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The shrine - just out of sight - is not in Athens, not even in Greece.
In these gardens by the sea, other buildings tell their own stories of
harmony and peace.
This is the shrine.
By day and night it stands as a shining symbol of tolerance and love.
Despite appearances, this is neither Greece nor Italy.
This is Mount Carmel. The town below is the port of Haifa. The
shrine is in Israel. This is the country many people love to hate.
This is the only country in the Middle East where this shrine is safe
from attack and destruction.
A TALE OF TWO SHRINES
We often hear it said that Israel is a ‘fascist, apartheid state’, a cross
between Germany in the 1930s and 1940s and South Africa between
1948 and 1994. Is this true? Have the Jews who sought refuge in their
ancient homeland really become the Nazis who persecuted them? Have
the longest victims of racism really become racists?
To help you decide, here are some important images.
First of all, we have to travel to the city of Shiraz in Iran….
Shiraz, Iran - the home of the rose and the nightingale
This was the holiest room in what was once the most sacred site for
Iran’s largest religious minority, the Baha’is. Situated in Shiraz, the
house belonged to the Bab, the first of the two Baha’i prophets. The
gold-domed shrine in Israel is where his remains are buried.
The same room from outside. This was one of the four holy places to
which Baha’is are expected to make pilgrimage.
But let’s see another photograph of the house,
taken about one year after this . . .
Here is the same house in 1979 a few months after the Iranian
revolution. No more roses and nightingales.
Pious Revolutionary Guards are tearing a precious treasure apart…
This was not done by an enraged mob. This was an organized,
officially sanctioned effort to destroy the soul of a religious community.
That effort still continues.
They tore it apart systematically until nothing was left…
… nothing but a demolition site, ready to build on….
This is what the regime built: not a school, not a hospital, not a museum.
A mosque. The message is clear. Baha’is have no rights in an Islamic
theocracy. This is how the Iranian regime treats its religious minorities.
No Baha’i has ever attacked a Muslim shrine.
In the ‘fascist’ state of Israel, however, the shrine of the Bab is not just
tolerated. It is given pride of place among the gardens, terraces, and
buildings of the international Baha’i centre. Why would ‘Nazi’ Jews even
care about the Baha’is, much less award them such prominence and
protection? If the Israelis really are as odious as they are painted, why
are they behaving so differently from the Iranians ?
If they are modern-day Nazis, where are the bulldozers?
The Shrine of the Bab stands at the centre of some of the most
beautiful gardens on the Mediterranean coast. The gardens are open
to everyone - tourist, pilgrim, Christian, Jew and Muslim.
The Baha’i concept of religious tolerance is well suited to Israel, which
guarantees freedom of worship to everyone.
A different logic applies here. In every other country of the Middle East,
Baha’is are banned or persecuted. They cannot attend school, get
married, hold passports, publish or distribute their scriptures, seek
converts, or worship in public.
It is only here in Israel that anyone shows them respect. Israel’s Jews
remember what it is to have their holy places smashed to rubble.
The Baha’i national centre, Tehran, 1955. Workmen are destroying the
dome. They are led by a popular preacher, Mulla Falsafi, the army
Chief of Staff, and the Military Governor of Tehran. A cold, deliberate
hatred is at work. The only time the Baha’is have known a measure of
safety in Iran has been when clerical influence has been weakened.
Such vast effort, all in the name of hatred..
Germany, 10 November 1938. Kristallnacht. A synagogue is in flames.
German and Iranian fascism have one thing in common: hatred.
This was another Baha’i sacred place, this time in Tehran. This was
done in 2004. It was reduced to rubble. The wreckers were not vandals
This was done by the Iranian government to show the Baha’is how much
they hate them, and to show the rest of the world how little they care for
Just before the Iranian regime destroyed the house in Tehran, it did
this. This was another Baha’i shrine, a house built over the grave of
one of their early saints. This is Babol. This is Iran.
This is the country that wants to wipe Israel off the map.
