Monday, November 16, 2015

Applaud the Muslims Who Condemn Terrorism

Too often all muslims are lumped into one neolithic stereotype of hatred and violence. At times like this, those who are frustrated by the perceived lack of Muslim voices for peace in general must applaud and reinforce statements like this:


               ISLAMIC ASSOCIATION OF LONG ISLAND – THE SELDEN MOSQUE ( The Oldest Mosque of Long Island ) . The Board of Trustees , The Executive committee , and  thousands of Peaceful and Law abiding Muslins of Long Island , New York – along with Muslim leaders are horrified by the terrorist attacks on Friday 13, 2015 in Paris , resulting in massive killing and serious injuries to innocent people . We condemn in strongest terms , all forms of terrorist acts , which are against humanity and Islamic norms . The Noble Law of Islam forbids all acts of aggressions and violence.  We all are united against those who terrorize the innocent civilians , anywhere in the world – Islam has declared  (for those who understand) , the spilling of blood and the destruction of property an absolute prohibition , until the Day of Judgment … It is necessary to apprehend
the perpetrators of these horrible and in humane crimes against humanity , as well as those who aid and abet them through incitement or by other means . Muslims stand in solidarity with the people of the France , we are absolutely saddened  and shaken by the attacks that have taken place in
Paris . Any attack on innocent people is unlawful and contrary to Islamic Law … Muslims are ordered by the Prophetic Traditions for the safeguard
of lives , honor , and property of Christian and Jews and all other human beings , no matter what  faith they belong , Islam shows generosity
toward one and all – as Universal brotherhood of mankind .

            A common complaint among non- Muslims is that Muslim religious authorities do not condemn terrorist attacks – the complain often surface in letter to the editor of newspapers , on phone-in radio shows , on internet forum and other media outlets , possibly because the so called Muslim terrorist keep killing innocent people . Contrary to the claim most major Muslim organizations, Scholars, Imams, and religious leaders have always
spoken against all forms of terrorism and terrorist attacks in general.

           Professor John Andrew Morrow , a Canadian Muslim scholar of International fame writes in his book , “ THE COVENANTS OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMED WITH THE CHRISTIANS OF THE WORLD “ :  “ … The similarities between Islam , Christianity , and Judaism , far out weight any
differences . To disrespect Christianity is to disrespect Christ in the same fashion that disrespecting Judaism is to disrespect Moses . Muslims do not have to denigrate divinity revealed religions and then cry bloody murder when Islam is attacked. Jew, Christians, and Muslims must defend each other from the onslaught of the secular New World Order , which is deeply committed to destroying them all . May the publication of The Covenants
of The Prophet Muhammed ( pbuh ) with The Christians of The World , be an occasion for a new alliance between those of the Abrahamic Faiths who are dedicated to preserving The Divine Revelations entrusted to them both from traitors within their mist and from unrelenting attacks of the modern world. Ameen .

Yousuf U. Syed, MD.MPH.
Board Member Islamic Association of Long Island
The Selden Mosque ( The Oldest Mosque of L.I. )
Global Interfaith Peace Mission, Inc
Council Member
Global Health Development Initiatives ,Inc
Board Member

Long Island Multifaith Forum/ Long Island Council of Churches.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Why the U.N. is Important and Good.

It has become a doctrine in many Jewish political circles that the U.N. is an ineffective and antisemitic organization.  I do not agree.  The U.N. is both important and good.  There are many reasons why I have held this conviction for my entire life.  

What does the U.N. do? Well, first let’s admit that it’s primary concern and function are not the state of Israel or the question of Palestine. We in the Jewish community are understandably neurotic about our past, our present and our future. The world does not share our neurosis, nor our preoccupation with Jews and Judaism.  That is not to say that there isn’t a lot of Israel focused activity out there, or even that it isn’t out of proportion with reality, but the perception that we are the center of everything good and evil in the world’s imagination is simply wrong. The amount of time spent on Israel and the Palestinians is a tiny fraction of what the U.N. is involved in. Judging the U.N. by its effectiveness or accuracy in our troubles would be an inaccurate lens for the organization as a whole.

