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A Rabbi’s Ramadan Prayer: Say No To Hezbollah Death Shrine

Asalaam Aleikum My Muslim Brothers and Sisters,
I am writing you today with both a blessing and a request. The blessing is that the month of Ramadan should bring you opportunities for meaningful reflection, deeper spiritual connection, and greater peace. And in the spirit of the month, I ask you to consider this morning’s New York Time’s coverage of the new Hezbollah museum in Nabatiye, Lebanon. I ask you to speak out against this museum which is actually a shrine to death. I ask you as members of the American Muslim community, particularly if you are Shia believers who share the tradition of those in Hezbollah, and as followers of a faith committed to the dignity of all human beings.
We can disagree about many things related to Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. We can disagree about imagined histories, desired futures, and sources of the ongoing conflicts in the region. But there should be no disagreement about the danger of celebrating death and destruction, even if we do not agree about the rightness of the cause. I fully realize that martyrdom is a sacred concept in Islam. The truth is that the idea is not foreign to Judaism either, or as we all know, to Christianity as well.
But an institution that dresses bloody skeletons in the tattered uniforms of the army it opposes and displays them for children can not be reflective of that which you believe. And if it is not, you must speak out against it. Not because you must oppose Hezbollah though — that is one of the things about which we can and will disagree – but because such displays cross the line from respect for martyrs to a cult of death which will destroy us all.


Please consider a comment made by a father who brought his son to this museum:

“I came here to teach my kids the culture of resistance,” said a visitor who gave his name only as Ahmed, as he stood with his wife and two children. “I want them to see what the enemy is doing to us, and what we can do to fight them, because this enemy is not merciful.”

Is that what you want your children to know? Is it more important to see how any of us can punish our enemies, or to better understand the struggle in which we are engaged? While I would not agree with the narrative in Nabatiye that might replace the current exhibit, I ask you to call upon all who hear your voices, to at least offer the next generation a story that is about something more than hate and rage and death.
Does this father not understand that a so-called “culture of resistance” is not a goal, but a necessity to achieving what he wants? If it is the goal, then the fight must continue forever, for without it both he and his children would lose their identities. And where in this exhibit is the mercy which Ahmed demands from his enemies? How can any of us ask of others what we ourselves will not do? Is that not why so many great Muslim teachers have insisted that the “real Jihad” is the internal one, the one we are called to have with ourselves, even more than with others?
As you spend your days in fasting and in prayer, I hope that you will consider my plea and speak out against this museum and for those values which I believe you hold most dearly.

  • muhammad

    to the rabbi:
    I agree with Aziz below. Muslims are called upon to condemn way too many things.
    However, if I, in my personal capacity was asked what I think of this ‘shrine’ I’d say its heinous and disgusting. I’d never go there even if I did end up visiting Lebanon.
    (I think it is also worth acknowledging that Hizbollah is no religious organization. Its a political and military group. Its an insult to religious people).

  • Shirleen

    I dont see how any human being could degrade and humiliate another human being and then say that has something to do with God or religion.God created everybody. Their is a saying in Islam that says do not be so hard on your enemies for tommorow they may become your friend.


    I am a Jew and not a Muslim and wish all those who are Muslim my best wishes to them at this time. I must admit to be new at learning about this wonderful religon that unfortunatly had been treated horribly by those who use it as a excuse to hurt others.
    Gotta love the saying Shirleen wrote-do not be so hard……etc. What a lovely thought and EVERYONE would do well to be like that!
    It is unfortunate that mainstream Muslims do not put out full page ads, go on tv etc to condem those that are hurting their own people by their actions. Maybe then we who are not Muslim and condem them for not saying anything would be more sympathetic. I am not one of them but can understand that way of thinking by non-Muslims.
    It may or may not be a cultural idea that Muslims do not talk against other Muslims but culture is not as mush a religous idea but a people idea and altho Muslims could also consider themselves a peoplehood those that live in the USA are also now part of this culture and to live harmonously among non-Muslims this may be part of their culture they may want to rethink.

