Tag Archives: Islam

When Emotion overpowers Self- preservation

 

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I have a confession to make.   Last night I needed a drink. Not because of anything to do with my job or family or personal relationships, but for an entirely different reason.  Last night I needed a drink because I found it impossible to come to terms with the atrocities other human beings have become capable of performing.

I ride a bike.  Much of it on sidewalks.  I get extra cautious near driveways, partially for my own safety but even  more out of concern that someone will walk out and I might hit them and injure them.  I am as careful as I can possibly be because the thought of even bumping someone with my bike is unacceptable to me.  So when I hear on the news that a deranged Islamic terrorists mows down over 80 men, women and children out of what he has somehow concluded is a righteous cause, I can’t wrap my head around it.  I know that most if not all of the people reading this feel the same way as I do, but last night for me, at least personally it reached a bit of a boiling point.

I try desperately to get some sense of what can make someone do something so unspeakable, and all I can come up with is the following conclusion.  They fear nothing. They do not fear consequences, they do not fear death, and they certainly do not fear God. They may justify it by claiming they are performing an act that is needed to restore God’s honor, but in every scripture in every religion, God is patient, merciful and loving. Yes the innocent suffer, but the theological and philosophical question of why does not translate into some sort of perverse divine endorsement of murder.

To be opposed to the taking of any life under any circumstances, even punishment, is a more rational philosophy than to believe one is doing God’s will in murdering the innocent.  These terrorists, brainwashed by their ideology and empowered by the desperation of their lives, are doing nothing short of playing God.  This is Ayatollah Khomeini’s great Muslim revolution.  This is not all Muslims by any means, but this is a result of millions of people allowing the idea of a religious revolution to propagate. Thank Iran for this, thank the PLO and Yasser Arafat, for these are the people and places where modern day terrorism was born.  If these people that are committing these horrific acts saw different consequences it would eventually stop. But as of now they are taught that they are helping the growth of Islam and that not only will they not be punished, they will be rewarded in the afterlife.  Rather than thinking they will burn in hell and destroy the world, they believe they will save the world and be heroes in the afterlife.

Desensitization is often what makes us get through the day.  How many people still think of Istanbul, Brussels or Orlando or San Bernadino, not to mention the constant onslaught on the population of Israel over the years.  We all think of these things and of course we think of 9/11 as the mother of all terrorist attacks, until the one that takes more lives than the 3,000 taken back in 2001.  But even when we think about it we move on with our lives, enjoy our days whenever possible, eat, drink, laugh and love and smile.  No one is wrong for doing so.  It’s self-preservation.  But last night I reached the point when I could not smile, when m emotion overpowered my self-preservation, because I could not understand how a human being could reach such depth of anger and hatred that they could kill with no conscience.  In some ways maybe I am lucky to still feel enough to reach that point, but there is no celebrating that fact.  I would prefer to never test it at all.

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The Increasingly Rapid Destruction of Freedom

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Anyone with any degree of normalcy and decency is of course horrified for the victims and families of the victims of today’s terrorist attack in Paris.   That being said, if people continue to deny the realities of the situation, what happened today will become increasingly more commonplace.

What we are witnessing is an attack on global freedom.  Working in a satirical magazine’s office should not be a dangerous job. However, forces within the Muslim world are choosing to make it one, and to deny that fact is tantamount to folding up the tent and running away.  As a Jew, and specifically as an American Jew, whether I speak up or remain silent I am ultimately in some danger anyway.  But for a citizen of France or any other western country who is not Jewish, their life is now clearly threatened by what they say or do in the name of freedom. Most importantly, this may have happened in Paris, but it was an attack on anyone on the planet who dares to make statements offensive to Muslims.

Earlier today I heard someone on CNN make the comment, and I paraphrase, “Muslims find killing innocent people abhorrent”.  I found it to be an interesting statement and predictably unchallenged on CNN.  Let’s assume his comment to be true. The problem with the statement is, what do radical Muslims consider innocent?  Is someone who commits blasphemy against Islam innocent in their eyes? If not, this commentators comments indirectly and possibly unintentionally justify today’s attack.  The other problem with this statement is very simply put, it is too little too late.

