Hell. The worst place in hell!

 

“It is obvious that we can no more explain a passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.” –  T. S. Eliot.

 

by Alan Simons

Avrum Rosensweig has passion. He is the founder and President of Ve’ahavta, Canada’s only national Jewish organization dedicated to humanitarian aid and relief in Canada and abroad.

This weekend his passion about how Syria is treating its children exceeded itself in an ardent statement he made on his Facebook site. It stems in part from an article written by Angela Dewan of CNN. Dewan writes: “The United Nations has verified 7,000 cases of children either killed or maimed in Syria’s seven-year war, but says unverified reports puts the number ‘way beyond 20,000.’”

She adds: “This year has been particularly woeful for Syria’s children as violations against them rise significantly, according to a UN monitoring body, which has verified more than 1,200 such violations, including the deaths or injury of more than 600 children.” To which Rosensweig responded:

Hell. The worst place in hell that equals Syria. According to this report, 7,000 children are dead because of the war there. However informal reports reflect a number closer to 20,000. Hell!!!

And when you read this article you’ll be absolutely astonished at what these armies did to children. Hell!!!

I want to incinerate those responsible for harming and murdering children. Kick them off the edge of a cliff one after the other. Animals. Absolute vicious animals with no will for humanity, no caring for life. And the UN remains silent. And the Arab nations remain quiet. And the “great” powers are complicit.

Hell.

I don’t know about God’s creations sometimes. Just don’t know. Yes, people are responsible but a god fearing person cannot leave the divine out of the equation. To do so would mean God is only responsible for good as in “thank God”.

How could that be? Hell. Hell. Hell. On our watch. As we watch. We too are responsible and cannot hide from this barbarism which happens during our lifetime. Hell!!!! All we can say right now is I’m sorry we did nothing for you children who died.

At least we can pray for the perpetrators to go to hell.

To return to Dewan’s article: “The UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) team has continued to work on verifying violations against children in the war since 2013, when the Syrian government was accused of killing and maiming children, and attacking schools and hospitals…. The team verifies six violations, namely the recruitment and use of children by parties in the conflict, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on hospitals and schools, abductions, and denial of humanitarian access.”

Virginia Gamba is the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. Dewan quotes Gamba in her article:

“Every year since then, there has been a tremendous increase in all grave violations committed by all parties to the conflict,” Gamba said.

“Most of the recruitment of children was committed by non-state groups, while most killing and maiming was attributable to the Syrian government and pro-government forces.

“In the first three months of this year, there was an increase of 25% in recruitment and use of children, and of 348% in killing and maiming, compared with the previous three months.”

Gamba then goes on to make an absurd and passionless statement: “It is time for the children of Syria to believe in their own future and to learn what peace means. It is time for them to retake the childhood that was taken away from them,”

Madam Gamba. Can you please explain to all of us how you might suggest the children of Syria who have been maimed, raped and have experienced other forms of sexual violence, have been abducted and denied humanitarian access, been shot at, as well as seen their parents and siblings killed in front of them, start to believe in their own future and learn what peace means?

 

Photo credit: CNN ( No copyright infringement intended)

Ve’ahavta was founded in 1996 and celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2016. Areas of work include South America, the Caribbean, in Asia (during the tsunami in Thailand and the Hurricane in the Philippines), and communities in rural Africa (affected by AIDS), and advocating awareness about the genocide in Darfur. Locally, he has initiated many programs for the disadvantaged in Toronto (Passover Seder for the Homeless (co-sponsored by Toronto’s Congregation Habonim), Creative Writing Contest for the Homeless, Homework Partnership Program for Somalian Children etc.), as well as forming alliances with the Jewish and First Nations communities.

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Rwanda: 7 April 2017. Never Again!

Four words:

Duhore Tuzilikana Kirazira Kwibagirwa!

We Must Never Forget!

Today, 7 April 2017 is the 23rd Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi. 

by Alan Simons

In a few weeks time, on 23 April at sundown, Jews throughout the world observe Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. It is the day where we pay tribute to all the victims of the Holocaust and ghetto uprisings. Inaugurated 64 years ago we like you, have no intention of forgetting our loved ones. Therefore, as a Jew, my message to you is not from a stranger, but from a brother and partner. For in commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, your loss, is also my loss.

However, I ask myself what right do I have to speak of such experiences of genocide?

Who am I to speak of such unthinkable acts of violence and cruelty, unequaled in modern history?

I never witnessed killings, or had my life threatened. I never lost immediate family members, nor witnessed rape or sexual mutilation, or had to hide under corpses.

