Bluntly, rabbi places blame for terrorism
Temple Har Shalom Rabbi Joshua Aaronson, in blunt assessment of world affairs, on Monday blamed what he called radical Islam for terrorism, called on the United States to institute a draft to make military service fairer between social classes and criticized American politicians for behaving "horribly."
Aaronson delivered his sermon during services Monday morning to mark Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. The rabbi’s comments were some of the strongest made to date in Park City’s ongoing discourse about the war on terrorism. Some of the worshippers seemed to be surprised with the urgency in Aaronson’s delivery.
" . . . Serious Americans cannot be Pollyannaish about world events and believe that everyone in the world is ultimately good if only we would give them the chance. Such a position simply does not comport with the real world. And, the issue that requires us to be most serious is terrorism and all that implies," Aaronson said, according to a copy of the text of the sermon the rabbi provided.
Aaronson said Americans and Jews are combating radical Islam. He said the U.S. is not targeting Muslims and said most people of the Islamic faith, like in other religions, are good people.
However, he claimed that the radical Muslims started the hostilities, noting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, bombings, the attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon in the 1980s and suicide bombers in Israel. Aaronson differentiated between those he labeled radical Muslims and others who practice Islam, who he described as wanting to "coexist peacefully" with other faiths.
"America’s relationship with Israel is not the source of radical Islamic enmity nor is America’s wealth or power. Rather we must confront the unpalatable reality that the theology of radical Islam itself is the source of the problem," he said.
Aaronson said people of other religions are not threatening in the way that radical Muslims are, he disagreed with assertions from politicians that America is not at war with Muslims and he said that his opinion is not meant as "race baiting, religion baiting or Jewish hubris."
"There are people out there, both Republicans and Democrats, who take great pains to point out that we are not at war with Islam. Well, yes we are . . . ," he said, adding that there are not threats from Catholics and Buddhists, for instance. "The source of terror in the world for at least the past two decades have one thing in common: they are all Muslims."
Aaronson called Iran the top enemy, said radical Muslims would not be content with destroying Israel, that radical Muslims want to control the non-Muslim world and that the radical Muslims do not want people to have freedoms such as economic enterprise, expression, press, religion and "just about any other freedom you can imagine."
He said now is the "most dangerous time in American history" since the months before the U.S entered World War II. Aaronson criticized Congress and regular Americans who do not vote. He charged that "elected officials are guilty of negligence, malfeasance and wanton self-interest on an unimaginable scale."
Aaronson argued that America should not rely on a volunteer armed forces, as is the case now. He said debates about war would unfold differently if there was a chance that young Americans would potentially be sent to the battlefield regardless of whether they want to be in the military.
"Mandatory conscription would serve a greater social purpose in much the same way it has in Israel, by forging Americans out of Hispanics and blacks, rich and poor," he said, adding, "I think we as a country would be much more serious about starting wars and entering wars if we were putting the lives of our own children at risk."
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