Ramadan: A Month of ‘Blessings’

“And God said to her: Two nations are in your womb, and two nations from within your insides would separate, and one people will be stronger than the other people, and the elder will serve the younger.” Genesis 25:23 God to Rivka, the wife of Isaac son of Abraham

Redheaded Eisav (Esau), the elder, and Jacob who was born holding the heel of Eisav, were born when Isaac was 60. Jacob was his mother’s favorite while Eisav, the man of hunting and the outdoors, was his father’s. It was Jacob, though, who obtained his father’s blessing to him and his seed with him: “to inherit the land where he lives, the land which God has given to Abraham” (Genesis 28:4) as well as the previous blessing: “those who curse you will be cursed and those who will bless you will be blessed” (Genesis 27:29).

From the beginning of time, brothers – Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau – had succumbed to human nature. It seems that nothing much has changed over the millennia: murder and intrigue, famine and migrations, fear, retribution, envy and wars.

It is exactly because the three major monotheistic religions stem from one, from Abraham’s complete belief in the God of the Hebrews, and because the Muslims and Jews are descendants of the very same forefathers, that to this very day we see the similarities between the religions. It is also why reconciliation has not been reached and cannot be reached. From Biblical times, there is no place for two equals. It was as obvious then as today.

Go out and look at the moon as a new moon is born, a new month starts. It is no coincidence that Ramadan starts this year at the same time as the new Jewish month of Elul, the month of repentance (Slichot – asking for forgiveness). Nor should one be surprised by the similarities between the observances during the two months.

It was at the beginning of Elul that Moses ascended Mount Sinai following the Golden Calf incident. Moses stayed there until the tenth of the following month (Day of Atonement) when repentance was complete and he descended with the tablets of the Ten Commandments.

As Jews spend the month of Elul preparing for the Jewish New Year, Muslims fast each day, and attempt to do good deeds. Ramadan for Muslims is a month of “blessings, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, renewal of relationship, brotherhood, charity and compassion.”

But this is exactly where it all ends. Ramadan, which derives its virtuous source from Judaism of Biblical times, has detached itself from the professed purpose and has become void of virtue.

What is Virtue? The lesson is simple: If it is wrong to murder, it is equally wrong to murder one of your own (a “believer”) as it is to murder anyone else (“non believer,” or for the Muslims – Christians and Jews).

If it is wrong to launch missiles at population centers or to blow oneself up at a wedding, there should be no difference in theory if the targets are in Jordan or Israel, victims Muslim Arabs or Jewish Israelis. Regrettably, this is not the case today.

The Torah teaches us our actions must apply equally to all, but particularly toward those weaker, more fragile and dependent, like the foreigner (stranger), widow and orphan.

Israel goes out of her way to be a humane, considerate and welcoming country. The Israel Defense Forces announced today a series of special actions that commence tonight and will last for the duration of the month of Ramadan.

This annual accommodation enacted by Israel extends from instructing her soldiers not to eat, drink or smoke in public, out of respect, to facilitating movement with great ease as well as permitting men over 50 and women over 45 or married men over 40 and married women over 30 to attend prayers at the Temple Mount.

What is in store for Israel? 37 years ago, those who are today permitted to go to the Temple Mount were part of a surprise attack on Israel on her holiest day, the Day of Atonement, ten days after the Jewish month of repentance has ended. What were Israel’s enemies repenting for then, the inability to previously destroy the Jewish People?

The surprise war was most successful. Israel was caught off guard. It was a brutal and fateful war. Since, the world seems to have gone from bad to worse. All boundaries were broken, all red lines crossed. It has become permissible to openly hate Jews because they are Jews and act on that hatred in despicable ways. The process of negating the legitimacy of the Jewish State and thus the Jews’ right to exist has reached its pinnacle.

A process that started long ago is about to be completed. For two millennia the Jewish people faced a constant battle for survival. The most challenging battle still lies ahead.

The current repentance of the Muslims is insincere, for they selectively apply the most sacred rules, like “though shall not kill,” depending on who is the victim. When murder becomes acceptable, even permitted and encouraged, boundaries no longer exist. And no one is speaking against the practice, as the Islamists readily issue Fatwas (religious edicts) calling to kill those who may dare utter the truth.

It is difficult for the West to understand Islam when it appears nothing is sacred. We do not internalize the evidence. We see Muslims murder each other with vigor and enthusiasm sparing not even their own holy places. All that one needs to do is review the daily death toll in Iraq, where Muslims are involved, as they vile their own holy places throughout the country.

Islamists do not prohibit or condemn murder, whether committed against believers or non-believers. The experience in Israel and elsewhere (9/11 in the USA) clearly shows the Islamists’ attempt to expand their rule to a global caliphate with no regard to human life.

Do they care about anything else? That there is no sanctity of life we have already shown. They profess the sanctity of their holy places, but even this is in doubt.

During Ramadan this year, a month I am spending in Israel, allow me to present the following question to the Believers, the most devout among the Islamists: What is greater – your hatred of the Jews or respect for your own third holiest site? Will you cause the destruction of the Temple Mount (thus of the El Aqsa Mosque) just to usher in the global revolt against the Jews?

Recent history and current events teach us the answer is yes. Israel and the Jews will be blamed for an event brought about by the Islamists against what they call “holy.” Simply, their hatred is driven by a “holier” decree, the total eradication of the Jewish people.

May we all live long enough to see a day when religions respect one another and people live in peace and security. Such a place exists already, the Jewish State of Israel that Islamic extremists are determined to annihilate. Until such time, may Israel’s cursers continue to be cursed and her blessers continue to be blessed.

The writers invite readers to view and experience an Israel and her politics through their eyes, Israel visitors rarely discover.

*This point-and often-counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites and is followed regularly by readership from around the world.*

In the series “Postcards from Israel,” Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from home. Israel and the United States are inter-related – the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts – and so is this “point – counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.