Thursday, November 20, 2014

20-Nov-14: In the face of savagery, what do you do?

What do you do in the face of truly evil actions?

It's not a rhetorical question. When men and women do acts of beastial evil, and it happens just down the street or even closer, and to people you know, and when it appears to escalate in intensity, scope and frequency with time... what do you do? Not "what does one do" in the passive sense. But what do you do? What do I do?

The closer you live to Jerusalem, the more you will understand that these questions pertain to the horror that unfolded just two mornings ago: an attack by determined, well-armed men on a place of worship and the people inside preoccupied with prayer and learning. The victims, the targets of the attack, had no form of physical protection and the attackers had zero mercy; not the slightest hesitation in shooting, slashing, stabbing unarmed people with their eyes closed at point blank range.

The killings and maimings in Jerusalem's Har Nof quarter on Tuesday have barely been absorbed here. This will take time. Initial shock will give way to longer-term reactions on the part of the families directly impacted. Some of this will be visible to their neighbours and friends. Much of it will not. It will not be over and done quickly - or in many cases ever. On a single street of a small neighbourhood of this small city, there are now four new widows, more than two dozen orphaned children, and a pervasive air of horror, fear, anger, deep puzzlement, powerlessness.

How should we be thinking about the men with the knives, the meat-cleavers, the guns and the axes? How saddened should we be by the sight of their bereaved family members? By the deaths of two young men, both members of the Abu Jamal clan, both in their twenties, both with their lives ahead of them?

In Jordan's House of Representatives yesterday
[Image Source]
Here's one way: over the river in the Kingdom of Jordan, the parliament yesterday paid formal and public tribute to them. Just a few hours ago, the Elder of Ziyon blog quoted the praise expressed in the Hashemite Kingdom's legislative chamber:
MP Mohammed Al-Qatathh of the House of Representatives issued a statement to the assembly condemning the "Zionist attack on Jerusalem and its people" in the wake of "the heroic operation" on the synagogue... The Council also read the Fatiha on the spirit of the martyrs... at the request of Khalil Attieh MP... [Alrai Newspaper, Amman, Jordan, November 19, 2014]
Should it surprise us that Al-Qatathh and Attieh were not immediately arrested and removed from the parliament and charged with conduct demeaning the honour of the kingdom? Yes, it should surprise us. Jordan has special standing in the eyes of the United States. The Jordanian leadership is routinely praised in the West for aligning with the anti-terrorist side in the huge global war now underway. Rational people might expect the leaders of its government to do everything possible to preserve that. After all, the US State Department calls Jordan
a strong ally in combating terrorism and violent extremist ideology. Jordan's geographic location renders it susceptible to a variety of regional threats, while also making it a natural regional leader in confronting them... [At p.151] On October 1, the Government of Jordan signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the United States... Jordan is a key participant in the State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. [Source: The most recent edition of the State Dept's official annual  "Country Reports on Terrorism", published a few months ago]
Let there be no doubt that, in official US circles, Jordan and its political leaders are counted as being against terror and for truth, justice and the American way. In fact, on the very same day as its parliamentarians rose to their feet to praise the Abu Jamal savages, over at the United Nations Jordan trumpeted its active membership of the forces of good valiantly fighting the terrorists:
Jordan to launch initiative to curb terrorist groups’ media practices | Petra | Nov 19, 2014 | 23:04 | NEW YORK — Jordan is going to launch a regional initiative to curb terrorists’ increasing use of telecommunications and media technologies. During the UN Security Council (UNSC) session on international cooperation in combating terrorism, which convened on Wednesday, Dina Kawar, Jordan’s representative to the UNSC said Jordan intends to launch the initiative in Amman with the participation of international experts, community representatives, and concerned entities... 
The problem is that Jordan does not actually use the word "terrorists" in the way that most people hearing the diplomat's speech at the UN might have expected. Here is an authoritative Jordanian news source explaining Jordan's legislative approach to terror:
The Lower House on Wednesday endorsed draft amendments to the State Security Court (SSC) Law following extensive discussions over its provisions. The deputies excluded "resistance actions" against Israel from the court's jurisdiction, following a proposal to do so by Deputy Tareq Khoury (Zarqa, 1st District). The deputies agreed that any actions against Israel cannot be "terrorism" at all; hence, they approved a provision that excludes actions against Israel from terrorism crimes. [Jordan Times, December 11, 2013]
Other than in the Jordanian media (and they can be expected to know, right?) where else have you seen any mention of this in the mainstream news media?

Here are two more Jordan-related realities that are far too often overlooked or deliberately ignored
  1. Jordan's army illegally occupied large swathes of Jerusalem for two decades up until they were removed by force in 1967, leaving behind massive wanton destruction of Jewish holy places, defilement of thousands-of-years-old graves and of synagogues, and the leveling of Jerusalem's ancient Jewish Quarter. No Palestinian Arab state ever existed, or was proposed, under Jordanian rule. Freedom of religious practice in one of the world's holiest cities was a nonsense so long as the Jordanians were there. 
  2. Jordan is where the convicted and entirely unrepentant murderer of our daughter now lives in total freedom, free to make television programs, to speak in honour of terror and terrorists and to move about with complete safety. It is where one of the government's showcase institutions, the Family Court in Amman, played host to a gala celebration in her honour when she arrived back (she had lived most of her life in Jordan before engineering the massacre at the Jerusalem Sbarro pizza shop) in October 2011. In Jordan, they know what celebrating acts of murder means.
Thousands of Jews, Druze and others took part in the funeral of
Master Sgt Zidan Nahad Seif of the Israel Police, in  Yanuh-Jat, northern
Israel, yesterday [Image Source]
We asked: what do you do in the face of truly evil actions? We suggest
  • Remember the victims; honor their innocence.
  • Reduce - in whatever small measure that is possible - the impact on the world of the unspeakable hatred and evil that the jihadists executed, by means of doing simple good.
  • Weap just a little.
Israelis from every walk of life honoured the memory of the five victims in funerals conducted in Jerusalem and in a Druze town in northern Israel.