The U.N. exists to maintain international peace and security, to promote sustainable development, to protect human rights, to uphold international law, and to deliver humanitarian aid.  The U.N. has several bodies:  The General Assembly, The Security Council, The Economic and Social Council, The International Court of Justice and the Secretariat.  Each has a positive role to play in making our world a better place.

In its political body, the General Assembly of 193 member states exists as the main deliberative and representative body of the U.N. Anything can be said or proposed here as a statement of policy, requiring merely a majority of nations (97) to be passed. Questions of membership, peace and security, budget, and other important matters require a 2/3 majority (129) to pass.  Here everyone must be heard. While we may be appalled at an anti-semitic diatribe from those who both oppose Israel in the U.N., that same freedom of expression gives us a voice there that we did not have in 1939. The safe place to express and debate is a tremendous foundation for International Peace and Security.

In its security arm, the Security Council, The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.  The 5 permanent members (USA, Russia, UK, France & China) each have a veto power in any vote. The 10 other members are elected by the 193 members, according to a regional allocation. Contrary to Israel’s umbrage of unique exclusion from the Security Council, 60 of the 193 nations have never been elected to the council, and never one that is party to a dispute which the council is considering. The Security Council’s resolutions, unlike any other body of the U.N. are absolutely binding on all member states, and the Security Council has the power to assess threats to peace, name them, and if necessary deploy troops to hold the peace. Without the Security Council, the U.N. would be a toothless tiger.

The International Court of Justice’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.  The ICJ does not try war crimes, as these fall under the completely separate purview of the treaty-based International Criminal Court in the Hague. Without the ICJ, the world would be left to “might makes right.” Most of its cases are territorial in nature, but some are economic, environmental or military.

The Secretariat is the civil servant arm of the entire U.N. and is led by the Secretary General, at this time Ban Ki-Moon. As he entered his second year in office, he outlined 5 priorities for his work:

  1. Sustainable development
  2. Prevention
  3. Building a safer and more secure world by innovating and building on our core business
  4. Supporting nations in transition
  5. Working with and for women and young people
Perhaps most important for the U.N.’s good work and reputation, however, is The Economic and Social Council - the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as implementation of internationally agreed development goals. It serves as the central mechanism for activities of the UN system and its specialized agencies in the economic, social and environmental fields, supervising subsidiary and expert bodies.  It has 54 Members, elected by the General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms. It is the United Nations’ central platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on sustainable development.

It is in the ECOSOC that the U.N. makes the greatest impact on the largest number of lives.  Humanitarian assistance, agricultural development, regional economic councils, standing commissions for the status of women, standards of transport, labeling of chemicals, controlling narcotics, protecting forests, and a broad and constant series of forums and plenums among nations, academics and economic entities all provide dynamic interchange in a fast developing world.  

Within any of these areas are scores of commissions and countless committees and forums held on regional sites around the globe. Since the 54 nations of the ECOSOC, and the 193 nations of the GA all have their own political slants, the more political an activity is - such as human rights - the less often it will follow some “objective” view of the topic.  And since most decisions are arrived at by a vote, Israel is often vilified and voted on in some of these forums. When Malaysia was the president of the ECOSOC in 2010, many such examples occurred.  With Republic of Korea ambassador Oh Joon at the helm today, many fewer such things have occurred.

The truth is that the world needs the U.N. areas of expertise, as in matters of territorial dispute, human rights, women’s equality, hunger, sustainable agriculture, clean water and more. These all demand an international forum of cooperation, and the U.N. is good at this.  Never before in human history has such a large percentage of the planet had representation in a common forum, and the reasonable right to expect care and concern from the international community - especially in matters that are larger than one’s own national borders.