  • S H Ziegler

    It is sad to me as a Jew that the Rebbe does not see the similarity of this museum with the Holoscast Museum. If we righteously say never again why shouldn’t they, or for that matter the Native Americans? Only when all people are considered equal in rights and dignity is there a chance for peace

  • Yoshiyyahu Hoffman

    Dear friends,
    It is obvious that most all of you have never had contact with many muslims and most certainly no terrorist. If you had you would not be writing in the fashion and thought you do. Understand only a muslim who is not faithful to the teachings of Isalm could be a “good muslim”. One who has adhered himself to a different culture, and behaves to what is commonly referred to as a western behavior culture! I can not wish any muslim who does run against his own belief well, and I say this with more than 25 years of experience against terrorist. The world and especially American Judiaism, along with the US government has not the slightest idea of what they are commenting about or dealing with. In Judiaism we say that the word “Gever” meaning a “man” i.e….. in essence a proper person is made up of three letters, gimel,bet,reyesh. Each stands for what constitutes a proper person. Gimel for gimelot chassidim…. meaning that the person puts the needs of others before himself, and is willing to help others even if they are not as he is. Bet is for Beashan, meaning one who is not proud and can receive instruction and criticism from others. And thirdly is reyesh which is for Rachamim meaning one who knows to show undeserved mercy and compassion. The is a person you are permitted in the words of the Torah to deal with, and dealing with anyone else or making an agreement with anyone else is to only invite your own problems. Isalm at most any level does not possess these qualities, unless they have turned against their own religion. My question to many of you is “Can you trust a person who defies his own religion?” how far? and how much?. As well I reply to many of you, ideas are great, however how many of you actually have had to deal with terrorist or have actually dealt with Islam first hand, or do you really know what they teach? My friends those who defy the principles of the Torah, curse Israel, deny the fact that there was a temple in Jerusalem, deny us the right and other to existance, and as well sware daily to the destruction of all “infidels” (meaning anyone who is not Islamic) should not receive the wishes for good or the blessing of anyone. It would be like a person blessing anothe becuase he has just come down with cancer. Would you tell you son ” Oh I wish you the very best now that I hear you have come down with cancer, that is so good my son?” For those of us who know and understand what Islam really is, your words sound in our ears no different than this. If you sleep with snakes sooner or later you will be bitten.

  • Awais

    O Rabbi, will they listen to me? What does crying get? I can cry all I want over here about the wrongs of actions, but will that stop them from doing it? Because I am crying? Muslims do Chillul Allah everyday, how often do I have to march and cry to let you know I as an orthodox muslim am against their ignorance and evil, with an Islamic basis?
    O Yoshiyyahu, please understand, the terrorists of your experience are not following true Islam. Islam encompasses all the things you’ve said of “Gever”. Under whose rule did the Jews have their golden age, Rambam, and much more? Under the Muslims. Muslims did not have a problem with Jews until the advent of Zionism. Yivrukh otekha Hashem akhi, may Hashem/Allah guide us toward peace and reconcilliation in our day- Moshiach Now. Ameen.

  • eastcoastlady

    It is sad to me as a Jew that the Rebbe does not see the similarity of this museum with the Holoscast Museum.
    This just has to be one of the most off-base comments I have ever read.
    The Holocaust Museum is not a celebration of death and destruction – it is a historical accounting of the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust. There is no demeaning of enemies and displays are carefully chosen so as not to have simply a visceral impact only.
    What a terrible misconception to try to spread by even attempting to compare the two!

  • Lucy Silver

    Rabbi, Awais, and everyone else: The Hezbollah Death Shrine embodies the essence of Islam. Martyers are honored and promised wonderful life in the hereafter. The greatest gift one can give is his/her life for Allah and the Prophet. Yes, you can quietly live life as a Moslem. Most people do…they are what the West calls the “non-radical” element. They follow a personal jihad, or personal struggle against temptations. But those who take on the struggle, or jihad, against the infidel and the opponents of Islam live the experience of Islam on the highest plane. They are following true Islam and are thus revered and admired. They follow a defense of the most sacred truths. NEVER THINK THAT A DIALOGUE IS POSSIBLE BETWEEN THOSE RELIGIONS AND PEOPLES TRANSFORMED (and secularized) BY THE ENLIGHTMENT, AND ISLAM, WHICH WAS NOT. ISLAMIC SOCIETY THINKS IN TERMS OF THE FAMILY, THE TRIBE, AND ISLAM. THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE WEST INCLUDES THE FACT THAT SHARIA TRUMPS CIVIL LAW, THE HONOR OF THE FAMILY AND TRIBE IS THE GUIDE TO YOUR RELATIONS WITH OTHERS, AND ISLAM TRUMPS ALL OTHER RELIGIONS. HONOR OF FAMILY, TRIBE, AND THE INEVITABLE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE INFIDEL ARE ISLAM’S TRUTHS.
    The “rational” thinking of the West simply is an annoying wind. It is meaningless in the ultimate revelation by Mohammad.

