The sermon, republished in full below, calls for a war on Islam and Muslims worldwide. Lewis says a “holy crusade” against Islam is needed to “exterminate it utterly and absolutely.”
I thought that maybe I’d start with a rendition of Paul McCartney’s plaintive masterpiece “Yesterday”… “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay, oh I believe in yesterday” – but then I thought, too romantic. Perhaps the story of Chicken Little – “The sky is falling. The sky is falling” and I thought, getting closer but too childish.
What about Santayana’s “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Maybe, but too philosophical. And then I remembered Joseph Conrad’s sadly, cynical observation – – “The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary. Men alone are quite capable of every wickedness,” and sadly it felt right.
And so, here were are in a place of unimagined chaos and cowardice, paralysis and brutality. The beast roams the earth; we are stymied, stunned and continue to fiddle. My friends, “Ehr Kumpt Part 2, the Sequel.” This is not a time for delicacy. For tiptoeing. It is not a time to parse words nor worry about offending someone with unfiltered vocabulary. Time is no longer a luxury we possess. Distance no longer provides protection.
We are being threatened like no time before, by an enemy obsessed with an apocalyptic endgame that will bring only disaster. An enemy that worships savagery. An enemy that celebrates depravity. An enemy that glorifies the death of the young. There has been a seismic shift in our world. We feel it. We see it. We know it. We dare not deny it.
For years, we have been mercifully spared the ugliness and intimacy of war. The Battle of the Bulge and Iwo Jima were a black and white MovieTone newsreel after Tom & Jerry and before the Pride of the Yankees. We planted victory gardens, rolled up tin foil, bought Liberty Bonds, said goodbye to fathers, sons and brothers. But the trenches were on the other side of the Atlantic and Pacific. So too, every other subsequent conflict. The Yanks were coming but the shooting was “over there.” We suffered little. But today, war has been redefined and relocated.
Geneva is finished. We are all combatants in the cross hairs. We are all on the front lines, like it or not. The battlefield has no boundaries and the war, no rules. The enemy targets deliberately, fiendishly, any place of innocence. All are vulnerable and so we must recalculate our strategy, re-examine our tolerance, re-energize our resolve and unequivocally identify the evil doers. Let us not be silenced by fear, by feckless goodwill, by reckless hope, by meaningless rhetoric.
There are one billion Muslims in the world and authorities agree that 5% are committed Islamists who embrace terror and wish to see, by any means possible, the Muslim flag fly over every capital, on every continent. I was relieved when I heard only 5%. Thank God it’s only 5%. Now I could sleep soundly.
But wait, let me figure this out, 5% of a billion is… 50 million Koran-waving, Allah Akbar-howling Muslim murderers out there planning to slit our throats, blow us up or forcibly convert us. It only took 19 of Osama bin Laden’s disciples to bring down the Twin Towers, plow into the Pentagon and crash a plane into Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Over 3,000 dead. Over $10 billion in damages on that sad day. 19 Al Qaeda. 50 million Islamists. Do the math.
But what disturbs me is, where are the other 950 million Muslims who are not terrorists? Who are not bomb-blasting, acid-throwing zealots? Where are the other 950 million Muslims who tuck their children in at night with a lullaby, who are okay with Christians and Jews, crave a peaceful world and wish nothing more than a tasty bowl of hummus and a friendly game of Shesh Besh with a neighbor?I want to believe they are out there, for their sake and for ours. I want to believe they weep in pain over the desecration of their faith. I want to believe that we have partners who dream the dreams we do and wish upon the same star. I want to believe – – but where are they?
A couple of months ago, 3 young Israelis were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists and killed. And so began Operation Protective Edge. But the Gaza war was much more than shooting down rockets and blowing up tunnels – it was the preview, the soft opening, for a much more serious war – a genuine world war.
