thing, provided it can prevent unhealthy people from obtaining firearms—especially weaponry such as the Kalashnikov AK-47, which is more of a military weapon used in the battlefields. The idea of a homeowner utilizing such a weapon in the home has always seemed rather odd to me. For someone like Rambo, well that’s different. To the President’s credit, he ceded that these changes will not prevent every act of gun violence, but it may prevent some incidents from occurring. Ethnic profiling here in this case might have also prevented Syed Rizwan Farook  from obtaining the weaponry he used. It certainly works for Israel, and it can work for our country too.

Sadly, political correctness may have contributed to this terrible tragedy.

What was the gun merchant really thinking when he sold Syed Rizwan Farook the weaponry he used? The careless gun merchant contributed to the unlawful and criminal violence that occurred. The Torah emphatically stresses, “You shall not insult the deaf, or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you shall fear your God. I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:14). As Martin Buber notes, “The fear of God” is not the fear of punishment. Whenever the “fear of God” is used in Scriptures, it always denotes the reverence for life. Every gun merchant should have this biblical passage enshrined on the walls of his shop.

While I strongly believe the President has every right to use the bully pulpit to promote new laws concerning gun control, it is important that even more important that  the President walk his talk for justice demands consistency and fairness. Operation “Fast and Furious” scandal is a grim reminder that providing guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders proved to be a dubious and dangerous operation, which ultimately led to the deaths of Mexican civilians as well as the death of the United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed December 2010 with these weapons. This affair was so scandalous that the Justice Department demanded documents related to the scandal from Attorney General Eric Holder, who refused to cooperate, resulting in Holder becoming the first sitting member of the Cabinet of the United States to be held in contempt of Congress on June 28, 2012. The President himself, embarrassingly, invoked executive privilege for the first time in his presidency[1]  over the same documents.[2]

Of course, banning such weaponry does not necessarily prevent a person from getting one. As we have seen in the past, where there is a will, there is also a way. Although I find myself differing with the President on most of our country’s national and international issues, I think there is room for a creative compromise for everyone to compromise.

From the theological perspective, Paul Tillich teaches us a valuable lesson worth considering. Too many times, we imagine that God is a “Cosmic Bellboy,” or “Santa Claus (in keeping with Christmas spirit of the season), who bestows all of our wishes and desires. According to Tillich, nothing can be farther from the truth.

Jewish prayer concurs with Tillich’s point.

Jewish mystics teach us that, “Blessings from above descend never descend into a vacuous space” (Zohar I, Genesis 88a). In other words, everything we ask for from God demands that we make a corresponding vessel to receive that blessing.

If we wish to prevent gun violence, we must find ways to tame the human spirit. Passing laws for, or against gun control will mean very little, unless we also make an effort to distant ourselves from violent thoughts, violent words, and violent deeds. While the Hollywood community tends to be outspoken about the importance of gun control, it is counter-productive for these same actors and actresses to promote violent films that enshrine violent attitudes with images that show no reverence for human life.

Prayer in Jewish tradition is not merely a rote recitation of words; it is contains a recipe and a prescription on how we must manifest God’s mercy and justice in the world. Kabbalists have often said that the shapes of the four letters of  God’s Name “YHWH” resembles that of a human being. The image of God that our Creator has endowed each of us with is a reminder of how each of us participates and partakes of God’s divine nature and Being.

Ergo, “God isn’t fixing this” may be a more appropriate name for a headline than the writer might have imagined. However, the word for “prayer” “Tefilah” actually derives from the word to be “self-reflective.”

None of us is so high and mighty to take these issues to heart and in the spirit of shalom, find compromises to a vexing problem that everyone can live with. Maybe then, we will prove worthy enough for God to answer our prayers.



[1] Jackson, David (June 20, 2012). “Obama claims executive privilege; Holder held in contempt”. USA Today. Retrieved June 22, 2012.

[2] John Parkinson,. (June 20, 2012). “Committee Votes Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress After Obama Asserts Executive Privilege”. ABC News. Retrieved June 22, 2012.

Why Liberal Jews Should NOT Ignore the Genocide of Christians and Yazidis….

A distraught father in Syria holds the lifeless body of his decapitated daughter, executed by milita

Recent discussions on the Internet deal with the moral question concerning asylum for Syrian refugees. This issue is especially a matter of concern for the European countries as well.

More specifically for Jews, is the comparison between Syrian of today and the German Jewish refugees analogous? In 1938, Jews of Europe had a horrific time trying to gain entry into the United States, which feared the new Jewish refugees might take jobs away from Americans who were just starting to recover from the Great Depression. With today’s struggling economy and dwindling wealth, we hear similar arguments as well.

Some politicians and segments of the population even feared that the Jews might be secretly working covertly for Hitler—of all people! Many Americans did not realize there was a genocide in Europe that the Nazis had initiated. Bear in mind, the world did not have the benefit of Facebook or Twitter, or other media outlets as we do today.

Advocates for the Syrian refugees claim that this xenophobia exists today. President Obama  argues this past week in Manila, “When candidates say we should not admit 3-year-old orphans, that’s political posturing,” he said. “When individuals say we should have religious tests, and only Christians, proven Christians, should be allowed, that’s offensive and contrary to American values.” I think the American people know more about “political posturing” than the President realizes…

From this writer’s point of view, I concur there is a real need for us bring Syrian refugees over to the United States. In fact, the analogy to the 1938 racial laws that existed in the United States may be a fair analogy—at least superficially. Understandably, Jews have a long memory for the discrimination our parents and grandparents experienced. That is fine and good.

The problem with this observation is that for the few years, the Jewish community has been remarkably blind, deaf, and dumb to the genocide of Yazidis and the Christians who are being massacred for rejecting Islam. The Yazidis are one of the oldest religious communities of the Middle East, whose faith includes elements of Zoroastrianism and some forms of the ancient Mesopotamian religions that probably preexists Islam by at least a thousand years.

In one CNN interview reported later by Catholic Online, a Chaldean-American businessman named Mark Arabo, reports “ISIS have beheaded small children and placed their heads on a stick and have them in the park.” He has begged the White House and American politicians to rescue the Chaldean-Christian and Yazidi communities, numbering at least 300,000 people who have tried to flee the ISIS invasion of their country.

