On the London terror attack: What must be said

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(Photo credit: ktanaka / Wikimedia Commons)

Islam breeds terror. It’s an unsavory truth but it has to be said. Only then can it be confronted.

By Richard Mather 

The present age is essentially one of denial and misunderstanding; it is an age devoid of common sense; an age that judges the victims not the perpetrators; an age that flies into self-righteous fury over the descendants of Holocaust survivors building houses in Judea, only to decline back into idleness when men, women and children are broken into pieces by the Islamist menace. Our age is also one of resentment. The past is judged and found guilty for not being what it should have been. Many Muslims resent the fact that Islamic empire building has come to nothing. Every caliphate in history has failed. Moreover, there is not a single really successful Islamic country anywhere in the world. And since the past cannot be changed, the resentful individual settles his scores by wreaking revenge on the present by driving into crowds of people in London, Berlin, Nice and Jerusalem.

The West, which has become increasingly secular in recent decades, is blind to this kind of religious resentment. Western Europeans, in particular, are inept in their understanding of current conflicts. They misread the Israeli-Arab dispute as a clash over land, and they think that acts of terrorism on European soil are symptomatic of capitalism’s failure to cater for the global poor. Both views are wrong. What Westerners (particularly those on the Left) fail to see is that Islamic terrorism is rooted in religiously-inspired rancor and malice. This is where the Islamists have the advantage. They understand only too well that the war against Jews and the West in general is not just a religious conflict, but one that is born from utter malice and failure. If the Islamists ever do defeat Western democracy, it won’t be out of strength, but simply because Europe proved weaker and sicker than the Islamists.

Actually, such a scenario is possible. Since the end of the Second World War, Europe has rid itself of its Judeo-Christian-Enlightenment heritage and burdened itself with so much colonial guilt that Angela Merkel and her EU sidekicks now lack the political will to protect their own citizens because they no longer think Europeans are worth saving. Israel, by contrast, embarrasses the European Union by insisting on its own ethno-cultural heritage and by protecting its own citizens. This is why Israel is strong and Europe is weak. Of course, the situation might not be so bad if Europeans had embraced a robust humanism, which emphasises critical thinking, freedom and progress. Unfortunately, many in the West have become politically-correct automatons who tolerate the intolerable by creating ‘safe spaces’ on campuses for unpleasant people who wish to kill Jews and Europeans, and who undermine pluralistic values by allowing Islamist supremacists to flood into towns and cities.

Just as one might say about the Cold War that we knew how to make distinctions between what worked (democracy, capitalism) and what didn’t (totalitarianism, communism), the present age does not make distinctions at all: there is no difference anymore, it seems, between the murdered Londoner and the terrorist who carried out the atrocity. Why do I say this? Because liberals argue that the terrorist is also a victim – the victim of borders, of capitalism, of Israel, of the prison system, of colonialism, a victim of everything except the ideology of Islam. Even in the face of terrorism, left-wing liberals and globalists continue to call for an end to borders because they do not make a distinction between an Islamist from Tunisia and a secular Parisian. And yet anyone with any common sense can see that there is a distinction to be made, and that making sensible is a desirable thing to do. It is not racist.

By declaring that refugees are welcome after mass sexual attacks in Cologne or vehicular attacks in France, Germany and the UK, the West is showing itself to be weak and sick, that Europeans have given up on their own values and relinquished their own cultures, out of fear of appearing racist or colonialist. But when we no longer believe in anything, we may end up believing anything. Kindness, humility, and sympathy are all well and good, but if resentful Islamists exploit our values, then there will be nobody left to extol these virtues. Turning the other cheek in the face of Islamist malice may sound noble in theory, but in actuality it is a kind of enslavement – the enslavement of non-Muslims by religious extremists who think non-believers are whores, apes and pigs, or even worse, sub-human and deserving of death.

It would help if politicians stopped denying the link between Islam and terrorism. British prime minister Theresa May says it is wrong to describe the recent London attack as Islamic terrorism and that the attacker’s ideology was a “perversion of a great faith.”  As political commentator Melanie Phillips writes, “Since 9/11 the British political establishment has refused to acknowledge that the jihadi terrorism being conducted in the name of Islam is actually inspired by… Islam. Islamic jihadi terror has instead been called ‘un-Islamic’ or even ‘anti-Islamic’ or ‘a perversion of Islam’ or ‘a warped ideology.’ Everything but what it actually is: terrorism inspired by a fanatical but legitimate interpretation of Islam.”