It was a test of resolve, of fortitude. It was a test watched carefully by the indecent forces of a rising Islamist world. Israel is only the beginning. The first prize sought in what promises to be a protracted, multi-generational Kulterkampf. Israel made the headlines, but the front lines are all over the map – we just don’t know it yet. The whole world was watching and our performance was pathetic. We, the good guys, stumbled at the gate; tripped clumsily in an embarrassing display of moral confusion and ineptitude.
It was amateur hour and the bad guys were licking their chops. I say the following unapologetically and with a heavy heart. When the war began, the President of the United States, the leader of the Free World, should have immediately, instinctively invited to the Oval Office, the leading Democrats and Republicans of the Senate and the House, his cabinet and all significant Washington political players. Every domestic and international news organization should have been notified and the following talk broadcast across the planet.
“Fellow Americans – a crisis has erupted once again in the Middle East and I have been told that the war between Israel and Hamas is complex and nuanced. I have been told that our great nation must be evenhanded- but I am here to say with no equivocation, with no hesitation, this war is not complex. This war is not nuanced and we will not be evenhanded in this confrontation of good and evil, of right and wrong, of civilization and savagery.
We Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives from sea to shining sea, stand together in unshakable support of Israel against foul, corrupt, murderers who sacrifice the lives of children in their pursuit of power. To Israel we say – do whatever you must. To Israel we say, take whatever time you need to crush this vile enemy and whatever you require, you can count on us. To the world we say, Israel is fighting for all of us – for our values, for our principles, for our civilization. Support her efforts, as we do, in every way possible. I will not tolerate any words of disparagement against our greatest ally and friend in the Middle East. God bless Israel and God bless the United States of America.”
But these words did not ring forth from the White House, the capital of the free world. What we did hear was “No victor, no vanquished.” This statement was our President’s strategic plan. No call for triumph over terrorism, but a weak kneed, stalemate with butchers – a tie between good and evil. Right and wrong. Civilization and savagery. This did not go unnoticed.
Media coverage during the war was biased and shameful with a few notable exceptions. To permit Hamas spokesmen and Hamas sympathizers to speak and to defend their monstrous deeds to millions of viewers is morally shocking. To promote equivalency between Israel and Hamas is morally appalling.
As I sat through these numbing broadsides, I wondered if our mainstream media during WWII would have invited the Germans and the Japanese to share their perspectives on the hostilities in Europe and in the Pacific. As they moaned about Dresden and the Doolittle Raid, would the anchors have nodded in sympathy? When the Germans and Japanese explained the need for the V1 and V2 bombardment of London and the necessity for the Bataan Death March, would the anchors have expressed understanding? The obscenities and outright lies given airtime and legitimacy should be sickening to any person of conscience.
Words distinguish us from the beast. In a powerful Holocaust tale, Eli Wiesel painfully writes that when words lose their meaning, disaster follows. In today’s Middle East lexicon; restraint means suicide. Terrorists have become militants. Self-defense is a war crime. Democracy is apartheid. Israelis and Jews have become Nazis. Warning civilians to get out of harm’s way has become genocide. 38 Muslim countries – 22 Arab countries and Israel, the only Jewish nation, must constantly defend her right to exist.
Russia invades. Nigeria enslaves. China oppresses. Pakistan rapes. Iraq slaughters. North Korea starves. Iran nuclearizes. Syria massacres. Venezuela plunders. Afghanistan tortures. Sudan annihilates. ISIS beheads and Israel is the pariah state, put under the microscope by the morally noxious. And this did not go unnoticed.
Eric Hoffer, the longshoreman philosopher, wrote the following in 1968 – 46 years ago. His words have not grown stale with the passage of time. To the contrary, they are every bit as relevant and meaningful today, nearly 1/2 a century later. I quote: “The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out 1,000’s, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it. Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey drove out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchman. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese and no one says a word about refugees.
But, in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab. Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. Other nations, when victorious on the battlefield, dictate peace terms.
To those who are morally obtuse, I say shame on you– from university professors to the useful idiots of the media, from liberal churches to Hollywood, from the United Nations to the clueless left – let me remind all the ‘misguided do-gooders” – your deeds do not go unnoticed. The world does not like a righteous Goliath especially if Goliath speaks Hebrew.
