By Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein*
At the end of WWI, a soon-to-be released German corporal was tasked by his superior to write a memo about the threat of Jews to Germany's future.
"Anti-Semitism — born of purely emotional grounds — will find an expression in the form of pogroms. "The final goal must be the removal of the Jews. To accomplish these goals, only a government of national power is capable and never a government of national weakness."
It was written and signed by Adolf Hitler. Twenty years later he launched WWII, and Nazi Germany’s systematic genocide would eradicate 6 million Jews. Hitler’s letter is now on permanent display at our Museum of Tolerance, a brutal warning that when someone threatens to kill you—take him seriously.
That’s why the Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging both the Dept. of Homeland Security and the US Attorney to investigate Imam Ammar Shahin’s recent sermon at the Islamic Center of Davis. He said that Muslims – everywhere – are obligated to slaughter all Jews – everywhere.
“The Prophet Muhammad said: “Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews…” …. Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews…. Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them…Oh Allah, make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds.” (Translation: MEMRI, emphasis ours)
There is no known cure for terrorism, but we know how the disease takes hold. Recruitment takes place via social network or via face-to face indoctrination. Fanatic clergy like Imam Shahin and Mahmoud Harmoush, who delivered a similar screed in Riverside, California on the same day, play an outsize role inciting true believers against enemies. It’s not just about Jews and synagogues. Massacres of tourists in London, concertgoers in Manchester, Christian clergy in Normandy, innocents in Paris, Brussels, and San Bernadino, prove that jihadists see enemies everywhere.
What can be done?
In Canada, police served an arrest warrant against Jordanian Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al-Nasr for willfully promoting hate when he invoked the same hadith as Shahin, calling for the murder of Jews during a sermon in Montreal.
Hate speech is generally protected in the US, but not when it can be shown to be “inciting imminent lawless action.” Shahin’s call to kill Jews comes at a time when FBI stats confirm American Jews are the #1 target of religion-based hate crimes. Terrorists around the world have heeded other extremist clergy to kill in G-d’s name. Shahin’s threat is “imminent” enough to warrant action.
When targeting religions, the theologically-validated hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, Al Shabab knows no bounds.
Yet, the Obama administration balked at acknowledging the victims were targeted because they were Christians, referring to them only as Egyptian “workers”. For years, the US, fearful of sparking a holy war, turned a blind eye to the religious fanaticism that plays a key role in this struggle.
But that holy war is already here. The Davis Imam followed the same jihadist script that spawned terrorism and mayhem on every continent.
If he isn’t jailed for incitement to mass murder, his parishioners and the public should banish the bigot.
If his mosque stands behind Shahin’s murderous calls, then the IRS should reevaluate its charitable status.
Shahin’s screed came just as a group of 60 courageous imams from Belgium, France, the UK and Tunisia participated in a peace march. They prayed at the sites where Jihadists butchered innocents. Voices like theirs should be given prominence everywhere, starting with San Bernadino and Davis, California.
Shahin’s screed also challenges both President Trump’s and previous administrations’ policies. How many more people who carry the same hatred driving Shahin got through the old vetting process? Yet, Shahin is from Egypt, a country not on President Trump’s list. The Davis Imam proves that takes more than knowing the zip code of origin to keep such people out. We need to know about their schools, mosques and social media ties. Young people indoctrinated to a culture of death represent a threat to virtually anyone-including other Muslims-- who doesn’t embrace their jihadist worldview.
The Imams' attacks, both delivered at mosques near two University of California campuses could have incited extremists to start a 'holy war'. Jews hoped for immediate denunciations by Muslim groups who have been getting vocal Jewish support to oppose any religious test for immigrants from Muslim countries. For naught. For one week, there was wall-to-wall silence, except for those groups endorsing an intifada for Israel’s audacity at installing metal detectors after murderous gunfire from al Aqsa. This Friday MPAC released a statement stating it was “disturbed” by the sermon of Imam. The Davis Imam finally apologized at a press conference. He apologized for the “ hurt” he caused, but did not distance himself for a controversial Hadith used by extremists as a license to kill.
And what about their other leaders? Could it be that some silently cheer bigoted pulpit thumpers? How many actually believe that the G-d of Abraham sanctions the murders of Jews and Christians?
After Davis—despite a belated apology-- no can say for sure.
*Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is the Director of Interfaith Relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.