This is a recent photo of the Baha’i graveyard in Yazd, a small town in
the centre of the Iranian desert, where many Baha’is have been
martyred down the years. Everything has been destroyed. It is not the
only Baha’i graveyard to have suffered this fate. The regime that did
this is the one currently building nuclear facilities ‘for peaceful
purposes’. They say that their purposes are peaceful.
But this is what they do to their own citizens.
Would you believe them?
Here are ten Baha’i women hanged by the caring state of Iran in 1983.
The youngest was seventeen. Their crime? Teaching Sunday School.
This is not the ‘fascist regime’ of Israel.
This is the fascist regime of Iran, a country that still kills its own citizens
for the flimsiest of reasons.
Iran created Hizbullah. Today, it finances and arms Hizbullah.
Hizbullah’s aim is the final destruction of Israel.
That is racism. That is fascism.
‘We are all Hizbullah now’ ? Really ?
By now, you will have noticed a pattern.
Fascist intolerance expressed in violence on
the one hand, and a tolerance so complete it
has few parallels in the world.
A fascist state on the one hand, a modern
democracy on the other.
Dogged hatred on the one hand
- a hand held out in peace on the other.
Perhaps it’s time to go back to Israel, that most hated of countries, a
country condemned for its ‘human rights abuses’, a country vilified
while real abusers of human rights look on and sneer.
Here are more photographs of Baha’i holy places.
After that, we’ll take a look at some other religions.
Across the bay from Haifa, this is the holiest Baha’i site in the world, the
Shrine of Baha’ Allah. This is the ‘Nazi’ state of Israel. This is how Israeli
‘fascists’ treat minorities. In Iran or Saudi Arabia, this would be rubble.
In Iran or Saudi Arabia, its custodians would be in prison. Or worse.
Back in Haifa, these are monuments to two Baha’i saints, set in the
lush Baha’i gardens on Mount Carmel.
In 2006, Hizbullah rockets landed not far from these gardens.
But ‘we’re all Hizbullah now’, aren’t we?
Still on Mount Carmel, this is the seat of the Baha’i international body,
the Universal House of Justice. You’d think the Israeli authorities cared
for it as if it was their own. The Israeli ‘fascists’ aren’t very good at
intolerance after all, are they? Maybe they could take lessons from Iran
or Hizbullah and have this demolished. What do you think?
If you are a liberal person, surely you believe in human rights and
tolerance. It’s not a hard choice to make.
Go with your instincts. Israel is not an enemy of freedom.
Or a wrecker of other people’s hopes and aspirations.
The Baha’i world centre in Haifa is large and growing. Look at
the following photographs and ask why a ‘Nazi, apartheid
state’ is clearly so ineffective at wiping out the sacred sites of
an anti-fascist, anti-racist religion.
The Iranians or Hamas or Hizbullah would do a much better
job, don’t you think?
The panorama below moves across Carmel from east to west, with the
sea to the north. The first building is the Baha’i international missionary
centre, next is the seat of their supreme body, then a centre for the
study of scripture, then (just visible) their international archives, and
finally, the golden dome of the shrine of the Bab, around which the
main gardens and monuments cluster.
The international Baha’i archives and the shrine of the Bab.
This is what Mount Carmel looks like from downtown Haifa. Nineteen
terraces run from the bottom to the top. The Israeli government goes well
beyond just guaranteeing the Baha’is their human rights. It lets them
proclaim their existence far and wide.
It is one of the most visited tourist sites in Israel.
Places like this can only survive in a democracy. A real democracy, not a
sham under a theocracy like Iran or a terrorist regime like that of Hamas.
Israel is a real democracy, the only working example in the Middle East.
This resting place of a Baha’i saint would be banned or destroyed in
Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Turkey,
Yemen, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq…
…in any Muslim country.
Islamic states pay lip service to the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, especially when it comes to freedom of religion.
Israel takes its obligations seriously.
Are all those people who condemn Israel as a ‘Nazi state’ quite sure
they have the right country?
‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and
religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief,
and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or
private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 18.
The Baha’is believe in world peace and international brotherhood. They
believe in harmony between religions. In the countries just mentioned,
those are only reasons to condemn them.
What is remotely ‘fascist’ or ‘racist’ about a country that protects people
with such beliefs and holds such beliefs itself?
The Baha’is number some 5-6 million members round the world.
All races, all nationalities, all former religious backgrounds.
Why would a nation of ‘fascists’ encourage them ?
And why would the Baha’is, facing persecution elsewhere, seek to build
and expand their holiest shrines and their world centre in the middle of
a state with supposedly ‘the worst human rights record in the world’?
Unless, perhaps, Israel doesn’t have the worst human rights record.
Unless, perhaps, it has one of the best…
Could it be because Israel is not a ‘fascist, apartheid state’ at all?
Could it be because the Baha’is are safer in Israel than almost
anywhere else in the world? And it’s not just the Baha’is…
But it’s not just the Baha’is…
Israel is home to many races and many religions
Israel is a place of refuge for one of the most varied religious populations
in the world. There are Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze, Baha’is,
Ahmadi Muslims, and small communities of Hindus, Buddhists, and
others. No-one is molested. No-one is persecuted. Like the Baha’is, the
Ahmadis are safer in Israel than at home in Pakistan, the Christians safer
than anywhere else in the Middle East.
From its inception in 1948, Israel has taken full responsibility
for the protection of the holy places of all its communities.
Article 1 of Israel’s 1967 Protection of Holy Places Law.
‘The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration
and any other violation and from anything likely to
violate the freedom of access of the members of the
different religions to the places sacred to them or their
feelings with regard to those places.’
2004. A mob of Albanian Muslims destroyed a cathedral in Prizren,
Kosovo. Rioters attacked Our Lady of Ljeviska, the Church of the Holy
Salvation, church of St. George (the city's largest church), the St.
George Runjevac, a chapel of St. Nicholas, the Monastery of The Holy
Archangels, as well as Prizren's Seminary. All the residences of the
local priests were damaged by Albanian rioters during the unrest.
2006: Following remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI, a firebomb
was thrown at this Anglican church in Nablus. Palestinians carrying
guns, firebombs and lighter fluid attacked four churches in the West
Bank town of Nablus, while gunmen opened fire at a fifth in Gaza.
(AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
An Assyrian church in Iraq after an attack by al-Qaeda.
A Chaldean monastery in Baghdad after an attack by
Sang Timur Church in Indonesia, one of
many attacked by radical Muslims
A woman passes a Christian church in Nigeria after
one of hundreds of attacks by Muslim radicals.
Here are two churches in Pakistan, where Christian places of
worship are often the object of attacks by mobs.
This is the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in the year 2000. Two
hundred Palestinians, including many gunmen, fleeing Israeli troops, took
over the church and 30 priests inside. A siege followed, lasting 38 days.
Rather than destroy the church, the Israelis negotiated and the siege
A Greek Orthodox church in Nablus after a firebombing in 2006. Under the
control of the Palestine Authority, there has been what amounts to an
ethnic cleansing of Christians from Gaza and the West Bank. Bethlehem,
which was 80% Christian before 1995, is now 20%.
In Israel, the Christian population has increased by four times since 1948.
Israelis are accused of being fascists who engage in ethnic cleansing.
These facts speak for themselves.
This is the Church of the Beatitudes, overlooking the Sea of Galilee,
near the spot on which Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount.
In Israel, churches are treated with respect.
The 12th century church of Emmas des Croiss forms part of a
community of French Benedictines.
Both church and community are protected under Israeli law.
This is the Dormition Monastery on Mount Zion, on the outskirts of
Jerusalem, the Jewish holy city. It is one of many Christian buildings
in and around the city.
This is the Catholico Ceiling in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in
Jerusalem, another site made safe under the Israeli Protection of
Holy Places Law.
