Evil Cannot Be In Charge

Skeleton Street Art

So I am having to reconcile some interesting things in my mind. 


Hating and liking. 


For example Iran, led by dictators and extremists, is perhaps the epitome of the “Axis of Evil” and the arch enemy of America and Israel


Iran suppresses the freedom and human rights of its people, is the leading sponsor of world terrorism, denies the Holocaust, and threatens brutal attacks on America and to annihilate Israel. 


Yet, on a personal level I have had the opportunity to meet a number of Iranians that I really like and respect.


These include amazing colleagues at work, and wonderful members of my synagogue as well as neighbors. 


One Iranian family I met just this morning was simply amazing.


The father had a horrible stroke earlier in the year. 


Today, I saw the father wheeled to the swimming pool by his son. 


The son took his father lovingly into the water and worked with him therapeutically to help him on regaining as much mobility as possible. 


I stopped to speak with them, and the man’s wife told me that the son, who was a PhD in mechanical engineering from Texas came every week to Washington, D.C. to work with his stricken father. 


The son told me that although he was not a therapist worked hard with his father on physical and occupational therapy, and I even saw his father laugh a little with his son in the water. 


The son held the father by a safety belt and his father put his hand on his son’s shoulder as they walked forward and backwards in the water, and even did a little swim while his son held the belt tight. 


I was really impressed by this family and especially the love, caring, and devotion the son showed his father. 


Despite their troubles, the wife asked me how I was recuperating and smiled when I told her I was doing better. 


It’s amazing to me how hate truly is blind. 


On one hand, what Iran stands for today led by extremists who seek religious domination, suppression and destruction of others, and a return of the Caliphate is a danger to its people and the world.


On the other hand, many of the people from the streets of Iran are surely some very good people.


We need to see the bad apples and separate them from the good ones. 


As a country, we need to support the freedom of the Iranian people and help those that believe in peace and fellowship. 


When evil is in a leadership position, then good does not follow, but rather is smothered until it is set free. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Purim All Over Again

queen-esther
Last night my wife received an email from a very holy woman from our synagogue telling us to pray for G-d to save the Jewish people.

 
This at a time when Iran is on the verge of nuclear breakout capability and has for more than a decade threatened Israel with genocide
 
As Prime Minister Netanyahu said yesterday, the threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is a security issue to the U.S. (which has been threatened by Iran, including unbelievably threats to President Obama’s family), but is a survival issue to Israel.
 
The holy lady from the shule reminded us that this is the week we celebrate Purim.
 
This holiday commerates when the Jewish people were miraculously saved almost 2,500 years ago from an evil plot to destroy all the Jews in ancient Persia (and yes, what is now related to modern day Iran).
 
The threat: “To destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.”
 
But for a miracle from G-d through Mordechai and Queen Esther were the Jewish people saved from annihilation. 
 
It is not lost of any of us that now Iran wants to exterminate the Jews once again, in a single day, in a single nuclear strike on the holy land. 
 
The Jerusalem Post astutely points out today that Prime Minister Netanyahu is like Mordechai who recognized the threat of the evil Haman who sought the Jews’ destruction, as well as Queen Esther who spoke truth to this to King Ahasuerus. 
 
Both my mother and my wife are named after the beautiful Queen Esther and so this holiday has enormous personal meaning for me, especially since my family are also survivors of the Holocaust. 
 
Today, we are all praying for another miracle when Netanyahu addresses the U.S. Congress that the Jews should once again be saved from historical enemies old and new. 😉
 
(Source Photo: here with attribution to pixgood)

Reform The Movement

Hamas_Children

So was very glad to read this week about a top Sunni cleric who called for educational reform to combat “extremist violence.”


Sheik Ahmend al-Tayeb, a grand imam in Cairo said “corrupt interpretations” of the Koran and of Muhammad was leading to a rise of Middle East-based terrorism. 


This to hopefully stem the flow of what is now being reported as 20,000 foreign fighters flocking to join ISIS


What is amazing here is that good Muslim people are recognizing the problem with radicalization, extremism, and violence and are speaking out. 


Yet, many of our own leaders in the Western world still refuse to say the dirty words “Islamic terrorism.”


The President saying instead: “No religion is responsible for terrorism–people are responsible for violence and terrorism.