Let’s leave the Middle East and head to Europe. For those who have not been recently, it has changed. It has changed dramatically. The sights. The sounds. The crowds. The streets are much different than when we backpacked with our Eurorail passes – strolling down the Champs-Elysees, chasing pigeons at Trafalgar Square, wandering the backstreets of Amsterdam after dark.
The continent that gave birth to Western civilization, the continent that defined high culture is crumbling before our very eyes. Because of well-intentioned tolerance and an undisciplined pluralism, Europe is returning to the dark ages. By most estimates, Europe will be unrecognizable by the middle of this century – crushed by a demographic tsunami. The birthrate of the Brits, the French, the Dutch and the rest of the EU is well below ZPG. The Muslim community’s birthrate is prolific.
The danger, however, is that Europe has not been a melting pot, assimilating new Muslims. And these new Muslims, for the most part, are not interested in respecting the great democracies of Europe. They want Sharia law and Islamic culture to be ascendant, and with their birthrate, the ballot box and their disdain for the West, in time they will get it.
The element that is surging and redefining Europe are not the democracy-respecting Muslims, but those who are rampaging in nearly every capital. They are preaching hate for Jews, for Christians, for Israel, for America, for the entire Western world. It is not our grandfather’s Europe and it will not be a Europe our grandchildren will recognize. For the record, Europe is being flooded not by freedom loving, tolerant, assimilating Muslims who wish to share in Western freedom, in Western tolerance, in Western culture but rather by violent Islamists, extremists who reject every value we treasure.
We love ethnic communities – they are vibrant, exciting, magical faraway places only a walk away. Chinatown, Little Odessa, Greek town, Little Havana, Lower Eastside, Little Italy, but what is spreading across Europe are not charming, quaint neighborhoods enjoyed by locals and camera toting tourists in search of a charming restaurant. These are beachheads for invasion.
Want to stare down a guard at Buckingham Palace? Do it soon. Want to see the Follies-Bergere dance the Can Can? Do it soon. Want to sip wine at the vineyards of Tuscany? Do it soon. Want to sunbathe on the beaches of San Tropez? Do it soon. The sun never set on the British Empire, but now there is a cold darkness settling on Europe. A nihilism. A corruption. A perversion in the name of Allah. A Kristallnacht of European and Western culture is coming that will destroy a millennia of creative genius. Don’t listen to me. Listen to what the Islamists preach.
Don’t listen to me. Look at what the Islamists do. It is not a leap into fantasy to perceive a dystopian future that is irretrievably ugly and inconceivably vile.
• The Sistine Chapel demolished for portraying God’s image.
Even the Nazis saved the masterpieces.
• Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart silenced.
Even the Nazis enjoyed the classics.
I must assume there are skeptics out there – folks who disbelieve my warnings and might label me an alarmist – a Paul Revere wannabe – galloping across the Pyrenees through the European heartland in the shadow of the Alps crying out “The Muslims are coming. The Muslims are coming.”
I weighed each and every word carefully. Repeatedly. Was I treading into bigotry? … Into melodrama? Speak with the ‘canaries in the mine’, the Jews of Europe, fleeing in record numbers. Synagogues fire bombed. Jewish businesses vandalized. Children threatened on their way to school. Kippot buried in their pockets. Mezuzot. Hamsas. Magen Davids dangling on chains tucked under shirts and under blouses to hide Jewish identity. Israeli products pulled off store shelves.
Most of us have never tasted the bitterness of war. Witnessed its horror. Clawed our way out from beneath tons of rubble. But we dare not be complacent and cry out confidently – “we have 2 oceans and the TSA to protect us.” We live in a shrunken world. In a porous country. In an open society. We have become perilously naïve. Recklessly evenhanded. Unacceptably tolerant. Dangerously comfortable. The greatest generation has spawned the clueless generation.
