Have you noticed that, immediately after an Islamic terrorist attack in our nation, the airwaves are ablaze with warnings—not against Islamic terrorism but against Islamophobia. So, the fear is not that there will be more terrorist attacks. The fear is that people will be fearful of Muslims. That is misguided enough (although I too deplore when the larger Muslim community is blamed for what the radical extremists do). But what just happened in Bondi, Australia takes this illogicality to a whole new level.
As reported on News.com.au, "A local council has banned the construction of a synagogue in Bondi because it could be a terrorist target, in a shock move that religious leaders say has caved in to Islamic extremism and created a dangerous precedent."
Yes, the Jewish community was not allowed to build a new synagogue for fear that it would be targeted by radical Muslims. Talk about a reverse in logic.
The decision had been fought in the courts, but it was upheld this week, leading to outrage and dismay.
"Jewish leaders are shocked the decision appears to suggest they cannot freely practice their religion because they are the target of hate by Islamist extremists—and that the council has used their own risk assessment of the threat posed by IS against it.
"The head of the local Jewish community said the council and the court had effectively stifled freedom of religion and rewarded terrorism."
As expressed by Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, the "implications [of the decision] are enormous. It basically implies that no Jewish organization should be allowed to exist in residential areas. It stands to stifle Jewish existence and activity in Sydney and indeed, by creating a precedent, the whole of Australia, and by extension rewarding terrorism."
Logic would tell you that if terrorism is the problem, you stand against it, not punish potential victims. Logic would tell you that if you bow down to the threat of terrorism, you empower it. What were the people of Bondi thinking?
While the Muslim population of Australia is growing rapidly, it still constitutes only 2.6 percent of the population, and the Australian media constantly defends Islam as a religion of peace. Why, then, so much fear? If the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists, why be afraid to build a synagogue in Bondi? Is the government not able to deal with a handful of radicalized, violent Muslims?
In Muslim majority nations where strict Islam is practiced, Jews and Christians are reduced to second-class citizens, having to pay the jizya tax and deprived of the right to build new synagogues and churches. Yet today, in Australia, where non-Muslims outnumber Muslims by roughly 40 to 1, a Jewish community cannot build a new synagogue. To ask again, what kind of logic is this?
In years past, I have pointed out the hypocrisy of feminists and LGBT activists siding against Israel and with Hamas, as well as the absurdity of portraying Hamas as the victim. As I noted in 2014, "As the standard, anti-Israel, pro-Hamas narrative goes, Israel has the Iron Dome defense whereas Hamas has no such defensive shield. In other words, it's not fair that Hamas is unable to murder the civilians it targets day and night, since Israel's superior technology is able to shoot down their missiles. Talk about taking all the fun out of terrorism."
Others have pointed to the self-contradictory message sent by Islamic extremists who say, "How dare you call us terrorists! We will kill you! Off with your heads!"
Yes, nice guys, one and all. How did we misjudge them?
When it comes to the outrageous decision in Bondi, local Jewish leader Vic Alhadeff said it well: "This simply shows how we're all losing our freedoms. Those who want us to be afraid are winning, and this ill-conceived judgment represents a dangerous precedent."
And do you know who should lead the protest against the court's decision? It is the Muslims of Australia. They should say as one man, "We renounce terrorism, we believe in freedom of religion, and we affirm your right to build a new house of worship. In fact, we want to stand with you to combat radical Islam, and we pledge our help and support."
Does that have a chance of happening? We shall see, although it may be highly unlikely. (I'd be thrilled to be wrong here in my skepticism.)
But there's another group that most certainly can and should stand up, and that is the Christian community of Australia. Let them raise their voices and shout to this beleaguered Jewish community, "Bondi is not a ghetto, and Australia is not a war zone. Together, we will stand for freedom, liberty and safety."
What a message this would send to the Jewish people of Australia and beyond.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.
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