We have seen ISIS instruct their children how to play kickball with Christian and Yazidi severed heads. Sometimes ISIS will starve a mother for several days, and give her a lavish meal made from the bodies of her children.

Radical Islam “almost” makes Nazism look civilized; whereas the Nazis believed they were the “master race,” Radical Islam believes they possess the “Master Religion.”

Now this is a comparison that resembles the Holocaust of 1930s and 1940s. Yet, I have not heard the demand from American Jews to do something to bring these people to safety.

So, I ask you the reader—why do you think this is so? Such a probing question is bound to elicit a number of uncomfortable responses. Perhaps many Jews don’t know what is going on in the areas controlled by ISIS. Is it possible that many of our most liberal-minded Jews don’t care to address this problem since our President has refused to come to the aid of these Christians? In other words, liberal Jewish fealty to the current Administration is more important that saving the Chaldean  and Yazidi lives. Perhaps some of our brethren do not wish to confront the dark side of Radical Islam. Denying it a name means denying it a reality. Hence, we will look the other way rather than choose to act ethically.

Historically, we made the same kind of moral mistake when we failed to confront Roosevelt for not letting Jews come in to the United States. In WW 2, we had great heroes who stood their ground and openly challenged the President to act morally.  Rabbi Eliezer Silver (1882-1968) proved to be one the greatest rescuers of European Jewry during the Holocaust. He is credited with saving many thousands of Jewish lives. Early on in 1939, Silver was one of the founding fathers of the Vaad Hatzalah (Rescue Committee), where Silver was appointed as its president. He was instrumental in rescuing the cream of European rabbinic leaders, who along with Rabbis Aaron Kotler, Abraham Kalmanowitz marched up Pennsylvanian Avenue on October 6, 1943.

While standing in front of the White House, the large Jewish entourage of over two hundred rabbis recited the Psalms and announced, “We pray and appeal to the Lord, blessed be He, that our most gracious President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, recognizing this momentous hour of history and responsibility that the Divine Presence has laid upon him, that he may save the remnant of the People of the Book, the People of Israel.”

Shortly afterward, the Jewish delegation met with Vice President Henry Wallace and a congressional delegation to make their case for European Jewry. Later, at the Lincoln Memorial, a special memorial prayer was said on behalf of the martyred Jews.  Finally, the five rabbis went to the White House to meet with the President, where the President made his famous backdoor exit rather than meeting with them. Although they did not meet with the President, the publicity of the march led to the eventual formulation of the War Refugees Board, which opened the doorway to over 100,000 Jews. When one considers how many of these survivors went on to have children–not to mention grandchildren–Rabbi Silver really saved millions of lives!

Today’s liberal Jews would never think of challenging Obama for similar reasons. And for this reason, we need responsible Jewish leaders to demand that the Chaldean Christian and Yazidi communities be granted rescue given the imminent threat of danger they face.

I feel ashamed to say that some of my rabbinic colleagues havet taken the cowardly way out. Meanwhile, the ISIS film all of their latest atrocities, adding to their heinous legacy of murder; now, they even harvest the organs while their victims are yet alive, to raise income for their murderous cause. Radical Islam is the new and improved Nazism of our time and I believe we as a Jews have a moral obligation to help the Chaldeans and the Yazidis.

Otherwise, history will remember us for the moral cowards we really are. Not only did we fail to learn any wisdom from the Holocaust, we have repeated the same mistakes made by Europe and the United States in the turbulent years of WWII.

With respect to the Syrian refugees, our first priorities ought to be directed toward, and then the women and small children. The young Muslim men need to wait their turn. They are not endangered because of religious persecution and genocide. We should follow Canada’s course of action and allow only the most vulnerable members of the Muslim Syrian population for the time being.

More importantly, we cannot allow one of the oldest Middle Eastern religious communities to be savagely slaughtered.

Purim Then and Purim Now

 

One of the interesting facets of the Purim story is the tradition of giving a Purim Torah talk during the holiday. “Purim Torah” is a humorous and often satirical way of using biblical and Talmudic narratives in a manner that is creative and imaginative—but always funny, if not carnivalesque. Purim Torah expositions may be simple or elaborate.

On one occasion I received from a friend a Purim Torah written as if it came from a page of the Talmud dealing with the debate Israelis had whether they should leave Gaza or not—replete with all the names of the political leaders written in classic Aramaic script! Like a good old April Fool’s joke, only afterwards do you  do you realize that you have been taken by surprise.

My Purim story began a couple of days ago when I had a conversation with a good friend who runs an electronic Jewish publishing company named Alex. As we were conversing, we started talking about the Purim story and attempted to find parallels to today’s drama concerning Israel and Iran, President Obama and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. The entire conversation involved considerable tongue-in-cheek humor.

Despite the comical way the Purim story is narrated, its message is deadly serious. The Jewish people have always been a vulnerable minority to immoral leaders—past and present.

My friend Alex began his exposition of Purim with the incident of Mordechai and Haman. When Haman became the viceroy, he insisted that everyone bow down to him, yet as we read in the Book of Esther, that Mordechai refused to pay any kind of homage to Haman (Esther 3:1-9). One reason given by the Midrash suggests that Haman was wearing an idol around his neck and Mordechai refused to bow lest he guilty of idolatry.[1] This might suggest that Mordechai and Haman were enemies long before Haman became the Prime Minister of Persia.

Ibn Ezra raises the obvious question: How could Mordechai endanger himself and the Jewish people for this breach of etiquette? Surely, he could have requested that the Queen transfer him to another part of the King’s Gate so that he would not run into Haman again! Alex deduced that Netanyahu behaved a lot like Mordechai, while Haman behaved much like Obama, whose Administration indicated there could be a serious chilling effect if Netanyahu wins the election that could affect Israel’s security, or the Palestinian quest for Statehood that the State Department might endorse.[2]  According to some Arab and European  newspapers, it was rumored that Obama threatened to shoot down any Israeli planes attempting to bomb Iran[3], a point that the State Department officially denied.[4]

Of course  the analogy breaks down. Obama is not threatening to kill eight million people in Israel. True, his error in judgment could indirectly lead to that result, but the real threat comes from the heirs of ancient Persia—Iran!