The comparisons between Nazi Germany and radical Muslim are becoming more and more prevalent.  For the most part this is due to the behaviors of those most vicious.  Sadly there needs to be one more comparison made.  Until Germany was not only defeated, but crushed, we did not have the luxury of distinguishing between good Germans and bad ones.  The only distinction was between those Germans fighting against the Nazis and those either staying neutral or participating in their activities.  If Muslims want to avoid Islamophobia and ultimately global catastrophe, they need to stand up against the evil within their midst.  It is no longer enough to assume that we know you don’t support murder.  You need to fight it with the rest of us.  If you do not, there will come a time when you will be victims of the same evil, albeit from the source or from those reacting to the source.

This is of course a much more complicated battle to fight than the battle against Nazi Germany.  After all, that evil was centralized in one country, while this evil has tentacles reaching all over the world.  But it must be fought, because ultimately it looks to encompass all those who cherish freedom and tolerance and subsequently may be the greatest global danger we’ve ever seen. I am certain it has already made many fearful of expressing their views, something that can only be seen as a victory for the enemy.

I know this attack was reportedly committed by only 3 men, but make no mistake, culpability falls on a large percentage of the Muslim world, for it is now no longer enough to meekly say you don’t like it once it has already happened.  The burden now falls on those claiming to cherish peace, to demand and fight for peace. Otherwise those words are hollow shells that do nothing to improve the situation.  Otherwise how do we even know you truly want a peaceful and tolerant world?

Peace, freedom and tolerance have no religion or passport. Those who truly want it, want it for everyone and will stand up to their own in order to make it happen.  We no longer have the luxury of assuming those who claim to want this freedom actually do if they do nothing to help make it happen.  Just as we couldn’t hope the quiet Germans didn’t support Adolph Hitler.  Had we assumed otherwise, freedom would have been destroyed many years ago.  Let’s not allow it to be destroyed today.

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Terrorist Denial:Not as Cynical as Holocaust Denial but maybe as dangerous

islam_holocaustAfter my last article addressing the tragedy in Ottawa titled,  Canadian shooting: What we know–and RATHER NOT know–a day later, someone in social media responded to me with the following statement: “David, again you hit the nail on its shank. You rather not know. It’s obvious you have a hate on for Muslims. If you actually look at the facts and circumstances of these two villains, they both had failing lives, they were unproductive, dissatisfied with life and recent converts to something that gave them a chance to “check out”. Years ago it would have been the KKK, or the doomsday survivalists or the tea party. They didn’t want to give meaning to their lives, otherwise they would have become Buddhists, Sufis, humanists or any other altruistic belief system. They converted to something they knew would end their life. ISIS attracts psychopaths and losers. They confuse ISIS with Islam. We don’t use the KKK as the calling card for Christianity.”

Naturally out of respect for this individual I won’t use his name, and those who would be able to identify him possibly already saw it next to his name so I personally am not revealing it. I normally have no issue with criticism, however, I found the comment so disturbing that I felt compelled to address it further.

In addressing me he says. “It’s obvious you have a hate on for Muslims.” Yes of course.  I’M the problem.  On a day when a 3 month old Jewish baby gets run down by a Muslim and a young Canadian soldier doing nothing other than standing guard gets shot in the back by a Muslim, I am the one who is wrong for stating the fact that it was Muslims who did this.  I am the problem because most of the military conflicts going on in the world involve Muslims. I have said it before and I will say it again.  I know the majority of Muslims are not violent, but most of the violence taking place today involves Muslims in one way or another.  I know there are Muslims who want no part of this, but I also know that not enough of them are stopping this from taking place.  I know that just as Hitler wanted to do during the reign of Nazi Germany, there are people today that want every last Jew on the planet killed.  Most of these people are Muslim.

