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The First Target of Tyranny

The following is an excerpt from a sermon given by Rabbi Shalom Lewis in Atlanta:

Israel is the laboratory – the test market.  Every death, every explosion, every grisly encounter is not a random, bloody orgy.  It is a calculated, strategic probe into the heart, guts and soul of the West.

In the Six Day War, Israel was the proxy of Western values and strategy while the Arab alliance was the proxy of Eastern, Soviet values and strategy.  Today too, it is a confrontation of proxies, but the stakes are greater than East Jerusalem and the West Bank.  Israel in her struggle represents the civilized world, while Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Queda, Iran, Islamic Jihad, represent the world of psychopathic, loathesome evil.

As Israel, imperfect as she is, resists the onslaught, many in the Western World have lost their way displaying not admiration, not sympathy, not understanding, for Israel’s galling plight, but downright hostility and contempt.  Without moral clarity, we are doomed because Israel’s galling plight ultimately will be ours.  Hanna Arendt in her classic Origins of Totalitarianism accurately portrays the first target of tyranny as the Jew.  We are the trial balloon.  The canary in the coal mine.  If the Jew/Israel is permitted to bleed with nary a protest from “good guys” then tyranny snickers and pushes forward with its agenda.

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Disgracefully Politically Correct

The following is an excerpt from a sermon given by Rabbi Shalom Lewis in Atlanta:

Not all Germans were Nazis – most were decent, most were revolted by the Third Reich, most were good citizens hoisting a beer, earning a living and tucking in their children at night.  But, too many looked away, too many cried out in lame defense – I didn’t know.”  Too many were silent.  Guilt absolutely falls upon those who committed the atrocities, but responsibility and guilt falls upon those who did nothing as well.  Fault was not just with the goose steppers but with those who pulled the curtains shut, said and did nothing.

In WWII we won because we got it.  We understood who the enemy was and we knew that the end had to be unconditional and absolute.  We did not stumble around worrying about offending the Nazis.  We did not measure every word so as not to upset our foe.  We built planes and tanks and battleships and went to war to win….. to rid the world of malevolence.

We are at war… yet too many stubbornly and foolishly don’t put the pieces together and refuse to identify the evil doers.  We are circumspect and disgracefully politically correct.

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By the Waters of Babylon

The following is an excerpt from a sermon given by Rabbi Shalom Lewis in Atlanta:

We must be diligent students of history and not sit in ash cloth at the waters of Babylon weeping.  We cannot be hypnotized by eloquent-sounding rhetoric that soothes our heart but endangers our soul.  We cannot be lulled into inaction for fear of offending the offenders.  Radical Islam is the scourge and this must be cried out from every mountain top.  From sea to shining sea, we must stand tall, prideful of our stunning decency and moral resilience.  Immediately after 9/11 how many mosques were destroyed in America?  None.  After 9/11, how many Muslims were killed in America?  None.  After 9/11, how many anti-Muslim rallies were held in America?  None.  And yet, we apologize.  We grovel.  We beg forgiveness.

The mystifying litany of our foolishness continues.  Should there be a shul in Hebron on the site where Baruch Goldstein gunned down twenty-seven Arabs at noonday prayers?  Should there be a museum praising the U.S. Calvary on the site of Wounded Knee?  Should there be a German cultural center in Auschwitz?  Should a church be built in the Syrian town of Ma’arra where Crusaders slaughtered over 100,000 Muslims?  Should there be a thirteen story mosque and Islamic Center only a few steps from Ground Zero?

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Unwitting Co-conspirators

The following is an excerpt from a sermon given by Rabbi Shalom Lewis in Atlanta:

Now before some folks roll their eyes and glance at their watches let me state emphatically, unmistakably – I have no pathology of hate, nor am I a manic Paul Revere, galloping through the countryside.  I am not a pessimist, nor prone to panic attacks.  I am a lover of humanity, all humanity.  Whether they worship in a synagogue, a church, a mosque, a temple or don’t worship at all.  I have no bone of bigotry in my body, but what I do have is hatred for those who hate, intolerance for those who are intolerant, and a guiltless, unstoppable obsession to see evil eradicated.

Today the enemy is radical Islam but it must be said sadly and reluctantly that there are unwitting, co-conspirators who strengthen the hands of the evil doers.  Let me state that the overwhelming number of Muslims want nothing more than a Jeep Cherokee in their driveway, a flat screen TV on their wall and a good education for their children, but these good Muslims have an obligation to destiny, to decency that thus far for the most part they have avoided.  The Kulturkampf is not only external but internal as well.  The good Muslims must sponsor rallies in Times Square, in Trafalgar Square, in the UN Plaza, on the Champs Elysee, in Mecca condemning terrorism, denouncing unequivocally the slaughter of the innocent.  Thus far, they have not.  The good Muslims must place ads in the NY Times.  They must buy time on network TV, on cable stations, in the Jerusalem Post, in Le Monde, in Al Watan, on Al Jazeena condemning terrorism, denouncing unequivocally the slaughter of the innocent – thus far, they have not.  Their silence allows the vicious to tarnish Islam and define it.

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An Israeli Perspective of the Ground Zero Mosque

Dan Gordis writes in The Jerusalem Post a different insight into the ground zero mosque. In The Ground Zero mosque – what US could learn from Israel Gordis writes that the issue of religious tolerance must not blind us to acknowledging that we clearly have an enemy and that reluctance to addressing that threat is self destructive and deadly.


One need not be racist or Islamophobic to be concerned about the mosque. For life in our region has taught us that the first necessary step to defending yourself is acknowledging that someone else is out to destroy you.

“Of course we work on Shabbat.” And then, after a second’s pause, she added, “Gam ha’oyev oved beshabbat” – the enemy also works on Shabbat.

It was a game changer. “What?” she essentially asked. “You think we do this for fun? There are people out there trying to destroy us. Either we’re as serious about this conflict as they are, or they’re going to win.”

It’s fine to say that “America is not at war with Islam,” to point out that most Muslims are not terrorists and that many American Muslims are moderates. That’s true, as far as it goes.

But it only goes so far. Because America is at war and its enemies are Muslims. Politically correct hairsplitting runs the risk of Americans blinding themselves to that simple but critical fact. It makes no difference what percentage of the world’s Muslims wants to destroy America. There are enough of them that US air travel is now abominably unpleasant and, more importantly, enough of them that more strikes on America appear inevitable.

THE UNITED States’ future is under attack, but Americans resist admitting it. President Barack Obama has sent 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, but he has also said that he intends to pull them out by July. Can we imagine FDR declaring war on Germany, but then adding that the war had to be over in a year, or in two? It would have been laughable. And America would have lost. The US has to decide – is it committed to destroying those who wish it ill, or is it willing to be destroyed by them? Those, sadly, are its only two alternatives.

Whether or not the Ground Zero mosque ultimately gets built may not matter nearly as much as whether or not Americans are willing to gird themselves for the battles that sadly lie ahead.

I have written that for a war to not last forever we must fight as though it will.  Gordis makes an excellent point that an existential threat puts valued rights in a different perspective.