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On Excusing Evil
Israel - Middle East
Friday, May 18, 2018
Alf Cengia

I'm ashamed to admit that I've been living in my current house for over two years and have only recently visited the local Jewish Museum. Worse, I had driven past it hundreds of times. It's kind of ironic given the nature of my weekly Omega Letter brief.

The museum's official name is: Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage - The Museum of Diversity & Tolerance.

I'm not a major fan of the words "diversity" and "tolerance. It's not because I think minority groups always need to change and conform to the majority or that they shouldn't have a voice. I just think the word has become a capricious weapon for activism. "Tolerance" is one of those expedient words which have been adopted to carry charge-filled slogans. My issue with these terms is that they are often used to justify evil.

But I think I get the message the Museum intended to convey.

There were the inevitable stark black and white photos of naked, horrifically emaciated corpses piled on top of each other. I found it somewhat easier looking at the picture as a large entity, rather than focusing in on any particular person. To focus on a person would demand looking into the eyes and face of someone who once had a family, and life and hope; a person who was once a little child, but had lost that life in that horror known as The Holocaust.

Yet even when I managed to force myself away from those dead blank eyes; there were audio accounts from survivors. One man's story particularly affected me. He lost everyone and, ultimately, his faith in God. His account began somberly and ended in tears. After all those years the anguish was still there. I couldn't help but wonder how well I might have articulated a Christian response. I just wanted to hug the guy.

I was particularly touched by Ellie Kulka's final letter to her husband as she faced her imminent death:

"On this, the last night of my life, I bid you farewell. Our days of happiness were short-lived, but beautiful. At this moment I am remembering our love, from its beautiful beginning until its cruel end. You were the love of my life, and I would willingly have sacrificed everything to save you."

Children in the Middle EastYet amidst all that horror and grief I saw hope and tolerance beautifully portrayed by a photo of two Israeli and Palestinian children with their arms slung around each other. There were even sections dedicated to modern Jews who had contributed to society in some significant way.

On the one hand the museum wants the world to remember the horrors of the Holocaust, but at the same time it seeks to promote forgiveness and peace. That attitude may, in part, explain some dynamics driving the liberal secular Jew who doesn't always support modern Israel. They don't want to attract the sort of attention that may lead to another Holocaust.

In contrast to that, peace and forgiveness have no room in expressions of Islamic extremism. Even worse, the world bends over backwards to lend it a sympathetic ear.

It's a crazy paradoxical world when the Benghazi tragedy was attributed to an obscure video which insulted a peaceful and tolerant Islam. Yet, when the Boston bombings occurred, many liberals hoped the perpetrators would turn out to be conservative extremists, rather than Islamic terrorists.

When the murderers were found to be of Chechen extraction, one liberal T.V. commentator evoked the term "Christian Russia" in light of Chechnya. Those poor kids - that's what oppressive Russian Christianity will do to ya! You must blame the Russian Christians for the Islamic kids wanting to kill innocent Americans.

It all makes perfect sense - right? Or perhaps it is America's fault; even though it welcomed them with open arms and granted them opportunities for a great life. But take your pick; any excuse will do at a pinch. Blame anything bar Islamist hatred.

Then there are those Christian ministers who, while gently reproving Palestinian suicide bombers, end up finding justifications for their actions. It's that familiar ubiquitous narrative; the bombers act on desperation and Israel is the root cause. It's sort of like the "Christian Russia" excuse, but with its own twist.

Sabeel's Anglican priest, Naim Ateek, isn't a great fan of large portions of Old Testament Scripture. He once stated that the "god" in some of the OT books is an: "exclusive, bigoted god who says I'm gonna go with you to war, I'm gonna kill your enemies."

Yet he once evoked Samson's prayer to God, to have his strength restored so that he could carry out a final act of vengeance on the Philistines. Ateek then favorably contrasted Samson's act to the modern Palestinian concerns.

However, the analogy erroneously charges that Israel is guilty of Philistine-style oppression, and that there are no other drivers for Palestinian hatred. It fails to address the fact that God honored Samson's request by restoring his strength, and that the biblical account also portrayed his many flaws.

Does God sanction Palestinian suicide bombers and the indoctrination of children to violence?

In 2005, Ateek's double-mindedness was exposed by CAMERA when he told a Norwegian paper that the modern Palestinian situation has comparisons to the Holocaust. That is not only a gross error and a grievous insult to Holocaust survivors, but it empowers the evil that drives hatred against the nation Israel...and all Jews.

I'm struck by the stark contrast between the radical Islamist and the Jewish attitude I saw in the Maltz Museum. One seems to be tolerant to diversity and just wants to live in peace, while the other finds many reasons to capriciously act out its hatred in violence and murder for Islam.

But the real kicker is that the world is happy to continuously find excuses for this monstrous behavior. They just keep feeding the Hungry Beast.

Go figure!

Originally written by Alf Cengia on April 26, 2013

Last week: On Jews and Credit Card Identity Theft

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