Behold, I am neither a seer nor a prophet yet I am able to see the future. By merely gazing at the past I gain insight into tomorrow. The world’s stage never really changes, only the actors and scenes do. The fanatical Islamic terrorist in Europe today is no different than the radicalized thugs of yesteryear. The location, ideologies, and garb may change, however the story line remains the same.  Today there are appeasers who believe that free speech should be on trial and that our democratic liberties must be curtailed. They firmly question the western world’s lack of empathy for Islamic sensitivities, yet never utter a word about Islamic insensitivity toward other religions. The claims of seeing an apparition of Neville Chamberlain in the halls of the UN may be untrue, but rest assure his spirit is present.


I peruse the Torah for answers and read the history of our past while gaining insight into our future. The Pharaohs of Egypt, the Hamans of Persia, and the Nevuchadnetzers of Babylon, were all a reincarnations, inseminated with similar corrupted philosophies. I may have a lonely position that is deemed politically incorrect, but I don’t believe it is an Anti-Semitic agenda that fosters hatred across the globe. I believe Anti-Semitism is merely a means to a desired result and not the goal itself.  ISIS may want a caliphate, the Saudis may want global Wahhabism, and the Iranian’s may want a Sunni/Shiite conciliation under the power of the Khomeini regime.  The Jew is merely a thorn in an Antichrist sort of way. For over a millennium, Christianity sought the spiritual demise of the Jew in order to foster their religious doctrines. Throughout their checkered history the Christians didn’t shy away from righteous crusades and violence to achieve their ambitions. The Jew, of course, was a target – but not the only target. Anyone or anything that stood in their way was dispensable.   Unfortunately, the Jew seems to be at the forefront of every conflict and has always been the world’s barometer on social, religious, and moral behavior.


However, this is not a Jewish problem. Israel is not being harassed because it is Jewish, Israel is being harassed because it is the easiest target. Similarly, the Jew is not being targeted because they are Jewish, but rather because targeting the Jew results in little global outrage or political ramifications. The Islamic world will cheer, the European world will cower in fear, and the Americans will be silenced into submission and labeled a dishonest broker.


When all seems doom and gloom, the world will begin to realize the error of its ways. Japan is neither a friend nor a foe, yet recently ISIS kidnapped two Japanese nationals and offered their freedom for a nominal sum of two hundred million dollars.  Thank God, the Japanese refused to meet their demands. Charlie Hebdo is not a Jewish periodical and is not an outright supporter of Zionism or the Jewish cause. They were targeted because the world’s sensitivities are in disarray, and the terrorists think they have won the battle and are marching towards victory. They are hoping for a time when peace will reign supreme and all adversaries will capitulate, when fear of subjugation is less threatening than fear of demise.


I do not deny that Anti-Semitism exists and always existed. It was only seventy years ago that our people went through the Holocaust which is proof of a vehement anti-Semitic policy that can never be challenged.  I am concerned that if global terror is showcased through the lens of anti-Semitism, then it ceases to forge a cohesive response and divides people into partisan politics. The debate is no longer about terrorism, the depth of fanaticism, or the strangulation of freedom. The debate becomes a theistic issue that puts world religions on a colliding orbit. It will become an issue that is relegated to the back-burner of concern; one that can’t be resolved. As a result, the terrorist wins as the world remains silent.


In the Torah portion this week, Moshe is told by God, “Go to Pharaoh for I have hardened his heart.” In other words, God tells Moshe that although Pharaoh recognized that he had sinned, God was correct. Pharaoh would still be unwilling to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt. Thus, the remaining three plagues were necessary to persuade Pharaoh to change his mind. Perhaps God didn’t actually harden his heart, because doing so would have negated his free will. The hardened heart may be a metaphor. They are so motivated to achieve their master plan that no obstacle will stand in their way. Their single mindedness is so focused that they can justify the most heinous of crimes, including the obliteration of innocent societies.


As I stated, I am neither seer nor prophet. However, I do know that capitulation works quite well if we want to accept a demoralized second class tier of global citizenship. The only other option is that we go to the Pharaoh of our time and remind him of this Torah portion. Tell him that merely a few thousand years ago your predecessor went all in, thinking he had the best hand, but history recalls only his ultimate demise. Tell him that if the first nine plagues fail to stem the tide of aggression, then sadly the tenth plague will surely have the desired result. No, I am not violent nor do I believe in violence. However, sometimes we have to remind people that those that live by the sword…


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Jack Engel

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