Terrorism inspired by a fanatical but legitimate interpretation of Islam. Let’s be honest, it’s getting harder to avoid the conclusion that terrorism carried out in the name of Islam is a natural expression of Islamic beliefs (perhaps not the only expression, but nonetheless a legitimate one.) But politicians and the mainstream media refuse to concede this point. As another commentator says, “mainstream politicians cannot agree with this, not least because they (and Merkel in particular) are responsible for the massive upsurge of Muslim migration into Europe that is fundamentally changing its future. But this is a gap which they must at some point bridge.” So says Douglas Murray in The Spectator.

In what is shaping up to be the ideological war of the 21st century, we need to accept that that there is a serious problem with Islamic beliefs about non-believers, martyrdom, jihad, sharia law, sexuality and the ummah. We also need to ask why so many criminals are drawn to Islam (especially in prison). More needs to be done to tackle non-violent Muslim fundamentalists, who legitimize, excuse and passively allow jihadi extremism. (In a recent opinion poll of British Muslims, a mere 34 per cent said they would report to the police anybody they thought was involved with jihadi extremism.)

The general public in Britain, France, Italy and so on are thoroughly sick of being told there isn’t a problem with Islam. Unless the liberal elites come to their senses, the disconnect between citizens and the establishment will grow ever wider. Not only is this very bad for democracy, it is a gift to the Far Right, which capitalizes on people’s frustration with the political system and thrives on the message that politicians and lawmakers do not speak for (or even care about) the majority. People aren’t stupid. It’s time that the liberal elites in London, Berlin, Brussels and Paris cease sneering at the masses and concede that the belief system of Islam breeds terror. It’s an unsavory truth but it has to be said. Only then can it be confronted.

 

Exposing deception: The cult of Palestinianism

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It is crucial that the Palestinian deception is exposed for what it is – an anti-Semitic, terroristic, racist cult that spreads Jew-hatred, legitimizes murder and destabilizes societies.

By Richard Mather 

The term cult usually refers to a social group defined by their religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or common interest in a particular personality, object or goal. Cults range in size from local groups with a few members to international organizations with millions. Sub-categories of cults include doomsday cults, political cults, racist cults, polygamist cults and terrorist cults.

The Palestinian movement is a political cult, but it is also a racist and terroristic cult. Its goal is the advancement of the dishonest Palestinian narrative, the destruction of the historic Jewish homeland and the implementation of a racist sharia-state called Palestine, achieved through terroristic means. Cult members, who number in the millions, deny or falsify the Jewish people’s historical, legal and biblical ties to the land of Israel. They use the weapons of delegitimization, defamation, disinformation, anti-Semitic propaganda, faked news footage, sanctions and boycotts to achieve their aims.

The Palestinianist cult can be traced back to two men: Yasser Arafat and Mohammed Amin al-Husseini. The latter is the father of Palestinian Islamic nationalism who believed it was a religious impossibility for Muslims to share the Land of Israel with Jews. Even areas where Jews formed a majority were considered to be a kind of religious defilement. Husseini, who was complicit in the Holocaust, called on his fellow Arabs to “not forget that the Jew is your worst enemy and has been the enemy of your forefathers.” Not surprisingly, his bombast resulted in various pogroms, massacres and terrorist atrocities. 

Husseini’s political successor was Yasser Arafat. From the 1960s, Arafat toured the world, converting people to his cause, acquiring recognition and financial backing until his movement was a global phenomenon. Thanks to Arafat, Palestinianism has become a ‘new religious movement’ (NRM) that appeals to people of all faiths and none, including Christians, Muslims, hardcore communist atheists, agnostics, liberals and even some Jews (who are sometimes the most fanatical converts).

This particular NRM (another term for cult) offers all the benefits of mainstream religion, such as community and social action, but without any of theological ‘baggage’ such as the Trinity, Torah or Islam’s Pillars of Faith. Even the quasi-religion of Marxism can be included within the framework of this new interfaith ideology because it, too, turns a finite, limited ideal (a world without Jews/the classless society/the end of capitalism) into an object of absolute and murderous godlike devotion. 

Paradoxically, BDS is an egalitarian cult; it is not closed, secret or hierarchical. It doesn’t matter where you come from or which god you may (or may not) worship; all that is required is that you express genocidal disdain for Jewish political autonomy. In fact, proponents of the ideology are keen to make new converts. They routinely brainwash young minds on Western university campuses, and in colleges and in mosques; their literature demonizes Jews and the Jewish state; and opponents are slandered and condemned using conspiratorial language, usually involving words like “Rothschild,” “Nazi,” and “Satanic.”