This is the Church of all Nations on the Mount of Olives, just outside
Jerusalem. The ‘idolatrous’ images on the façade would be destroyed
under shari‘a law if Jerusalem came under Islamic rule.
The golden domes of the Russian Orthodox Church of
St. Mary Magdalene, Jerusalem.
Inside the Church of the Visitation, Ein Kerem.
More painted images. A blasphemy to Muslims and Jews alike.
But this is Israel, where all religions enjoy full tolerance.
Since the 1920s, the Wahhabis, a puritan sect of Islam that controls
Saudi Arabia, have been demolishing Islamic holy sites throughout the
kingdom. This is to prevent anyone turning graves or historic buildings
into places for pilgrimage or worship. They have destroyed Shi’i, Sufi,
and Sunni shrines. 95% of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina have
been razed to the ground
This is the Jannat al-Mu’alla where many of
Muhammad’s family are buried. This is the same cemetery today
This is one of the holiest Shi’i shrines in the world. It holds the remains
of Imam Hasan al-’Askari, father of the Imam Mahdi, the awaited
saviour. It was bombed by Sunni insurgents in February 2006.
This was not done by Israelis. This was not done by Jews, ‘fascist’ or
otherwise. This was done by Muslims.
These are the ruins of a Sunni mosque in Baghdad, bombed by Shi’ites
in retaliation for the destruction of a Shi’i mosque some days earlier.
When the Israelis abandoned Gaza in 2005, they left much behind,
including several synagogues.
This is what the Palestinians did with the synagogues.
An abandoned synagogue in Beirut, that once had a thriving
The scene outside the Jewish Centre in Buenos Aires, after a
bombing attack backed by Iran. 85 died. 300 were injured.
No-one has ever been charged with the crime.
The synagogue at Djerba, Tunisia after Islamists exploded a
truck of cooking gas next to it in 2002.
‘We are all Hizbullah’ in action. Garnethill Synagogue, Glasgow,
Scotland. This was an anti-Semitic attack, not a political statement
about Israel and Zionism. It is, after all, outside a Jewish place of
Funny how they get mixed up, isn’t it?
For centuries, Joseph’s tomb in Schechem (Nablus) has been venerated
by Jewish pilgrims. In 2000, Israel handed it and other sites to the care
of the Palestinian Authority. This is what happened to it.
A entire chapter of the Qur’an is devoted to Joseph, who is a sacred
figure for Muslims.
If you want to know why Israel doesn’t just hand over everything to the
Palestinians, this is your answer.
This is the Neve Shalom Synagogue, Istanbul, shortly after a terrorist
attack in 1986. It has been attacked twice since then, in 1992 and
2003. Turkey is an avowedly secularist state, but there is massive
support for Islamist parties.
This is the 18th-century al-Jazzar Mosque in Acre.
It is safe under Israeli custodianship, like all other mosques in Israel.
This is the Mahmudiyya Mosque in Jaffa.
Just an ordinary mosque in an ordinary quarter in an Israeli
town. Unless terrorists attack it, it is not at any risk of harm.
Under the Israeli government it stands unmolested.
A mosque outside Tel Aviv. In Saudi Arabia, churches and synagogues
are banned, while Sufi and Shi‘i shrines are deemed heretical and have
been demolished. Nobody takes to the streets to protest about the way
the Saudi regimes treats non-Muslims and non-Wahhabi Muslims.
But they march to condemn Israel, a country that protects Muslims and
their holy places.
Isn’t there some sort of contradiction here?
During the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah, heavy fighting took
place around the Lebanese town of Maroun al-Ra’s. This mosque was
right in the firing line, overlooking the Israeli border. As you can see,
Israeli artillery took great care not to damage a sacred place.
Is this the ‘Nazi’ state at work ?
Imagine the SS carefully preserving a synagogue during fighting.
The Dome of the Rock, a major Muslim sacred site sits atop the Temple
Mount in Jerusalem, on the site of the first and second Jewish temples.