I say it again loudly, slowly and clearly – we are at war, here in America as well, with radical Islamists. We have been attacked repeatedly and yet we continue to turn away. We euphemize the enemy. Disguising his identity and his intent. There will not be armadas chanting “Allah Akbar” landing on the beaches of Malibu and Boca. No vast battalions chanting “Allah Akbar” while crossing the Rio Grande or the 45th Parallel – but make no mistake – we are at war, right now, this very minute.
The tactics have changed. The battlefield is different. The rules of engagement have been redefined but we dare not make the mistake that all is well and that Islamic terrorists are simply violent criminals. That Islamic terrorists are just a bunch of unemployed losers, not part of a vast network hell bent on destroying our country. Their disunity in numbers but their unity in purpose is their power. The Lone Wolf is deadly and we are the prey.
Here on American soil, before 9/11, the Twin Towers were attacked in 1993. The Times Square bomber. The Tsarnev brothers in the Boston Marathon bombing. The Fort Hood massacre was not work place violence but the calculated, cold blooded murder of 13 American soldiers by a Muslim Jihadist yelling “Allah Akbar.” The shooting up in Little Rock, Arkansas of an army recruiting station.
The murder of 2 CIA agents outside Langley by a Pakistani whose final words before meeting his maker were “There is no God but Allah.” The indignant, impious, arrogant claim by CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic relations, that anyone who commits an act of violence is by definition, not a Muslim. Therefore, a Muslim terrorist, a Muslim killer, a Muslim suicide bomber, is a misleading term of bigotry and Islamophobia. The slick, masterful ISIS recruitment in Minneapolis. New York. Colorado. On Facebook. On Twitter and across the country. Connect the dots.
Let’s get Jewish-personal. A Zim Line cargo ship was prevented from offloading it’s cargo for 3 days because of pro-Palestinian mobs in Oakland, California. A young man from our shul on his 1st day of university was taught by his PhD, tenured professor that Israel committed ethnic cleansing in 1948. In Dade County a synagogue was defaced with swastikas and the words Hamas scrawled on its walls. A JCC in Seattle was attacked. A pro-Palestinian rally in Miami called for “the massacre of the Jews.”
I am equally concerned, as we all should be, of the alarming silence and inaction of mainstream Muslims. I fear political correctness run amuck. I fear the worship of multiculturalism. I fear progressive voices of repression. I fear a distorted media tolerant of intolerance. I fear politicians who prefer the easy, still of the night to the noble, necessary struggle of the day. I fear we are not so far away from where we thought we would never be.
Three thoughts to ponder. This past year, many of us saw the Book of Mormon at the Fox. An irreverent, vulgar, hysterically entertaining musical about the Mormons. We parked our car at the Georgian Terrace and crossed Peachtree Street. In front of the theater were a half dozen, well dressed, mannerly Mormons handing out literature. “Sir, if you would like to know more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” a young woman said to me as I took her brochure, “Please go to our website.” I thanked her. She smiled, wished me a pleasant evening and turned to speak with another ticket holder. I thought, “God bless these folks.
This is how we disagree in America.” At the same moment I had another thought. What if Trey Parker and Matt Stone came out with a tasteless, bawdy musical that was hysterically entertaining entitled “The Quran, Allah’s Holy Book.” What would happen? It doesn’t take much imagination to answer that question. Jeff Foxworthy correctly wrote, “Have you ever wondered why it’s okay to make jokes about Catholics, the Pope, Jews, Christians, the Irish, the Italians, the Polish, the Chinese, the French (including French Canadians)…but it’s insensitive to make jokes about Muslims?”
A few years back, a Danish newspaper “Jyllanns-Posten” printed 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad to illustrate an article. If the photos published were of Moses or Buddha or of the Apostle Paul, the event would have been met with a yawn. But not so with our Islamist friends. The reaction? Not a letter to the editor. Not a request to submit an op-ed. Not a friendly visit to the publisher – – but worldwide rage. Riots. Boycotts. Embassies burned. Ambassadors recalled. Attacks on Christians and on churches. 200 killed.
