Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Tishrei 5764 - October 23, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Our Answer to Antisemitism is Torah

On Succos, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, 77, who will retire at the end of October after 22 years in office, made a speech to a summit meeting of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world's largest Muslim grouping. Among other remarks, he said, "The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them."

Mahathir complained that Muslims had achieved "nothing" in more than 50 years of fighting Israel. But he said that the world's 1.3 billion Muslims "cannot be defeated by a few million Jews." He explained that the Jews "invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others."

Lest anyone think that his is an isolated opinion, they should note that his speech and those remarks received unanimous applause from the kings, presidents and emirs in the audience, leaders of the 1.3 billion Muslims around the world.

The United States and the European countries criticized the speech, although a summit meeting of the European Union refused to make an official statement against it.

When reporters queried Mahathir at a press conference about his remarks, he was unrepentant. "Lots of people make nasty statements about us, about Muslims," he said, ". . . and they seem to get away with it. But if you say anything at all against the Jews, you are accused of being antisemitic."

Yemen's foreign minister said he agreed entirely. The Egyptian foreign minister called the speech "a very, very wise assessment." The Afghan president said the speech was "very correct." There was no backtracking or qualification among the Arab leaders.

If anyone ever thought otherwise, it should be clear that antisemitism has returned as a factor in the world.

We enjoy tremendous wealth and technological advancement, but people are increasingly ruled by their passions. Many parts of the world, especially the East and the South, never pretended otherwise. As they become more wealthy, their passions become more powerful and have greater effects.

Even in the West, the rule of reason seems much diminished if not completely over. People are increasingly concerned only with momentary pleasures and care little about what may happen in the future. With the breakdown of the family and the sharp decline in birth rates, there is nothing to distract them from enjoying themselves today.

When passions rage, we cannot fight them. We must be careful to conduct ourselves with modesty so as to minimize any provocation, to "hide for a minute until the anger passes" (Yeshayohu 26:20).

At this time of the year we are at the end of a period in which we have focused on our relationship with Hashem, and on fulfilling many wonderful mitzvos. The realities that we have to face the rest of the year, in our unredeemed world, are far from the elevated heights we enjoy during the Tishrei season.

Yet the final avodoh of Simchas Torah leaves us with the lesson that is most important for these times and all times: our main task is Torah and mitzvos, and our success in these is the ultimate cause of our success in the rest of life. If, chas vesholom, we do not tend to Torah, our best efforts will not save us. If we do our job as Hashem has given it to us, we need not worry about the worst plans of our enemies.

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