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February 12, 2016     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 12, 2016 PAGE 5.A. By Jonathan Feldstein Last week Jews worldwide were treated to two stabbings, one murdering a Jewish mother of six bereaved chil- dren. The consequence of the second is the imminence of more to come. The immediate threat is to Jews, but there are many reasons why everyone should care. In Israel, Dafna Meir, a Jew- ish mother of six, was stabbed to death fighting off an Arab terrorist who broke into her home. Her children Were home as she struggled with the terrorist to protect them. Her actions were selfless and heroic, and her death equally sad and grotesque. Israelis have been subject to a plague of terrorism leaving dozens murdered and hun- dreds injured, and hundreds more bereaved and trauma- tized. Each death is a personal and national tragedy. Yet this was especially despicable be- cause it was up close and per- sonal, the terrorist singling out his victim, not "simply" shooting anonymously into a crowded care, traffic jam of commuters sitting idle, or ramming his car into dozens of people waiting for a bus. Making this murder all the more horrific is that the terrorist broke into Dafna's home, and murdered her in cold blood before her children. That she fought to protect them exalts her humanity, compared to the inhuman- ity of a terrorist murdering a woman in front of her children. Before the day was out, news reports dismissed, and even justified, her murder be- cause Dafnawas a"settler" liv- ing in a Jewish community, in part of the Land of Israel that was established after 1967. Dehumanizing the victim by writing her off as a "settler" is not new, but just as Dafna's murder was especially gro- tesque and inhuman, so too is any excuse justifying this because of where she lived. Dafna Meir was murdered by an Arab terrorist because she was a Jewish woman living in Israel. Any other rational- ization is as disgusting as her murder itself. Stab me once, shame on you. This week, world Jewry was treated to another figurative stabbing, in the back, which will lead to more Dafnas, not only in Israel. In its prisoner swap with Iran before releas- ing hundreds of billions of dollars to the rogue murder- ous Islamic regime, as if to pretend that the world order is perfect, the U.S. did some- thing horrific, and that makes it compliant. Four Americans were re- leased from years of im- prisonment in Iran, some- thing wonderful for which all should be elated. However one American was left behind. By coincidence he is Robert Levinson, an American Jew. There's simply no possibility that he's only missing and the Iranians don't know where he is. Of course they do. And it's no coincidence that the one left behind was a Jew. One doesn't expect better from Iran, but one ought to be able to expect better from the U.S. Levinson is the latest sacrificial lamb, and that's bad on you enough. His abandonment by the US is a betrayal of all Jews and American values. The message through this betrayal is that Jewish lives don't matter. It gives Iran and its global terrorist network not just a free pass to kill more Jews, but in fact the incen- tive to do so. The message is clear. If you happen to kidnap Americans, whether report- ing or preaching in Iran, or sailors right off their boats, we will expect them back and thank the hostage takers for returning their victims. But hold a Jew hostage? That's OK. Send snipers to the Israeli border to kill Jews in Is- rael? No worries. Fire rockets at Israeli cities? Not a problem. Blow up a community center, synagogue or kosher market? All in a terrorist's day's work. That the Iranians just got billions of dollars as a cash bonus will grease the wheelS and provide greater resources, ability and incentive to do so. Stab me twice, shame on me. But I'm not prepared to be a victim or let others be- come victims either. And I'm certainly not prepared to be written off as just a "settler" and therefore a "legitimate" target. Today, all Jews are less safe, not because of where Dafna Meir lived and was murdered, or because of where I live, but because Iran.and its global terrorist network not only got a free pass, but the funding to do whatever they want. Other than writing this and hoping it will be shared widely, I'm not sure what I or Feldstein on page 15A By Robert I. Lappin Followers of Islam face a growing threat of becoming a pariah community in the United States, as a conse- quence of now frequent acts of mass-murder committed by co-religionists here and abroad. Horrified by the war in Syria, violence in Africa, and in about 50 areas around the world, where Muslims inter- face with non-Muslims, and Muslims of different sects, disgust and fright at the rise of the Islamic State, cause otherwise tolerantAmericans to set aside natural instincts for acceptance of others and their religion. Widespread violence in the name of Allah causes increasing numbers to perceive Islam as a religion of violence rather than a religion of love, as we have been told to believe by well-intentioned political, lay and religious leaders, in a misguided effort to avert an impending social disaster. This shift of popular opinion can no longer be prevented by misleading as- surances from our leaders. To change the course of current events, at least in the United States, the problem must be addressed at its root. The root is Muslim ha- tred--blin,d, bitter, persistent," mindless hatred, ancient in its origins, stemming in part from 109 verses in the Koran calling Muslims to war with non-Muslims, including: Koran 2:191 "And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out." Koran 3:56 "As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help." Koran 8:12"Iwillcastterror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore, strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them." Koran 9:73 "Strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be un- yielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination." According to the web- site TheReligionofPeace.com, there is no place in the Koran where Muhammad com- mands Muslims to love people of other religions. By contrast, there are at least three-dozen verses that tell Muslims to fight against non-Muslims and about 500 that speak of their place in Hell. They are from each period in Muham- mad's life, scattered across 87 of the Koran's 114 chapters. These passages justify this hatred, communicated daily to Muslims from mosques, media, and most effectively to Muslim children via a world- wide network of schools, largely financed by Saudi Arabia, which are enormously successful in creating a