Rwanda April 7 2017 bSo, what authority gives me the right to speak about Rwanda’s genocide, to talk about your families and friends who perhaps survived these 23 years, and hopefully, I repeat hopefully, have been able to overcome their traumatic experiences and find optimism in the future, as well as speak of those who were murdered?

Well, a few years ago President Kagame of Rwanda, photographed above, said: “The world chose to watch as one million were being slaughtered. Victims were turned into perpetrators and justice was turned into a political tool. The world has shown us that we cannot afford not to fight. Do not be afraid to stand up for truth, justice and for who we are. The only way to live in this world is to stand up for ourselves, stay true to who we are and define our own destiny.”

Perhaps, more than anything, it is in these words that binds Jews and Rwandans together in a mutual understanding of what intolerance and hate is all about in our society today. And, we have only to look at the past few weeks of what happened in London, a few hours ago in Stockholm, as well as the gassing earlier this week of children and adults in Syria, to appreciate the scope and threat of the world we continue to live in.

Hate is hate, irrespective of one’s religion, colour or nationality.

Even now in Canada there are deniers of both the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust who continue to thrust their sick fermented ideas into the international arena. As Hitler remains centre stage to many antisemites, it was only a couple of months ago that Rwanda’s deniers actually competed to question who was to blame for the 1994 killings. 

It’s been said that sadness is but a wall between two gardens. May all of those who perished in the genocide be remembered for their beauty and fragrance that grace our gardens.

My dear Rwandan brothers and sisters, finding an appropriate way of honouring and remembering the dead is one of the goals of the mourning process. For, as Elie Wiesel the Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor said, “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

(Photo credits: From Paul Kagame’s Post, in Timeline Photos)

 

The plight this Christmas of the Christian community in the Palestinian Territories.

jin-december-24-2016-feature

Part of this article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute, and republished with permission by jewishinfoNews on December 24, 2016

Yet another wake-up call!

by Alan Simons

The Palestinian Information Center, so-called “Voice of Palestine to the World and the Voice of the World to Palestine,” as seen in the illustration above, directs its oppugnant Christmas message to the world. One would surmise, at this time of year, an honourable declaration of peace, compassion and goodwill to mankind that encompasses all that is good in Jesus Christ and Mary would be appropriate. Think again! At the time of writing this article, PICs website extends no hand in friendship and not even to its own Christian community in the West Bank and Gaza.

Within the Palestinian Territories the Christian population, comprising of a mere grain of sand compared to the overwhelming number of predominantly Sunni Muslims, only 1,100 Christians live in the Gaza Strip compared to 5,000 in 2006. And in the West Bank only 42,000 Christians remain. One wonders, with some dismay, what is to become of its Christians? Will history repeat itself as in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt?

This morning, Khaled Abu Toameh, who is based in Jerusalem  and is one of the areas most respected journalists, in an article originally published by the Gatestone Institute, and republished below with permission by jewishinfoNews, had something to say about the plight of the Christian community in the Palestinian Territories. Irrespective of your religious faith, I urge you to read it now!

Palestinians: The Nightmare of Christians

  • For the past four decades, Samir Qumsieh, who hails from a large and well-respected Christian family in the town of Bet Sahour, near Bethlehem, has fought for the rights of the region’s minuscule Palestinian Christian minority. He has even dared to speak out against the subjugation of Christians living under the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
  • He regularly receives death threats, and he has been the target of a petrol bomb attack.
  • “The solution to extremism starts with the kindergarten, with elementary school. It begins with the churches, with the mosques and the school curricula. Curricula are very important – Jewish, Christian and Muslim ones. They should concentrate on accepting the ‘other.’ If this idea is adopted, the future generation will be liberal and open-minded.” — Samir Qumsieh.
  • “Every day we hear and see some radical Muslim clerics speaking strongly against Christians. Just recently, one of the sheiks was saying that Christian Copts should be slaughtered like sheep. Where is the Egyptian security? If I were in charge of Egyptian security, I would have this sheikh arrested immediately, and have him rot in a dark underground cell.” — Samir Qumsieh.
  • “To understand the severity of the situation is, let us recall that in the 1950s about 86% of the population of the Bethlehem area was Christian. Today, we are only 12%. In Israel, by contrast, we have 133,000 Christians and the figure is stable. Of course, I am worried about the future of Christians here.” — Samir Qumsieh.
  • “I fear the day will come when our churches will become museums. is my nightmare.” — Samir Qumsieh.

Without question, Samir Qumsieh is one of the most courageous Christian leaders in the Middle East. Qumsieh is one of the few willing to risk his life to speak out against Muslim persecution of Christians in the Palestinian territories and the Middle East, generally.