“ISIS attracts psychopaths and losers. They confuse ISIS with Islam.” So does Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, to name a few. We’re not talking hundreds of people here.  We’re talking hundreds of thousands of people. Maybe he is right.  Maybe they are all psychopaths and losers, but unfortunately they are also all Muslim.  I don’t enjoy saying that, but it’s the truth.  I know Muslims that I like and if I meet someone who is Muslim I don’t immediately assume the worst about them, but that doesn’t mean I am going to run from the truth.

As a son of Holocaust survivors I believe it is my responsibility to acknowledge danger where I feel it exists even if it means offending some people.  To do otherwise would be like going back in time to 1938, knowing what is coming and worrying more about the good Germans than the large number either standing by while evil takes over or even worse, being part of the evil.  I can’t and won’t remain silent.  I owe it to the memory of the grandparents I never knew, the grandparents murdered by the “psychopaths and losers” of the last century.  Today a large percentage of Muslims are not terrorists, but an overwhelming percentage of terrorists are Muslim.  To deny this is not only stupid, it’s irresponsible and dangerous.

 

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Is it Racist to Attack Islam?

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It’s an important and relevant question.  I could start by saying Islam is a religion and ideology rather than a race, but in discussing this point that’s merely semantics.  To properly discuss this issue its critical to start from an honest premise, which means asking the right question.  In this case the question to ask may not be whether or not attacking Islam is racist as much as whether or not attacking it is actually justified?

Let’s begin by looking at the definition of racism. racism: the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.  This already presents a question.  In a situation where you identify a problem that is prevalent within a group of people, are you saying that all members of that race possess those characteristics or abilities specific to that race.  Comments like Jews are good with money or blacks are better athletes, may not be  bigoted, but in the way they specifically claim these qualities exist in these groups, they might be construed as racist.  This in itself could be a long discussion and quite frankly is mostly irrelevant in this discussion, because the attacks on Islam of which I am referring to are highly indicting and provocative, even if they may be true.

Personally, I find any unwarranted attack on one group of people to be offensive. We’ve all heard these stereotypical attacks. Jews are cheap, Mexicans are lazy, Irish are drunks, and so on and so on.  They’re ridiculous comments.  They speak of negative qualities that exist in all groups and aren’t dominant in any one particular group.  They are comments designed to insult people and be nothing more than statements of bigotry.  They’re offensive and disgraceful and I have always distanced myself not only from these types of comments but from those who make them.  That being said, no matter how liberal people want to be, it’s important that everyone realizes that attacking Islam is a very different story.

Attacks on Islam are not based on unwarranted personal bias.  The 9/11 attacks were committed by Muslims.  The Boston Marathon Bombings were committed by Muslims.  Israel has been getting attacked by Muslim terrorists on a regular basis since the 70’s.  We’ve just watched 3 people get beheaded by Muslims.  Boko Haram is a Muslims terrorist group killing Christians in Nigeria, and the entire western world is on edge because of the threat of attack by ISIS.  For those who wanted to believe the president when he said otherwise, let me be clear.  The first IS in ISIS stands for Islam.  Members of ISIS were just arrested in Australia for a plan to abduct random people and behead them.  They have sent messages online trying to recruit what they call “lone wolves” to set off explosions in Times Square.  Iran, that’s the Islamic Republic of Iran,  is pursuing a nuclear program and wants to destroy the State of Israel.  I can go on and on.  And that’s really the point isn’t it?

It’s not that every Muslim is a threat.  It’s that most of the worst threats today are coming from Muslims.  Should we like them for this?  Should we be tolerant?  I will not discriminate against someone because they are Muslim.  I am capable of making Muslim friends.  But I will want to know that they are not aligned with the ideology prevalent in their religion if I am to have a healthy relationship with them.  That is not racist.  That is prudent.

Do I blame people for lashing out at Islam?  Not I don’t.  I am far more offended by one of my fellow Jews defending Muslims with more vigor than they defend Israel.  There are very large numbers of Muslims who hate me without even knowing me because I am Jewish.  Many of them want me and all my fellows Jews dead. Does that mean they all do? Of course not.  But is identifying this as a real problem make me racist?  Absolutely not.  It makes me realistic.  Most of the people who show hatred for Islam are not unlike me in their basic desire, people who just wants to live in peace and see their people and country be allowed to live in peace. The fact that they hate the people who are not allowing them to do so does not make them racist.  It makes them human.  Something this enemy is not.