Indeed, Jews are routinely described in abusive and cult-like language (sometimes reminiscent of medieval Christian theologians): Jews as satanic murderers, baby-killers, well-poisoners, harvesters of organs and stealers of land. The charge of deicide (killing God) has been resurrected in modified form and is now presented as the charge of genocide against the so-called Palestinians. Of course, such claims made against the Jewish people are scandalous nonsense, propaganda designed to both demonise and legitimize murder. But in the minds of cult members, any justification to kill Jews or force them into permanent exile will suffice. 

This is a very dangerous cult indeed. What’s worse is that it has the backing of many governments, international organizations, NGOs and charities. It is a movement of global proportions, bigger than the Nazi cult that killed more than six million Jews. But unlike the Nazis, the Palestinianists face very little opposition. This is why it’s crucial that the Palestinian deception is repeatedly exposed for what it is – an anti-Semitic, terroristic, racist cult that spreads Jew-hatred, legitimizes murder, undermines social cohesion and destroys any prospect of peace. It is only by constantly challenging, scrutinizing and revealing the sick ideology of Palestinianism that we stand any chance of ending this horrific movement.

 

Purim: Where is God in all this?

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Megillah Benedictions and Illuminations, painting on parchment, Italy, 18th century (via jewishvirtuallibrary.org)

The Purim story shows us that God expects the Jewish people to take the initiative, to act for themselves and to rely on their own talents and skills in order to ensure their long-term survival.

By Richard Mather 

Megillat Esther (the Scroll of Esther) narrates the story of a Jewish girl who becomes Queen of Persia and saves the Jewish people from a genocide decreed by the wicked Haman. The story takes place in 473 BCE. The Persian kingdom is a huge and sprawling empire, and all the Jews are its subjects. When King Ahasuerus deposes Queen Vashti for disobedience, he arranges a beauty parade to find a new consort. Esther is chosen and she becomes the new queen of Persia. However, she does not reveal her Jewish identity.

A wicked man called Haman is appointed first minister of the Persian empire. Haman becomes enraged when Mordechai, leader of the Jews, refuses to bow to him. Spitefully, Haman convinces the King to issue a decree ordering the genocide of all the Jews on the 13th of Adar. The date is chosen by lottery, hence the word Purim, which means “lots,” from the word Hebrew word פור.

Esther takes practical action. She reveals her Jewish identity to the King. Haman is hanged and Mordechai is appointed first minister in his place. A new decree granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies is issued. On the 13th of Adar the Jews kill many of their enemies. On the 14th, they rest and celebrate. The Jews of Shushan wage war on both Adar 13th and 14th, and rejoice on the 15th, which explains the celebration of Shushan Purim in Israel on the 15th.

The holiday of Purim is a time of merriment. Celebrants are allowed to drink alcohol to the point where they are unable to differentiate between the phrases ‘Bless Mordecai’ and ‘Curse Haman.’ Another feature of Purim is the Purimspiel, which is a dramatic retelling of the story of Esther, often involving costumes, masks, music, dance and humour. Traditionally, the Purimspiel was performed by poor students, actors and acrobats. These days, the Purimspiel is often acted out by children who dress up as characters from the story.

But there is a darker side to Purim. Megillat Esther depicts an existential threat to the Jews. Genocide hangs over them like the sword of Damocles. The Jews are saved and their enemies slain, not because God intervenes but because the Jews themselves take decisive action to eradicate the threat. Purim seems to be about the role of Jewish self-reliance in a universe where God has apparently disappeared from the stage.

This is why the story of Esther is particularly relevant in our post-Holocaust era. For many people, God’s goodness cannot be taken for granted. Elie Wiesel, the prize-winning writer and Holocaust survivor, has refused to shy away from the difficult subject of God’s absence during the Shoah. Perhaps his most famous book is Night. But for me, one of Wiesel’s most striking works is his play The Trial of God.

The Trial of God is set in 1649, and is a Purimspiel within a Purimspiel. But it is not the kind of Purimspiel we would recognise. This is a brief outline of the story:

Three wandering minstrels, three Purimspielers, come to a city called Shamgorod in the Ukraine. It is Purim eve, and they want to perform a play in order to get food and drink. The minstrels are unaware that a recent pogrom has killed all of the local Jews except for Berish the innkeeper and his daughter Hanna who was gang-raped and is now in a state of nervous collapse.

But the minstrels insist on performing and finally Berish relents and says, ‘All right. Under one condition – that I will give you the idea. The theme will be a “din torah,”  a trial of God. I want you to indict God for what he has done to my family, to my community, to all these Jews.’ The performers accept. In the first act the decision is made to hold a trial. In the second act there is a problem because there is nobody to play the role of God’s attorney. In the third act an attorney is found and we have the trial itself.

