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February 16, 2012 - Image 35

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-02-16

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Old Arab Order from page 34

are part of the old Arab order because
they back Arab nationalism, which has
proven an ideological smokescreen for
Sunni Arab domination over the minori-
ties in the Middle East. This nationalism
is what drove the Palestinians to (ill-fat-
edly) join with Saddam Hussein's Baath
regime in suppressing the Shiite majority
and the Kurdish minority in Iraq.
The PLO, founded in 1965 to give voice
to Palestinian refugees living in camps,
is the ultimate example of the old Arab
order, Frisch declares. No argument
there. Death, not democracy, is the only
way to oust leadership in any of the PLO
factions. The same principle applies to
Hamas and its terror network.
"More than anything," Frisch writes,
"the Arab upheavals of the past year are
about instituting a change of leadership
in the Arab world. The Palestinians are
having none of that."
In fact, llamas continues to rain mis-
siles on southern Israel. Fatah, mean-
while, has sabotaged the West Bank's bid
for statehood by its infatuation with the
disingenuous United Nations and snarl-
ing of the beleaguered peace process.

Prospect For Change
Will the Arab Spring, which ultimately
might prove a transformative failure any-
way, pass the old-style Palestinians by?
Maybe. In my mind, they seem too
inbred with the old Arab order to drop
their diabolical tendencies. Long politi-
cal roads typically are paved with land
mines.
Still, Frisch pitches an intriguing long-
shot scenario: "Palestinians could begin
a promising journey toward a demo-
cratic renaissance by acknowledging the
rights they demand from Israel and the
world to others. They could, for example,
support the right of self-determination
of the Kurds, the Berber and the Jewish
peoples, including recognition of Israel
as a Jewish state. Palestinians could and
should take a stand against the oppres-
sion of Egypt's Copts. They could and
should renounce Arab national move-
ments that betray these principles. They
could and should become a voice for
civil rights if and when the new Islamist
regimes in the Arab world begin to deny
these rights to their minorities:'
But will they do any of this? Only
time will tell. I'm not counting on it. The
Palestinians seem inextricably bound to
the old Arab order. But I do buy into one
reason that Frisch is cautiously optimis-
tic.
As he so aptly put it: "Fortunately, the
Palestinians have an example nearby of a
democratic and prosperous state worthy
of emulation — Israel." ❑

Commentary

Haredi Leaders Must Sternly Challenge Zealots

Deafening Silence

Jerusalem/JTA

T

The silence of the majority of our lead-
he recent violence in Beit
ers has allowed a tiny fringe group of
Shemesh and Jerusalem's
extremists to hijack the news media
Mea Shearim neighborhood
into thinking they represent the entire
has led me to speak out against the
haredi Orthodox community in Israel.
so-called sikrikim in the harshest pos-
This terrible generalization could not
sible terms, equating their actions to
be further from the truth and is insult-
terrorism. Sikrikim is the name
ing to those of us who have
given to a fringe anti-Zionist
worked for so many years
to bridge the gaps of under-
vigilante group, loosely linked
to Neturei Karta and said to
standing with all sectors of
have been at the head of many
Israeli society.
As a proud 11th-genera-
of the recent violent attacks
against innocent Israelis.
tion Jerusalemite from Mea
These haredi Orthodox hoo-
Shearim, I know the anti-
Zionist Neturei Karta all
ligans have wreaked havoc
through harassment and vio-
too well, having been raised
lence for far too long.
in their midst and spoon-
fed their ideology through
There would be communal
my formative years. I was
outcry if terrorists dressed up
personally arrested no less
as haredim attacked a bus in
Mea Shearim, br6ke its win-
than 34 times for organiz-
dows and injured innocent men, women
ing protests against what I then saw
as the evil Zionist regime. As I grew
and children. However, if haredim them-
older, I realized that unlike my tradi-
selves do something similar in the name
of religious zealotry, it is somehow
tional attire, not everything is black
condoned by a cloak of silence spread
and white.
My abhorrent view of the "Zionists"
across the haredi community. This dou-
ble standard has to end. And I call upon
came to a sudden and drastic halt on
July 6,1989, when I witnessed the
haredi community leaders who deplore
aftermath of an Islamic Jihad terrorist
their actions to make their voices heard.
attack on the No.
405 bus en route
to Jerusalem from
Tel Aviv. Hearing
the commotion,
I ran from my
yeshivah stud-
WILL NOT
ALLOWING THE
ies to witness a
NECESSARILY FOR CE
IRANIAN SHIITES TO
sobering image
THE SUNNI ARABS
BUILD NUCLEAR
that would remain
AND TURKS TO
WEAPONS
imprinted on my
mind forever.
RESPOND BY
Sixteen innocent
Jews lay among
the carnage,
including young
soldiers, elderly
Jerusalemites,
North American
tourists and
Israeli teenagers.
BUILDING

Dry Bones PROLFERATION

THEIR OWN
NUKES!

NO?

ett

NO!

THEY MIGHT
JUST BUY THEIR
BOMBS FROM
i.e . . NORTH KOREA.

E

Inspired To
Serve

Suddenly, it
became clear
in my mind that
if terrorists do
not discrimi-
nate between
Jews, then nei-
ther should I.

Instinctively I ran toward the mangled
bus and began to help prepare the
victims for burial. Unbeknown to me at
the time, these were the humble begin-
nings of ZAKA.
I began to use my organizational
skills and contacts to build a frame-
work in which young haredi Orthodox
men could volunteer and give back to
society in a way that no other govern-
ment body was prepared to do. We
took responsibility for collecting the
remains of terror victims for burial,
attending one terror attack after
another. Our volunteers received pro-
fessional training and worked side by
side with all of the other emergency
services. Suddenly people began to
associate haredi Jews, once viewed
as outsiders who did not serve their
country, as caring individuals fulfilling
a critical role in society.
Today, ZAKA has thousands of
volunteers from all sectors in Israeli
society – Jews, Christians, Druze and
Muslims. Our work has progressed into
that of a U.N.-recognized international
rescue-and-recovery organization with
branches across the globe, ready to
deploy to any mass casualty situation.
Once I realized that the Jewish peo-
ple were one, I began to understand our
global role as a "light unto the nations."
What better light can we provide than
saving lives and assisting others in their
time of need, irrespective of race, color
or creed? As our sages tell us, "All of
mankind was created in the image of
God" – not just Jews, and certainly not
just haredi Orthodox Jews.
As a haredi leader, I felt the need
to publicly distance myself from
these fanatics who hide behind the
legitimacy of religious garb and spend
their time desecrating all that is holy.
Through aggression and sick media
gimmicks, they seek to bully society
into capitulating to their every wish
and paint all of Torah Judaism as xeno-
phobic and intolerant.
The only way to fight their hate is to
increase our love and understanding.
We must continue to work together as
human beings, irrelevant of race, color
or creed, to make this world a better
place for generations to come. ❑

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav is founder and chair-

man of the ZAKA Rescue and Recovery
Organization (www.zaka.us ), which has 1,650
volunteers in Israel and international rescue
units that have assisted at natural disasters in
Japan and Haiti and terror attacks in Mumbai

and Mombasa.

February 16 • 2012

35

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