I get it. We want to be good people.  We don’t want to hate others.  I respect that, but it’s not that simple.  When I was 19 years old I had a few sessions with a psychologist.  I didn’t particularly like him and didn’t feel he did much to help me back then, but he did teach me one thing I never forgot.  If you think you are a good person but in the process you are not being good to yourself, you’re not a good person.  The same concept applies here.  If in the name of being good to others you are putting yourself in danger, you’re not a good person.  It’s a harsh reality, I know.  But if we ignore it the reality will become a lot harsher.

 

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Response to Article in Times of Israel titled “ISIS is not Muslim”

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After reading what I felt to be a naive albeit heartfelt article written by  Aditya Divakar Karkera  entitled “ISIS is not Muslim”, I felt compelled to respond.   (CLICK HERE TO READ HIS ARTICLE IN TIMES OF ISRAEL). I admire the writers intentions and truly understand the message he is trying to get across.  The problem is, that while he defends Islam, he has a very serious problem defending Muslims. Here is why.

Although I take some issue with some of his earlier comments, it is one of the last statements of his article where sadly, the argument completely falls apart. I say sadly because in my heart I want him to be right.  I want it to be true that there are only 75,000 Muslim extremists.  Maybe there are only 75,000 Muslims willing to commit acts of terror, but unless you actively oppose these people, as a Muslim you are more of an extremist than a moderate.  What percentage of the remaining 1.5 billion plus Muslims actively oppose this extremism?  There were more than 75 thousand Muslims protesting against Israel and in support of Hamas this past summer on any given day in Europe. Are they moderates?  The people of Gaza elected Hamas.  Are they not extremists?  They are being taught to hate Jews from a young age, that we are pigs that need to be killed.  Is that not extremist?

Iran is a nation of people led by a government committed to the destruction of Israel and opposed to western values.  I am sure not all of the people living there feel that feel the same way, but the citizens are not exactly rising up against this.  If we are to take the position of the writer, we need such a sentiment to come from more than one good person from India with the genuine desire to see a world free of hatred.  We need the Muslims of the world that feel as the writer says they feel, to stand up and make their voices heard. Without that it means  nothing.

It may be true that much of Islam peaceful, but I don’t hear of many Muslims fighting for peace.  I don’t see tens of thousands marching against the extremists.  I don’t see the young people throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails at terrorist headquarters.  I would like to see that, but I don’t.   The perception that Islam is a religion of violent extremists can only be dispelled by one group of people, and that is the Muslims themselves.  We would all welcome that day if it were ever to arrive.  Sadly there are no indications of that happening with any significance.  As long as that is the case the argument made in this article won’t be accepted by the majority of people, and in my opinion, rightly so.

 

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Want a Better World? Treat Women better

yaziI was sitting watching Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless discuss the Ray Rice incident on ESPN’s First Take, and my thoughts kept wondering back to the situation in the Middle East. After all that is the subject first and foremost on my mind these days. Between the threats Israel continues to face from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran and the immediate threat ISIS poses to the region and the rest of the world, I couldn’t help but have the thought so many people of us have these days. The world is a really messed up place.  All of a sudden the Ray Rice incident and international politics crystallized into one as I realized what is actually one of the main sources of everything that is wrong in the world today.  The treatment of women.

This was actually mentioned to me in a discussion I had with a cousin of mine about a month ago.  She stated how so much of the bad behavior of Muslim extremists has its root in the mistreatment of women.  I agreed with her when she said this, never disputed it, and put the thought somewhere in the back of my mind.  But over the past few weeks it kept gnawing at my brain, and little by little has worked its way back to the forefront.  Here’s why.