Perhaps Netanyahu ought to be compared to Queen Esther, who at one point breaks with the royal protocol to meet with the King in order to save her people’s lives. (I could just imagine Netanyahu dressing up in a Queen Esther Purim costume.) This exposition has some potential validity. Netanyahu also felt that the situation demanded that he go and speak on behalf of his people before the President’s agreement with Iran became a fait accompli.

Some people I have spoken with suggest President Obama might resemble the Persian King Achashverosh. In his naiveté, the king believed everything that Haman had spoken to him about the problematic Jews. This comparison is striking because President Obama appears willing to accept the Iranian claim that “using nukes goes against the teachings of Islam” [5]  despite the fact the Ayatollah Khamenei has threatened “to wipe Israel off the map.”  Former Clinton envoy Dennis Ross candidly said  that the Obama administration needs “to explain why the deal it is trying to conclude actually will prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons for the lifetime of the agreement and afterwards.” [6] Yes, Congress has a right to know, as do our Arab allies.[7]

Should we take these threats seriously? If you’re a small country like Israel, whose memory of the Holocaust is still fresh—you must take these threats seriously. One does not need nuclear centrifuges to make peaceful electricity, but one certainly needs it to make a nuclear bomb. This is alone serious enough of a problem for us to have grave doubts—the same kind of doubts that the Arab countries have expressed.

One of the 20th century’s premiere Modern Orthodox thinkers, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, was quoted as once saying  “A madman rose and articulated his intentions to destroy the Jewish people. The miracle was that we didn’t ignore him, we didn’t excuse him, and we didn’t seek to reinterpret him. The miracle was that we actually believed him and sought to do something about it, The Purim story teaches us to recognize that we have been in this situation before. So it was in days of old, so it will be today.”[8]

This exposition resonates with what we need to remember as Jews, we are sometimes oblivious to the world around us. We cannot imagine why the anti-Semites wish to destroy us for being different—whether in the past, or in the present day.

As of today’s writing, Haman’s successor, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was reportedly hospitalized and is listed in critical condition. How intriguing! Stalin also died on Purim in 1953.[9]

A Purim synchronicity? Possibly.

The last custom of the Purim holiday is to imbibe enough wine so we do not know the distinction between “Blessed is Mordechai” and “Cursed is Haman.” It would seem that for many American Jews, they cannot distinguish between a hero like Netanyahu who is trying to warn the Western world—along with most of the Sunni countries of the Middle East, against signing an inferior agreement with Iran. The political landscape has left many of us confused. We have become so intoxicated with the good life in the United States, we can no longer think what is in our people’s own best interest. The Holocaust seems for most Jews like a distant memory, as are its lessons. We tend to put too much trust in politicians from both parties rather than take responsibility for the situation of our brethren in Israel.

 

[1] Esther Rabba 7:6.

[2] http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.639832

[3] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/03/02/how-a-rumor-about-shooting-down-israeli-jets-caught-fire-in-conservative-media/ cf. http://english.pravda.ru/news/world/04-03-2015/129960-obama_israel_fighters-0/ See also

[4] http://www.timesofisrael.com/white-house-denies-obama-threatened-to-down-israeli-jets/

[5] See the Obama video at http://www.westernjournalism.com/obama-dont-worry-iran-nuke-religion/#vvzO7R2gePAkrv04.97

[6] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2015/03/05/dennis-ross-worried-arab-leaders-panicky/

[7] http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/26170/Default.aspx

[8] http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/02/25/why-religious-jews-see-a-parallel-between-the-netanyahu-obama-rift-on-iran-and-the-bibles-book-of-esther/

[9] http://unitedwithisrael.org/soviet-jews-saved-from-stalins-genocidal-plans-on-purim/

From Hans Christian Anderson to Barak Obama — The Emperor’s New Clothes — Redux

 

Hans Christian Anderson’s famous parable, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” tells a story about two swindling weavers who promised to make an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. After the swindlers present him with his suit, the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that he doesn’t see any suit of clothes until a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

After the child said what was obvious to everyone but to the Emperor, the rest of the crow chimed in, “Why, the Emperor hasn’t got anything on!”  So, the Emperor shivered as he realized that everyone else was correct. However, he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So, he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.”

Anderson’s parable can certainly apply to what is going in the Middle East today as the United States desperately tries to conclude an agreement with Iran over its use of their nuclear program. The whole world knows fully well that Iran hasn’t a shred of moral or religious integrity. At one joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Obama addressed his ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. According to the Supreme Leader of Iran, said Obama, “it would be contrary to their faith to obtain a nuclear weapon.”[1]

I can only imagine what the German audience must have been thinking. . .

Yes, just as the Emperor has no clothes, and neither does President Obama’s plan to make an agreement with Iran “have any clothes” either.  The agreement is nothing more than a legal fiction intended to deceive Iran’s many enemies into thinking that their thousands of nuclear centrifuges are designed solely for peace.

The Democrats’ behavior is reminiscent of the Emperor’s subjects who are too terrified to cross their foul-tempered President, who remembers every infraction or sign of disloyalty to his political reign.

I wonder: does he really expect the world to think that Iran is a shining example of a nation that adheres to the positive values of Islam?

  • Women are routinely raped and stoned  for adultery if they don’t have four witnesses to attest to their innocence.[2]
  • Christians are persecuted if they try to publically speak about their faith.[3]
  • Homosexuals are stoned on almost a daily basis.[4]
  • Iran has sentenced several juvenile offenders to death.[5]
  • The Mullahs have no respect for killing infidels like the Americans who fought in Iraq, only to be blown up by their IED roadside bombs.[6]
  • Blowing up Jews across the world in Argentina is perfectly acceptable civilized behavior for the Mullahs of Iran.[7]
  • Hezbollah leader said: “If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide” and “They [Jews] are a cancer which is liable to spread at any moment. . .”[8]

If President Obama thinks we can accept the Iranian mullahcracy to promise that they will not use nuclear bombs, then we are as foolish as the Emperor who believed he was wearing a special suit—even though he was stark naked. We are also just as morally cowardly as the Emperor’s subjects who lacked the integrity to recognize the fraud that the Emperor’s assistants perpetuated against the kingdom.