Wiesel’s play is based on an event that occurred in Auschwitz. According to Wiesel, three rabbis – all erudite and pious men – decided one winter evening to indict God for allowing his children to be massacred. The trial at Auschwitz lasted several nights and culminated in an unanimous verdict of guilty. And then, after a few moments of silence, one of the rabbis looked towards the heavens and said “It’s time for evening prayers.”

Given the subject matter, it is not surprising that Wiesel’s Purimspiel rejects the usual carnivalesque atmosphere of Purim. Mendel, one of the Purim minstrels, frequently asks the question, ‘And where is God in all of this?’ To which Berish the innkeeper answers: ‘Why don’t you ask where Berish is in all this? Let me answer you that one. God sought me out and God struck me down. So let Him stay away from me.’

In Wiesel’s text, God is accused of hostility, cruelty and indifference. Over the course of the trial, a number of arguments are made, both for and against God’s guilt. Wiesel’s play ends darkly, with the victory of Satan (who is God’s defendant) and the imminent massacre of the town’s remaining Jews by a mob of bloodthirsty gentiles.Megillat Esther is the only book in the Tanakh –  except for Shir Hashirim or the Song of Songs –  that does not mention the name of God. The Trial of God, however, makes God the central character, although like Godot in Beckett’s famous play, He never actually makes an appearance. And while Purim is generally a time of merriment, Wiesel’s play plumbs the depth of theological inquiry, asking, ‘Where is God in all this?’

In a world where the Holocaust was allowed to happen, the question of ‘Where is God in all this?’ remains pertinent. Of course, even before the Holocaust, Jewish experience was one of exile, alienation and violence – a sign perhaps that God’s power has rarely been some awesome force. Indeed, for much of history, God has hidden his face from us. The concept of hester panim (“hiding of the face”) is sometimes used to explain the absence or eclipse of God during times of suffering. The concept of divine concealment is based on words from Sefer Devarim: “I will become very angry at them on that day, and I will abandon them and hide My face from them. They will be devoured, and plagued by many evils that will distress them, and will say, ‘Do we not suffer because God has left us?’.”

In the case of Purim, the importance of hester panim is implied by the name of the heroine. Note the similarity between the words hester and Est(h)er. The Babylonian Talmud tractate Hullin 139B states, “From where does the Torah bring the name Esther? From the verse ‘But I [God] will surely conceal my face [“haster astir panai“] on that day for all of the ill that they have done–for they turned to other gods.”

In our post-Holocaust era, it can be difficult to subscribe to the notion of God as a transcendent Supreme Being who intervenes in history. Doesn’t the Esther story, and the story of the Jews in general, suggest that God’s power is not some ‘top-down’ affair but is conducted through the actions of individuals and groups, like Moses and the Israelites or Theodor Herzl and the First Zionist Congress? Isn’t it perhaps the case that God’s power is channelled through the Jewish people themselves?

In 1948 when Palestine’s Jews declared independence, there occurred a unique rupture in the history of colonialism and imperialism. But this declaration also ruptured the long-held hope of a messianic king or priest who would gather the Jewish people and end the exile. It wasn’t God or the Messiah who restored the Jewish nation. It was the Jews themselves. To paraphrase Rabbi Eleazar (Megillah 15a), the moment the Jewish people decide to cloak themselves in royalty and declare independence is the moment in which the Jews cloak themselves in the spirit of God.

This is why I strongly disagree with those ultra-religious Jews in Israel who refuse to serve in the army because it detracts from Torah study, which (they say) is Israel’s best protection. Unfortunately, history shows us that no amount of Torah study or prayer prevents pogroms or genocides; nor will Torah study protect the State Israel from future attacks. Likewise, it’s wrong of anti-Zionist religious Jews to argue that the State of Israel is a usurpation of the Messiah’s role. My answer to them is simple: for too long we waited for the Messiah, but he never came. And he may never come for one simple reason – because the Jewish people themselves already function as a messianic community.

In other words, it is not God or Messiah, but the Jews themselves who determine what to do, and when and how to do it. As Rabbi David Blumenthal says, God “has all eternity to make up His mind. We do not have all eternity; we have now.”  The example set by Esther shows us that God expects the Jewish people to take the initiative, to act for themselves and to rely on their own talents and skills in order to ensure their long-term survival. The success of the State of Israel and the fact that the majority of Jews are prepared to defend themselves in a world full of Hamans is testament to the spirit of Megillat Esther.