We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East. (From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

British Broadcasting's Mr Pompous Diagnoses "Humankind's Most Grievous Cancer"

Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow (for more on the 2013 event shown in the video see here), he of the  repellently pompous manner and the noisome habit of addressing the ever-courteous Mark Regev as if the latter is a prisoner in the dock of a criminal court, has been pontificating about the current situation in Gaza, to which he paid a visit.  (See here and here)

Among the inevitable and numerous Israel-demonising comments his Snowblog here has garnered, such as
Israel is officially indefensible, regardless of the history of the Jewish people.

The suggestion that the abused often become the abusers has never been more obvious than it is right now.
there are very occasional voices of reason:
Dear Readers,
 Have any of you taken a tour of Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, and Egypt lately? Because the anarchy in those Countries is what you advocate that we accept in Israel. Could Jon have taken his comfortable BA flight out of Syria, Iraq, Sudan, or Libya? No, because ISRAEL is the ONLY Country in this locale, that is NOT in total Chaos.
 Hamas has sworn to annihilate Israel. Instead of helping the people of Gaza, for 9 years they have amassed rockets to shoot at Israel, diverting all available funds for that purpose. You hold Hamas out as a viable partner in peace? No, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, and ISIS have all vowed to wipe Israel off the map. Living is a better option than peace after annihilation.
‘Two peoples living in an area far smaller than England, one of which besieges the other, both of which target each other’s civilians.’
Ah! Who besieges whom, Jon, in this one-way street (of your making)? Jon Snow over a barrel (head buried in a sand tunnel?). A most mysteriously evasive and uneven-handed statement, but one thing’s for sure: it wouldn’t cut it with the author of C4′s beloved Masters of War, who also wrote Neighborhood Bully:
Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
 His enemies say he’s on their land
 They got him outnumbered about a million to one
 He got no place to escape to, no place to run
 He’s the neighborhood bully
 A Tweet (Pat Condell) says you are virtually Hamas’s new spokesman. But you gotta love Yigal Palmor’s Tweet about you, which whips your game-of-drones (and hectoring-and- lecturing) butt 7-1: ‘You don’t know anything Jon Snow’
 Except how to panda to Hamas propaganda, media manipulation, international emotional blackmail and (your own) bad spelling, bad logic and poor grasp of the nature of Islamist extremism.
Most of the people raving about your wonderful journalism have Arabic names, but a good journalist actually LISTENS and is able to do two-way conversation. But you are a one-way tunnel. Palmor had very clearly already admitted the school hit could have been Israeli ‘response fire’ when you sanctimoniously accused him of having left that out of the possibilities. Now did anyone with an Arabic name point that out to you? Ironically, Al Jazeera had already suggested the hit could have been from Hamas. Perhaps Al Jazeera is more biased than C4?
'I find you also have to see the conflict in a far bigger, historically and politically, picture – in the picture of the beginning under the British mandate, the following first years of the lonely Israeli state who tried to defend its existence and the growing radicalism of islamic groups in various countries and their leaders who all have their own interests to have this soup simmering endlessly.
 To avoid inner conflicts like democratization of their own societies, to avoid moving in the end and instead fueling on and on antijudaism.'
In the blog Snow pontificates that the Israel-Palestinian conflict
“is humankind’s most grievous cancer, for its cells infect conflicts in every corner of the world".
This fallacious claim reminds me of some rather good points author and US State Department adviser Jared Cohen made during Operation Cast Lead:
'At times, I have remarked to friends that the further one goes from the epicenter of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the angrier people seem to be about it....Why are Bangladeshi and Pakistani immigrants living in the UK angrier about the Arab-Israeli conflict than events in their home countries or the integration and inclusion challenges that more directly affect them? ....
How does one account for the double standards, inconsistencies, and lack of similar activism around local issues that are illustrated by these questions? There is no single answer, but perhaps certain trends and contexts that help explain the phenomenon. The media is an obvious starting point. Al-Jazeera, Al-Manar, and other Arab media outlets are flooding the airwaves throughout Muslim communities with images from Gaza and the West Bank. The media plays on identity presenting these images to touch the hearts and minds of Muslims and non-Muslims throughout the world. ...
The barrage of images in the media, particularly during a period of fighting, ensures that the Arab-Israeli conflict is at the forefront of people's minds. There is no shortage of entities that seek to exploit this. Governments like Syria and Iran face serious economic, political, and social challenges at home. Fearing that any of these vulnerabilities could catalyze rebellion, insurrection, or protest, these regimes employ corrupt, autocratic, and repressive tactics to deprive their populations of rights and opportunities to mount any serious challenge, including a viciously controlled media. It is not surprising that these regimes view the Arab-Israeli conflict as an opportune issue that can divert attention away from their domestic shortcomings. The repressive leadership of these countries actively distract from their domestic deficiencies by pushing their population to focus anger, frustration and rage externally....
Where States do not stoke the organically felt sentiments in Muslim communities, non-state entities play the role of flame-thrower, agitator, and mobilizer on what they view as a winning issue. In places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Indonesia, groups like Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Jamaa Islamiyya use the global outcry in ungoverned spaces, urban slums, and impoverished rural areas to piggy-back on the emotion and recruit new members. They care not for the Palestinian people, nor do they advocate a peaceful solution; their sole interest is in seizing an opportunity for exploitative recruitment.
An amplified global outcry has led to a misperception that all the world's problems will be solved if the Arab-Israeli conflict is resolved. While this would be a tremendous achievement that would allow the world to move forward beyond a conflict that has perpetuated for decades, it is not the silver bullet solution. A Palestinian state will not create jobs in North Africa, it will not reduce poverty in South Asia, and it will not help Muslims in Europe integrate. By making the Arab-Israeli conflict a lynchpin for all the world's problems, we only fuel an inclination to use Israel and Palestine as the scapegoat for unrelated and local challenges across the developing world.'