Israel and the Palestinians both will use, and have used the political process of the U.N. when it suits us/them. And when the politics go against us we cry out how biased and unjust the organization is. The truth is, most of the U.N. really isn't about us - and most of it is really, really good.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Murderers are Murderers - There is no defense for this.

Thursday night, July 30, 2015.

4 masked Israelis physically attack two Palestinian homes in the town of Dama.  Both have windows smashed, and fire bombs thrown inside. At least one has the word, Nekama, "Revenge," spray painted on the side of the house. One is empty, while the other contains a family of four asleep in their beds. The father, mother and one child are brutally burned and now in the hospital with 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 60-90% of their bodies.  The 18 month old baby, Ali Saad Daobasa, is killed by the smoke and flame. The parents are on life support.

Murderers.  Terrorists. Animals.

There is no defense for this act.  There is no political or religious justification that will hold up in the heavenly court of Justice or any just court on earth. This is why we have laws, police, courts and executioners. Saving ourselves as victims from this kind of pogrom is why we have Israel.  These killers have become what Israel deplores at its deepest levels.

The four fled to a nearby Jewish settlement, where they have not been identified or located by police.  They must be found, reported, turned in - whatever it takes.

Israel has an ideal to which it must live.  Israel must not use the tools of blood on blood between citizens. Revenge is not for the individual to dole out.

In the past several years, a creeping criminality has found support in the anti-Palestinian side of the political spectrum.  The "tag machir movement" is the clearest example. "Tag machir" is Hebrew for "price tag." Throughout Israel, unknown hoodlums have taken to spray painting Palestinian or Arab Israel property - most commonly cars - with those Hebrew words.  Sometimes there is more. But mostly it is a defacing of property to make the claim that a price must be paid for Jewish blood or for violence against Israelis.  Did anyone think it would stop there?

Vigilante criminals come in many sizes. On one side, they are the terrorists who drive a car onto the sidewalk to kill Israelis.  On the other side, it is tag machir or the murderers of Ali Saad Daobasa. Palestinian vigilantes almost always seek blood and murder. If you hate that, don't become it. Don't support it.  Don't justify it with even a half of an apologetic sentence for its motivation.

Israeli believes in better. Israel is better.  Israel must prove its values once again: justice for the family of Ali Saad Daobasa. The murderers must be found, arrested, and suffer the full abilities of the law as terrorists.

The real "price tag" if this crime is not prosecuted is the loss of the Israeli heart and its Jewish soul to barbarism and crime in the name of righteousness.

The protests have flared up. More violence is happening in the name of the murdered baby. The army must come out... the murderers on both sides are being rewarded.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Hateful, Murderous Prejudice against Gay Rights in Israel

Posted on Jul 30, 2015
NEW YORK – Today, six marchers were stabbed during Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade, allegedly by a Haredi Orthodox man released from prison two weeks ago after stabbing people at the same event in 2005. The Rabbinical Assembly, the international association for Conservative/Masorti rabbis, condemned the attack; calling for acceptance of and equality for the LGBTQ community and an end to violence against the LGBTQ community. The organization’s president, Rabbi William Gershon; and executive vice president, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, issued the following statement:
Jews around the world are saddened and appalled that an event in the holy city of Jerusalem, designed to celebrate that all of humanity is created b’tzelem Elohim, in the divine image, was marred by a senseless hate crime. The horror of an attack on these innocent marchers is made more painful by recalling the passages we read from Eicha on Tisha B’Av, lamenting the shedding of innocent blood in the midst of Jerusalem (4:13). We wish the victims a refuah shlemah, a quick and speedy recovery, and our prayers remain with their families. This incident further highlights the ongoing need for Israeli law enforcement and government officials to vigorously police and prosecute crimes motivated by religious extremism. We appreciate that many prominent rabbis across the spectrum have condemned this act of violence.
In 1990, the Rabbinical Assembly passed a resolution calling on the community to ‘work for full and equal civil rights for gays and lesbians in our national life, deplore violence against gays and lesbians, encourage inclusion of gay and lesbian Jews in our congregations, and increase our awareness of issues facing gay and lesbian Jews.’ We continue to follow these principles in hopes of guaranteeing a safe space in our synagogues and our wider communities.