  • Al Eastman

    It would be interesting to read a refutation of Lucy Silver’s above post by a devout Muslim, like Aziz, if not in this thread, than in another one more suited to this sort of dialog.

  • Maz Shah

    The first comment about the HUMAN BEING was given by ANGELS when ADAM was created in heaven & was presented Before them. According to Quran, the ANGELS said ” Oh Lord” you have created the one who wil cause disrupt & distruction on EARTH > and the Almighty replied that what HE knows; they (angels) don’t know. So the moral of the story is that it is the HUMAN who causees pain & destruction to the others & it is also the HUMANS who ease’em & comfort others, regardless of their race or relegion > So it is all up to us that we choose the right not the wrong. As a muslim it is duty of all Muslims to spread PEACE & BLESSING to this world. We Muslims live in peace with other relegion in US, WHY ? Because of the constitution we have here and i am sorry to say that in Muslim world the constitution is based on MY way or the highway. The word ISLAM means blessing and anyone acting against is a Muslim without faith.

  • Yoshiyyahu Hoffman

    Dear Awais,
    I have even had business partners who were Muslims, but who were not of the type you referred to here. Anybodies freedom should stop where it is intolerant of anothers freedom. It is impossible to compare the Islam of today with those of the “Golden age”. The Muslims of that day were really hated and persecuted by the “christian world” in fact the battles over Istanbul were some of the bloodiest of the history of that region ever. However mankind does not like to review its faults. The world situation is allowable by HaShem because of the unbelieving estate of Israel as a people. Islam in its teachings has it values, I never said it didn’t, but just as a sword can be used to save ones life it can also be used to kill. Today the Islamic higharchy is so corrupt and feeds on the misery of its multitudes and their ignorance. And people are being lead astray by speeches of lies and deception. This was not the case in the days you refer to. In fact the former King of Morroco who is considered to be a traitor by many Muslims was one of the last muslims of our age who acted even endangering his life to fulfill the principles others falsely claim today.
    When you have been at the wrong end of a gun barrel and you have risk your life to even help the children of your enemies in hope that they might understand the error of their ways then there is room to talk. Just as the father of this country are turning in their graves at the corruption of the constitution here is, I am sure as well the fathers of Islams are turning much more at what is called “Islam” today.

  • Yoshiyyahu Hoffman

    Dear Lucy Silver,
    Get your head out of the sand! How can you even be so blind! It is bad enough when we have people here who equate innocent victims of the holocaust with a shine for terrorist. But you try to fly a flag were there is not even a flag pole. Pick up your imaginery thoughts and go live where you think such things exist. I have witnessed with my own eyes a shiek in one these places were you seem to believe everything has a rightful portion, run over a child and kill it and the family for fear sake even come out and ask forgiveness of the child haven been crossing the roadway. When the shiek was traveling 2 to 3 times the posted speed. What Family values is this?, get your head out of the sand and see that the large majority of Islamic families live in fear and poverty, while the elite enjoy pleasures we can not even imagine. In fact in Israel most all terrorist (especially young men and women) are given a offer to become a terrorist and even act in such a way as not to turn themselves in but to be caught instead of blowing themselves up! So that their families will not have to suffer reproach! Really great family values! Wow! Get your head out of the sand, wipe the filth from yoru eyes and see reality for a change. Great religion! yea! got a corn field in the Artic if you buy the the words of this woman! Get a reality check!