Regarding the possible impact on Al Beeb of protests see here 

Click here for Israel's ambassor to the USA, Ron Dermer, reminding CNN of its responsibility to report on Hamas's seminal role in the agony of Gaza.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Sydney Leftists Spew Their Poison (video)

In Sydney, lefties and their improbable bosom pals rallied yesterday against Israel:

 (hat tip: Shirlee)

And, sadly,  despite his initial show of defiance, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies leader Vic Alhadeff has been coerced into resigning as chair of the Community Relations Council owing to his overt support of Israel, as described here and here

Sunday, 27 July 2014

On Al Quds Day, A Familiar Figure Hoves Into View (video)

The final Friday of Ramadan: Al Quds Day around the world.

Here's footage of that day this year in the place where it all began, Teheran:

And here it is in Old London Town, where at around 1:12 a familiar figure hoves into view. 

Yes, it's one of the Zionist cause's favourite poster boys, Iraqi-born Muslim "Orim Shimshon", stepping where angels fear to tread, and giving protesters a piece of his mind.

Keep safe, Orim!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

"Risking Death For The Sake Of Martyrdom ... Has Become A Religious Obligation For Many Gazans"

Notwithstanding the hideous culpability of Hamas for the heart-wrenching plight of the population under its control, Israel is self-evidently bearing the brunt of the blame, and (as my last post – please look at it – shows all too clearly), the kind of antisemitic images once restricted to the Arab and Soviet press in the decades following the Shoah, and in grubby gutter publications elsewhere, has now entered sections of the mainstream press, even here in Australia.  And as seen on various sites around the Web, antisemitic incidents, some violent, have occurred in many parts of the world in recent weeks.

This situation is of course exacerbated by the large and growing Muslim populations that now inhabit major and indeed not so major western cities in both the Old and New Worlds (regarding this photo of a shop sign in Belgium welcoming dogs but barring "Zionists" see here; and see what happened in Preston, Lancashire; incidentally, "Children of the Ghetto"? Is that a take-off of Israel Zangwill's work by the same name?), and by the distortions inherent in the reportage and commentary of leftist news channels such as the BBC (see my last post but one, regarding the odious Jeremy Bowen), CNN, and (in Australia) the ABC and SBS (both of which were particularly biased this evening, Aussie time, with barely a nod towards balanced reporting, and for the most part not even that.

Here's Mark Regev, doing his best to present the Israeli case regarding civilian casualties in Gaza on Al Beeb, but being hectored judge-and-jury style by an all-too-obviously emotional Emily Maitlis (the granddaughter, incidentally, of Jacob Maitlis, a well-known Polish-born Yiddishist cultural figure who from 1958-67 was director of the UK Zionist Federation's Educational Trust):

Hamas's reponsibility for the terrible suffering befalling the population under its control is the focus of the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer; it's entitled "Gaza – Hamas Exploits Death Over Life".

