When Synagogues Become Slaughterhouses
He spoke slowly and hauntingly, just two feet from me, a conscience of mankind indicting humanity for the world’s oldest hate. “I don’t understand it. It has not subsided since I was a teenager in Auschwitz. I often raise my eyes to the heavens and I tell God, “If you don’t want us then dismiss us already. But why do you insist on demanding endless Jewish dead.”
It was Monday night at Cooper Union’s renowned Great Hall in New York City before an audience of hundreds of students. The speaker was Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Laureate and living face of the six million martyred in the Holocaust. The panel was one I moderated and that I convened to discuss the global resurgence of anti-Semitism. Other speakers included American Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who had just returned from a powerful speech in Berlin last Thursday against rising European Jew-hatred.
Who would have thought that just two hours after the panel another terror attack would strike in Jerusalem leaving even more Jewish corpses, this time still wrapped in the leather straps of tefillin, their white prayer shawls now dyed a deep red.
Four Rabbis murdered at morning prayer. A non-Jewish Druze policeman shot in the head and killed. Twenty-six children orphaned. A synagogue sickeningly stained by blood flowing from cleaver-wielding savages.
It’s open season on the Jews of Israel. Nearly every day brings another few murders on the streets of Jerusalem, the Palestinian terrorists finding ever more creative ways to take life. Sometimes it’s as simple as driving a truck into a bus stop. Other times a screwdriver will suffice.
An immoral world has the audacity to dismiss these Jewish lives as victims of political unrest, as if any grievance is justification for turning a Synagogue into a slaughterhouse. But Elie Wiesel knows better. This is Jew-hatred pure and simple with Israel used as a convenient excuse for murder. ISIS beheads not as a political protest but because, in their barbarity, they ululate at the site of blood. Let’s stop the lie that Palestinian terrorists are more enlightened.
Ironically, at the same panel discussion I said that when Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 innocent Muslims at prayer in 1994, nearly every Rabbi on earth dismissed his act as an abomination to Judaism and Goldstein himself as a cold-blooded killer. We could easily have found rationalizations to justify his act: as a doctor he had snapped after witnessing so many of his friends murdered by terrorists in Hebron, etc. But the Ten Commandments are clear: that shalt not murder, however pissed off one may feel. This explains why Jewish on Arab violence is rare to the point of non-existent.
The global crisis in Islam, however, and the reason so many murder in its name, is not because Islam is an inherently violent religion. Aside from that notion being nauseatingly bigoted, it would also conveniently absolve Imams from having to speak out and condemn murder in Allah’s name. For if Allah is bloodthirsty that who can blame the faithful for feeding his bloodlust.
But no, Islam is a great world religion that cannot brook murder in God’s name. And Allah is the same God of Abraham to which we Jews too pray. Islam took in us Jews under Ottoman Turk rule after their violent expulsions from Catholic Spain, Portugal, and other European nations. And Imams must therefore condemn the vile anti-Semitism that is being spouted in Islam’s name lest a glorious and global faith become a haven for monsters.
We Jews have grown tired of the double standards to which we are endlessly subject. We are the only people on earth that is asked – forced even – to negotiate and come to settlements with those sworn to our annihilation. Here, for instance, is the Hamas charter: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it… The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees [which] will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
What Jews love most, the Charter continues, is war, which just allows them to make more money. “With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries … They were behind World War I… and World War II through which they made huge financial gains.”
Yes, even as Jews were being turned into piles of ash in the Nazi ovens they were still generating cash.
And if you were a young Muslim youth and you read this tsunami of defamatory, Jew-hating drivel, would you too not be incited to kill?
But a world that is passive and indifferent to the murder of Jews should beware lest it too become victims of the world’s oldest hatred. As Samantha Power said of anti-Semitism in Berlin, “It is often the canary in the coal mine for the degradation of human rights more broadly. When the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Jews are repressed, the rights and freedoms of other minorities and other sectors are often not far behind.”
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is founder of This World: The Values Network, the foremost organization in America defending Israel in the media. The international best-selling author of 30 books, he has just published “Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.