Like the child of our original story, Bibi Netanyahu is the only political leader in the Western world who is not afraid to say it the way it is. Obama’s disdain toward Netanyahu was evident, as was Obama’s contempt for the people of Israel when he refused to speak to the Israeli government at the Knesset. Despite not wishing to influence the Israeli election, Obama has sent many of his minions to do precisely that—influence the Israeli elections.

The entire world owes Netanyahu a huge debt of gratitude. Let us hope that Congress—and not the President—has the ultimate say whether this proposed agreement with Iran is worth signing.

Interestingly enough,  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has considerable supportive in  Saudi Arabia. According to the Saudi daily newspaper Al-Jazirah on Monday, columnist Dr. Ahmad Al-Faraj called Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress under such circumstances “unprecedented in US political history.”

  • I am very glad of Netanyahu’s firm stance and [his decision] to speak against the nuclear agreement at the American Congress, despite the Obama administration’s anger and fury,” wrote the Saudi. “I believe that Netanyahu’s conduct will serve our interests, the people of the Gulf, much more than the foolish behavior of one of the worst American presidents. . . .Obama is the godfather of the prefabricated revolutions in the Arab world, and…he is the ally of political Islam, [which is] the caring mother of [all] the terrorist organizations,” he wrote, suggesting that any deal struck by this particular American president could simply not be trusted.

For everyone else living in the Middle East, they know exactly what is at stake here. If allowed to act with impunity, the world will see a new nuclear arms race in the Middle East that can engulf the entire world in perpetual nuclear warfare.

Our politicians who think that Netanyahu is motivated by politics, I would say, “What politician isn’t motivated by political concerns?” If that were a crime, every politician would be arrested. However, I personally believe that Netanyahu is correct here to bring this up before the final agreement with Iran becomes fait accompli. The Israeli PM is correct, “Thy enemy’s enemy is still thine enemy.”[9]

We would be wise to remember that.

[1] http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/02/09/obama_according_to_irans_supreme_leader_it_would_be_contrary_to_their_faith_to_obtain_a_nuclear_weapon.html

[2] http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/03/world/meast/iran-stoning/

[3] http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Iran-Rouhani-UN-Christians/2014/03/21/id/560965/

[4] http://www.jihadwatch.org/2014/03/new-moderate-iran-executes-two-gay-men-and-hands-down-death-sentence-for-insulting-the-prophet

[5] http://www.hrw.org/news/2010/10/09/iran-saudi-arabia-sudan-end-juvenile-death-penalty

[6] Blair warns Iran over Iraq bombs”. BBC News. 2005-10-06.

[7] “Iran, Hezbollah charged in 1994 Argentine bombing”. Daily Jang. October 25, 2006.

[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hassan_Nasrallah

[9] http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/26160/Default.aspx

Living in an a Dystopian America

Image source: BuzzFeed

Whenever I hear Obama and his minions claim that “Islam is the religion of peace,” I cannot help but think the President is utilizing several concepts drawn from writer George Orwell’s famous book, Nineteen Eighty-Four. In this political parable, he writes about how the people of Oceania are trained from childhood to be vigilant in detecting and persecuting anything that the State considers as “evil.” Simply put, the State defines what is good and what is evil. Succumbing to the Party is considered the greatest good; obedience and complicity constitute the “love” of Big Brother.  The State aims to pursue a merging of consciousness, where the State’s will—as defined by Big Brother—becomes the will of the individual.

Slogans play an important part of  the collective indoctrination of the people. Orwell describes an usually fictional language he calls, “Newspeak,” which is a controlled language that is designed to constrict the freedom of thought. Newspeak aims to eliminate concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace. Contrarian perspectives are typically regarded as “thoughtcrimes”

Big Brother uses another interesting too to enslave the minds of the people called  “Doublespeak.” Simply defined, it is a language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Wherever one goes in this dystopian society, the citizen always encounters the three slogans of the Party that stand out in bold capital letters: 

  • WAR IS PEACE
  • FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
  • IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

Orwell intended to warn us about the dangers of people whose visions for a totalitarian utopias, whether political, economic, social, or theocratic. You can see this kind of “political correctness,” our now-passing rage of liberal conformity today. Often as Jews, we can see how the Left is castigating Israel and demonizing anyone who dares to challenge the status quo.

As we look in the present era, 2015, we can see how people who criticize Obama are routinely called “racist” and marginalized through shaming and other not-so-subtle techniques of intimidation. In Hollywood, actors who criticize the President’s agenda often do not receive acting jobs. There is an atmosphere of terror and the ghost of McCarthy  is reminding us that liberalism can be just as fascist as any political philosophy of the ultra-right.

This Orwellian phenomenon can be seen in our country’s universities, wretched parodies of what they are supposed to be, are veritable monuments of newspeak and doublethink.  Yet, as we witness the global rise of ISIS and observe how the Iranian mullahcracy continues to threaten both Israel AND the United States, as they stand at the threshold of developing nuclear arms—our President has the temerity to tell us:

  • ISLAM IS THE  RELIGION OF PEACE!
  • THERE IS NO GLOBAL JIHAD
  • BEWARE OF EXTREMISM

Consistently, Obama has never recognized a “global jihad” is shaping up before the entire Western word to see. Now that ISIS is taking over Libya (as Khadafi warned Hillary and Obama), ISIS is threatening Italy and announced, “: “You have seen us in Syria, now we’re right here, just south of Rome…”[1] Continue reading “Living in an a Dystopian America”

Shirley MacLaine: Aging Without Saging

 Shirley MacLaine is a better actress than she is a philosopher or theologian. Jewish groups are justifiably upset with some comments she penned in her new memoir, “What If… A Lifetime of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses, and a Few Things I Know For Sure.”

The quote that is generating a lot of criticism suggest, the six million Jews and others who died in the Holocaust were “balancing their karma” by paying for sins in a previous life.  But MacLaine did not stop with just the six-million Jews, or for that matter the other eighteen million people killed by one man’s hatred, she also compared  Stephen Hawking to Jesus, writing that just as Jesus chose martyrdom, Hawking “chose to live” with a debilitating disease.

Gee, that must make the Holocaust survivors along with their children really great knowing that somehow, they “karmically” managed to survive. As  a child of an Auschwitz survivor and as a parent of an ALS child, I take great offense to her words.