Writes David Singer:

The failure of many Gazans to leave their homes and seek safer shelter after ignoring Israeli leaflet drops, mobile phone calls and even the firing of harmless warning shots as a last resort has been a major contributor to the increasing number of civilian deaths and casualties in Gaza.

This phenomenon has presented a perplexing problem for Israel as it continues its determined drive to destroy the Hamas arsenal of rockets, rocket launchers, weapons caches and extensive network of tunnels located in, under or in the vicinity of densely populated housing areas of Gaza.

Former US President Bill Clinton hit the nail squarely on the head with this prescient statement on 17 July:
"Hamas was perfectly well aware what would happen if they started raining rockets on Israel. They fired a thousand of them, and they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn them…
… In the short to medium term, Hamas can inflict terrible public relations damage on Israel by forcing it to kill Palestinian civilians to counter Hamas."
The strategy was given expression by Hamas MP Fathi Hammad in 2008:

“[The enemies of Allah] do not know that the Palestinian people has developed its [methods] of death and death-seeking. For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: "We desire death like you desire life."
The execution of the strategy rests on two platforms – the religious and the psychological.

The religious platform has been articulated by Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs - Mahmoud Al-Habbash – who declared in his televised Friday sermon from the Al-Yarmouk Mosque in Ramallah on 20 December 2013:
“Pay attention, it is Allah who says: ‘They will not harm you except for [some] annoyance’ (Quran, Sura 3:111, translation Sahih International) – it is possible that they will harm you. I say to you, it is possible that they will kill us, it is possible that Allah will sentence us to Martyrdom. It is possible that we will be wounded, it is possible that terrorism will be laid on us – ‘They will not harm you except for [some] annoyance’ – but in the end, ‘and if they fight you, they will show you their backs’ and the conclusion – ‘then they will not be aided’ (Quran, Sura, 3:111, translation, Sahih International). We ask for victory more than we ask for life. We ask for the strengthening of our people in this good and blessed land.”
 Shlomi Eldar summarises this exhortation to martyrdom:
“The entire Hamas system worked to promote and advance the theme of martyrdom. It emerged as its greatest weapon and, unfortunately, the most effective and destructive weapon that the movement had, too. Preachers in mosques used their sermons to speak about the importance of martyrdom (fi sabil Allah, “in accordance with Allah’s will”), until many people throughout the West Bank and Gaza sincerely believed that Allah wanted to be sanctified through the sacrifice of believers’ lives, and that only through martyrdom could they prove their loyalty and their faith.”
Risking death for the sake of martyrdom – rather than leaving a declared danger zone for safer waters – has become a religious obligation for many Gazans.

The psychological platform is evidenced by Hamas's Ministry of Interior spokesman Iyad Al-Buzum calling on its civilian population on 12 July to ignore Israel's warnings and remain in their homes in spite of the danger:

 “The [Hamas] Ministry of the Interior and National Security calls on our honorable people in all parts of the [Gaza] Strip to ignore the warnings [to vacate areas near rocket launching sites before Israel bombs them] that are being disseminated by the Israeli occupation through manifestos and phone messages, as these are part of a psychological war meant to sow confusion on the [Palestinian] home front, in light of the [Israeli] enemy's security failure and its confusion and bewilderment." 
 One day later the same spokesman issued another similar warning:

"Answering the occupation's calls will merely aid it in carrying out its plans to weaken the [Palestinian] home front and to destroy property and homes as soon as you leave them. We call on all our people who have left their homes to return to them immediately."
 Kim Sengupta concludes:
“Hamas can, however, be accused of making people complacent, repeatedly stating in the media that the Israeli warnings were psychological games and asking the population to ignore them. Some mentioned this as a reason for staying behind; returning home having initially left.”
The counter-argument to that was the need to prevent panic spreading. The discovery of the extensive network of cement-strengthened tunnels throughout Gaza (video here) – with many already located snaking into Israel and in and under thousands of residential dwellings – has posed a major problem for Israel in completing its military objectives.

Staying in their homes risking possible death to achieve martyrdom or alternatively succumbing to propaganda falsely promoting a fools paradise on earth has been spectacularly exploited by Hamas.

Respect for life has become the real victim.