  • Lucy Silver

    I have tried to understand what you wrote to me. What did you want to say? Whatever your objections were, please argue courteously. I would like to respond.
    I know what I have seen, read, and researched. Money is given to the families of young people who blow themselves up in jihad. Many do not want to die, and back out. Others go ahead with the act, and their pictures are plastered all over the facades of buildings to honor them. The mother of a young Palestinian suicide bomber was shown on HBO as she met with the mother of her daughter’s victim. Everyone in Ramallah revered this suicide bomber as a martyer. The Jewish mother of the victim had hoped to meet with a saddened mother of a daughter who had killed herself and others. She had hoped to make the point that such violence led only to pain. However, the parents of the suicide bomber were proud of her act; it would have been too painful to think that their daughter’s death had been pointless. Their society seeks and praises jihad against Israel because Palestinians were displaced from their land and now live where they cannot even travel from one village in the West Bank to another. (ref. Papp: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine) Palestinians remain deeply connected to their former villages and plots of land. Their jihad comes from fury. (ref. Tilley: The One-State Solution)
    I also know that Arab society is organized by allegiences to family, tribe, and Islam. (ref: Salzmasn: Culture and Conflict in the Middle East) The concept of allegiance to a secular government does not exist in the same way we experience it in the West. If we are to understand Islam, the first thing we have to do is to acknowledge that Islam and the West approach life with polarities of values and linguistic connotations. For the Rabbi to suggest that Muslims should shun the Hezbollah Death Shrine is pointless, because the shrine enbodies important Muslim values and beliefs.
    BTW, I NEVER mentioned any connection between the Holocaust Museum and the Hezbollah Death Shrine. I don’t know how that came to be mentioned in your post. The Holocaust Museum remembers the VICTIM; the Hezbollah Death Shrine honors the seeker of revenge.

  • Sara

    Ms. Sliver.
    I did enjoy your response.
    I hope most of americans or people from all walks of life, had your patience and investment in taking time to understand the root of the a nation and why they do what they do.

  • Yoshiyyahu Hoffman

    I love all of you HBO and university authorities. Never been then dont know any of them and yet you are an authority. I want to see the moment when you come face to face with a unmerciful terrorist who’s only ambition in life is to blow your brains out and we will see just how far all of your words which are totally unfounded in any reality get you. How can you even pretend to understand what you have never dealt with? Your words only carry any weight to those who like to feel a false sense of righteousness as yourself. I wonder how you would feel to go to the home of a soldier who gave his life in trying to provide you with the freedom you enjoy and try to comfort them with the hogwash you write here. Every nation of the world that has any dignity should strongly not only criticize such a exhibition for lack of better words, and should strongly discourage their citizens from even entering the country that would allow such a crime against humanity! Keep dreaming and believing in a lie and it will be on your door step before you know it! They are already here in the states as well! I guess you feel the terrorist of 911 are heroes as well, or does just the location make it different for you. You can call my words slander if you want but yours are plain out lies and propaganda! You make a grave mistake of confusing Islam with terrorism and speaking of them equal.

  • Chana Silverman

    Just adding my thoughts to the comment that the Holocaust Museum and the Hezbollah Death Shrine are the same thing. What a strange comparison that is, to my way of thinking!!
    The Holocaust Museum is honoring the LIVES of the victims and you will not find bloody skeletons dressed in tattered uniforms.
    There are wide religious and cultural difference here.
    We Jews are taught the value of human life in the sense of living in the here and now on Earth compared to wanting the “glory” of death because of a heavenly reward. Two completely different mind sets.
    If dieing for Allah is such a wonderful thing, why the revenge against those responsible for someone’s death?
    We are taught to take personal responsibility for our own life. Putting ourself in danger of death by a foolish action can be considered a serious affront to our Creator who has decreed our life and commanded us to live for Him.

  • Chana Silverman

    By the way the word “affront,” as I use it in my post above, means: to insult openly or purposely – to confront defiantly – an open or intentional insult. (To G-d)
    Which is why suicide bombers are so very tragic, not only for the senseless murder of innocent victims, but also for their own foolish demise.

