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Update – 7 March 2011

Posted by Rabbi Dr John Levi on 7 March 2011 at 10:00am:

Dear All,

It has been some time since we sent out an issue of our newsletter. The editor, Emily Chrapot, couldn’t have a better alibi. She is in Israel (where else?) working on her doctorate and getting married at the same time. We wish her well.

So to the business at hand. We got a whitewashed version of events in Cairo. It was agony watching the crowds milling about the famous Cairo Museum and waiting for it to go up in flames. All that happened was a small break in and a barely noticeable theft. As you walk into that Museum the visitor can see the large black basalt three thousand three hundred year old victory inscription that records the achievement of the Pharaoh Merneptah in which he vainly boasts “The people of Israel are no more”.  It is one of the most important signposts of Jewish history and also one of the worst prophecies ever made. Thank goodness the crowds in Tahrir Square knew nothing about it.

One of the predominant impressions that regular visitors to Egypt take away with them is the quiet despair of the population. Each visit reveals thicker crowds as Cairo inexorably grows by one million people a year. The number of women wearing hijab increases relentlessly.  If the rebels win their dream of universal and free suffrage for just one election there is no doubt who will win. Almost half the population of Egypt can neither read nor write and they will faithfully vote for representatives of the Moslem Brotherhood and the Egyptian version of Hamas.

Before we write off President Mubarak entirely we should remember that he kept the gates of the border with Gaza firmly shut and the leaders of the Brotherhood in prison. Iranian warships did not have access to the Suez Canal. El Al flew to Cairo as did Egypt Air (only it was named Sinai Air to fool the Arab League’s boycott of Israeli products). The gas fields of Sinai produced power for both Israel and Jordan. 

One of the not-to- be –missed commentators on the Israel scene is the talented (and witty) Caroline Glick. Her article on March 1 is worth looking up “Left still blind to evil—but this time the stakes are far greater”. I found it in the” Jewish World Review”. Writing about the Tahrir Square events she highlighted the re-appearance of Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi  the long exiled spiritual mentor of the Brotherhood.  She wrote:
“Two important things happened during Qaradawi’s appearance in Cairo. First his handlers refused to allow Google’s Egyptian revolutionary Wael Ghonim to join the cleric on the dais. For anyone willing to notice, Qaradawi’s message in spurning Ghonim was indisputable. As far as the jihadists are concerned Ghonim and his fellow Internet activists are the present day equivalent  of Lenin’s useful idiots.

They did their job of convincing credulous Western liberals that the overthrow of Mubarak was all about sweetness and light.

And now they are no longer needed.

The second message was Qaradawi’s call to destroy Israel. With millions of adoring fans crying out “Amen” and “Allahu Akhbar” Qaradawi called for a Muslim conquest of Jerusalem-that is, for the destruction of Israel. As a first step, he demanded that the Egyptian military open the Egyptian border with Gaza.”

Thinking about religion inevitably brings us to this week’s shocking assassination of Pakistan’s Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti who was the only Christian serving in his country’s government and who knew that he lived in constant danger. His “crime” was to oppose the local blasphemy law which could be used to convict, and execute, anyone who spoke or wrote critically about Mohammed and Islam. Christians are under attack throughout the Moslem world-although the National Council of Churches in Australia seem all to ready to deny this. The only non Jewish Australian intellectual to write about this gathering wave of hatred appears to be Dr Mark Durie, the Anglican vicar of St Mary’s church in Caulfield. He is worth reading. He can be found His most recent article “Stop Opening Churches to Muslims” has just been printed in the Washington Post.

On a more cheerful note, this week Pope Benedict has published the second part of his most recent writing on theology in which he denounces the old tradition of “blaming” the Jews for the death of Jesus. It can’t hurt and it could help! Particularly in the Catholic heartland of Eastern Europe.

Rabbi John Levi