Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah


It’s Not About Islam

Last October, during Shabbat services, when word got out that a terrorist murdered Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, one of our congregants approached me and asked “It was a Muslim, right?” I answered: “No, he is not a Muslim. He is a white Christian.” Our congregant looked very confused and bewildered, as if the ethnicity of the murderer failed to corroborate his a-priori thesis about an inherent link between Islam and terror.

Last month, in a mosque in New Zealand, another man of white European ethnicity murdered in cold blood dozens of innocent monotheists during worship. The massacre of Christians by Islamic fundamentalists in Sri Lanka last week, was a diabolical retaliation to the carnage in New Zealand. And last week, again, a person of white European ethnicity, opened fire in a synagogue, and murdered in cold blood here in California. Terrorism and political violence did not begin with radical Islam, and will not end with radical Islam.

In the 20th century, it was Germany and Austria, white Europeans rather than Muslims, who perpetrated the worst atrocities known to man, and murdered a third of our people. The same holds true with regard to the tens of millions killed under Soviet Communism. It was Chinese communism and Cambodian communism which took the lives of tens of millions of people in Asia.

In Africa, in Rwanda, the genocide was not perpetrated by Muslims either.

Clearly, as we just demonstrated, radical evil is pervasively manifested in virtually every human ethnicity from white Europeans, to Asians to Africans. It’s time for those who still hold on to the morally demented and politically infantile racist notion that only one group of people holds a monopoly on radical violence, to wake up from this grossly defective misconception.

Our sages of old teach us that when human beings soar high, they soar higher than angels. And when we sink low, we sink lower than worms. The human capacity for greatness and sanctity is universal. The same holds with regard to our universal capacity for depravity, cruelty, and murderous inhumanity. Muslims, Jews, Christians, people of conscience of all ethnicities and faiths. We are all in this together. Reducing the madness of the world to one ethnic or religious group is not only misguided and wrong. It is also, as we have seen last week here in California, a murderous illusion.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Sessler

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