Let us briefly examine MacLaine’s comments:

  • What if most Holocaust victims were balancing their karma from ages before, when they were Roman soldiers putting Christians to death, the Crusaders who murdered millions in the name of Christianity, soldiers with Hannibal, or those who stormed across the Near East with Alexander? The energy of killing is endless and will be experienced by the killer and the killee.” (pp. 240-241)

Over twenty-years ago, I encountered this kind of muddled thinking once before.  On one occasion I debated a Religious Science minister who said  something almost identical to MacLaine. The minister claimed that if a young child is raped or mutilated, it is I order to clear the child’s soul of his/her “karmic debt.” The Church of Religious Science is an example of a New Age religion sometime ago in the 1980s—based on the metaphysical theosophical thought of Ernst Holmes. Although Holmes never advocated anything that was even remotely similar to what this minister asserted, many of his disciples seemed to developed this idea on their own.

The popular New Age self-help writer, Louise Hay, author of  the NY Times best-seller “You Can Heal Your Life” maintains that every human being is responsible for creating every circumstance that occurs in one’s life. According to her, all disease comes from a lack of self-love and unwillingness to forgive others. This is true regardless whether you have headaches or hemorrhoids—all disease comes from a failure to “love yourself.”

A Pulitzer prize journalist named Michael D’Antonio wrote about a conversation he had with Hay. Her views on Third World nations and AIDS victims prove to be revealing:

  • People starve amid the “abundance of the universe” because of low self-esteem,” said Hay. “A poor self-image is more damaging than one might expect and attracts the kind of experience that seems appropriate. That’s why, she said, women who are raped are responsible for what happens to them. They attract the rapist because they expect and fear an attack. Similarly, the poor of the world are responsible for their plight, as are those afflicted with AIDS…[1]

In another conversation, D’Antonio commented about Hay’s remarks regarding the Holocaust. She mused that the AIDS victims were the reincarnated souls of the Nazis, who were being paid back for “their crimes against the Jews!”

And the Jews? Well, they too deserved their “karmic fate.” [2]

For Jews, this is nothing new. We have been accused of karmic crimes for a long time. Unfortunately, many of the Christian world’s greatest theological minds—ancient and modern—expressed  ideas that also resonated with MacLaine’s view of karma. After the night of  Dietrich Bonhoeffer became famous for saying on the night of Kristallnacht, ““If the synagogues are set on fire today, it will be the churches that will be burned tomorrow.” But who would imagine him, saying only minutes later to one of his colleagues, “that the Nazis were merely giving what was owed to the Jews. After all, “they nailed the Redeemer of the world to the cross,” they had been forced to bear an eternal curse through a long history of suffering, one that would end only “in the conversion of Israel to Christ”?[3]

Here is one more example of Bonhoeffer’s animus against the Jews:

  • The Church of Christ has never lost sight of the thought that the “chosen people” who nailed the redeemer of the world to the cross must bear the curse for its action through a long history of suffering…. But the history of the suffering of this people, loved and punished by God, stands under the sign of the final homecoming of Israel [the Jews] to its God. And this homecoming happens in the conversion of Israel to Christ…. The conversion of Israel, that is to be the end of the people’s period of suffering. From here the Christian Church sees the history of the people of Israel with trembling, as God’s own, free, fearful way with his people, because God is not yet finished with it. Each new attempt to solve “the Jewish question” comes to naught…[4]

Deicide is not a new accusation, it goes back to the earlier period of Christian history.[5] All of these attempts to explain the suffering of the Jews ignores what I believe to be the only truth worth discussing: Karmic reasons play no role whatsoever in why one people  suffers and not another. When looking at the real causes of human suffering, one thing is clear. Human beings are responsible for the moral evil they perpetuate against other people. Continue reading “Shirley MacLaine: Aging Without Saging”

A Contrast in Leadership: King Abdullah and President Obama

 

 

Some of us have short memories and some of us have long memories. This writer in particular will not ignore two noteworthy events that occurred in the last six months. Both of these events involved ISIS executing its hapless captives. Both of these events present two very different kinds of responses–as different as day and night.

President Obama took to the podium and said some appropriate remarks for the tragic death of the American journalist Tom Foley.

  • They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people. So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just god would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.[1]

What happened next proved to be more important than anything the President said at the podium.  In short, if a picture could tell a thousand words, the images that ensued within four minutes after the President’s speech could fill ten thousand volumes. Within four minutes after leaving the podium, Obama teed-off and could be seen laughing with friends and fist-bumping them during a five-hour round at Farm Neck Golf Course on Martha’s Vineyard  – his seventh 18-holes in ten days.

I cannot recall a president in recent memory who was so oblivious to the pain and shock that the entire nation felt, yet the game of golf had to go on! I can only imagine the European heads of states shaking their heads in disbelief. Putin and ISIS were probably laughing derisively at our President, who forgot about the “optics” of how he looked on camera.

Yes, Mr. Obama, we know why you detest the press.

After discovering how his popularity plummeted in the next several days, President Obama reluctantly admitted, “after the statement that I made, that you know, I should’ve anticipated the optics,” he said.

The second reaction was that of King Abdullah II of Jordan to  news that the Jordanian pilot Lt. Moath al-Kasasbeh, 27, had been burned alive while confined in a cage.

  • Jordan’s King Abdullah, himself a former general, angrily vowed to pursue ISIS until his military runs “out of fuel and bullets,” in a closed door meeting with U.S. lawmakers that followed the release Wednesday of a grisly video showing a captured Jordanian airman being burned alive in a cage by the terrorist army.[2]

Such resolve, such courage! Who would expect little tiny Jordan to act like the mouse who roared while the most powerful leader of the free world got upset that the world did not see him at his best.

Interestingly, King Abdullah II of Jordan was in the United States when ISIS released the video on the Internet. What did he do? The King immediately cut his trip short in order to return to Jordan to comfort the family of the lost pilot.

Can you—the reader—appreciate the difference between Obama’s and Abdullah’s reaction? I do not think for a minute that King Abdullah worried about the optics—his place was with the victims and with his people.

Winston Churchill has never been one of Obama’s heroes. When Obama first took the White House, one of the first things he did while he was in office was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and send it back to the British Embassy. The British probably felt surprised at this sign of presidential disrespect, for one never unilaterally returns a gift from a foreign leader!

