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Our Rosh Hashanah Message
Last uploaded : Monday 22nd Sep 2003 at 22:56
Contributed by : The Editor



As the High Holy Day season arrives, the same problems and ugly attacks on Israel and Jews worldwide plague us as much as they did a year ago. In 2001 The United States, epitomised by the early-rising, workaholic victims of the World Trade Centre, Pentagon and hijacking attacks became another large-scale victim of blind hatred.

Tonight we are hearing that the original plan for September 11th would have involved ten airliners all hijacked at once, but bin Laden told his operatives (those who are now ?singing? to the American authorities) the plan was too ambitious. Imagine the carnage had the original plan unfolded with success, for example if the Trade Towers had been attacked at lunchtime when the restaurants and offices were full, not to mention the devastation on the West Coast, which was the other target originally pencilled in by Osama.

When one visits military cemeteries in Israel on Yon Ha?azikaron the level of loss suffered by such a tiny country, whose people had already suffered near-extinction during the Holocaust is palpable. Some find a visit to the Western Wall a life-altering experience; I did as well my first time there but I find a visit to an Israeli military cemetery an even more visceral experience, the names along rows and rows of stones accompanied by ?19? or ?20.?

This week?s ?Jewish Chronicle? has a large front-page story about a playing card that depicts Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with the following quote: ?..His name is synonymous with butchery, with bloated corpses and disembowelled women and dead babies, with rape and pillage and murder.? The card then says ?journalist Robert Fisk on Sharon.? The card is part of a set being sold -- apparently like hotcakes -- by the ?Stop the War Coalition,? the group in charge of the anti-Iraq-war rallies taking place across the globe this Shabbat Rosh Hashanah 27 September. (One likes to think the Coalition did not insult the world?s anti-war Jews deliberately by scheduling the event on our New Year, but one of our readers has nevertheless sent them a complaint.) The card was distributed at last week?s TUC (Trades Union Congress) convention in the UK. The anti-war rally?s subtitle is ?Freedom for Palestine? and is co-hosted by the Muslim Association of Britain. We have had a look at their website and though it is nowhere near as offensive as the UK-based militant sites allowed to prosper on the web, is boasts a display of misdeeds committed by Israel.

Well, we all know about Sabra and Shatila.


Every time an ?Arab spokesman? is on television to speak about anything from the ?American Zionist lobby? to Iraq to the terrible Bushites to desecration of Muslim holy sites by infidel visitors, the story of Sabra and Shatila is wheeled out as an illustration of why Osama and all ?enraged? non-Jews and non-Christians and non-Hindus hate America and the Jews.

I remember the moving and deeply disturbing accounts sent back to Britain and the world by Liberal Rabbi David J Goldberg during the Lebanon conflict. He infuriated many, including members of the liberal and reform fold, but his reports were truthful and filled with despair at the level the conflict had reached. I mention this because he was expressing Jewish concern at a situation he saw as unbearable in the annals of our tortured history.

However, the dark side of Ariel Sharon pales in comparison with the stories coming out of Muslim countries every day from those brave enough to speak out. What is so sinister is the obsession white Britain has with Israel. Lindsay German, the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, is quoted in the ?Jewish Chronicle? as saying ?stood by the attack on Mr Sharon ? and (to our astonishment) ? he is prominently involved in the war against terror which we are opposed to.?

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Does Ms German seriously believe that in a civilised world it is acceptable to oppose an effort to defuse the networks of terror and mayhem? Does Ms German want the Taliban to take over so she may enjoy wearing a burkha, lose her job and and be beaten in the streets? Frankly, we are surprised the Home Secretary has not had her up for violation of the anti-Terror laws beefed up after the September 11 attacks on Britain?s ally the United States. If she is condoning the promulgation of terror is this not a form of sedition?

In a recent issue of the conservative American magazine ?National Review,? Byron York enumerates the worldwide proliferation of depictions of President Bush and his team as ?Nazis.? Many of these images are circulated by Americans, and Gore Vidal routinely refers to the Administration as ?the Hitlerian Junta.? Yes, they are one right-wing bunch but is their toughness a liability when the proprietor of my corner shop in London (one of millions who feel this way, especially when their Imams are inspiring them) grins from ear to ear at the news of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon?s death on the Shuttle Columbia and exclaims ?they killed the Jew!? Stickers all over British cities exhort the population to protest against the existence of ?the Zionist entity? along with calls for death to Blair and Sharon. If those who label the American and British leadership ?Nazis? understand true evil they will appreciate how lucky we are to have the leaders we have -- flawed as they may be.

As the Days of Awe begin we are less than optimistic about the direction Israel and the United States are going. Nothing was more poignant than the scene this weekend in Tel Aviv when Bill Clinton, Ariel Sharon and Shimon Peres joined hands in celebrating the elder statesman?s eightieth birthday and expressing a common desire for peace. We at Jewish Comment were amongst those who felt a deep sense of hope during the Rabin-Clinton days of negotiation. To pray for anything less than a return to days of hope would detract from our aspirations as ?a light to the Nations? ( please see Avraham Burg?s essay in our Guest Opinions section) but at the same time we must be vigilant of enemies like the ?Stop the War? group who have hijacked a worthy pacifist cause and turned it into a campaign to demonise Israel. We seriously doubt the organisers of the campaign have the vaguest notion of the sweep of Jewish history and of the contribution our people have made and continue make to British and world culture.

As Yom Tov arrives we urge our fellow Jews to be vigilant, as our enemies are many and are proliferating amongst us, even --as our colleague Melanie Phillips has observed -- in the polite dinner party set of London.

Fast well and be safe as we celebrate 5,764 years of civilisation.


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