Antisemitism in Australia's left-liberal Fairfax press: Mike Carlton and Glen Le Lievre cross the line

By veteran Aussie journalist Mike Carlton in today's [Melbourne] Age and Sydney Morning Herald, newpapers in the left-liberal Fairfax stable, accompanied by an unmistakably antisemitic cartoon by Glen Le Lievre for good measure:
"....Yes, Hamas is also trying to kill Israeli civilians, with a barrage of rockets and guerilla border attacks. It, too, is guilty of terror and grave war crimes. But Israeli citizens and their homes and towns have been effectively shielded by the nation's Iron Dome defence system, and so far only three of its civilians have died in this latest conflict. The Israeli response has been out of all proportion, a monstrous distortion of the much-vaunted right of self defence.
It is a breathtaking irony that these atrocities can be committed by a people with a proud liberal tradition of scholarship and culture, who hold the Warsaw Ghetto and the six million dead of the Holocaust at the centre of their race memory...."
Carlton's is a false analogy.  He should remember that in the Second World War the United States dropped more bombs on Germany (millions oftons) than Germany dropped on the United States (zero).

Does Carlton think that this was a disproportionate use of American power?

He should also reflect that Hamas denies Israel's right to exist, and is indeed sworn in its covenant to the genocide not only of Jews in Israel but in the Diaspora as well.  It is impossible to negotiate with extremists like that.

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Ongoing Disgrace That Is The BBC's Jeremy Bowen

As this blog has not infrequently noted, the BBC's utterly pedestrian and sometimes frankly absurd "Middle East editor" Jeremy Bowen has made many reports from the Middle East over the years in which his own opinions intrude and which make a mockery of the BBC's obligations, under the terms its Charter, to maintain objectivity in reporting.

Particularly since the unfortunate car explosion in which his Arab driver/stringer was killed a number of years ago at the hands of what Bowen once described in a subsequent interview with the London Daily Telegraph as "trigger-happy Israeli soldiers", Bowen's prejudice against Israel has been all too apparent.

The death of his Arab colleague in an explosion that took place berfore his eyes, shortly after he himself had left the vehicle, was an event that evidently traumatised Bowen, who has referred to the incident bitterly countless times since (as in this video).

In those circumstances, as soon as his emotional involvement became clear, the BBC should have transferred Bowen to some other part of the world.

But it did not, and to add salt to the wounds of aggrieved pro-Israel complainants it inexplicably went on to reward him, despite the banal nature of his "analysis" of regional politics and despite the fact that a complaint against him had been partially upheld, with the post of Middle East editor!

Hadar Sela of BBCWatch (who's certainly having her work cut out for her during the present crisis) has drawn attention here to the fact that Bowen "tries to persuade TV audiences that Hamas does not use human shields".

And now Bowen, in a further thumbing of his nose to the objectivity incumbent upon him and his employer by the terms of the BBC's Charter, has written in that uncompromisingly leftwing journal of opinion, the New Statesman:
"I saw Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, giving an interview to the BBC after Israel had killed more than 60 people in the Gaza district of Shejaiya. He said he regretted the civilian casualties in Gaza but they were the fault of Hamas. Netanyahu said Israel had warned people to get out. Some had taken the advice; others had been prevented from leaving by Hamas.
 I was back in London for my son’s 11th birthday party by the time all those people were killed in Shejaiya. But my impression of Hamas is different from Netanyahu’s. I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields...."
To quote Craig, of the IstheBBCbiased? blog:
'This comes despite Hamas publicly advocating the use of civilians as human shields (something Jeremy Bowen fails to acknowledge). The Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, was caught (by MEMRI) speaking on a local station recently, saying: 
This attests to the character of our noble, jihad-loving people – who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood.
The policy of people confronting the Israeli warplanes with their bare chests in order to protect their homes has proven effective against the occupation… we in Hamas call upon our people to adopt this policy in order to protect the Palestinian homes.
And yet Jeremy Bowen dismisses it all, even after UNRWA found Hamas rockets in two of its Gazan schools, and despite credible reports that some civilians are deliberating ignoring Israel's warnings and that groups of civilians have actually gathered at targeted buildings in order to serve as human shields [see Channel 4's FactCheck blog].
A week in Gaza, and yet Jeremy Bowen "saw no evidence...of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields".
Presumably, the blinkers he was wearing at the time didn't help.'
 And as Hadar Sela has observed (link above):
"BBC licence fee payers pay a lot of money in order to be informed of facts. Hamas’ use of human shields is one of many important facts audiences need to know about in order to be able to reach an understanding of this particular international issue as they are promised in the BBC’s constitutional document. It is bad enough that in over a week of reporting from the Gaza Strip, not one BBC journalist has explained the human shields issue properly to BBC audiences. It is beyond grave when the man in charge of Middle East reporting – not some junior journalist – not only fails to inform, but actively seeks to deny and refute the issue.
Bowen’s inaccurate and partial reports – which increasingly give the impression that he has self-conscripted to the Hamas media campaign – are coming in thick and fast. As long as the BBC continues to allow that, it breaches the public purpose remit which obliges it to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues” and that is a problem which BBC management should not be allowed to ignore."