Some Jewish extremists have threatened to demolish it in order to build
a third temple. The Israeli authorities will have nothing of that, and have
handed everything on the Temple Mount to the Islamic authorities.
A very odd way for ‘fascists’ to behave.
The Israelis have also granted the Islamic waqf authority in Jerusalem
control of the al-Aqsa Mosque, the oldest in the city.
No non-Muslims are permitted to enter.
Israel is vigilant.
Not just for its own holy places, but for all in its keeping.
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the
Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the
benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as
envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social
and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will
guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it
will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the
principles of the Charter of the United Nations. From the Declaration of the
Establishment of the State of Israel.
There comes a moment for all of us when, whatever our prejudices, we
have to examine them. Socrates said ‘an unexamined life is not worth
living’. When the evidence is so great we can no longer argue against it,
it’s time to take stock. It’s very easy to level accusations of ‘a fascist
state’, ‘a Nazi state’, or ‘an apartheid state’ without ever setting that
against reality. The slides you have seen and others you are about to see
show vividly how, whatever its faults, Israel can hardly be accused of
religious intolerance or discrimination.
If you can accept that, then you need to re-focus.
Does it seem logical to you that, if the Israelis were ‘Nazis’, they would
protect Arab mosques? Or that they would repay centuries of Christian
persecution of Jews by placing Christian places of worship under state
protection? Or that they would incur the wrath of the Iranian regime by
harbouring the Baha’i world centre?
It’s not too late to take
a second look at Israel
In the Muslim world, tolerance for other religions has only ever been
partial. Today, it is almost non-existent. The results are visible
everywhere from North Africa to Indonesia.
Examine the Saudi Arabia picture carefully
Saudi Arabia Pakistan
Everywhere, we have become accustomed to the sight of radical
Muslims marching, demonstrating, protesting, burning, destroying,
suicide bombing, car bombing, and threatening more violence to come.
Yet not once have we seen anyone take to the streets about that.
Political activists committed to humanitarian issues have never once
protested the slaughter carried out by al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbollah, or
any other Islamist movement. They have not once expressed offense at
the burning of churches, synagogues and Hindu temples, the slaughter of
Jews, Christians, Hindus, Baha’is and others in Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan,
Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, and the West Bank.
Are Muslims the world’s only victims?
Somehow, the only cause anyone will march about is one that includes
hatred of Israel. It seems that a state that does its best for inter-religious
harmony is the proper target for today’s politically correct marcher. Ignore
jihadist Islam and the death and destruction it brings. Why not? And
while you’re at it, why not call Jews kikes?
Why would anyone think you were an anti-Semite?
In the eyes of many, freedom is a dangerous concept, and Israel, a
land of true freedoms, is the greatest threat to world peace.
By comparison, Alice in Wonderland is sanity itself.
But in the end we all have to make decisions. Moral decisions.
Decisions for ourselves and for the rest of humanity.
We can choose to call an ethical, tolerant democracy a fascist state.
We can choose to identify with a brutal terrorist group and march in its
support. We can choose to turn a blind eye to those who carried out the
murders on 9/11 or in Madrid or Bali or London.
We can shake hands with despots and theocrats who bulldoze shrines.
Or we can make the moral choice.
We can choose to turn our backs on those who are hanged, beheaded,
tortured, or burned to death simply because they are unbelievers or
homosexuals or young women with boyfriends or something else that
radical Muslim states and organizations don’t approve of.
We can stare into the face of horror and remain silent.
Iran, 2005. Two teenage boys go to the
gallows for the crime of being gay.
They met a slow death by strangulation.
How many of you marched in protest?
This is a public square in Saudi Arabia, after Friday prayers.
Executions here are barbaric, and the judicial system seriously
defective. Sometimes people protest. But never in large numbers.
They prefer to save their wrath for Israel, where there is no capital
This is Iran. This woman has been found guilty of adultery and is buried
in preparation for stoning. Stonings often take several hours. Is this the
merciful face of Islam ? This is not Israel, the supposedly ‘Nazi state’.
