Beware the jihadis are here

They are here!

Where are the 950 million Muslims who are not terrorists — who tuck their children in at ‎night with a lullaby, are tolerant toward Christians and Jews, and crave a peaceful world? I ‎want to believe that they are out there and that 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. But where are they?

Rabbi Shalom Lewis, Israel Hayom, October 19, 2014

In 2010, I delivered a Rosh Hashana sermon in which I cried out: “They are coming!“‎

Today we are in a place of unimagined chaos and cowardice, paralysis and brutality. This ‎year, my cry is: “They are here!”‎

This is not a time to worry about offending with unfiltered vocabulary. Time is a luxury we ‎no longer possess. ‎

We are being threatened like at no time before by an enemy that worships savagery, ‎celebrates depravity, and is obsessed with an apocalyptic endgame. ‎

There has been a seismic shift in our world. Pick up any newspaper on any day — most of ‎the articles are about radical Muslims immersed in a vicious culture of blood and ‎slaughter. Skip to the sports page or the crossword puzzle, but that doesn’t make the ‎uncomfortable news go away. In fact, it brings joy to the jihadis, who hope we will continue ‎to deny the existence of their evil — just a few lunatics, thousands of miles away, blowing ‎each other up and occasionally beheading an unlucky journalist. Not so bad.‎

For years, we have been spared the ugliness and intimacy of war. The Battle of the Bulge ‎and Iwo Jima were black-and-white newsreels before “The Pride of the Yankees.” We ‎planted victory gardens, bought Liberty Bonds, and said goodbye to fathers, sons and ‎brothers. But the trenches were across the ocean. So too, with every subsequent conflict.‎

But today, war has been redefined and relocated. Geneva is finished. We are all ‎combatants in the crosshairs, on the front lines. 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, feckless goodwill, or ‎reckless hope.‎

There are 1 billion Muslims. Authorities agree that 5 percent 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 percent. But wait: That’s 50 ‎million Quran-waving, Allahu akbar-howling murderers 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 into Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Over ‎‎3,000 dead. Over $10 billion in damages. Nineteen al-Qaida. Fifty million Islamists. Do the ‎math.‎

Where are the 950 million Muslims who are not terrorists — who tuck their children in at ‎night with a lullaby, are tolerant toward Christians and Jews, and crave a peaceful world? I ‎want to believe that they are out there and that 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. But where are they? A silent partnership is no partnership. Sin is not ‎just in the act of commission — it is also in the act of omission. Most Germans were not ‎Nazis; most Russians were not Stalinists; and most Muslims are not terrorists — but it does ‎not matter. Stand up righteously or get out of the way. Perhaps in every mosque and ‎madrasa, the powerful warning attributed to Edmund Burke should be chiseled on a wall: ‎‎”All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.”‎

A couple of months ago, three young Israelis were kidnapped and killed by Hamas ‎terrorists. So began Operation Protective Edge. But the Gaza war was much more than ‎shooting down rockets and blowing up tunnels — it was the preview for a genuine world ‎war. It was a test of resolve, 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, multigenerational Kulturkampf‎. 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. ‎

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 ‎invited to the Oval Office his cabinet, the leading Democrats and Republicans in Congress, ‎and all significant Washington political players. Every 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, this war is neither complex nor ‎nuanced, and we will not be evenhanded in this confrontation between good and evil, right ‎and wrong, civilization and savagery. We Democrats and Republicans, liberals and ‎conservatives, from sea to shining sea, stand together in unshakable support of Israel ‎against foul murderers who sacrifice the lives of children in their pursuit of power. To ‎Israel we say — do whatever you must. 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, our principles, our civilization. Support her efforts 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 out from the White House. 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 shameful with a few exceptions. To permit Hamas ‎spokesmen and sympathizers to defend their monstrous deeds to millions of viewers is ‎morally shocking. To promote equivalency between Israel and Hamas is morally appalling. ‎The grotesque propaganda, repulsive distortions, and the tolerance of the wicked did not ‎go unnoticed. ‎

As I sat through these numbing broadsides, I wondered if our mainstream media during ‎World War II would have invited the Germans and Japanese to share their perspectives on ‎the hostilities in Europe and the Pacific. As they moaned about Dresden, would the ‎anchors have nodded in sympathy? When the Germans and Japanese explained the need ‎for the bombardment of London and the necessity for the Bataan Death March, would the ‎anchors have expressed understanding?