In retrospect, it is not hard to see why.  Churchill once said: Continue reading “A Contrast in Leadership: King Abdullah and President Obama”

America’s Deflating Foreign Policy (Revised)

 

CHULA VISTA, California — For many of us who happen to be Tom Brady football fans, we read the story about Brady’s alleged deflated football. For those of you unfamiliar with what practical difference this all makes, bear in mind that an under-inflated ball, the legend goes, is easier to throw and catch. Apparently, deflated balls were used to defeat the hapless  Indianapolis Colts last week.

To use an analogy from another sport, a deflated football is practically like using a corked baseball bat, which makes it easier to hit home runs out of the park. Historically, most of Babe Ruth’s bats were subsequently discovered to be corked, but baseball fans  love home runs, much like football fans love lots of touchdowns.

Sports pundits have been calling the New England Patriots’ victory over the Colts “Deflategate,” but for my money an even greater scandal is the deflation of American foreign policy. The world sees the United States as weak and disinterested in standing up against the Jihadists. The late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia proved to be a good, strong, and silent supporter of Israel, as well as a powerful critic of Obama pro-Jihadist sympathies.

Although Israel and Saudi Arabia have never had formal diplomatic ties, in recent years Israel and Saudi covertly cooperated on plans to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Over the last couple of years, Israeli and Saudi interests have also aligned on combating the growing threat of Sunni Muslim terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood. He bravely condemned the recent war initiated by Gaza against Israel.[1]

Abdullah also felt outraged by the United States role in enabling the Muslim Brotherhood to seize power in Egypt by removing one of America and Israel’s staunchest political allies—Hosni Mubarak. The Saudi capital of Riyadh felt very nervous and extremely wary of the ongoing negotiations between Washington and Iran over the latter’s nuclear weapons program. When the President drew a red-line concerning Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its citizens, Obama’s last-second decision not to bomb Damascus in the wake of Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack on August 2013 was seen by Riyadh as dithering and weakness — and a sin of omission that has prolonged and exacerbated the Syrian war.

Let us not forget, that Obama made Mohammed Elibary, said to have strong ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, a member of the United States’ Department of  Homeland Security’s advisory council, until his comment about the inevitability of a caliphate forced him to resign that council.[2]

Of course, American Jews by and large either ignored this appointment, or could care less because of their loyalties to Obama and the Democratic leftists who walk in goose-step with his pro-Jihadi policies. Then again, the continuous snubbing of Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu and the President’s determination to buy loyalty from Iran, as well as elevating the Shiite rogue regime as a partner in the war against ISIS also made King Abdullah feel anger, as they did Israel.

And now in Yemen, which has fallen to the pro-Iranian rebels, Saudi Arabia is finding the web of Iran slowly encloses their country. No, Mr. President, your Yemenite success story was no success. Not by a long shot.

Unnamed administration sources threatening “serious consequences” if Bibi Netanyahu meets with Congress in March sends an uncomfortable signal to the entire free world—namely, the United States is feeling little loyalty to one of its most important allies of the Middle East—the State of Israel. Other allies of the United States have good reason to feel nervous about the deflating effects of Obama’s foreign policy.

I hope that Netanyahu defies the President—because the Iranian menace is laughing, while our President continues to behave as the “Appeaser in Chief.” Thomas Friedman is certainly not regarded as a conservative columnist of the New York Times, but even he had some sharp words about the President’s feckless foreign policy when it comes to recognizing the global war of Jihadist Islam:

  • “The administration has lapsed into unselfconscious ridiculousness. Asked why the administration won’t say [after the Paris attacks] we are at war with radical Islam, Earnest on Tuesday explained the administration’s first concern ‘is accuracy. We want to describe exactly what happened. These are individuals who carried out an act of terrorism, and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam and their own deviant view of it.’This makes it sound as if the Charlie Hebdo terrorists set out to commit a random act of violent extremism and only subsequently, when they realized that they needed some justification, did they reach for Islam.[3]

Aside from the President’s absence from the Parisian march against Jihadist Islam, the President completely ignored President Abdel Fattah al Sisi courageous remarks, when he spoke on January 1st to a large college of Muslim clerics. He dared them to “promote a reading of Islamic texts in a “truly enlightened” manner to reconsider the concepts “that have been made sacred over hundreds of years.” By such thinking, the Islamic world is “making enemies of the whole world. So 1.6 billion people (in the Muslim world) will kill the entire world of 7 billion? That’s impossible … We need a religious revolution.”

Sisi has also called for religious toleration – on New Year’s Eve, he became the first Egyptian president to attend a Coptic Christmas Eve mass. It was a popular move among Christians, to whom Sisi’s authoritarianism represents a bulwark against the return of the Muslim Brotherhood.

This is a man our President ought to be supporting, but according to Obama, there is no Jihadist threat  to the civilized world. Any talk about a “Global Jihadist” threat is treated as a symptom of “Islamophobia.”

It is not the place of our President to act as an apologist for Muslim Jihadi movements.

Instead of inviting rock stars and other Hollywood or sports celebrities, maybe the President ought to invite moderate and secular Muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali.M. Zuhdi Jasser, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Ibn Warraq, and other secular Muslims who oppose the marriage of State and religion, as advocated by Sharia law. These Muslims affirm the power of conscience and believe in the equality of all human beings. They also advocate eliminating such backward practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women; protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence. Most importantly, they affirm Islam as a personal faith—not as a political doctrine.



[2] http://www.libertynewsonline.com/article_301_36189.php#sthash.sG33Hzqb.dpuf; http://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/senior-homeland-security-adviser-slams-egypts-christian-copts See also http://pamelageller.com/2014/09/obamas-muslim-pro-muslim-brotherhood-homeland-security-adviser-resigns.html/#sthash.8lwuXjd6.dpuf.

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/21/opinion/thomas-friedman-say-it-like-it-is.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fthomas-l-friedman&_r=0

Unleashing the Artistic Imagination

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When you look at the history of Islamic art, it’s inclusion in the Islamic faith has not been without periods of repression. Among those singled out for the most severe penalties of the afterlife, are the artists, and other “makers of images or pictures.”Although the Quran did not prohibit artistic expression, the subsequent Hadiths (oral traditions) do attribute considerable hostility to the artists of Muslim lands.

