Tag Archives: Times Square

TheThreat of a Terror attack and its Psychological Impact

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Yesterday ISIS came out with a video warning of an impending attack in New York.  A few days earlier in Washington, D.C.  No one in Paris will ever again doubt the threat of an ISIS attack until the organization is destroyed.  Part of the threat on New York is specifically aimed at Times Square.  Although one expert says the specific warning might indicate that there actually are not any sleeper cells in New York since no place that has been attacked received such a specific warning, I’d still be pleasantly surprised if a camera shot of Times Square this Friday or Saturday night would show crowds as large as what we are accustomed to seeing.  Terror cell or not, the threat is out there, and that scares people.

It should go without saying that an actual attack is far worse than a threat.  The devastation caused by last weeks loss of life and innocent people injured in Paris is as bad as it gets.  That doesn’t mean ISIS doesn’t have other ways of attacking us. Displaying an evil cleverness unlike any previous terrorist organization, it would hardly be surprising if ISIS was actually cashing in their psychological chips and using the threats purely as a way of damaging the morale and economy of people in western countries, particularly the United States.

Americans by and large are a tough people.  I think there will still be crowds of people at Times Square in the coming weeks, but I also believe that some damage will most likely be done just from the threats put out there.  If the nations of the world show a strong resolve and display an indignant attitude towards the threats, then at least we’ve won one of the battles.  Of course that’s easy for me to say, since I may or may not be at Times Square this weekend.  I’ll let you know on Monday.

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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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All Good People are Welcome

is2One of the loudest ovations at the Pro-Israel rally in Times Square yesterday July 20, 2014, was for none other than a Palestinian man.  When the man took the microphone and shouted the words, “I am a Palestinian.  I love Israel and I hate Hamas”, the crowd erupted.  To all those who call Israel an Apartheid state I present this challenge.  Find me one none-white individual who ever said they love South Africa during the reign of Apartheid.  And then find me an instance of a crowd gathering in support of South Africa’s government of that era that welcomed a person of color with love and support as this man was yesterday. You won’t find it.  It’s very simple.  Those who want to live in peace are welcome and will be treated like everyone else.  Sure there are people in any group that have an indestructible hate in their heart, but as a general rule this is the morality we live by.  A morality of which we can and should all be proud.


To the Good of the World: Don’t Be Afraid Be Strong

111My 92 year old mother, Holocaust survivor from Holland, thinks today reminds her of 1938. But today in Times Square, with thousands of fellow supporters of Israel, and knowing the efforts and sacrifices Israel is making for all of us, I maintain it is very different from 1938. I say we all fight in whatever way we can. The greatest fighters fight for us in the IDF and in the military forces of the United States and all civilized nations, but you can also fight through social media, through comforting your fellow Jews, and through general acts of goodness and kindness in the name of combating the evil in the world. Do not put your head in the sand people. Realize what is going on. But instead of being scared, be strong. Realize that our faith is what brought us this far and why we survive when empires fall. That is why they hate us. Because they know they can hurt us, but not destroy us. So I encourage you all, replace your fear with determination, turn to the good people you know for support, and make this a battle unlike any the Jews have ever fought. AHL SOMAYCH AHL HANAYS is Hebrew for “Don’t rely on a miracle.” And that is exactly the approach we must have. Don’t wait for miracles. Make them happen.