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Why Jews Must Choose Their Interfaith Partners Wisely: A cautionary tale from Down Under

It used to be (I don't know whether it still is) the case that anyone who had a letter printed in Anglo-Jewry's newspaper of record, the Jewish Chronicle, would receive a few days later a missive through the post from a certain Anglican missionising organisation urging the recipient to pluck the blinkers from his/her eyes and embrace Christianity.  I can't recall which organisation sent these annoying missives, which were swiftly consigned to the wastepaper basket, but I suspect that it was the so-called London Jews' Society (or, to give it its full title, the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews), founded in the early nineteenth century and headquartered at a complex in the East End  named Palestine Place (pictured), where it conducted sundry initiatives for ensnaring Jewish souls, albeit without much success.  In time, following the substantial immigration to Britain of Jews from Eastern Europe after 1880, it was joined in its missionising efforts by the Bishop of Stepney's Fund, which gave similar offence to a people whose only desire was to be free of both persecution and harassment to worship the Deity in their own way.

For their part, Jews do not seek proselytes, and it's been in fact notoriously difficult, although plainly not impossible, to convert to Judaism in Britain and the Commonwealth, at any rate through the auspices of Batei Din (religious courts) having allegiance to the British Chief Rabbi.

In our own day we in Britain, Australia,  and other English-speaking lands have, of course, seen a plethora of ecumenical initiatives consequent upon the emergence of multi-faith societies, and an example of ecumenicism in action occurred in Australia today, when people and religious leaders of several faiths, including Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism, crowded into St Paul's Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne for a service to commemorate the victims if the Malaysian airliner so tragically and needlessly lost over the eastern Ukraine.

All participants were united, of course, in grief and outrage: they shared a common purpose.

Interfaith initatives of the type that saw in the 1940s and subsequent period the establishment in English-speaking lands of Councils of Christians and Jews, rested on mutual respect between the practitioners of the various religions, with no ulterior motive on the part of any.  This is for many people, and for many reasons, more easily said than done, especially in the case of creeds that defy modern notions of the just and the ethical.

Rabbi Chaim Ingram, of Sydney, a columnist in the Australian Jewish News, observes in a letter in the latest issue responding to a critic: 'if to live in 214" means vaunting politically correct dogma over human consideration and menschlikeit then I assure him I am quite happy living in biblical times'.  It is a statement unlikely to win him friends in the Progressive (i.e. Liberal or Reform) Jewish community, since Progressive Judaism holds that the Torah was revealed to man humankind not once and forever at Sinai, but gradually, over time, and that what was deemed appropriate in ancient times is not necessarily appropriate for our own.  Hence its commitment to the equality of women with men and its recent embrace of same-sex marriage.

And yet, what it deplores in what Rabbi Ingram terms "Torah-observant" Judaism it seemed to tolerate recently at an event in Melbourne, for the sake of "interfaith", apparently foolishly unaware that the Islamic group that it invited to a grand interfaith event is a proselytising organisation par excellence which (see here) exults at the conversion of each non-Muslim to Islam.

In other words, the Islamic group in question played the Progressive Jews for mugs, and the latter fell for it!

This "Open Letter To Interfaith Jews: Choose Your Partners Wisely" newly released by the team from Jews Down Under explains the situation and demands answers:

'Temple Beth Israel recently held a concert, billed as a “Sacred Music Concert”, “bringing together performers and communities from Melbourne’s Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Indigenous traditions”.

What the audience wasn’t told was that the second half of the concert would feature the Muslim call to prayer, and a recital of the 55th Surah of the Koran (describing how Muslim men will enjoy deflowering virgins in paradise) by Abdul Aziz al Mathkour and Brother Waseem Razvi of the Islamic research Education Academy (IREA)

The Australian Jewish News featured an article about the concert on page 8 of their 20 June edition – Music Bridges Faith Tradition – praising the concert and reporting the recitation of the Koranic verse with apparent approval. In addition, the concert was given extra prominence by a full page of colour pictures on page 12.