A genuine hero of the bloodbath, an Israeli Druze policeman, died of the wounds inflicted by the Abu Jamals, His funeral yesterday was attended by a huge crowd of grieving strangers from every part of Israel's socio-demographic spectrum. One of those delivering a eulogy was Rabbi Mordechai Rubin the spiritual leader of the Bnei Torah synagogue community in Har Nof where the killings were done. In our opinion, he got the tone and message exactly right:
We came from Jerusalem, from the place of the massacre... simply to be with you and to cry with you”...
(At about the same time, and for the record, Arabs in Gaza, Ramallah and other places, conducted their own tributes by handing out candies and dancing in the streets. No more details are necessary, and no more photographs; there are many of those on the websites of the various news photo syndication services, additional reminders of the active death cult at work on the far side of the barrier that divides us.)

Acts of good - given what we know about the Har Nof community, there will be many. People who choose to make their homes there know intimately the power of chesed, of doing simple good. Good for its own sake, and not for any reward. We created a foundation in our daughter's memory with that in mind. (Some background.)

Here's an instance of how good-for-its-own-sake works. And how utterly different it is from the evil that has so many of our neighbours in a vice-like hold - an evil that certainly includes bogus 'opponents' of terror like Mahmoud Abbas, the president (ten years after being elected to a four year term of office) of the Palestinian Authority and still the central figure in Fatah, the PLO and a large part of the Palestinian Arab terror industry. In the past several weeks, those of us who watch closely for this kind of thing have witnessed a crescendo of Islam-based calls from the organizations over which Abbas presides, calling for blood to be spilled in pursuit of an Arab Jerusalem.
  • Hassan Al-Saifi, an official in the PA Ministry of Religious Affairs condemning "the continuing Israeli desecration of Al-Aqsa" and declaring that Jerusalem "needs the religious scholars in particular to fulfill their duty, rush to Jerusalem and offer sacrifices and blood" [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the daily house newspaper published by Abbas' PA, November 14, 2014, quoting an official in the PA's Ministry of Religious Affairs, recorded by Palestinian Media Watch here]
  • "They are the ones who heard the call of Yasser Arafat, while the Arab and Islamic nation ignored his call... They came out with their weapons, with their true belief that Jerusalem needs blood to purify itself of Jews." [A Fatah official, Muhammad Al-Biqa'i, invoking blessings on murderous terrorists, interviewed on the PA's wholly-owned and authoritative TV channel, November 7, 2014, and captured on video, translated into English by Palestinian Media Watch here]
  • "Not a centimeter of  Jerusalem will be liberated unless every grain of Palestinian soil is soaked in the blood of its brave people... For Jerusalem doesn't need negotiations, because negotiations will not bring Jerusalem back to us." [Fatah official and member of its Central Committee Tawfiq Tirawi, speaking on camera at a public event in December 2013, translated to English by PMW here] Tirawi means it. This week, he said of the massacre in Har Nof: "I consider the Jerusalem operation to be a natural response to the occupation and the crimes of the settlers."
  • "By the blood of the youth, Jerusalem will come back to us... We'll free every inch from the foreigner's clutch" - A child performing a song on government-controlled PA Television, September 8, 2012: the video clip with English subtitles is here.
Australia's ambassador to Israel, His Excellency
Mr Dave Sharma
Here is a very different take on the role of blood in today's Jerusalem. It focuses on a diplomat who we believe brings genuine honour to his country and his role. (We wrote about him back in September as well.)
Following the horrendous terrorist attack at a Synagogue during morning prayers in Har Nof, Jerusalem, some diplomats stationed in Israel expressed their countries’ condemnation. None of them however acted as quickly or as decisively as Dave Sharma, the Australian Ambassador. Wasting no time after the murders, he issued a strong statement deploring the terror outrage and then decided that something more than mere expressions of regret were called for on this occasion. The Ambassador swiftly arranged to make the one hour trip from Tel Aviv to Israel’s Capital and visit the wounded at Hadassah University, Ein Karem Campus in order to not only show solidarity with the wounded but to also express Australia’s outrage at this latest manifestation of irrational hatred against Israelis...  I caught up with him in another part of the hospital where Dave was demonstrating true Australian grit and solidarity. He was at the blood bank of the hospital, not only helping to provide badly needed blood but showing in practical ways that diplomacy can be more than just empty gestures... It gave him the opportunity to do something positive and practical in the face of fanatical evil... Groups of charedi young men, waiting to donate blood, came up to us and upon hearing that the Australian Ambassador had done the same, showered him with blessings and encouragement... [From a report by Michael Kuttner published by Jwire, an Australian online news service, today.]
What do you do? There's always something you can do.

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