The promise of 72 virgins up in heaven is genuinely used as motivation in terrorist training.  Somehow certain elements within Islam that require women on earth to cover up any degree of beauty they have, are promising available and virginal women up in heaven as a reward for men that kill, maim and destroy.  They are exploiting perversion to encourage murder.  A man’s desire for a woman is not a perversion.  A man pursuing 72 virgins is a perversion, especially in a society where women’s natural beauty is suppressed and covered up,  and especially when they have the  perception of acquiring the virgins through mass murder and suicide. The whole idea of having a woman who is specifically a virgin is more about conquest than it is about desire.  Wanting a woman for conquest rather than desire or companionship is in itself inherently degrading to women.

I believe part of what has drawn some to join ISIS or ISIL is the ability to live a lawless life in which they have the power to do whatever they want.  The abuse of women is no small part of this.  As tragic and despicable as it is, I don’t think anyone was terribly surprised to hear of how Yazidi women captured by ISIS terrorists have been and still are being used brutally as sex slaves.  If there were no women to abuse in the “Levant” I wonder if we would see the same unrelenting pursuit by these terrorists to conquer these territories.

Basic respect for women makes a man behave a certain way.  It’s not about the basic or natural needs of  a man, it’s about seeing a woman as nothing less than an equal human being.  It’s about not tolerating abuse of a woman in any form, including a football player punching his fiance in an elevator.  I make no claims to be perfect nor do I claim to have treated every woman perfectly, but this is not about perfection.  This is about basic decency and not having tolerance for the abuse of women.

Stop and imagine for one second what the world would be like if women weren’t being treated improperly.  If you do this openly and honestly you’ll not only see a better world, but a safer one as well.

 

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It’s all Fun and Games until someone loses a Head

isis-videoLet me start by making something very clear.  I am by no means making light of the horrific and graphic murder of journalist James Foley.  I am however asking two very important questions.  My first question is why did it take till now for everyone to take the threat of ISIS as seriously it should have?  And my second question is, as the United States debates bombing a second country after the beheading of one journalist, why has it been so hard for the world to accept Israel’s reaction to the murder of three teenage boys?

The questions seem very different but the answer may be the same.  Regarding the subject of terrorism, Muslim extremism and the threat it poses to the entire civilized world, the Israeli government and its supporters, in Israel and throughout the world, are ahead of the curve.  As much as I dislike them on a personal level, the celebrities who proudly display their anti-Semitic sentiments through opposition of Israel’s actions don’t understand how much they are hurting themselves in the process.  I dare say that to some this is a new Muslim Chic.  Captivated by the culture, the music, the hum of the call to prayer, the smooth talking Palestinian leaders have them taken in by what they see as the Palestinian’s plight.  I am not going to berate Liam Neeson for expressing his attraction to Islam because he did so in a positive context, but I may also want to say to him, come take a look at Judaism.  We don’t have large factions within our ranks looking to take over the planet through brutal violence.

Criticizing the realities that exist within Islam is not racist, its realistic and practical.  Celebrities and politicians who have bent over backward to ignore those realities until now are partially to blame for James Foley’s death and for those who will be murdered by these factions in the future.  When the two young stars, Rihanna and Selena Gomez tweeted messages along the lines of “Free Gaza” or “Free Palestine”, did they ever stop to consider how young women like them are treated by the Hamas government and the society they are defending?  In contrast are they aware of the equality and opportunities provided to young women in Israel, even going as far as being important contributors in the military?  I am sure they didn’t.  They posted it on Twitter because it seemed like a fun, neo-humanitarian thing to do at the time.  Not so much fun anymore when there’s a video of an American journalist being beheaded on YouTube is it?

If the rest of the western world had put the same value on the lives of  Naftali Frenkel,   Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Shaar as Israel did, and supported the operation in Gaza as it should have and understood its importance, it would have sent a message to groups like ISIS and Hamas, and even the oft ignored ringleader Iran, that it understood what is at stake.  But not only did they not do it then, some continue to not do it today.  But to those who needed to see it in front of them to make it real, the beheading of James Foley was a wake up call.  Not so Chic anymore is it?

 

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