I recall, as we all do, the good old days when air travel was a pleasure. When I flew here to Etz Chaim in my commuting, student days, I’d catch a cab outside my apartment on the upper West Side and be at LaGuardia in about 20 minutes. I’d check my bags in 2 minutes and be at the gate in 4 minutes, just in time to board my flight. I even got a meal. In those days, flying was an adventure, even in coach.
Today it is irritating and exhausting. What happened? What changed? Who’s to blame? Who has created the need for a multibillion dollar security industry? Who has created a tedious need for us to remove our shoes and belts, empty our pockets, pack only 3-1/2 ounces of Listerine, go through metal detectors and x-ray machines, submit to frisks and wand searches? Arrive hours before departure? Who is responsible? Let’s see – – not the Italian Mob, not skin heads, not neo Nazis, not Columbian drug cartels, not the Russian mafia, not the Crips nor the Bloods nor the Aryan Brotherhood, not the Ku Klux Klan.
So who is it that has irretrievably ruined worldwide air travel? So, think of a Muslim play on Broadway. Think of a scholarly text on Muhammad. Think of flying Delta or United or AirTran. Think about it and connect the dots. For us, WWII lasted 4 years. It has been 13 years since 9/11. 35 years since the invasion of our Iranian embassy and like it or not, we are still at war with radical Islam.
Declaring we are not at war with radical Islam does not make it so. Roosevelt and Churchill got it and understood that the stakes were not just the Sudetenland and a few islands in the South Pacific. From the White House and 10 Downing Street, they understood it was planet earth. Today, the radical Islamists seek the same prize – not just Bagdad or Benghazi – but planet earth.
|Atlanta Rabbi Shalom Lewis of Manietta, Ga.|
The world watched and preached and judged and only now has begun to stir from their slumber of hypocrisy and inaction. Hamas is ISIS. ISIS is Hamas. They are all the same. Hezbollah. Islamic Jihad. Al Shabab. Muslim Brotherhood. Boko Haram. Al Qaeda. Taliban. Iran. The only difference is the length of the knife they use in their butchery. Israeli blood bleeds the same red as the blood of James Foley, of Steven Satloff, of David Hawthorne Haines, of Christians, and Yazidis.
Let’s reason, some suggest. One last Hail Mary negotiation. Maybe we can figure out what’s bothering these troubled Muslims and perhaps they’ll tell us what we can do to resolve the friction. I am all for dialogue, but we are dealing with a moral species that eats its own, kills it’s young and celebrates innocent death as homage to God.
|19 Evil 9-11 Muslims Plus Obama.|
The enemy has eyes and ears. Fingers and toes. Speaks with lips. Runs with legs. Eats. Drinks. Has the face of a human being – but, has a much different heart and a much different soul. Three years ago on this bima, on this very same day, standing at this podium, I cried out, “Ehr Kumpt – they are coming.” 3 years later on this bima, on this very same day, standing at this podium, I cry out not “Ehr Kumpt – they are coming,” I cry out, “Ehr daw – they are here.”
The fury of ultimate evil is upon us and we must act – not to contain it. Not to degrade it. Not to manage it. Not to tolerate it, but to exterminate it utterly and absolutely. If we fail in this holy crusade, we will live in a world bereft of color. Empty of music, of art, of romance, of laughter, of freedom, of invention. A world barren of all beauty. Depleted of all virtue.
We are divided today not by faith nor holy book. We are divided today by decency and indecency. By right and wrong. By moral and corrupt. By courage and cowardice. By righteousness and evil. The good citizens of earth must rise up. Gather on the mountain top and proclaim in thundering unison the words of Isaiah: “Hoy ha’omrim lera tov v’la’tov rah – woe to them that call evil, good and good, evil. Who present darkness as light and light as darkness. Who call bitter, sweet and sweet, bitter. We must turn back the evil. We must turn back the darkness. We must turn back the bitter.
(Rabbi Shalom Lewis of Atlanta Congregation Etz Chaim in Marietta, Ga, was given commendations by the Georgia legislature and US House of Representatives. He has been a beloved figure at Etz Chaim for nearly forty years.)