So perhaps, according to this “logic,” no movement is responsible for what their people do–only the individuals are?


And therefore, accordingly, the Nazis would not be responsible for the Holocaust, nor America for Slavery, nor Communism for political purges, oppression, and violation of human rights, etc. etc. 


…in which case, there would be no apologies, no regrets, no reparations, no museums, no memorials, nothing–because this was just some individuals doing some bad things and those individuals are may no longer even be here with us. 


Doesn’t this ignore the very basic and fundamental fact that when the masses follow a movements’ (genuine or distorted) ideological teachings of hatred, racism, and discrimination, and the people act nefariously on this, then does not the movement itself hold some responsibility for the murderous and evil actions committed based on their doctrine?


The Sheik who denounced terror and called for changes to the education in the Muslim community is recognizing what apparently many of our own leaders refuse to, which is that they–and we–are responsible for what is taught and tolerated in our communities. 


As Peggy Noonan recently wrote, “The reality is that the Islamic State is…very Islamic.


Currently, we are fighting a war on radical Islamic terrorism…whether that terror is committed on Charlie Hebdo, a Jewish grocery store, or the World Trade Centers. 


That does not mean that tomorrow, we are not fighting against some other movement’s treachery. 


This is why good people everywhere must stand up and speak out when they see religions, governments, institutions, or other movements preach and teach lies, hatred, and terror. 


Bad (or hijacked good) movements drive bad actors…so we must not only go after the bad guys, but also hold the movements themselves to account.


We must demand that the lies and distortions be called out for what they are and that truth and virtue be held up in its place. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Front Page Magazine)

The Monster Under The Bed

Shiksa.com
For those familiar with Yiddish…



A shiksa is a non-Jewish girl and is sometimes used to refer to Jewish women that don’t follow the commandments. 



A shegetz is a similar term used for a male. 



Is it a bad word? 



Well, let’s just say it’s not a term of endearment. 🙂



I guess it’s funny that everyone has terms for those who are not just like them.



Of course we all don’t have to be and aren’t the same, cut from the same mold.



But we all have to have respect for each other and get along. 



I think the worst part of people being different is not even the overt jokes or off-handed remarks which can certainly be hurtful, but much more the backdoor insinuations and aggressive behaviors. 



Lately, to be frank, it seems that ethnic and religious war is brewing big time in the world–anyone else notice?



Not regional, focused on oil and resources, long held dictatorships, human rights, or even “the Palestinian issue.”



But rather what no one wants to talk about or confront, a battle of civilizations.



It is so scary, because this is there are big and powerful actors at play whether Russia or China playing for the world’s leadership role (one overtly and the other covertly), Iran and North Korea freely wielding nukes and threateningly strutting “their stuff,” and ISIS and Al Qaeda looking for the next budding caliphate and  imposition of Sharia law as far and as wide as they can take it.



East meets West, democracy vs. dictatorship, religion against religion, this thing is building up steam, pressure is rising, and the question is whether and how big this is about to blow.



Shhh, if we don’t say the words or we pretend to “make nice” and give out jobs, dole out handouts, and use our drones, oh so discretely, maybe no one will notice. 



Are we being phobic about communism, radical Islam, budding economic and military might, and other differences, or are we pointing out what we are all perceiving, but greatly fear to face. 



When I saw recently that some wonderful Muslim people were surrounding synagogues in Europe, not to attack it, but rather to encircle it to defend it, I was not only in complete awe, but also realized how many good and righteous people there are out there.



These people are actually doing something about the injustices and power grabs they are witnessing, and not trying to obfuscate or opiate the masses. 



It’s not just about being tolerant of others and stripping hatred from our hearts and lives, but about being truthful when others may choose not to be. 😉



(Source Photo: Facebook)

Noticeably Absent From Auschwitz Liberation Memorial

Auschwitz Concentration Camp
So yesterday was the 70th anniversary memorial of the liberation of the Auschwitz Death Camp,



More than 1.1 million Jews and 100,000 other POWs and ethnic minorities were EXTERMINATED there.



There was forced labor, beatings, torture, starvation, the gas chambers and the crimatoria, the electrified barbed wire and attack dogs, the human experimentation, and every cruelty known to mankind. 



At yesterdays memorial at Auschwitz 50 countries sent delegations “with heads of state leading those from:” 



– Germany

– Austria

– Belgium

– Bulgaria

– Croatia

– Lithuania

– France

– Netherlands

– Poland 

– Switzerland

– Ukraine (even though they are currently fighting a war with Russia!)



And even Russian President Putin “marks day at the Jewish Museum in Moscow.”



It is quite mysterious, why like with the recent Unity Rally in France after the terror attacks there on Charlie Hebdo Magazine and a Jewish grocery store that left 17 dead, that the head of state for the United States was once again noticeably absent.



This time, a meeting in Saudi Arabia took precendence–why of course.



At least, the million plus murdered at Auschwitz got a (prepared) statement to mark their tragic deaths.



What does all this say about our commitment to human rights and fighting blind hatred, discrimination, racism, Islamist terrorism, and outright genocide?  



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Ricardo Francesconi)

Denouncing Anti-Semitism


Heroic remarks from NYC Councilman Greenfield after pro-Palestinian activists protested the commemoration of 1.1 million people murdered in Auschwitz concentration camp in the Holocaust. 



Calling a spade-a-spade…anti-semitism is once again alive and well due to acceptance and even promotion of Anti-Semitism/Zionism, and unfortunately, in some cases, it seems like it’s coming from the top-down!



The words and actions are fanning anti-semitic terror attacks around the globe and even setting the stage for a regional war in the Middle East. 



What a shame that we need to remind some of the First Amendment of the Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion, whatever your practices. 



Protestant pastor, Martin Niemoller, famously said:



“First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out 

because I was not a Jew.



Then they came for the Communists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Communist



Then they came for the trade unionists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a trade unionist.



Then they came for me

and there was no one left

to speak out for me.”



I believe, I know, that there are many true decent human beings and real leaders out there that will speak out against the very ugly head of blind hatred and bigotry in this world. 



May G-d show mercy on all his creatures and instill love, tolerance, and genuine respect for all races, colors, and religions. 

Absence, A Big Statement

Paris Rally
We all know from psychology 101 that what we pay attention to and give to is what is really important to us. 

 
Parenting is an example of this where we give our time and efforts to our children as our most important investment of self. 
 
This last week was the historical Paris Unity Rally attended by millions, including 40 world leaders, to denounce blind discrimination and hate and the associated terror and murder that marked the terrorist attacks in Paris.
 
The Paris attacks were a striking blow on free speech and resulted in the murder of many innocent citizens and law enforcement at Charlie Hebdo magazine and numerous Jews in a kosher grocery store–it was more than shocking to see our top leadership missing in action (MIA).
 
In the Wall Street Journal today, there are many words on this from “error” to “lost opportunity.”
 
Yet, despite acknowledging the blatant absence, what we are left with are an unfortunate series of excuses, such as the incredible statement that “No one in the White House brought such a request to the the President’s attention.”
 
As if someone needs to tell the leader of the free world that he needs to be participate in the Paris Unity Rally. Did the millions who attended or the other 40 world leaders need a reminder or a nudge?
 
Or here’s another one about not being able to attend because of “security concerns.”
 
Once again, did the heads of state for France, Germany, England, and Israel not have similar concerns that their protectors were able to adequately address. 
 
What about the  apology that he “regrets his decision not to send a top White House official,”–uh, what about going himself?
 
I remember immediately after the attack of 9/11, President George W. Bush, with bullhorn in hand, standing on the rubble of what was once the World Trade Center…there was no excuses as to a need for reminders from staffers, security or health concerns, or sending surrogates–the leader was there and doing his job to lead, period.  
 
How can we fight a war on terrorism, fanaticism, and blind hatred, when we won’t give it our time and attention–from the top down. 
 
As with a parent who is absent with his children, it speaks a thousand words about what is really important to that parent and the impact on the (symbolic) child.
 
“A cat’s in the cradle with a silver spoon little boy blue and the man in the moon when your coming home dad I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then dad, you know we’ll have a good time then.”
 
In the past, the administration has been incredibly supportive in fighting terror, anti-semitism, and standing up for human rights, and with genuine commitment of time and effort, can do so again. 
 
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Doug)
 
(All opinions my own).