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March 19, 2019 7:12 am

New Zealand’s Anti-Muslim Terror Abomination

avatar by Shmuley Boteach

Opinion

People gather at a vigil to mourn for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, at Washington Square Park in Manhattan, in New York City, New York, U.S. March 15, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi.

If murdering innocent men, women, and children in a house of worship is not evil, then the word has no meaning. The white supremacist abomination in Christchurch against our Muslim brothers and sisters shakes us all to our core, and forces us to look for explanations and answers.

I have visited New Zealand many times in the past. In arriving there, you have to make sure that you’re not carrying any fruits or vegetables with you; the country takes its agricultural laws very seriously. I was thinking about this over the past few days, as I pondered New Zealand’s innocence.

We in the United States can likewise remember a time when getting on an airplane did not involve anything like the rigorous security checks we now endure in the wake of 9/11. New Zealand will now have to deepen its security protocols, as it has learned that evil is a global phenomenon from which no one is immune.

Hatred has no borders. It spreads like a virus and is contagious. We in the Jewish community have learned this throughout our history, as we have faced persecution and annihilation in so many of the countries where we have resided. The painful experience of the recent Pittsburgh shooting reminds us that even in the United States, we Jews are not immune.

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Now our Muslim brothers and sisters are being targeted by neo-Nazis for mass shootings as well. This should lead our two communities to forge deeper ties and bonds of brotherhood — not just because we are both targets, but because we have so many mutual values and goals.

Around the world, Jewish ritual slaughter, Shechita, is being banned, along with circumcision. The same laws, especially in Europe, seek to ban Muslim ritual slaughter, and male Muslim ritual circumcision. In some countries, Muslims and Jews are already working together to stop these unfair assaults against religious observance. Now, we should do the same to stop the growth of white nationalist attacks against our two communities.

I am well aware that Muslims and Jews will not necessarily agree on Israel and the Middle East political landscape. But there are plenty of communities who work closely together in vital areas amidst serious disagreements in others.

I arrived to serve as a rabbi at Oxford University in 1988 and led the pro-Israel L’Chaim Society there. One of our principal opponents at the time was the Oxford Middle East Society, comprised mostly of Arab and Muslim students, who hosted leading Palestinian spokespeople like Hanan Ashrawi to make the case against Israel.

Yet there were many personal friendships between the two organizations, even as we battled it out over Middle East policy. Our policy disputes did not trickle down into personal animus. The L’Chaim Society regularly hosted Muslim students — many of whom were scions of distinguished Arab families — and we also helped provide kosher meat to Halal students who did not have other options.

So much has changed since then. On campus especially, we see the growing alienation of the two camps as criticism of Israel has deteriorated into demonization.

But it need not be so.

After the Pittsburgh massacre, we witnessed Muslim organizations joining to show comfort and pay respects to the Jewish victims and their families. And now, after New Zealand, the same applies, as Jewish organizations throughout the world have offered comfort and support to our Muslim brothers and sisters in this time of unspeakable horror.

We are all equally God’s children, a fact that white supremacists especially wish to deny. The very essence of being a racist is to believe in a hierarchy of races, with some being more human than others. No belief is in greater violation of the Torah than this evil idea.

We Jews mourn the Christchurch slaughter along with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and pray for a time when the evil white supremacist ideology that took the lives of six million Jews and more than one million Jewish children will be eradicated from the earth — and when people of all faiths and no faith will join together to create lasting peace on earth.

Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the international bestselling author of 32 books, including his most recent, Lust for Love. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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