Howard Rotberg
Howard Rotberg Courtesy

World Israel News reported this week thatafter the Islamist terrorist hostage taking at a Texas Reform Temple, a Muslim anti-Israel and pro-BDS activist named Alia Salem said she has been friends with Congregation Beth Israel Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and his wife for over 15 years’ She tweeted that the Rabbi and his wife “are the kindest, most gentle, and loving people who have been absolute rock-solid friends and allies not only to me but to the entire (my emphasis) Muslim community through thick and thin.”

The terrorist attack was, the Islamist terrorist said, to be aimed at getting the release of anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-American convicted terrorist Aisha Siddiqui who received a sentence of 86 years in federal prison. The Rabbi’s friend Ms. Salem has been active in the same cause of getting her released. In fact last August she reposted a statement from imprisoned terrorist Omar Barghouti who called Israel a “racist” and “supremacist” state. She also protested Israel’s right to self-defense during last May’s Operation Guardian of the Walls and demanded that President Biden stop giving (sic) money for weapons to “Israeli apartheid.”.

She has also tweeted that Israel drops bombs on a “defenseless urban population in Palestine,”

I like to read tweets from political figures who fire off quick tweets that sometimes let the truth shine out from beneath politically correct posts. When Salem tweeted that the Rabbi and his wife “are the kindest, most gentle, and loving people who have been absolute rock-solid friends and allies not only to me but to the entire (my mphasis) Muslim community through thick and thin,” she perhaps inadvertently let slip a significant point: In saying that her friends were rock-solid allies of the entire Muslim community, she inferred that the Rabbi was allied with all sorts of Muslims. And that is the problem.

Is the Rabbi then allied with hard-core radical Islamists? I am sure he would say not, but In the West we ought to by now know that Islamists are the dangerous jihadi making use of terrorism to attain a world-wide caliphate governed by Sharia Law. The Islamists, who include the Muslim Brotherhood, believe that once land has ever come under Muslim rule, that it can never be held by any other religion. And so they are militant and violent against Israel, Israelis and Jews worldwide who they see as infidels.

USA Today reported five years ago that seven percent of Muslims in America told Pew researchers that violence against civilians is “sometimes” justified in the name of Islam, and 1% said “often.” It is a small percentage, but if there are almost 3 million Muslim adults in America, this means there are more than 200,000 Muslim adults living in America who could justify a suicide bombing in the name of their religion.

At end of an article in the Jewish Press, a former congregant of Congregation Beth Israel and Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker commented: “This is my old synagogue, I left due to a few issues, first, the Rabbi called Israel an apartheid state against Islam, and a second, he didn't allow his members (including myself) to be armed during services.”

We don’t have enough information to call Ms. Salem an “islamist” but if the Rabbi is said by a friend of 15 years to be allied with the entire Muslim community, then this friend has some reason to believe that alliance would include Islamists as well as moderate Muslims.

That is, it could be the more moderate and Islam-friendly a person is, the more he or she becomes a target to the Islamists. If that person is well-known, then taking him hostage or in other cases, his murder, will spread the message that Islamists are ready to die for their cause. When Islamism comes into contact with a kind and loving Jewish anti-Israel activist like the Rabbi, the public relations value for an attack is greater.

Moreover, as I have written before in my book, Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed (Mantua Books), there are people (I contend the Rabbi is one) who have reacted to the rather constant Islamist terrorism around the world by adopting a cultural Stockholm Syndrome, where they begin to identify with the terrorists, especially if they are hostages, or if their identification with the Islamists has begun to overtake their identification with Israel, their actual homeland.

I predict the Rabbi will become an even stronger advocate of “interfaith” relations and kindness to Islamists who might be embedded in the “entire community”.

Note how the lead FBI agent spoke immediately after the incident:

FBI Dallas Special Agent Matt DeSarno said of the hostages who were held by an obviously unstable terrorist for some 10 hours: “He did not harm them in any way.” Not harmed? Has he never heard of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

DeSarno did not at first confirm the suspect’s demands, but said they were “focused on one issue that was not specifically threatening to the Jewish community”. That is most bizarre since walking into a Jewish house of worship in the middle of Sabbat services was hardly just a coincidence. The pattern of woke FBI and other police services to minimize the antisemitic nature of these attacks is so sad.

We also know that the terrorist Malik Faisal Akram, 44, is a British citizen. We now know that two teenagers, potential accomplices, have been arrested in Britain.. And we also know that a British Islamist, who comes to Texas to try to achieve the release of an Islamist prisoner who is in jail for 86 years, happens to go to a Temple 16 miles north of Fort-Worth in which city is the federal prison holding the terrorist. Why did he choose a Temple and not a fast-food restaurant? Did the FBI try to answer that question?

Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller told reporters late on Saturday that investigators had no immediate information "that indicates this is part of any ongoing threat.” Doesn’t the threat of antisemitic Islamism constitute an ongoing threat? It is true, however, that most jihadist attacks against Jews and others now take place in Europe rather than America.

But as America has elected a President more willing to allow mass immigration including Islamists into the country compared to President Trump and as the percentage of Muslims nation-wide approaches that of Europe’s, American Jews, one would think, will be targeted more often.

The Rabbi has said that he let the terrorist come in as he thought the man might need shelter and then made him a cup of tea. That was very nice to do that in the middle of prayers, but the Rabbi jeopardized his life and the life of the few congregants there. Should we call it bravery or naivete? Whether we let unvetted Islamists into the country, or let an unknown terrorist into a Temple, we are broadcasting our weakness and how easy it can be for terrorists to do their terrible deeds.

Akram’s brother posted on Facebook that his brother suffered from a mental illness. That is par for the course after terrorist acts. Perhaps that illness is called Islamism and all Muslims coming into the country, especially single males, should be vetted to make certain that they are not bringing the disease into the country, as it is surely a pandemic - that started in the Middle East with the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada in Israel - and has spread around the world. It is past time to recognize it for what it is, and to insist our leaders stop the infection and the pandemic.


Howard Rotberg is the author of The Second Catastrophe: A Novel about a Book and its Author, Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed and The Ideological Path to Submission... and what we can do about it. He is president of Mantua Books. This article also appeared in the New English Revew.