One would expect that at least some members of the community would feel strongly enough to write in to the Australian Jewish News expressing disquiet at this event. Yet it seems that Temple Beth’s presentation of a ‘Sacred’ concert, without forewarning that it would feature the Islamic Call to Prayer, plus an offensive Koranic verse, has elicited not a single response from the readers of the Australian Jewish News.Read more HERE including a video:

Maybe Jews have imbibed the message of the now retired Rabbi Fred Morgan, who, in an address to the Council of Christians and Jews (Vic) in 2009, recommended applying a non-judgmental approach to interfaith, 
“starting from the assumption that, when people say they believe something, as peculiar and uncongenial as I personally may find their belief, it is meaningful to them.” He berated the mainstream Jewish community for retaining “a ghetto mentality”, concerned only “about anti-Semitism, the integrity of the land of Israel and the inviolability of the State of Israel – all matters bearing on security and safety for Jews in Australia, Israel and world-wide.” and “never having moved beyond seeking security through interfaith engagement…” He cited the Gaza conflict, where “because some from the Christian and Muslim communities who are active in interfaith work were one-sidedly critical of Israel, the AJN published letters and articles questioning the value of interfaith dialogue”. Morgan concluded that this attitude revealed “the insularity of the Jewish world”.
Progressive Judaism Australia. If, according to the Progressive Jewish view, caring about Israel and innocent Jews being killed makes us insular, then many Jews are guilty as charged. Indeed, all who believe in human rights should care about the security of a sovereign state and the vicious assault on a vulnerable minority.

It’s hard to get a handle on this bizarre Progressive mindset. Is it now the case that to be left-of-centre in religious matters automatically means that Progressive Jews must be left-of-centre on issues involving the welfare and survival of Israel?

Surely not all Progressive Jews believe that?

Or have those of robust Zionist principles voted with their feet and left the movement?

Indeed, in the Australian Jewish News of 4 July, amid a slew of messages from local Jewish figures deploring the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenage boys, the one by the Executive Director of the Union for Progressive Judaism, Steve Denenberg, stood out for its mealy-mouthed politically-charged even-handedness; he even included a gratuitous reference to Muslims (though Christians were not similarly honoured), and in contrast to other message-writers, he studiously avoided condemning Islamic terrorism or Hamas by name, using instead the amorphous expression, “victims of blind hatred.”

We understand that TBI has received communications from individuals unhappy with the inclusion of the unannounced Muslim component of the concert, yet has, so far as we are aware, lacked the courtesy of replying to them to address their concerns.

During a recent Friday evening service, TBI’s current senior rabbi read out one email that criticised the participation in forthright terms, condemning it as an example of the “hate mail” received.

It is unfortunate that TBI has taken this dismissive, seemingly contemptuous, attitude: it leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth of those who are genuinely distressed at TBI’s naïvety in inviting to the concert the representatives of a group actively involved in the conversion of non-Muslims (more on that below) and who uttered a Surah expressing Islamic supremacy and which is insulting to the gender equality that TBI (which after all was founded by a woman!) has – at least until now – upheld.

We doubt that TBI, in a spirit of ecumenism, would tolerate an Orthodox Jewish leader reciting in its sanctuary the traditional prayer, viewed as abhorrent by Progressive Jews, thanking G-d “for not making me a woman”. Yet paradoxically, they have no qualms about allowing Muslims to recite an obscenely sexist Surah.

What is TBI’s explanation for the latter?

Were they aware or were they ignorant of what the man was going to recite?

In either case, surely they are not too proud to admit to making, in this instance, an error of judgment, and to acknowledge that there should be no repeat?