For the past four decades, Samir Qumsieh, who hails from a large and well-respected Christian family in the town of Bet Sahour, near Bethlehem, has fought for the rights of the region’s miniscule Palestinian Christian minority. He has even dared to speak out against the subjugation of Christians living under the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The plight of the Christians living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is a subject truly taboo. Yet Qumsieh perseveres – and pays the price. He regularly receives death threats, and he has been the target of a petrol bomb attack. Muslim extremists have also distributed leaflets in the Bethlehem area condemning him for his outspoken views and activities on behalf of persecuted Christians.

Samir Qumsieh.

However, the campaign of intimidation has not deterred Qumsieh from defending them.

In an exclusive interview with Gatestone Institute, the prominent Christian figure, who founded the private Nativity TV Station in Bet Sahour, accuses the Obama Administration of failing to combat ISIS and radical Islam. Qumsieh says he is convinced that President-elect Trump will “terminate” ISIS.

Qumsieh discloses that a “Muslim mafia” has been stealing Christian-owned lands in the Bethlehem area.

As a prominent Palestinian Christian figure in the living in the Middle East, how would you assess the Obama Administration’s role in the war on ISIS?

President Obama is the spiritual father of ISIS. His administration and he were never serious about fighting ISIS. This is what I firmly believe, and many facts confirm my thoughts. When Obama saw that this was about to be exposed, he finally acted, but in a weak manner. He put out a ransom against (ISIS leader) Abu Baker Al-Baghdadi and started telling us that he had bombed ISIS, and so on.

How do you explain Obama’s refusal to use the term radical Islam?

If you ask me, I will tell you the truth: I doubt that Obama is a Christian. Really, I doubt it. During his term, ISIS emerged, and the Christians have suffered heavily. Let me ask you a question. What is ISIS? Why is it that this mobilization of the whole world has not been able to eradicate them? Who can convince me? When America toppled Saddam Hussein, who had a very big and strong army, he collapsed. But when it comes to ISIS, how come they still exist?

Do you believe that President-elect Donald Trump will endorse a different stance toward ISIS?

Absolutely. Trump will obliterate ISIS. Had Hilary Clinton won, believe me ISIS would have continued and flourished. In my view, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the ‘father’ of ISIS, and Clinton is its ‘mother.’

I have a friend who is a painter. He paints portraits of presidents. He is a Muslim, by the way. We sent portraits to King Abdullah, to Mahmoud Abbas and the Pope. He painted a portrait of Obama in front of the Church of Nativity. He worked on it for two months and it cost a lot of money. When the portrait was presented to Obama through the US consul-general in Jerusalem, they did not bother to send a thank you letter to the painter, although I personally talked to the consulate about this. I told them, ‘Gentlemen, this is shameful, at least send a thank-you letter to this man.’ The consul-general at that time came to my office and took the portrait. Doesn’t the painter deserve at least a thank-you letter?

Are you saying that Obama has not done anything to help Christians in the Middle East?

Nothing at all. As I said, I think he was not serious about fighting ISIS, which has harmed the Christians very badly.

In your opinion, what is the best way to fight religious extremism?

I have always said that the solution to extremism is not through the military or security. The solution to extremism starts with the kindergarten, with elementary school. It begins with the churches, with the mosques and the school curricula. Curricula are very important – Jewish, Christian and Muslim ones. They should concentrate on accepting the ‘other.’ If this idea is adopted, the future generation will be liberal and open-minded.

But isn’t the turmoil and violence in the Middle East the result of religious extremism?

The current conflict in the entire region is a religious and sectarian war. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are Sunni. They are against Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Alawite regime of Bashar Assad in Syria. So we are witnessing a religious and sectarian war. This is not only a conflict between Sunnis and Shias.

How do you feel as a Christian when you see what is happening to Christians in the Middle East, especially the recent bombing of a church in Egypt?

What is happening is extremely sad, especially the bombing of a church. I think the Egyptian authorities should act decisively. Every day we hear and see some radical Muslim clerics speaking strongly against Christians. Just recently, one of the sheiks was saying that Christian Copts should be slaughtered like sheep. Where is the Egyptian security? If I was in charge of Egyptian security, I would have this sheikh arrested immediately, and have him rot in a dark underground cell.

Are you aware of Palestinian Muslim clerics who also speak out against Christians?

Yes. This past Friday, one of the sheikhs at a mosque was speaking in a threatening way about Christians. He said that Muslim youths should not imitate Christian youths, and should not wish them well at Christmas. He also said that Muslims should not be doing business with Christians. The sheikh said some highly intimidating things about Christians.