  • Yoshiyyahu Hoffman

    Dear Chana,
    Thank you so much for such a clear and realistic comparison of such differnet things. It is very clear and obvious those who see no wrong with this abomination to mankind have never had to sift through the rubble of an terrorist attack and try to save the lives of those innocent survivors. Not families of terrorist who they try to paint as victims!
    Besides they draem and speak of matters that oppose heaven or any conception of heaven in any way. Besides why would someone want to be a suicde bomber and have 70 virgins in the next world when he can’t even get along with one in this world? I know for a fact the woman of the least fortune in this world is one born to a religious Islamic family, where they even circumcise them so they will receive no pleasure, and many of them even die from this brutal act. You really have to dead in all your senses to even begin to represent things the some people have here.
    You are right it is making yourself a god… the highest form of idol worship… even beyond they deny any providence of G-d by not defending themselves but making the act of revenge as they call it the very goal of their life. What would people say of a person who is killed because he entered a house to murder someone and the family came to extract revenge because he was killed in the process? Is this any different? In truth no, it is not! They are murderers and the sons of murderers! TERRORIST!

  • Lucy Silver

    Again, you have completely misunderstood my post. The Orientalist, Bernard Lewis,has pointed out that Islam never experienced the Western Enlightenment. The zeitgeist of the Islamic world remains rooted in mores that were norms one thousand years ago…polygamy, honor killings, etc. The Rabbi’s belief that a reasoned dialogue with Muslims regarding the Hezbollah Death Shrine would reap fruit is naive. Your view is closer to reality. Palestinians are enemies of Israel; treat them as such.
    The Palestinian problem will end before the universe collapses. The question is, how will it end?
    1. Will a Palestinian State of Gaza and the West Bank be created, with Israel sandwiched in the middle? If so, it would be doomed from its inception because that is essentially the situation that exists now. Jews and Palestinians exist together and never interact. Such necessities as water from the Galilee is controlled by Israel, and a Palestinian State would be powerless, meaningless, and ungovernable.
    2. Israel has basically hoped that the Palestinian would eventually migrate out of Gaza and the West Bank to Jordan or other Arab countries. That would, at least, solve the Palestinain problem, if not the problem of co-existance with 21 surrounding Arab countries. However, Palestinians will never comply. They do not really want a Palestinian State but the right of return.
    3. Will Israel become a secular democracy where Palestinians and Jews live together? That would mean that Israel would exist without a primarially Jewish character. The raison d’etre for Israel, a Jewish homeland where Jews could live in security, would be diluted, if not ended. Frankly, it seems to me that a secular Israel might be the best answer, as long as it continues to be a safe haven for Jews.
    Other than blowing up the whole area, can you think of other alternatives?

  • Chana Silverman

    Thank You Yosh H. for reading my post and commenting on it. I am not about to get in the thing going on between you and Lucy. I like your posts a lot. B’Shalom – Chana
    Lucy you bring up a good point about Islam never experiencing the Western Enlightenment – how about enlightenment period!
    How I wish all of Islam would read the Sufi poet Rumi and take to heart his words then enlightenment would flow through their hearts. How much they need our prayers. How very unhappy with their lot in life many of them must be. Yet taking personal responsibility seems a lost concept to those who blame others for their own condition. Shalom All

  • Yoshiyyahu Hoffman

    Lucy, …. just one piece of advice… either go there and live it or listen to those who have. I am and always have been into to saving lives not taking them!……A big difference from Islam of today! I have been shot twice, stabbed once, bayoneted, and fragged several times, all by terrorist! Nice people they are. However how many of them do you think can say they have pulled jews (as I have Arabs) from burning wreckage and gave them the proper and unbiased medical attention needed? I have, and I have even taken from my food in the field and given to their children who for them were less important than their cause. This is were the rubber meets the road, not in books of statistics and political opinions.
    You have to live it to really understand it! So either do it or take the words of those who have. Peace will not come unless there is another generation to come up who are not filled with hatred (terroristic ideals) and who are educated in a humanitary and dignified way. But I personally do not see any hope of that because their are too many lies being taught and that would mean the most definite loss of control for Islam as well.

  • Solomon2

    “I want them to see what the enemy is doing to us, and what we can do to fight them, because this enemy is not merciful.”
    This guy hit the nail on the head. Of course, Israel has been merciful. Israel showed great mercy towards Lebanon during the 2006 war, simply by the focused way it chose to conduct it, especially in comparison to Hezbollah. But acknowledging that would, in the eyes of the parent, eliminate the imperative to fight Israel, so the need to ignore that and build up a fantasy over-rides reality.
    It appears that the vast majority of Arabs can’t acknowledge the fact that the anti-Israel cause they are devoted to isn’t justice, but the perpetuation of evil. Is it because they don’t see any way out for their souls if they did?

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