The Muslim group, IREA – part of an international dawah (converting non-Muslims to Islam) organization – was triumphant about its successful incursion into a Jewish sacred space. On its Facebook page there is a photo of Waseem Razvi and three colleagues en route to TBI for the concert; the photo is captioned “Dae’es [i.e. missionaries] from IREA heading for interfaith event at a SYNAGOGUE”

That caption implies that the quartet was not appearing at TBI in a spirit of honest interfaith dialogue, which emphasises there must be no attempt to convert,but for the purpose of proselytisation. Furthermore, there is this boast on the IREA’s Facebook page:

'Firstly we thank Allah swt for giving us the opportunity to represent Islam in a country like Australia where there are only 2% muslims. Secondly we thank and appreciate the invitation from Cantor Michael Laloum and his initiative to work with Muslim Community. We also would like to thank Rabbi Gersh [Lazarow] and the Jewish Temple Beth Israel for their warm welcome. We hope & pray the doors of communication and mutual understanding are always open in order to achieve & fulfil the purpose of our lives i.e. to be obedient to the One & Only Lord Allah swt. As Allah swt says in the Quran ‘Say: O people of the Book (Jews & Christians)! Let us come to Common Terms as between us & you…..’ {AL Quran 3:64}
Several things are perturbing about these words. Firstly, it would seem the Jews are being asked to agree to a mutual understanding that we both worship Allah, who of course is different from the G-d of the bible. In addition the words “Common Terms” are capitalised, implying that they have a particular meaning in Islamic dawah. Dr Mark Durie, an expert on Islam, gave a critique of this meaning.

The key points are summarised below:
A 2007 letter, “A Common Word Between Us and You” addressed to the Pope, and other Christian leaders throughout the world by 138 Muslim scholars, is an attempt to Islamicise Christian-Muslim dialogue: the ‘common word’ theme is associated with a declaration of war against the Byzantines, and is part of an anti-Christian polemic in the Qur’an.

The introductory summary to the letter concludes with the words ‘…in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, we as Muslims invite Christians to come together with us…’
This formal opening to the letter declares that A Common Word is a call (ada‘wa) for Christians to come to Allah’s way, i.e. to Islam.
The authors of A Common Word take pains to cite this verse, and point out that, according to this teaching, Muhammad’s message must be the same as the message of the Bible. So from the Islamic point of view, it is entirely legitimate to regard Muhammad’s message of monotheism as the foundational message of both Jesus Christ and Moses. To call Christians (and Jews) to accept Islamic monotheism is in fact to invite them back to their own religion, and to the faith of their own prophets.

This is the orthodox Islamic position on Christianity and Judaism, that they are derivatives of the Islam of Christ and Moses. The Qur’an presents it as the duty of Muslims to call Christians and Jews back to their original faith. Thus the ‘common ground’ shared by Islam and Christianity is Islam itself.
The theme verse for the whole letter, Sura 3:64 is most problematic.

Say: ‘O People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah.’ If then they turn back, say ye: ‘Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah’s Will).’
This hadith is included in the Book of Jihad because it illustrates Muhammad’s principle that, before attacking non-Muslims, it was necessary first to invite them to embrace Islam.

Durie concludes
“Although A Common Word is presented as an invitation, it contains a warning of devastating conflict if the invitation is rejected. This is reminiscent of Muhammad’s approach to da‘wa, and should be evaluated in the light of his example”.
In the light of this explanation by an acknowledged expert on Islam, it is clear Temple Beth Israel made a grave error in inviting representatives of an overt conversionist group to TBI to exemplify Islam to an audience which could hardly have expected that the billed event would have such sting in the tail”

We call on the organizers of the concert to find the courage to acknowledge their error, which has the potential to compromise not only them, but the wider Jewish community. Such acknowledgment could act as a salutary lesson to all of us not to rush into inviting conversionist, supremacist Islamic groups to appear on our premises, under the false guise of interfaith, whereby they are enabled to recite passages starkly at odds with Jewish ethics.

Incidentally, in a recent Press Release, the Islamic Council of Victoria (with whom IREA are affiliated) condemns Israel as the aggressors, failing to even mention the Hamas terrorist group’s constant attacks on Israeli citizens. Here are just some of the calumnies, which amount to a blood libel:
"The Islamic Council of Victoria is appalled and horrified at the wanton attack on the Palestinian people, homes and civil institutions. The loss of life, particularly those of children and unarmed civilians, is an indictment on the state of Israel and all nations that remain silent in the face of such abhorrent actions.
 The ICV draws attention to the fact that Israel is an illegal occupier of Palestinian land… that in recent days has been indiscriminately murdering Palestinians without any reasonable excuse or justification."
 In the light of this revelatory press release, can TBI in all conscience continue an interfaith "dialogue" with ICV and invite into their sanctuary those who harbour such hatred towards the Jewish State?'