Did the Christians protest against this incitement by the sheikh?

My cousin, who is a retired officer with the Palestinian Authority Intelligence Security Department, published something about the Friday sermon on Facebook. The following day he had to delete the post because it seems he received threats or something like that. When I told my cousin that I will talk with the Palestinian Authority attorney-general about it, he asked me not to talk to anyone. My cousin said, ‘Please don’t talk about this matter because we are 40 Christian families in that area (where the sheikh lives). It is clear to me that my cousin did receive threats, although he would not admit to it.

How would you describe relations between Christians and Muslims in the Bethlehem area?

Objectively speaking, there are millions of Muslims who are good people. I have many close Muslim friends whom I consider as my brothers. The problem is not Muslims. The real problem is radical Islam. In the Quran, there are various kinds of statements, and every Muslim, depending on his belief and attitude, selects what suits him. Some verses call for peace and describe Christians as the ‘People of the Book’ and good people. There are also verses that describe us as infidels and sinful folks. Everyone chooses what appeals to him. According to my humble knowledge, these verses are undated. I think that if they were dated, the fresh ones would supersede the old ones.

My understanding is that you have personally been the target of threats and violent attacks. Can you elaborate?

Yes, I have faced a great deal of harassment, and in 2006 I was even attacked with Molotov cocktails. Also, fliers that spoke against me have been distributed.

What is the main accusation against you? Why are some Muslims angry with you?

When I saw that there was encroachment on Christian-owned land here, I protested against it.

Is it true that Muslims have been illegally laying their hands on Christian property in Bethlehem?

We have a mafia here that is seizing Christian-owned lands. I protested against this Muslim mafia, and I even called a large gathering. I invited 80 people to my home. They included the elite of society – Muslims and Christians. They all joined my protest. That same night, fliers were distributed in Bethlehem threatening to kill me.

What has the Palestinian Authority done to help against you fight this mafia?

There are still many unresolved cases with regards to land encroachment. These cases are in the courts, but our judicial system is very slow. If you go to court, you have to wait 15-20 years. Recently, we have noticed that the encroachments decreased immensely because we have been talking to the Palestinian Authority and pressing them about the problem. Today, there are only a few cases like this taking place. We want all these cases to be solved.

Is there discrimination against Christians living under the Palestinian Authority?

One cannot say that there is official discrimination. President Abbas attends Christmas midnight mass, his prime minister attends the lighting of the Christmas tree. Still, I can simply say that among our people you will find some who harbor radical extremist thoughts. ISIS is a thought. There are Christians working in the Palestinian Authority, but not many. We have Christian mayors, and that is how it should be. Bethlehem, Bet Sahour and Bet Jala have Christian mayors, although some have been demanding that this be changed because Christians are a minority. Fortunately for us, the Palestinian Authority did not respond to these demands.

Do you believe that Christian leaders are doing enough to defend the interests of their people?

Frankly, I do not want the day to come when the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Nativity are turned into museums. Rather, I wish to seize this opportunity hope that it will encourage our leaders to tackle the problem and find a solution. Any Christian businessman who is interested in the general issue of Christians should come and invest here. We want them to build projects, including housing projects. We are also hoping that these projects will provide jobs for young Christians. The biggest problem we are facing is Christian emigration. Some Christians are helping, but this is being done on a very limited scale. But I cannot say that Christian patriarchates are doing their best. Some of them are far from the congregation and do not even care about us. We want wealthy Christians to come here and create project initiatives. It is not enough to say ‘I love the Christians and I care about them.’ This love should be demonstrated through deeds.

Are you worried about the growing number of Christians who are leaving the West Bank and Gaza Strip?

Once, 5,000 Christians lived in the Gaza Strip. When Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2006, Christians began to be harassed and discriminated against. Today, only 1,100 Christians live there. In the Bethlehem area, there are about 40,000 Christians. Altogether, there are about 42,000 Christians remaining in the West Bank. There are two reasons behind the dwindling figures. The first of these is the ongoing emigration, which is a nightmare for us; the second is the low birth rate among Christian families. To understand the severity of the situation is, let us recall that in the 1950s about 86% of the population of the Bethlehem area was Christian. Today, we are only 12%. In Israel, by contrast, we have 133,000 Christians and the figure is stable. Of course, I am worried about the future of Christians here. Looking at the facts on the ground, you can see that there is no future for the Christians here. We are melting; we are disappearing. I fear the day will come when our churches will become museums. That is my nightmare.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER -

OVER SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”