Reb on the Web




 The whole world is talking about the latest outrage of Islamic fundamentalism - the belief that it's not only okay to walk into an airport, explode a bomb and take innocent life, but that it is a joyful thing to do.  The only word I have for such an obscenity is Haman - itis.  Haman-itis is a disease of the mind, heart and soul.  Once infected, such a person will inflict pain on anyone who espouses a different set of beliefs.  Haman-itis is hatred gone wild and that is what we are seeing in segments of the Islamic world.

The supporters of ISIS are euphoric over their "successful" terror attack in Brussels.  A poll published on an Internet forum used by ISIS supporters asks the following question - What will be the color of the Eiffel Tower after the next attack?

After the attack in Belgium the French illuminated the Eiffel Tower with the colors of the Belgian flag in order to pay tribute to the victims of the massacre.  So the website wanted to poll ISIS supporters. Where should ISIS focus its next attack? For what it's worth, ISIS supporters said - England. As one of the respondents declared - our caliphate will not stop at any border.

After the deadly attacks in Brussels ISIS released photographs showing Jihadis in Syria handing out candies and other sweets to children in order to celebrate the Brussels massacre.  The caption attached to the photographs read  - "In celebration and joy of the blessed attack in Brussels."  That is Haman-itis and it is spreading to the next generation.

It is hatred gone wild and that is precisely what we are seeing before our very eyes. Consider the Purim story.  Haman walks down the street and Mordechai passes him by without bowing down to him.  Haman screeches - "It is the law of the land that everyone must bow down to me."  In fact the story leads us to believe that Haman was accurate.  Everyone in the Palace would kneel and bow low to Haman - everyone except Mordechai.  As soon as Haman realized that the reason Mordechai won't bow down  because he is a Jew, Haman's rage extends to all Jewish people.  It was as if Haman's rage had infected his mind and his soul.

This is the point we have reached with Islamic fundamentalism. What is crucial for the world to remember is that hatred is a disease for which there is no known antidote or vaccination.  It lives from generation to generation.  Sometimes the disease quiets down and lives under the surface.  But it is always there.  The next outbreak is always around the corner.

Consider this excerpt from an article about the Jews of France.  "Days after a Jewish teacher was injured in a machete attack by a Turkish teenager in southern France, the President of the Jewish community of Marseille, Tzvi Ammar announced, "As of this day I call upon Jews not to wear their kippot in the street in order to avoid being identified as Jewish.  It is sad that we find ourselves in this position in 2016 in a great democratic country like France.  But we must take exceptional measures.  I do not want anyone to die in Marseille because he was wearing a kippah."

This was the third attack in Marseille in recent months.  In November a Jewish teacher was stabbed in the name of ISIS while three attackers shouted anti-Semitic insults.  Three Jews were also assaulted in October, one of whom was attacked with a knife near his synagogue.  France has been the target of numerous anti-Semitic incidents over the past year including terror attacks last January which killed four people inside a Kosher supermarket.  Since then more than 700 synagogues, Jewish schools and community centers in France have had to be protected by police or soldiers.

Haman-itis is a poison.  It is a madness.  Madness is what afflicted Haman and it is what has afflicted an unknown number of Muslims around the world.  Islamic fundamentalists are at war with the west whether we like it or not.  After a while we begin to become numb to the persistent outrageous and inhuman attacks of Islamic fundamentalists.  But Jewish history and the lesson of Purim teach us that we ignore hatred at our own risk.

A few opinions about the way forward.

Number 1 - Open borders are inexcusable.  A government that fails to protect its citizens is a failure.  Period end of story.  So our government had better figure out a way to vet who comes into this country and how to track down people who overstay their visas.

Number 2 - Come up with a plan to defeat ISIS.  Gather support from our allies.  Then go and do it.  Get them before they get us.  It is the lesson of Purim.

Number 3 - This conflict is not only a military conflict.  It is an idealogical war.  Islamic fundamentalists can only be defeated by other Muslims.  We must find a way to cultivate a relationship with moderates in the Muslim world.  We must find these moderates wherever they are and encourage them and support them to stand up against Islamic fundamentalism.  If we do not do this, then our grandchildren will know not one day of peace.

Number 4 - Symbolism matters.  Our leaders must take action.  They must defend our borders, take military action and cultivate moderates in the Islamic world.  But symbolism is also crucial. Our leaders must send the message  that they are up for this battle.  While Belgium was burning this past week, President Obama was doing the wave at a baseball game in Cuba.  Consider the symbolism of such a message.  It is as if the President was saying - you can blow up as many people as you want, but I choose to ignore you.  I will choose my baseball over your bombs any day.  He may have publicly said all the right words, but symbols speak louder than words.

Wrong message.  Wrong symbolism.

So here we are celebrating the holiday of Purim and our victory over the evil Haman.  The Midrash says that when the Messiah comes in the future there will no longer be any need for holidays with the exception of Purim. The Yalkut Mishlei reads - In the future all the festivals will lapse, but not the days of Purim.

The message is powerful. The danger of hatred and Haman-itis seems to be hardwired into human nature.  We must be ever diligent and aware of its danger and confront this disease whenever and wherever we find it.

Happy Purim!