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. There are 38 Muslim and 22 Arab states, but only the ‎Jewish state must constantly defend its 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. ‎

The philosopher Eric Hoffer wrote the following in 1968. His words have not grown stale ‎with time: “The Jews are a peculiar people: Things permitted to other nations are ‎forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, 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. But when Israel is victorious on the battlefield, it must sue for peace. ‎Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in the world. Other nations ‎when they are defeated, survive and recover, but should Israel be defeated, it would be ‎destroyed.” ‎

Hoffer’s final prophetic words are chilling: “I have a premonition that will not leave me; as ‎it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the Holocaust will be ‎upon us.”‎

To the morally obtuse, misguided do-gooders — from university professors to the useful ‎idiots of the media, from liberal churches to Hollywood, from the U.N. to the clueless Left — ‎your deeds do not go unnoticed. ‎

Europe, for those who have not been recently, has changed dramatically. The continent ‎that gave birth to Western civilization and defined high culture is crumbling. Because of ‎well-intentioned pluralism, Europe is returning to the dark ages. Europe will be ‎unrecognizable by the middle of this century — crushed by a demographic tsunami. ‎

Europe has not been a melting pot for Muslim immigrants. Many of these immigrants are ‎uninterested in democracy. They want Shariah law and Islamic culture to be ascendant, ‎and in time they will get it. Europe is being flooded not by tolerant, assimilating Muslims ‎but by violent Islamists who reject every value that we treasure. ‎

Want to stare down a guard at Buckingham Palace, see the Folies Bergere dance the ‎cancan, or sip wine from the vineyards of Tuscany? Do it soon. A cold, nihilistic darkness is ‎settling on Europe. A Kristallnacht of Western culture is coming that will destroy a ‎millennium of creative genius. ‎

It is not a leap into fantasy to perceive a dystopian future that is irretrievably ugly and vile: the Sistine ‎Chapel demolished; Michelangelo’s Pieta smashed; Botticellis torched; the Gutenberg Bible tossed ‎into a bonfire; Beethoven silenced; and the curtain lowered on Shakespeare, all in the ‎name of fundamentalist Islam.‎

Skeptics would label me an alarmist, but I weighed each and every word. 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 ‎and Magen Davids tucked away to hide Jewish identity. Israeli products pulled off store ‎shelves. Sixty-nine years since the Nazis’ defeat but their descendants are picking up ‎where he left off. “I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will ‎it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the Holocaust will be upon us.” Replace “Israel” ‎with “Jew” and we see the future of Europe. And this tragedy doesn’t end neatly in Europe, ‎the Middle East, Mumbai or the Philippines.‎

Most of us have never witnessed the horror of war or clawed our way out from beneath ‎tons of rubble. But we dare not cry out confidently, “We have two oceans to protect us.” ‎We have become perilously naive, recklessly evenhanded, unacceptably tolerant, and ‎dangerously comfortable. The greatest generation has spawned the clueless generation. ‎

We have been attacked repeatedly by radical Islamists and yet we continue to turn away, ‎euphemizing the enemy. There will not be vast battalions chanting “Allahu akbar” landing ‎on the beaches of Malibu or crossing the Rio Grande — 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 or a bunch of unemployed losers, ‎not part of a vast network hell-bent on destroying our country. ‎

When did this start? Most would say 9/11. That was a catastrophic day but the war began ‎for the U.S. in 1979 when our embassy in Teheran was taken over. It has continued ‎without pause ever since. Lockerbie, TWA Flight 840, the USS Cole, embassies bombed and Americans killed in Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, ‎Spain, Kenya, Germany, Egypt, Kuwait, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Connect the dots. On American soil, the Twin Towers were first attacked in 1993. The Times Square ‎bomber. The Boston Marathon bombing. The Fort Hood massacre of 13 American soldiers ‎by a Muslim jihadi yelling “Allahu akbar.” The shooting up of an army recruiting station in ‎Little Rock, Arkansas. The murder of two CIA agents outside Langley, Virginia by a ‎Pakistani whose final words were “there is no God but Allah.” The recruitment for ISIS in ‎Minnesota, New York, Colorado, and via social media. Connect the dots.‎

