Temple Tantrum

Gazans wasted little time after Israeli troops exited the settlements to descend upon them and wreck the synagogues. It was their way of kicking the Jewish people in the teeth.

Bruce S. Ticker,

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You would think someone had flushed a Koran down the toilet.

In Egypt?s ancient city of Alexandria, thousands rioted in front of a Coptic Christian church last Friday, October 21, and, before that, a young man stabbed a nun inside a church. In Afghanistan the next day, a magazine editor was sentenced to two years in prison for violating the country?s blasphemy laws. He got off easy, since the prosecutor sought the death penalty.

You guessed it - local Muslims were enraged by perceived anti-Islamic insults and sought to punish the heretics and infidels.

?Did we make plays that insult the Christians?? pharmacist Ali Mahmoud asked the New York Times, in reference to the Alexandria outrages. ?They will pay the price in terms of their security, comfort and now no priest will be able to walk in the streets.?

I, too, have a question. Did Israelis ever sack and burn 15 or 20 mosques concentrated within 20 miles of one another? Weeks later, I am still boiling over the vandalism spree at the buildings that housed the Gaza settlements? former synagogues.

I never believed that God gave Gaza and the West Bank to my people. I felt strongly for nearly five years that the settlements in Gaza and some in the West Bank should be withdrawn. I was put off by the settlers? disregard for the hazards faced by soldiers who were deployed to protect the settlements. I understand that synagogue facilities might need to be converted for other uses or even demolished at some point in time, whether in Gaza or along the Bronx?s Grand Concourse.

It is another matter to wantonly sack and burn a facility that is sacred to a religious group, in this case, the Jewish people. That is exactly why many Gazans wasted little time after Israeli troops exited the settlements to descend upon them and wreck the synagogues. It was their way of kicking the Jewish people in the teeth. With one exception, Palestinian security forces did nothing to stop it.

Their open contempt for Jews and Israel was clear evidence that many Palestinians could care less about the pullout in terms of a peace gesture. They would not even pretend to seek reconciliation.

Especially galling is their double standard. The slightest hint of offense to Islam can produce death threats. Just months ago, a report that guards at Guantanamo flushed a Koran down the toilet touched off a media storm. Muslims in America make sure to decry real or perceived discrimination, and they should; yet, they are often strangely silent when Islamic extremists cause violence, especially in Israel. They have been vocal at times, but it is usually in the too-little, too-late style.

There was certainly no outcry over the vandalized synagogues. No one - including the Jewish community - made much noise about the wrecking crew in Gaza.

That is especially bothersome. The Jewish leadership here can pounce on anyone whose criticism of Israel might be viewed as anti-Semitic. Jewish leaders often strike hard and manage to intimidate, or at least shake up, critics of Israel. Sometimes they?re right, sometimes not. At times, a critic?s remarks are vague enough that they really require clarification. Jewish leaders who feel the least bit threatened do not take the time to make a distinction.

With the Gaza synagogues, the Jewish community has a legitimate issue. What happened? The Jewish establishment in America was as restrained over this as they are aggressive when a member of Congress such as Cynthia McKinney or James Moran questions Jewish influence in Congress and the White House. I spotted letters in a few newspapers where the writers questioned the dearth of outrage.

Just as restrained were Christian leaders, some of whom have been busting their humps to break records in disinvestment from Israel. Christians are severely victimized in Muslim-dominated countries. Consider that one of the aforementioned incidents involved a Coptic Christian church that produced a play two years ago depicting a young Christian who converts to Islam and becomes disillusioned; the play was recently distributed on video disc. The Times reported that few people interviewed ever watched the play or the DVD, but it was reputed to be anti-Islamic.

Across the Persian Gulf, an Afghani women?s rights magazine editor, Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, published two articles that a tribunal official claimed had said that apostasy is taboo, but is not a crime under Islam. Nasab was sentenced to two years in jail. Huh? Neither Al Franken nor Bill O?Reilly could get very far in that environment.

This can give anyone the urge to toss a Kor- er, something sacred - down the toilet.


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