From Israel: “Realities, Painful and Otherwise”

For many – myself included – the now-concluded week of Pesach provided a healing interlude: A time of coming together of family and friends. As well as a time of contemplation and ritual that ties us to our deepest sense of ourselves as a people.

This past Monday, at the Kotel, tens of thousands gathered to recite the ancient priestly blessings.  Many cover their heads with their pray shawls (tallitot) during the blessings.  This is done twice annually, on Pesach and Sukkot.

Credit: United with Israel


There is always anxiety here during Pesach, lest we be hit with a terror attack in the midst of the celebrations – as has happened.  We can be grateful that there was no attack in Israel this year.  

But I note with both sadness and anger that yesterday, the last day of Pesach in the Diaspora, there was an attack with an assault rifle in a Chabad synagogue in Poway, outside of San Diego, CA.  

Lori Gilbert-Kaye who lost her life in the attack, was a true Woman of Valor.  It is reported that she jumped in front of Rabbi Mendel Goldstein — son of the synagogue’s rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein — “to take the bullet and save his life.”

Credit: Facebook


Three were wounded: Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, injured in his hands, and two Israelis: eight-year old Noya Dahan (pictured), who was hit with shrapnel, and her uncle, Almog Peretz, who was shot in the leg.

The irony is that Noya and her family had left Sderot after rockets from Gaza had damaged their home and caused injuries. Now they said they had greater strength in coping with the attack because of what they had experienced previously.

Credit: Courtesy


The attack is being called a “hate crime” and a suspect is in custody.  Is a hate crime substantially different from a terror attack?  What it is, most clearly, is an anti-Semitic attack – one more in an ever growing number.

Said Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN:

“The disease of anti-Semitism continues to rear its head and claim victims. This is the time for action, for determined war and not for weak and hollow condemnations which allow the forces of hate to reignite dark periods in history.”


Things have gotten so bad with regard to anti-Semitism that the New York Times – which has been blatantly anti-Israel for some time – ran an anti-Semitic cartoon in its international edition on Thursday.  It featured a blind Trump with a kippah, being led by a dog with a Jewish star and the face of Netanyahu. Vile and disgusting.

Credit: Courtesy New York Times

By Saturday, the Times had taken it down, acknowledging that it was “offensive” and that putting it up was “an error in judgment.”  Not exactly an apology.

I would dearly love to see every American Jew stop reading the NYTimes.    But that would require a degree of discernment and Jewish pride that I would be foolish to expect.


I had wanted to say that now, as Pesach has passed, we are back to normal. But I am not sure how to define “normal.” I am certainly not comfortable with sometimes passes for normal these days, and I certainly do not wish to imply, Heaven forbid, that an anti-Semitic attack is “normal.”


But as I am speaking of attacks fueled by hate, I want to turn to the horrendous attack in Sri Lanka, which took place a week ago, on Easter Sunday.  

I will assume that by now most, if not all, of my readers know the basic facts of this attack:

There were six near-simultaneous suicide bombings.  Three were in churches where Easter Mass was being held and three were in up-scale hotels in the capital, Colombo.   

Other explosive materials were found and there were other, smaller blasts following the major attack.

Some 250 people, including 45 children, were killed – mostly Sri Lankans, but some 60 foreigners, as well; roughly 600 have been wounded.  (Figures have been adjusted a bit and there is not full clarity on the number of casualties.)

Sri Lankan authorities identified the little-known Muslim group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) as likely responsible, and named its leader, Islamist preacher Zahran Hashim.  

Subsequently, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks and authorities are taking this seriously, as the well-planned attack fits the MO of ISIS.  It is exceedingly unlikely that NTJ would have been able to orchestrate something of this scale without outside coordination.


Credit: Lowy Institute


Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country.  Only seven percent of its population is Christian.  What is very clear then is that this was an attack by Muslims specifically on Christians.  

I wrote recently about the frequency with which churches in Western Europe – in places such as France and Germany – are being desecrated by Muslim immigrants. At that point I discussed the appalling reluctance of authorities to finger those involved; following a politically correct script, they are turning a blind eye.

And now with regard to Sri Lanka we are seeing a very similar phenomenon:  Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (setting a tone that was then picked up by others) tweeted distress about the attacks. But they both used the same exceedingly strange language: regretting the attack on “Easter worshippers.”  

Come again?

This would be akin to reporting, above, that the people in a synagogue attacked outside of San Diego were “Passover worshippers.”