As the art historian Daniel Boorstin notes:

  • Sultan Firuz Shan Tughluk (c. 1308-1388; reigned 1351-88) left his mark in Muslim history not only by building his own capital city, Firuzabad, and by constructing mosques, hospitals, baths, bridges, and the Jumna Canal, but by mutilating and destroying innumerable works of art. His autobiography boasted that he had erased all pictures from the doors or walls of his palaces and “under the divine guidance and favor” had even removed the figured ornaments from saddles and bridles, from goblets and cups, dishes and ewers, from tents, curtains, and chairs. Sometimes pious Muslims economized efforts by merely scratching or smearing the faces of the images they happened to be on.[1]

The Jewish influence on early Islam is pretty obvious. The Second Commandment has often been interpreted as a ban against all graven images—a point of contention we experienced when the Temple refused to take the Roman coins bearing the likeness of the Emperor, who was often deified by the Roman society. Hence, money changers served an important function in the Temple whenever people coming from afar wished to purchase animals and other offerings. However, in Islamic history, the artist was often perceived as an “imitator” of God, trying to usurp God’s role as Creator. As Boorstin later observes: [2]

  • Islam, by affirming the “stark monotheism” of a God who had a monopoly on creation, abhorred the temptations to compete with God by man’s pretended acts of creation. On the Day of Judgment when God calls upon the painter to breathe life into the forms he has made, the painter’s mockery of God’s acts of “creation” is exposed. Then he is sentenced to the worst punishments of hell. The artist by pretending to be a creator has denied the uniqueness of God and commits blasphemy with every stroke of his brush. According to the Koran, God alone is the “fashioner” (musawwir).

As Islam gradually evolved, the Abbasid caliphs (750-1258) cultivated a reputation for strict piety, Muslim rulers slowly disregarded the old taboos against art and hired their own artists to glorify the Islamic faith in cities like but Baghdad and cities in Persia that were under Muslim control.

Fortunately, there is no known chapter in Jewish history where artists were routinely harassed or persecuted.  In one famous Mishnah, we read about how a famous 1st century rabbi used to frequent a bathhouse that had a statue of Aphrodite inside:

  • Peroklas, the son of a philosopher, asked once R. Gamaliel at Ako, who was then bathing in the bath of the goddess Aphrodite: Your law prescribes [Deut. xiii. 17]: “Let nothing of the devoted objects cleave to your hands”; why, then, do you bathe in the bath of Aphrodite? And he answered: Such questions are not answered–at a bathing place. After he had left the bath, he said: I did not come into her domain, but it is she is the one who came into my space! Truly, people do not say: The bath is erected to adorn the Aphrodite, but the Aphrodite was added in order to beautify the Roman bathhouse. Moreover, you would not agree for any amount of money to appear before your idol when you are naked or urinating. The Aphrodite, however, stands on the channel, and everybody urinates in front of her. The law says their gods, i.e., to say such toward whom one behaves with dignity inspired by something divine; while whatever does not inspire such a behavior, is allowed.[3]

I doubt very seriously, whether today’s Haredi or Hassidic rabbis, or even Modern Orthodox rabbis would be caught dead in a Roman bath house that had Aphrodite as an ornament for the bathhouse.  Yet, religious traditions evolve, as do their followers.

Today, there is scarcely a Muslim leader—even someone as extreme as Osama bin Ladin, who would refuse to have his picture taken. Yet, when depictions of Mohammed the Prophet are depicted by Western artists in a manner that is not complementary, the Jihadists view such disrespect as “blasphemy.”

While the old restrictions regarding art or music (as it was in the case of rabbinic tradition) have been cast into the dustbin of history, comedic and satirical depictions of faith still rub many of us the wrong way–whether the person being depicted is Jesus, Moses, or Mohammed. The problem occurs when people wish to use satire in explaining religiously venerated texts such as the Tanakh, New Testament or the Quran. Yet, in a free society you will not see other religious groups murder others who “blaspheme” their religions. Christians and Jews have learned to accept this, Muslims must accept it as well.  While many of us may not like the artistic depictions of our religious traditions, (e.g., the new movie, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”), the majority of us will avoid what we do not wish to see or allow it to enter into our consciousness. Death by the polls is the best medicine here for all faiths to consider instead of using violence to suppress unpopular thought.

The award-winning author Salman Rushdie, who once received numerous death threats for portrayals of Islam in his work, expressed his support for the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after an attack that killed at least 12 on Wednesday.

  • “I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity,” he wrote in a statement posted by the Guardian. Gunmen killed at least 12 people in the paper’s offices before fleeing the scene in France’s deadliest terrorist attack in recent memory. “Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms,” Rushie wrote. “This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today.”[4]

Is there room for an alternative view within mainstream Islam? Actually, there is. As Hassan Nasrallah said a few days ago,“Islamic extremists have insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad more than those who published satirical cartoons mocking the religion.” He added, “The Islamic extremists who behead and slaughter people have done more harm to Islam than anyone else in history.”[5]

For once I must agree with Nasrallah. However, it’s a pity he does not apply this to the villainous mullahs of Iran. Simply put, we cannot control how other people think. In a free society, every religious group enjoys the freedom that comes with free speech. It is criminal for anyone who suppress the fundamental democratic life—even this speech seems barbed at times.

Maybe the time has come for religious people to redefine blasphemy in a manner that is not inconsistent with Western values. What is blasphemy? It is taking something beautiful and turning it into something ugly. When viewed from this perspective, killing people in the name of Islam—or any faith—now, that’s true blasphemy.

No cartoon is worth killing over.

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Notes:

[1] Daniel J. Boorstin, The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination (New York: Random House, 1992), p. 194.

[2] Ibid., p. 195.

[3] Mishnah Avodah Zara 3:4.