The Release of Jonathan Pollard

Posted on Jul 29, 2015
NEW YORK – Welcoming the news that Jonathan Pollard will be granted parole and released from federal prison on November 21, the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association for Conservative/Masorti rabbis, released the following statement:
“Jonathan Pollard has served the longest sentence of any individual convicted of similar offense in the United States and his freedom is long overdue,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president. “Having visited with Jonathan Pollard at Butner Federal Correction Complex in North Carolina two years ago with members of the Reform and Conservative Movement, I saw firsthand the detrimental effects that this long incarceration had on his health. The RA has advocated tirelessly for Jonathan Pollard’s release for many years and we welcome this long-awaited news.”
“The Conservative Movement has numerous resolutions (1992, 1994, 1995, 2011) and statements (20122013), highlighting Pollard’s remarkably unfair sentence,” said Rabbi William Gershon, president. “After all these years and decades of injustice, he will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers until the moment he is released. We look forward to when Jonathan Pollard can be back with his family as a free man.”

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Hatchet Job On Michael Oren

A Hatchet Job from Phillip Weiss. 

Sadly, founder and co-editor Phillip Weiss reached out to our community under false pretense to write a hatchet job on Michael Oren. When our community responded to his invitation to be interviewed about the bombing of our synagogue back in 1971, we thought that he was going  to honor the lessons of our past. 

Instead, with overt personal bias from his own childhood, and resentment against our congregant Michael Oren, he chose to do a hatchet job pure and simple. As he writes, his purpose was not to tell our story or what it meant for our community, but to attack the memory of a then teenage Michael because it was a different experience than he had growing up

His approach under false pretense is truly lamentable - another example of journalism as bias. He left a message in my voicemail saying he was "writing a story about the bombing, and would like to get a quote."  That is not a fair description of what he was doing.  He already had the story he wanted to write, long before his interviews, and then he went looking for quotes to support it.  To get those quotes, he misrepresented the point of his article.

Reading through the editorial selections on his site, it is clear why he would have animosity against Michael Oren, who lives far far away from him on the political spectrum.  

I did not return Mr. Weiss' invitation to be interviewed, as I am always wary of reporters. Today, my suspicions are completely confirmed.  There is no fourth estate, and the one being interviewed should always beware.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Vaccinations are Religiously Mandatory for Conservative Schools and Families

Quite some time ago I was asked, as the supervising rabbi of a Jewish early childhood education center, to approve the admission of a new preschooler whose parents refused to immunize him/her.  In the public school, all you had to do was sign a waiver form that declared immunizations to be against your religious beliefs, and the school system had to let you in.  But this was my synagogue's school, and the rabbi sets the religious standards. I required immunization, and we lost the family from the school.

Recently, as I took my own child for immunizations, I recalled this fact.  My child made all the same arguments to me:  "Now one has measles any more!"  "Why do I have to get this shot? It hurts, and it does nothing!" Etc.

The simple truth of the matter is that the child who does not get immunized, and does not get the disease, can not claim that immunizations don't matter.  They are benefitting from the fact that all of their classmates did get immunized, and therefore they are not being exposed to the pathogen in question. They are still very vulnerable and present a risk to the community.  To bank on the fact that no one else has the disease is the height of irresponsibility as a member of any community.

Many myths circulate against immunizations, but the truth is that they are safe - and certainly safer than the old days of polio in the public swimming pools. The world population boom, and the decrease in childhood diseases are objective proof in part to the efficacy of immunization.

Judaism demands protection of life - all life - in the form of pikuach nefesh. Leaving one's child vulnerable to avoidable infection, and sending them out into public where they could then infect others would be an egregious sin if done unknowingly. To do it after being given the facts would be tantamount to intentional endangerment of a minor and reckless endangerment of the public.