YOU ARE AN ERRANT WEED

“To him and to those like him, we say: ‘You are not part of the community of Israel. You are an errant weed…Judaism spits you out…You are a shame to Zionism and an embarrassment to Judaism.’” So spoke the Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzchak Rabin, in the aftermath of  what came to be known as the Hebron Massacre. Next Monday, marks twenty-five years since Baruch Goldstein, an American trained physician, dressed in his military uniform, armed with a Galil assault rifle, entered Ma’arat HaMachpelah otherwise known as the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and killed 29 Muslim worshippers, while wounding another 125.

So spoke the democratically elected leader of the Jewish State. Given the fact that there were those on the right of the political spectrum in Israel who saw Baruch Goldstein as being heaven sent, while there were those on the left of the political spectrum in Israel who saw Baruch Goldstein as deserving the most horrendous that hell had to offer, the Prime Minister of Israel, the leader of the entire political spectrum dared to deliver  an assessment of Baruch Goldstein, that no psychiatrist had yet to come up with.

A few years later, I was introduced to a woman who was a friend and neighbor of Baruch Goldstein. “He was my children’s pediatrician,” she offered. “As far as you are able to explain, what do you think happened?” I asked. “He snapped! Who wouldn’t have snapped, treating victim after victim, day after day, of Arab terrorism?” she responded.

Prime Minister Rabin could have used that opportunity to tell Jew and Arab alike, that Israel will not tolerate terrorism, regardless of the source. Instead, he chose to usurp the power entrusted to rabbis from a different time and a different place and excommunicate the deceased doctor, declaring that “Judaism spits you out” and that “you are an embarrassment to Judaism.”

As Prime Minister, Yitzchak Rabin could have said, “Israel is the home of Jews from all corners of the world. We invite our brothers and sister, wherever they may be, to come to Israel and to make themselves at home. We will, however, never tolerate any Jew, from anywhere, who disrupts our home or places our home in harm’s way, because our home is not in the best neighborhood of the world.” Instead, Prime Minister Rabin chose to castigate and chastise.

Twenty months after these incendiary words were spoken, I searched to find the proper words to encapsulate the Prime Minister’s life. Our synagogue was holding a memorial for Yitchak Rabin whose life was abruptly ended, moments after he addressed a crowd at a rally in Tel-Aviv. As you might surmise, I was neither a supporter nor a fan of Yitzchak Rabin. But I put political differences aside and accorded him the honor and respect befitting a Prime Minister of Israel. At the conclusion of the tribute, an Israeli, representing an entirely different political bent than mine, who had been present, approached me to thank me as well as to give me a yasher koach for my remarks. “This was not easy for me,” I confided in her. “I’m very much aware of that and that’s all the more reason you deserve a “thank you” as well as a yasher koach,” she responded.

Twenty-five years have passed since the carnage at Ma’arat HaMachpelah. I cannot help but feel that over this past quarter century, political views of the vast majority of Israelis have by and large remained the same. Those who vilified Baruch Goldstein in February 1994, continue to do so today. Similarly, those who glorified Baruch Goldstein in February 1994, continue to do so today as well.

Reflecting on those events twenty-five years later, I sadly shake my head, as I see how very pathetic it was for the same Prime Minister who months earlier,  extended a hand, however reluctantly, on the White House lawn to Yasser Arafat,  an individual who orchestrated decades of mayhem and murder, to then go and spit in the face of a family attempting to deal with the sudden death of a husband and father whose actions, no one may never fully understand.

RAMADAN KAREEM*

Ramadan, is a month long festival on the Muslim calendar which celebrates when the first verses of the Quran were believed to be revealed to Muhammed in the year 610.  Each day of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. At the conclusion of Ramadan, Muslims participate in a festival known as Eid al Fatir.
Recently, a roving reporter accompanied by a videographer approached Israelis from various walks of life on the sidewalks of Jerusalem, asking them if they would like to extend Ramadan greetings. With a week left to this month long Muslim festival, it would well be worth our time to look at some of these greetings. The results are astounding!
“Ramadan Kareem! Peace be upon you and G-d’s love and blessings” said a seventy something year old kippah wearing Israeli in fluent Arabic.
“I want peace in Israel with the Arabs, with the Christians with the Jews…everyone together are (sic) brothers. Inshalla! Amen! Ken yehi ratzon!” intoned an elderly Israeli woman, also in fluent Arabic.
“I wish everyone a happy Ramadan. Joy! Success! Love! Mazel Tov” exulted a twenty something year old Russian immigrant.
“Happy Ramadan to our Muslim brethren, our cousins here in Israel as well as in the territories and the surrounding countries. G-d willing there will be peace. Enjoy the holiday”, exclaimed twenty something year old Israeli male.
Perhaps these responses were “filtered” by the interviewers and we did not get to see any Israeli responding to the roving reporter by heaping curses on Muslims or wishing that they choke to death on their evening meal. Perhaps the Israelis being interviewed were playing to the camera and saying all the right things. Or perhaps, everything that was shown on the video was in fact genuine.
The common thread in all these videos is that there were no recriminations. All Israelis were in good cheer wishing Muslims the very best. Can you imagine if a Palestinian walked the streets of Ramallah or a refugee camp, stopping Muslims toward the end of Elul or the beginning of Tishrei asking them to share High Holyday greetings with Israelis or Jews in general? Would Muslims be as effusive in their good wishes toward us, as we appear to be towards them?
The common thread that exists is that the Israelis were able to separate politics from religion. Israelis will do whatever is necessary to keep Israel and its people safe from the (Muslim) enemy but at the same time they wish Muslims the very best, when it comes to celebrating their religious holy days. This would be a monumental, if not impossible task for Muslims, because so many of their clerics as well as their political leaders have polluted the Koran with political fanaticism. Allahu Akbar (Allah is great) is typically screamed by Muslim terrorists as they fly a plane filled with passengers into a skyscraper or drive a bus filled with innocent civilians over a cliff creating mass murder and mayhem.
The common thread that exists is that the vast majority of Israelis from all walks of life, from religious to secular focus on peace and coexistence and not death and destruction as their goal. For all their talk that Islam is a religion of peace, the Muslim public has remained silent, fearing for their lives, as the lunatic fringe (I’m afraid that in reality, it is more than a fringe) preaches death to the Jews, annihilation of Israel and domination of Europe (for starters). Because of their inability to speak out, the silent Muslim majority has de facto capitulated to a leadership that focuses on carnage, mayhem and domination of the world.
But let us be philosophical. Better, Muslims should celebrate their festival rather than our deaths. Let us then wish them Ramadan Kareem!
* Arabic for: Ramadan is a generous month when it comes to goodness and rewards.
Ramadan Mubarak or a blessed Ramadan is also an acceptable greeting.