It is instructive to note what Dennis Prager pointed out (link below) with regard to this situation. In March, two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand were attacked on a Friday – the Muslim holy day, and 50 people were killed.

At that point, Hillary tweeted that her heart broke for “the global Muslim community.” In her tweet regarding Sri Lanka, however, there was not a word about Christians or “the global Christian community.”

Hillary further tweeted in March that, “We must continue to fight the perpetuation and normalization of Islamophobia and racism in all its forms. White supremacist terrorists must be condemned by leaders everywhere. Their murderous hatred must be stopped.”  (Emphasis added)

Observes Prager (emphasis added):

She made sure to condemn ‘Islamophobia,’ but she wrote not a word about the far more destructive and widespread hatred of Christians in the Muslim world, seen in Muslims’ virtual elimination of the Christian communities in the Middle East, the regular murder and kidnappings of Coptic Christians in Egypt and the murder of Christians in Nigeria. She calls on “leaders everywhere” to condemn “white supremacist terrorists,” one of the smallest hate groups on Earth, but never calls on leaders everywhere to condemn Islamist terrorists, the largest hate group on Earth.”

Similarly, when it came to the New Zealand attack, Obama tweeted that he was grieving with “the Muslim community” over the “horrible massacre in the Mosques.”  But come to Sri Lanka and he wrote nothing about the “Christian community” or about churches.


Credit: Twitter


What do we make of this?  Prager says this is leftist thinking (emphasis added):

“…the left has essentially forbidden mention of all the anti-Christian murders perpetrated by Muslims in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and of all the Muslim desecration of churches in Europe, Africa and anywhere else…

Essentially, the left’s rule is that nothing bad — no matter how true — may be said about Muslims or Islam and nothing good — no matter how true — may be said of Christians or Christianity.”

And this holds even though Christians are the most persecuted people on earth today – with 11 Christians killed for faith-related reasons daily.


I would say that Prager is essentially correct, but that the story is even bigger than this.  And so I sound an alarm:

The Muslim world is out to destroy the underpinnings of Western culture, and the left (including the mainstream media), is silently complicit.

Italian journalist Giulio Meotti addresses this issue in “Annihilation of Christian Life and People: Where is the Outrage in the West? Meeting Catastrophe with Indifference” (All emphasis added)

Speaking of the “discouraging state of the West,” he cites Melanie Philips:

Religious liberty, the core value of western civilisation, is being destroyed across large parts of the world. Yet the West, myopically denying this religious war, is averting its gaze…”

Meotti then writes:

“Where is the outrage in the West for the annihilation of Christian life and people? It feels as if there is no indignation, only silence… The history books of the future will not condone this Western betrayal… Islamic extremists have seen that the West has not mobilized to prevent them from repressing Christians, as if unconsciously there were a strange convergence between our (i.e., Western) silence and the ethnic cleansing project of the Islamic State, aimed at erasing Christians.”


Credit: Twitter

Share this broadly, my friends.


This said, I feel great gratitude for Israel, which is not in leftist lock-step with the world at large.

Yes, we have our leftists, but they constitute a minority: polls indicate that our population is moving to the right, and that our young people, our future, get it.  We still have a good deal of work to do, to eradicate political correctness in its various forms, but we will get there!  We know how to name the enemy. Thank Heaven.

I had wanted to include some Israeli political issues in this posting – but it is sufficiently long and weighty as is, and so this will follow next time.


As I started with mention of Pesach, I will end the same way – with a light-hearted story that might bring a smile.

Here in Israel, the elimination of hametz – leavened products – is taken most seriously over the holiday.  And so this applies not only to humans, but also to the animals in the zoos.  At the Safari in Ramat Gan, animals that would normally receive bread as a supplement to their diets, along with fruits, vegetables and special foods, are provided with matzah instead.  Here we have a video of chimps, thoroughly enjoying the matzah treats.



Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

1 comment

Sally Gelb April 30, 2019 at 11:54 am

My husband and I read and appreciate your clarity, your love of Israel, your tremendous efforts at bringing your readers your wide coverage and important insights. By the way, we cancelled the NY Times the first week of June 1967. When visiting in a home where that paper is conspicuous, I “politely” request permission to turn it over, saying it’s anti-semitic and anti-Israel views are simply too painful for me.
Thank you! Thank you!
Kol Tov,
Sally Gelb

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