Bringing the Jews Back to Egypt

April 15 2022

Earlier this year, Rabbi Joshua Berman led a group of Israelis on the first-ever kosher tour of Egypt focused on sites relevant to biblical history. He describes this “mind-bending” experience:

In Egypt, for the first time in my life, I walked around a city where the vast majority of people were like me—devout practitioners of their religion. There was something liberating about not sticking out like a sore thumb in a secular liberal landscape.

To tour the sites of ancient Egypt is truly to walk in the footsteps of the Exodus. . . . Some of the discoveries are truly revealing. At the seder table, we recall how God delivered Israel from Egypt “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” Most would be surprised to learn that this biblical phrase is actually Egyptian in origin: Egyptian inscriptions routinely describe the Pharaoh as “the mighty hand” and his acts as those of “the outstretched arm.”

None of this would [tour would have been possible] without the Abraham Accords, whose tailwinds have carried Egypt along as part of the moderate Suni axis and its rapprochement with the Jewish State. Egyptair, which for years refused to fly its planes into Tel Aviv, now does so with daily service. To be sure, this is not for love of Zion but for love of mammon. The Egyptians want Israeli business travelers to transit to Africa through Cairo. They want Jews to visit Egypt because it helps their economy. But not so long ago, such interests couldn’t overcome animosity and radical ideology.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Abraham Accords, Ancient Egypt, Egypt, Exodus, Hebrew Bible

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter