Last Monday, 3 Jewish school children were murdered along with a Rabbi at point blank range in Toulouse, France. Just two days ago over 30 Jewish graves were desecrated in Nice, France. So, what else is new?
A Cartoon from Akhbar al-Khalij, June 9, 2008
“Fiddler on the Roof”, the 1971 film adaptation of the 1964 Broadway musical of the same name has many scenes when ‘Tevye’ the main character, talks to God. In a thought provoking scene, while Tevye is not having such a good day to say the least, he stops, looks up at the sky and says to God,
“I know, I know. We are your chosen people. But, once in a while, can't you choose someone else?
This line from a play says it all, the story of the Jews in one sentence.
For some reason that I have yet to figure out, the Toulouse shootings hit me hard. I cannot put into words exactly what I mean. Each and every time someone dies in a senseless manner it hurts, but this was different.
Last March, five members of the Fogel family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar were murdered in their beds. The victims were the father Ehud Fogel, 36, the mother Ruth Fogel, 35, and three of their six children—Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas, the youngest, a three-month-old infant and, as reported by multiple sources, the infant had been decapitated.
But for some reason the murder of the four Jews last week in front of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school, Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, 30; his two sons, Arye, 6, and Gabriel, 3; and Miriam Monsonego, 8, was different.
Usually each week on my radio program I discuss the week’s news, the Toulouse shootings was barely mentioned. It bothers me on a personal level that I cannot explain so, like any other person, I asked for help.
I decided in my case, who better to ask than a Rabbi? Perhaps someone who is not only wise and spiritual could explain to me why I was so bothered by something I have dealt with my whole life, the deaths, the killings, the murders of Jews for no other reason than the fact that they were Jews.
I called my dear friend Rabbi Aryel Nachman. Rabbi Nachman is the head Rabbi of the virtual online Synagogue, Seven Beggars.
He is a lecturer, storyteller, cartoonist, author and performer. He has lectured at schools on the Shoah (Holocaust); conducted services and life-cycle events for small Jewish communities; lectured on Jewish traditions and customs to church groups; given talks on humor and religion and cartooning as a means to understanding how G-d works in this world.
His Jewish comic strip, Zeyde and the Hidden Mine as well as 4 Corners, which he is the co-creator and artist, have been nominated for Pulitzer prizes.
I was astonished at the first thing Rabbi Nachman said,
“I, like you and so many people, am having a very hard time putting the murders of the Rabbi and the beautiful children (HY”D) in Toulouse, France into a perspective that can be understood. For days immediately following these horrendous murders, I was unable to speak about the events because I was at a total loss for any words.”
We shared the same dilemma, unable to speak about it and at a total loss for any words.
I asked Rabbi Nachman if he would write me his thoughts on the subject and like any good Rabbi his thoughts could be an article itself. It was actually humorous given the first sentence of his email,
I will try to keep this short (yea, right!)
For those who want to read the entire email the link is here. In part, here is what the Rabbi wrote to me,
Whenever I come to such moments, I go back to Torah to try and gain some understanding. The first thing that struck me was from Parshah Zachor (the Torah portion “Remember”).
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25: 17-19: “Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way as ye came forth out of Egypt; how he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, all that were enfeebled in thy rear, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget.
“thou shalt NOT FORGET” concludes the passage. Why? Why are we enjoined to “not forget”?
Rabbi Nachman explains why we are told we should never forget,
The Rabbis tell us that there is a very obvious reason we are told this, and we are to remember it for all times when Jews are being attacked in whatever lands they happen to be. What Amalek did made no sense. There was no logic to it. There was no reasoning. Therefore we must remember not to look for logic and you must not try to negotiate with them because it is useless. It would be like trying to negotiating a madman into sanity.
He continues with his thoughts on Amalek from Deuteronomy 25: 17-19,
Many religious leaders and people will tell you that Amalek does not exist any longer; that what we are to remember is a spiritual Amalek who comes to attack our soul. This is quite wrong! It has been my opinion for a very long time that Hamas, Hezbollah, Taliban, Al Qaeda and the rest are all Amalek. They are drawn to these groups because they are of the seed of Amalek.
Then, the obvious question,
Who attacks the innocent and the unarmed? Who attacks from behind women and children? Who attacks for no logical reason? WHO LOOKS A CHILD IN THE EYES AND MURDERS HIM?
Explaining that there is “no logic” he makes a powerful point,
As we grieve for the loss of our brother and our children, we must “remember” and realize that there is no logic in the enemies of the Jews and Israel. We must stop looking for it. We must stop negotiating with it. We must cry out in a loud clear voice for the entire world to hear “NO MORE! We will no longer allow our brothers; sisters and children to be sacrificed on the pagan alter of Political Correctness!”
No more! I love that last sentence, “We will no longer allow our brothers, sisters and children to be sacrificed on the pagan alter of Political Correctness!”
I said so many times that political correctness will be the downfall of this country - that even I am sick of hearing it. Perhaps I should change that statement to: political correctness will be the downfall of the world.
What we see going on throughout the world, the anti-Semitism; Jewish cemeteries and synagogues being desecrated; swastikas and “burn the Jews” graffiti being painted on walls and on day care centers in the U.S.; death threats and people being beaten up for being Jewish in France; anti-Semitic graffiti in Mexico City; “Heil Hitler” being screamed during a Holocaust memorial in Holland; incidents in the Ukraine, Greece, France, Holland, The U.S., Mexico, Cuba, Spain, Denmark, Britain; the terror attacks; this is just something we’ve become used to.
It has become some commonplace that it no longer even raises an eyebrow, it’s just part of life, blame the Jews, it’s been going on since the beginning of time, so why not?
An article by my friend Amil Imani “Islamist Massacres Toulouse Children” also tried to put this atrocity into perspective. Mr. Imani wrote a fabulous piece getting into the mind of this killer. The article talks about how upbringing, development, parents, influences and religion all play a part in every person and manages to explain it simply.
But even with all the knowledge he has when it comes to terrorism and jihadism, one line in the article stood out to me,
Sadly, the Jewish people have been used as the scapegoat for many centuries by a variety of non-Jews.
We are used to this, all of us, Jews and non-Jews alike. Blame the Jews.
Yes, it must be true, “the Jews control all the banks”, “the Jews have all the money”, “the Jews control the media” and my personal favorite, “the Jews were really the ones behind 9/11”.
Yes, I guess I should admit here that I received the secret email that went only to Jews in the U.S., not go near the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001 for our own safety. After all, we stick together and warn each other as well.
Of course the recently released FBI crime statistics from 2010 tells a different story. The stats section of Religious bias once again shows that anti-Jewish hate crimes were far and above that of Islamic hate crimes,
Of the 1,552 victims of an anti-religion hate crime:
67.0 percent were victims of an offender’s anti-Jewish bias.
12.7 percent were victims of an anti-Islamic bias.
Then again, who can believe that, the Jews control the government too, so I’m sure these numbers are all lies.
My article of June 14, 2010 “When Will It End?” was about the rise of anti-Semitism not just here in the U.S., but throughout the world. I guess it shouldn’t it be any different today or tomorrow, as I said, we are used to it.
For Jews it is truly part of our daily existence, it always has been. But I must ask the same question that Tevye asked, in the hope that I someday I may get an answer,
I know. We are your chosen people. But, once in a while, can't you choose someone else?