Tag Archives: Equality




Part Two

            A number of years ago, I was on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem standing near the Al-Aqsa Mosque when I was approached by a Muslim. The man’s eyes flashed with anger and he demanded that I leave the area. In turn, I told him I had as much right to be there as he did. As I watched his fists clench, I realized I was about to be seriously assaulted and backed off. In his opinion, I was an infidel. Could resistance have gotten me killed? On the spot!

In Part One, I insisted this blog isn’t about Muslim bashing. Rather, it is about clarifying why in recent years similar hostilities have become rampant. And they have!

The issue is not “Islamophobia” and misunderstanding Muslims assaults. Christians in many Muslim dominated nations live in constant fear. For example in Nigeria, Christians have been severely persecuted for a long time. A group called Boko Haram vowed to kill all Christians in Nigeria. Over 350 churches were destroyed. The government of Sudan tormented Christians for decades. Leaders in The Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches had to flee Kenya with their families because of Muslim attacks. When Egyptian Coptic Christians, making up 11 percent of the population, marched in Cairo, Egyptian Security Forces drove their trucks into the crowd killing 24 people and injuring over 300. As Islamist prepared to take control in Egypt, over 200,000 Copts fled the country. Christian minorities had lost the protection of their societies.

Anti-Christian violence is a serious, growing, and under reported situation.

In America, the government owes protection to Muslim minorities. Everyone has the right to worship in anyway they choose. The problem is that ideal is not understood around the world. The February 13, 2012 special edition of Newsweek suggested the USA has leverage through the amount of aid and trade we have with these persecuting countries. With the billions of dollars we invest in these offending nations, the American government can pressure countries to no longer tolerate the “Christophobia” being practiced in their streets. Newsweek reported action is long overdue.

When I read these accounts and stories, they remind me of the fact that there is nothing new in these battles. It sounds like a return to the Crusades when Christian warriors on July 15, 1099 marched on Jerusalem and took the city after a bloody struggle with Muslims. Eventually Saladin the Magnificent recaptured the city in October 1187. Distrust, hate, and suspicion have not dampened over the centuries. In our time, we are experiencing another recurrence of these ancient battles.

How can we respond? Jews and Christians need to react according to their faiths and call for understanding and tolerance. We must not return an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Jesus taught that we should love our enemies. I don’t know of a better solution to this ancient crisis?


Is attempting to return love for hate too naive and unrealistic in these tense situations in the Middle East? What can we do to pressure the government to recognize and respond to the persecution of Christians by using economic and political pressure?

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Was Rosa Parks Jewish? Let’s get real. Of course not.


But her heroic refusal to give up a seat on a Birmingham, Alabama bus and her rejection of white segregationists still rings out in Israel. You’d think the ultra-Orthodox boys on the back streets of Jerusalem would have heard the music.

They didn’t.

In December, the boys with curls hanging down to their chins tried to force a secular young Jewish woman coming home from work on a Jerusalem public bus to sit in the back. She told them to hang it on their noses. The war was on.

More properly called the haredim, the ultra-orthodox Jewish men thumb their nose at equal rights for all. These most “religious of the religious” believe women exist in a perpetual “come-on” state of being. Never mind, that these holy Joes have missed the fact that the problem of temptation is “in the eye of the beholder.”

Here’s an example.

In Beit Shemesh, a blonde 2nd grade girl’s regular school appearance didn’t reach the proper measuring stick length. The boys in black and white descended on the child spitting and calling her a prostitute. Does it strike you that calling a 2nd grader a prostitute might be a tad extreme? And spitting? It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to figure out which label you paste on these holy Joes.

Jews in America have already gone around this barn way too many times. In early January, the congregation of Beth El in northern New Jersey got another trip when a fire bomb was hurled through the Rabbi Nosson Schuman’s window, sending him and the family into the street. Up the road in Paramus, New Jersey, Congregation K’Hai Adath got the same bonfire treatment. The fire burned itself out; the worry didn’t.

What gives?

Periodically, I walk through Mea Shearim, the ultra-Orthodox quarter of Jerusalem. With my yarmulka firmly planted on my head, I remember that men walking with women is forbidden here. Oh pooh! Even walking with my elderly grandmother might get me in trouble. (Or her!)  Some of these folk would have carried Rosa Parks bodily to the back of the bus.

Women are considered perpetually seductive … oh yes, and inferior. Barbara Friedman will find that interesting. So, we find two different problems that are strangely similar. Prejudicial fire bombs in New Jersey; Prejudicial treatment of women and girls in Israel.

You ask again, what gives?

Though different in kind from the Haredi, far-right wing extremist made attacks in mid-December near Ramat Gilad. They slaughtered a holy cow in a most unkosher manner. (Holy cow, indeed!). Hit by a thrown rock, a Lt. Colonel felt the worst insult was being called a Nazi only a month after his grandmother died who had survived the Shoah. (Holocaust)

What gives is that gentiles must not let the nonsense reflect on Israel’s character. A small number of extremists don’t color the nation’s character anymore than nut cases playing with matches represent New Jersey. And here’s a sad footnote. Prof. Menachem Friedman, an expert on Jewish cults explains that the extremists are a reaction to the Shoah. Because they missed it, they feel they must take some public and extreme action to validate their Jewishness. Okay. But how about leaving 2nd grade children and hard working woman alone.

The vast majority of Israelis agree. They are now shouting, “Stop the nonsense!” Sounds good to me. That’s Israel at its best.

Can we allow people with divergent beliefs to force their opinions down our throat? Should Israel throw open its doors to the practices of the ultra-Orthodox even when they cause some people to stumble?

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