Passover 2002: Attacks from Lyon to Netanya

March 30, 2002

"THE VERY CORE OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A JEW"

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach two items below about attacks on Jews as they celebrate Passover this year, one in France, one in Israel. This is a follow up to the previous dispatch on this list Passover massacre bomber was on Israel's wanted list (March 27, 2002).

Mark Steyn writes: "This wasn't a pizza parlour or a bus: the terrorist struck, as the New York Post's John Podhoretz put it, 'at the very core of what it means to be a Jew.' It made explicit, as if that were necessary, that this particular 'liberation struggle' puts a premium on being anti-Jew rather than pro-Palestinian."

Steyn, whom is a Baptist, adds: "Nineteen hundred and sixty something years ago, He was celebrating Passover. Christ's Last Supper was the first day of Pesach, the same ritual those Israeli diners were observing on Wednesday when a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated himself."

(Both Mark Steyn and John Podhoretz are subscribers to this email list.)

-- Tom Gross



VANDALS CRASH TWO CARS THROUGH MAIN ENTRANCE OF SYNAGOGUE IN SOUTHEASTERN FRANCE

Vandals crash cars through synagogue in southeastern France
The Associated Press
March 30, 2002

Vandals crashed two cars through the main entrance of a synagogue in southeastern France early Saturday, then parked one of the vehicles in the main prayer hall and set it on fire, police said.

Recently, gasoline bombs and stones have been hurled at synagogues, and vandals torched part of a Jewish elementary school in southern France, leaving behind spray-painted messages reading: "Death to the Jews" and "Bin Laden will conquer."

 

"STRUGGLE PUTS A PREMIUM ON BEING ANTI-JEW"

"Struggle puts a premium on being anti-Jew"
By Mark Steyn
The Daily Telegraph,
March 30, 2002

It's not that I place less value on Palestinian lives, but that Chairman Arafat and his chums in Hamas do, says Mark Steyn

Easter usually finds me at my little New Hampshire Baptist Church, one of those white clapboard meeting houses that, as medieval stone churches do in English villages, make Christianity seem indigenous. This year, though, I'm en route from Europe to the Middle East, which puts a different spin on things. Jesus never saw a clapboard church or an Anglican vicar in a dog collar. Nineteen hundred and sixty something years ago, He was celebrating Passover. Christ's Last Supper was the first day of Pesach, the same ritual those Israeli diners were observing on Wednesday when a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated himself, killing 20 and injuring almost 200, but no doubt earning big bonus points with those 72 virgins who will surely pleasure him in Paradise all the more assiduously.

In Jesus's Last Supper, one miracle the Jews' liberation from slavery in Egypt prefigures another, Christ's resurrection. Christians have prospered in the two millennia since: they have the luxury of turning a celebration of survival into an excuse for chocolate eggs and toy bunnies. Not so the Jews. Throughout the same period, they have raised a cup of wine each Passover and spoken the same words from the Haggada: "In every generation, they rise up against us to destroy us." And this year, in Netanya, before they could even say the words, they were blown apart. This wasn't a pizza parlour or a bus: the terrorist struck, as the New York Post's John Podhoretz put it, "at the very core of what it means to be a Jew". It made explicit, as if that were necessary, that this particular "liberation struggle" puts a premium on being anti-Jew rather than pro-Palestinian.

Just as revealing was the reaction from the European media. In the American press, you read things like: "An observer to the bomb-blast scene described a dead young girl, perhaps 10 or 12, lying on the ground with her eyes open, looking as if she was surprised." For Europe, on the other hand, the main significance of this development was that it was "unhelpful" to the "peace process". Before I'm accused of being more upset about dead Jewish than dead Muslim kids, let me say that I take people at their own estimation: in the Palestinian Authority schools, they teach their children about the glories of martyrdom; indeed, the careers guidance counsellor appears to have little information on alternative employment prospects; at social events, the moppets are dressed up as junior jihadi, with toy detonators and play bombs. It's not that I place less value on Palestinian lives, but that Chairman Arafat and his chums in Hamas do. So does Saddam Hussein, whose government (the subject of an admiring article in this week's Spectator) gives $25,000 to the family of each Palestinian suicide bomber. So does the Arab League, which at last year's summit passed a resolution hailing the "spirit of sacrifice" of the Palestinian "martyrs" and thus licensed Wednesday's massacre. As for the "peace process", those Europeans who, just a few months ago, were urging the Americans to cease operations for Ramadan evidently feel no compunction to demand from Chairman Arafat and his dark subsidiaries any similar "bombing pause" for Passover.

In the days after September 11, we were told that Muslims had great respect for their fellow "people of the book" ie, Jews and Christians. This ought to be so: after all, the dramatis personae of the Koran include Abraham, Moses, David, John the Baptist, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. It's one thing to believe that the Israelis are occupiers and oppressors and that the Zionist state should not exist. But no Muslim with any understanding of his shared heritage could in good conscience blow up a Passover Seder. It marks a new low in the Palestinians' descent into nihilism though, as usual, the silence of the imams is deafening. As for the nonchalance of the Europeans, that too should not surprise us: in my experience, the Continent's Christians, practicing and nominal, find the ceremonies of Jewish life faintly creepy, notwithstanding that these were also the rituals by which their own Saviour lived.

But this year, when the Christians' solar calendar and the Jews' lunar calendar have coincided and Easter and Passover fall together, it's a safe bet that George W Bush will make the connection. The first time I ever heard him speak, he spoke openly about his faith and about Christ in a way that would be unimaginable for a British politician. He will know all the details "the baby tried to crawl away, but it died, too". Unlike the Europeans, he must know too that Yasser Arafat could never run any kind of state: give him Switzerland and he'd turn it into a sewer. The only question now is whether Bush will realise how disastrous the last month has been in his retreat from the moral clarity displayed after September 11. The President has been reduced to mumbling Beltway shorthand about the need to comply with "Tenet" and "Mitchell", while Dick Cheney's shuttle diplomacy to shore up "moderate" Arab support for war with Iraq has resulted only in spectacular rapprochements between Iraq and Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, etc. Wednesday's bloodbath should open their eyes: just because it's Easter, that's no reason to lay any more huge eggs.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.