[4] http://time.com/3657541/charlie-hebdo-paris-terror-attack-salman-rushdie/

[5] http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4612771,00.html

For Obama, it would be ‘je ne suis pas Charlie’

150107_BB_HebdoPROMO

Byline: SD Jewish World — Jan 13, 2015

As the world leaders boldly proclaimed in Paris, “We are Charlie” as the Sunday rally attracted more than 1.7 million people, and more than twice that nationwide. These people gathered to show solidarity to those brave souls who fought for the public’s right to enjoy free speech, the President of the United States, was nowhere to be found, he was “missing in action.” What a pity, the President probably could have silenced some of his critics by attending and proclaiming that the United States stands in solidarity with France against Jihadist fanaticism.

Where was the President? Was he spending the weekend watching NFL football? To date, nobody knows for sure… The official word from the government is that “onerous and significant” security preparations for a presidential visit requires more than the 36-hour advance notice.”

Granted, let’s assume the President had a legitimate excuse for not attending. By not attending the unity rally in Paris on Sunday, President Obama has missed an chance to show leadership, to prove that Americans are as committed to fight against terrorism as anyone else  in the world. More importantly: America stands with its allies in a worldwide battle that has no short-term solution.

Alright, let’s assume the President had a legitimate excuse for not attending. Why didn’t the President send Vice President Biden to attend? Why didn’t he send John Kerry in a pinch? Well, we know that John Kerry was lecturing the people of India about the dangers of global warming. President Obama has mentioned on numerous occasions that global warming is far more serious of a threat than global terrorism.

Now it’s time to ask ourselves a more relevant question: How did the people of France interpret our leader’s absence from this event? As a French citizen, traumatized by the latest terrorist attack conducted in the name of ISIS or Al Qaeda, how would you feel? What are the other people of the free world saying about our President?

If I were a Frenchman, I would think that the President of the largest superpower of the free world really does not care about the victims of Jihadism Inc. In fact, let the record show that the President never speaks about an Islamic threat at all, but calls it by the amorphous term “work place violence” or “extremism” and so on.

As it turned out, Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris, but he too was missing in action. He only made taped interviews in a Parisian studio. Holder’s behavior is puzzling. Why did he bother flying to Paris at all? Couldn’t he have stayed in a Washington studio, with some Frenchmen interviewing him with a picture of the Eiffel Tower in the background?

No matter how you look at the optics of the President’s absence, even enthusiastic supporters are scratching their heads.

Permit me to add some perspective to our question. Does anyone remember the movie, The Innocence of Muslims?  This 2012 fourteen minute movie on the “Real life” of Mohammad offended millions of Muslims across the world. At a September 25, 2012 address to the United Nations, Obama himself declared, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” While there were fifty people who were killed as a result of these riots, the President did not defend the producer’s right to express his artistic or political point of view. Instead, he utilized the influence of the White House to keep this film out of circulation.

Worse still, the President gave an insipid speech  at the United Nations, where he blamed the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens on a YouTube video. Like many other falsehoods we have heard from our President, the President contorts reality rather than hold the Muslim community responsible for failing to challenge and speak up against Jihadism.

When Nidal Hasan, the infamous Fort Hood shooter killed thirteen people and injured thirty others in November, 2009. Eric Holder made sure that Hasan was only guilty of “work place violence” rather than “terrorism.”

Then again, September of 2009, shortly after the Iranian vote, thousands of dissenters hit the streets and protested—only to be rebuffed by the Iranian secret police and army. The people wanted our President to speak up on behalf of democratic reform in Iran. One would think this is something the President could have done and he would have “appeared” as a champion for democracy.

But did it happen?

No it didn’t.

President Obama has seldom challenged theocratic regimes—plain and simple.[1]

I suspect that the President’s sympathies are not at all with the Charlie Hebdo, for they unabashedly are lampooning Mohammed and his followers. Far from targeting Muslims in particular, the satirical newspaper has ridiculed everyone from English people to  Pope Benedict XVI regarding the sexual scandals of the Vatican.

In one past 2011 issue, “Sharia Hebdo” by David Sessions, features a cartoon of a “guest editor,” the prophet Muhammad threatening readers with “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing!” The publication’s offices were fire-bombed after it published this issue.

As you can see, the President has painted himself into a corner. The real reason why he cannot support the French people is because he believes that Charlie Hebdo magazine is wrong for showing their scorn to the prophet and the followers of the “Religion of Peace” (which is really a common misnomer, “Islam” means “the religion of submission.”

Need I say more?

You have to admire Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, whom the French Prime Minister quietly asked not to attend, but he certainly did and showed solidarity with the French Jews, reminding them that “Israel is still their home.”

Two comments from the Muslim world really captured the right kind of response that our President should have considered:

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah group said, “Islamic extremists have insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad more than those who published satirical cartoons mocking the religion.” He added, “The Islamic extremists who behead and slaughter people have done more harm to Islam than anyone else in history.

A second noteworthy response really cut to the heart of the problem: Egypt’s President al-Sisi opened the new year with a dramatic call for a “revolution” in Islam to reform interpretations of the faith entrenched for hundreds of years, which he said have made the Muslim world a source of “destruction” and pitted it against the rest of the world.

In his January 1st speech at al-Azhar addressing Muslim clerics — held to mark the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday–al-Sisi called on them to promote a reading of Islamic texts in a “truly enlightened” manner to reconsider concepts “that have been made sacred over hundreds of years.”

By such thinking, the Islamic world is “making enemies of the whole world. So 1.6 billion people (in the Muslim world) will kill the entire world of 7 billion? That’s impossible … We need a religious revolution.”[2]

Affifi, from al-Azhar, told the AP that al-Sisi didn’t mean changing texts – something even al-Sisi quickly made clear in his speech.

“What the president meant is that we need a contemporary reading for religious texts to deal with our contemporary reality,” said Affifi, who is secretary general of the Islamic Research Center…. [3]

In short, it is this writer’s opinion that instead of coddling the forces of Islamic extremism, we need as a community, to start promoting the moderate voices of Islam through the power of our media. Unfortunately, the media is dedicated to maintaining the status quo—and such tacit support can only further embolden the fanaticism of the Jihadists.

[1] http://article.wn.com/view/2009/07/06/Iranian_dissenters_embark_on_campaign_of_covert_civil_disobe/?template=cheetah-search-adv%2Findex.txt

[2] http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4612771,00.html

[3]http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4612771,00.html

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Rabbi Samuel is spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Chula Vista.  Your comment may be posted in the box below or sent directly to the author at michael.samuel@sdjewishworld.com