cul- ture of hatred which is roiling the world in violence. There is still time to halt, and even reverse the trend of negative feelings for the American Muslim community by attacking the root of the problem. For this to happen, the following must take place: The Muslim community must become an engine of change. Muslims must acknowledge awareness of the antipathy which threatens them. They must openly agree to become assimilated Americans and abandon allegiance to Sharia law, which subjugates women, advocates honor killing and female genital mutilation and violence against gay people, and which is clearly incom- patible with our Constitution and its concept of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Muslim community must publicly condemn acts of violence committed by their co-religionists wherever they occur. Muslim leaders must join the several Muslim groups such as American Islamic Forum for Democracy, which are actively attempting to reform Islam by ridding it of its advocacy of violence, and world domination. Muslim terrorists pray in mosques around the country, many of which incite and re- cruitterrorists. Muslims must find the courage to cleanse their mosques oftheseviolent elements. To encourage these mea- sures, our political, lay, and religious leaders must insist that the Muslim community adopt them, and themselves face and acknowledge reality, cease characterizing Islam as a religion of love, and cease the misguided practice of denying the use of terms such as Islamic terrorism. In December of 2014, Presi- dental Sisi of Egypt, in a dis- play of extraordinary courage, called on the Islamic vorld to abandon its objective of achieving world dominance, and to rejectviolence as its way to settle differences. It is in- cumbent on our political, lay, Feidstein on page 15A By Jay Ruderman (JTA)--The relationship between Israel and Ameri- can Jews is a complicated mix of good news and bad news, and this week's gov- ernment compromise on the Western Wall, or Kotel, is a case in point: It's a step forward in providing access for non-Orthodox Jews, but may also reinforce the reality that the main plaza doesnlt welcome Reform or Conservative Jews, who comprise the majority of affiliated American Jews. The main Kotel plaza may never accommodate non- Orthodox prayer, but a new poll by the Ruderman Family Foundation provides some hope and direction for more positive developments on other fronts. (The poll, con- ducted by the Dialog research firm, surveyed 500 Israeli adults; the margin of error is 4 percent.) The good news: Behind some dismissiVe statements and controversial actions by members of Israel's government, average Israelis genuinely value the involve- ment of American Jews. In our poll, 82 percent of Israeliso agree with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent pledge that"every Jew should feel that the Western Wall belongs to him and every shows Jew should feel welcome in Israel." Two-thirds agree that the relationship between Israel and American Jews di- rectly impacts Israel-U.S. re- lations, and 88 percent think their leaders should work to strengthen that relationship. The bad news: Despite the generally warm feelings and intentions of so many Israelis--plus Prime Minister Netanyahu's own formative experience among American Jews-- many Israeli decision-mak- ers and religious leaders still fail to see the value proposition. First, for Israel to be secure, it still needs a strong and vibrant alliance with the United States in which American Jews play an obvious and integral role. Second, if Israel wants to remain the Jewish state, it must find ways to recognize and accommodate, rather than alienate, the bulk of America's committed Jews. American Jews seem to be a target of choice for Israeli poli- ticians seeking to score cheap points with their supporters. Religious Services Minister David Azoulay sparked con- troversy last July by saying that Reform Jews aren't real Jews. Just last December, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau condemned Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Ben- nett's visit to a Conservative Jewish school in New Yore Even more perplexing, Rabbi Lau himself had previously rqade a similar visit. It is easy to assume wrongly that American Jews either don't matter or they will continue supporting Israel because they have no other Jewish homeland. In the United States, Reform and Conservative Jews remain very supportive of Israel, and both movements have a strong showing in programs like Taglit-Birthright Israel and longer summer and yearlong programs. So yes, despite being treated occasionally as second-class citizens, American Jews still identify with Israel. In the long run, however, enough insults and humiliations leave a bitter taste, and it becomes more challenging to see Israel as a pathway to Jewish meaning for all. Even though Israelis are fa- vorable towardAmerican Jews and the more liberal streams, they still underestimate their numbers. While in our poll, Israeli respondents see af- filiated American Jews as 32 percent Reform, 12 percent Conservative and 1.7 percent Orthodox, the 2013'Pew study found 40 percent Reform, 22 percent Conservative and only 12 percent Orthodox. Should skeptics be proved right about the eventual de- know Y mise of progressive Judaism in America, the movements are still likely to dominate among American Jewry for the next several generations. And even this modern Ortho- dox American-Israeli sees no cause to celebrate a theory of diminishing Jewish returns. The hope: Clearly, Israelis--includ- ing at least some Orthodox Jews--overwhelmingly value American Jews and their connection to Israel. Beyond the Ruderman Foundation's own efforts to concretize this commitment among Knesset members and within the next generation of government and business leaders, there is a growing awareness among Israel's elite that Israel needs American Jews at least as much as we need Israel--and this necessarily includes Re- form and Conservative Jews. With this new poll, we see that most Israelis don't just needAmerican Jews on board, they also want American Jews as part of Israel's Jewish fam- ily. Any Israeli who says there's no place for non-Orthodox Dry Bones Jews or American Jews in Israel can no longer claim to be speaking for more than a sliver of Israelis. No matter how many del- egations and conferences we organize, it's ultimately up to Israelis at all levels of society to hold their leaders--political, religious, cultural--account- able. This isn't just because American Jews expect it, but because Israelis do. Jay Ruderman is president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JayRuderman.