An Israeli ship was prevented from offloading its cargo for three days because of pro-‎Palestinian mobs in California. University campuses are hotbeds of anti-Jewish hostility ‎and students are taught that Israel commits ethnic cleansing. Synagogues are defaced with ‎swastikas. A Jewish community center in Seattle was attacked. A pro-Palestinian rally in ‎Miami called for “the massacre of the Jews.” We are not Europe, but connect the dots. ‎

This past year, many of us saw the Book of Mormon at the Fox. An irreverent, vulgar, ‎hysterically entertaining musical skewering the Mormons. In front of the theater were a ‎half dozen Mormons politely handing out literature. God bless these folks. This is how we ‎disagree in America. What would have happened if it were a tasteless, bawdy musical titled ‎‎”The Quran, Allah’s Holy Book.” It doesn’t take much imagination to answer that question. ‎Recall the reaction to 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in the Danish ‎newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Worldwide rage. Riots. Boycotts. Embassies burned. ‎Ambassadors recalled. Attacks on Christians and on churches. Two hundred killed. Soon ‎after, a book about this outrageous event, titled “The Cartoons that Shook the World,” was ‎published by Yale University Press. What was missing in the book? The 12 cartoons. This ‎self-censorship was shameful, cowardly, un-American and a sniveling submission to ‎Islamic narcissism and intimidation. Where is a great university’s courage? Where is freedom of the press? ‎

I recall the good old days when air travel was a pleasure. 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, go through metal detectors and x-ray ‎machines, submit to frisks and wand searches? Arrive hours before departure? ‎

Think of a Muslim play on Broadway, a scholarly text on Muhammad, and who has ‎irretrievably ruined worldwide air travel. Connect the dots. For us, World War II lasted ‎four years. It has been 13 years since 9/11 and 35 years since the invasion of our ‎embassy in Iran. And we are still at war with radical Islam. Roosevelt and Churchill got it ‎and understood that the stakes were not just the Sudetenland and a few islands in the ‎Pacific, but Planet Earth. Today, the radical Islamists seek the same prize — not just Baghdad ‎or Benghazi — but Planet Earth.‎

This is not dramatic fiction, but the real thing. Some of us experienced the real thing this ‎summer in Israel. We were there as Qassam rockets rained down, targeting not military ‎bases, not tanks, not IDF divisions, but children at play, families enjoying dinner, friends ‎laughing over a beer, lovers strolling through a park. 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-Shabaab, ‎Muslim Brotherhood, Boko Haram, al-Qaida, the 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, Steven Sotloff, David Haynes, and of Arab 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. Bin Laden eluded capture for 10 years. Ever ‎wonder why? There was a $25 million bounty on his head. $25 million can buy a lot of ‎plastic surgery. A new identity. A suburban home. New partners. New friends. In 10 years, ‎there was not one betrayal of bin Laden. Why not? The answer is simple. These Islamist ‎criminals are unlike us in the most basic of ways and we have yet to accept and ‎understand their total immersion in moral debauchery.‎

First, they were coming. Now, they are here! The fury of ultimate evil is upon us and we ‎must act — not to contain, degrade, manage or tolerate it, but to exterminate it utterly and ‎absolutely. If we fail, we will live in a world bereft of color, empty of music, art, romance, ‎laughter, freedom, and invention. A world barren of all beauty, depleted of all virtue. ‎

We are divided today not by faith nor holy book, but by decency and indecency, right and ‎wrong, morality and corruption, courage and cowardice, 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: “Woe to them that call evil, good and good, evil; that change ‎darkness into light, and light into darkness; that change bitter into sweet and sweet into ‎bitter!” We must turn back the evil. We must turn back the darkness. We must turn back ‎the bitter.‎

My friends — they are here.‎

Shalom Lewis is the senior rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim, Marietta, Georgia.‎

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