Are We Really so Different?
Lost Messiah must credit Richard Silverstein and Tikun Olam for the historical perspective and eloquent insights. Please view the site. Silverstein is beautifully eloquent and the pure definition of a journalist, whether or not you agree with his perspectives. We’ve had eight years to consider his comments and we have apparently done a grossly inadequate job of learning from history.
On December, 8, 2008 Richard Silverstein the author and editor of Tikun Olam posted an article regarding a Long Island Orthodox Jewish Columnist who advocated for the killing of Muslims. On December 18, 2008 he published a follow-up article.
Today, following a massacre in Orlando, we posted a video wherein a Chabad member advocated for the killing of members of the LGBT community, on the generally same anti-Biblical grounds.
Previously, we had posted several posts about radical Jewish fundamentalism, including a post with videos of Rabbis preaching the killing of Muslims using basically the same agruments the Islamic Fundamentalists use for killing Jews. This is a subject particularly relevant whether you accept that the Orlando shooter committed this act of atrocity because he was a Muslim terrorist or because he was mentally unstable and hated the LGBT community. Either way, what happened in Orlando was a hate crime of epic proportions.
As a Jewish community or as members of a blogosphere which criticizes and scrutinizes the ills of the Jewish community, Lost Messiah believes that these articles have relevance in the picture they paint of extremism and its cross-religious scope. While the articles posted below are historical they are nonetheless very much a part of today’s religious extremist parlance.
It has been nearly 8 years since Silverstein posted the below two articles but the same articles could have just as easily been posted today. They reflect in vivid color current events if not equal than magnified.
We would be remiss were we not to ask the question: are we in a state of increasing fundamentalism and extremism within ultra-Orthodox Judaism or are these isolated incidents. Is this a sign of the diminishing state of Judaism? We find it unsettling.
You take a stab at judging for yourself.
Once again let me say I find astonishing the near total silence of the organized Jewish community and media to Lawrence Kulak’s diatribe against Islam published in the Long Island Orthodox paper, Five Towns Jewish Times. In his guest column, he claimed that if Islamists kill innocent non-Muslims that Muslim innocents should similarly be targeted for murder. Essentially, an invitation to anti-Muslim mass murder:
“The only way to deal with Islamic terrorists is the same way in which they deal with their victims. Muslims believe in the literal interpretation of the Biblical doctrine of an eye for an eye…They killed our innocents, and unless we kill theirs, they will go on killing ours. The Torah, however, preaches a doctrine which…would finally put an end to all Islamic terror: if somebody is coming to kill you, rise up and kill him first.”
The fact that Kulak was diagnosed in 1991 with a bipolar disorder and hospitalized at a mental health facility never appears to have factored into the publisher’s editorial decision about publishing the piece. Not only has the 20,000-circulation paper’s editor not distanced himself from the column (though he HAS strangely removed it from the website), he has gone on the counter-attack against the Muslim organization which first brought the world’s attention to Kulak’s hate speech, CAIR.
The Muslim defense organization has a lot of nerve pointing out the deficiencies of the Jewish paper’s editorial when CAIR won’t denounce every single terrorist act ever committed by a Muslim against anyone. It doesn’t matter than CAIR HAS in fact denounced Muslim terror. They haven’t denounced the particular Muslim terrorists who most exercise Gordon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. So instead of taking responsibility for the hash he’s made of things, Gordon decides to blame the Muslim victim for his attack.
In my own post about this I wrote that Kulak’s piece was a meandering anti-Muslim rant. If possible, Larry Gordon, the paper’s editor, wrote an even more lugubrious, non-responsive reply. The most relevant passage is this one:
The editorial staff of the Five Towns Jewish Times decries the notion of any support of terrorism, and we fully support the United States government’s War on Terrorism. As an Orthodox Jewish weekly, the 5TJT also rejects the demonization of Muslims, both in this country and abroad. If any such implication of supporting the terrorization or murder of innocent Muslims who do not support terrorists or terrorist activities was made by an article in the 5TJT, it was due simply to a poor choice of words—a slip of the author’s pen, if you will. Read in its entirety, the article is clearly conveying the message that members of a community that supports terrorists and allows them to remain in its midst should not expect to escape retaliation.
For the editor, the fact that Kulak clearly advocating killing Muslim “innocents” is a mere “poor choice of words–a slip of the author’s pen.” Somehow Gordon transmutes Kulak’s phrasing into a hardly less offensive locution that Muslim members of communities supporting terror deserve retaliation. Kulak advocated western nations and Israel invading Pakistan to exterminate Muslim militants. Gordon’s articulation would also justify such egregious violation of international law. So what has his warped apologia gained? Not much.
To make matters worse, the paper has published a defense Kulak wrote of his column in which he included this memorable contradiction of the passage I quoted above:
I never advocated the wanton killing of innocent Muslims…
Has he forgotten this passage? “They killed our innocents, and unless we kill theirs, they will go on killing ours.” I thought killing innocents was automatically “wanton” killing. Or has somehow Islamist terror caused the killing of Muslim civilians to become acceptable?
The ADL, the ony Jewish group to respond in any way to this Jewish publishing outrage, published a generic objection that wasn’t even attributed to a staff person:
We were shocked by Lawrence Kulak’s suggestion that Jews should kill innocent Muslim civilians to counter Islamic terrorism.
Regardless of one’s views on terrorism, to even entertain the notion of responding in kind is morally reprehensible and appalling. It is unfair to hold innocent Muslims responsible for the radical views of an extreme minority.
In the Jewish tradition, words have consequences. In this case, Kulak’s words crossed the line.
“Crossed the line.” That’s as bothered as the organized Jewish community seems to be by Kulak’s Islamophobic hate.
I’m pleased to note as distinguished a theologian as University of Chicago professor Martin Marty has denounced the Five Towns diatribe in Sightings his weekly newsletter:
Kulak is unsentimental in his “kill them all” approach…The problem of making a principle of this…is that the…counter-belligerents who read this…editorial–and read them they do–find occasion to raise the price, engage in more indiscriminate violence, and that, in turn…impels us to raise it still higher and engage in ever more violence…We all know that in all wars, including those we call “just” or “good,” there are “collateral damages” and deaths of innocents. However, making a principle out of doing so, and especially doing so on religious grounds, only invites more violence. Then there are no eyes to trade for eyes, teeth to exact for teeth, while hatred and violence triumph.
If Martin Marty finds this important enough to write about why can’t Jewish organizations? Why can’t Abe Foxman actually sign his name to the ADL denunciation of this malarkey? Why can’t we Jews tell the world in no uncertain terms that the Kulaks and any Jewish paper that publishes him do not represent us in any way shape and form?
I note that Reb Kulak discovered my denunciation of his work and published his own diatribe here:
I would love to personally drive you and Marty into Gaza and then return several hours later to watch the vultures pick at the remains. (and later watch the vultures drop dead from ingesting poison)
That’s slightly less murderous than advocating mass killing of Muslim innocents, but not much. Thanks to RM for the links and some background research for this post.