This is the Nazi Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Final
Solution. He was hanged in Israel in 1961.
Israeli has never hanged anyone else before or since. Not even
terrorists. Not even multiple killers. Think hard about this.
What fascist state, what apartheid regime has ever banned capital
Here are three articles from the Constitution of the Islamic
Republic of Iran. They seem entirely reasonable.
They bear no resemblance to reality.
20. All citizens of the country, both men and women, equally enjoy the
protection of the law and enjoy all human, political, economic, social,
and cultural rights, in conformity with Islamic criteria.
23. The investigation of individuals' beliefs is forbidden, and no one
may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.
39. All affronts to the dignity and repute of persons arrested, detained,
imprisoned, or banished in accordance with the law, whatever form
they may take, are forbidden and liable to punishment.
Here are some samples of the reality…
Here is an extract from one of the Basic Laws
of the State of Israel
1. The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and
liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the
State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
2. There shall be no violation of the life, body or dignity of any
person as such.
3. There shall be no violation of the property of a person.
4. All persons are entitled to protection of their life, body and
5. There shall be no deprivation or restriction of the liberty of a
person by imprisonment, arrest, extradition or otherwise.
This is part of the reality…
Ethiopian Jews, Israeli Citizens
An Arab woman casts her vote in Israel
Jewish and Arab students graduate together at Hebrew University
Israeli women in Tel Aviv
More Israeli women, on national service
But there are other realities all Israelis have to face…
A Gay Pride march in Jerusalem
From article 15 of the Hamas Covenant…
‘The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad
becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In the face
of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that
the banner of Jihad be raised.’
Members of Hamas’s military wing, the Kata’ib al-Qassam, on parade.
Article 21 of the PLO Charter…
The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves
by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all
solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation
of Palestine and reject all proposals aiming at the
liquidation of the Palestinian problem, or its
Members of the Palestinian security forces using a familiar salute…
From the 1985 ‘Open Letter’ (al-Risala al-maftuha) of
Our primary assumption in our fight against Israel states
that the Zionist entity is aggressive from its inception, and
built on lands wrested from their owners, at the expense of
the rights of the Muslim people. Therefore our struggle will
end only when this entity is obliterated. We recognize no
treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements,
whether separate or consolidated.
Here are Hizbullah fighters using the sieg-heil salute. Yet ‘lovers of peace’
have the gall to call Israelis ‘Nazis’. A profound evil has re-entered our
lives. And many of us, through laziness and ignorance, are taking the
wrong side. Israelis are fighting the Nazis. The men in these pictures are
the new SS. They have sworn to fight until every Jew is dead.
What does it take to convince you that Israel is not a ‘Nazi state’ ?
Why do we have such short memories? There are many alive today
who remember World War II and the Holocaust and the Nazis.
We said it would never happen again.
Yet many young people today have no problem in calling Israel a
‘Nazi state’ and identifying themselves with modern-day fascists
such as Hizbullah and Hamas.
Members of the Mahdi Army (Jaysh al-Mahdi), an Iraqi Shi’ite
militia trained by the Lebanese Hizbullah. They kill Sunni Muslims
and British troops in Basra. But no-one takes to the streets.
Are these really our latter-day heroes?
Isn’t it time to take moral stock of ourselves?
We can start by considering the following: Israel is a haven for people
of all religions, for Arab women threatened with ‘honour’ killings, for gay
Arabs, for Ethiopians, for refugees from Darfur, for Russian Christians
and for Jews from all round the world. It is a refuge from persecution.
How can such a country be described as an ‘apartheid state’?
Survivors of the death camps head for the Promised Land Years later, an Ethiopian refugee starts a new life
‘You love life and we love death’ (al-Qaeda, 2004). The enemies of
Israel, like the Nazis before them, have chosen a cult of death as a way
of life, and are passing it on to their children. This is blatant child abuse.
Not once have the Western media publicized it.
Not once has anyone taken to the streets to protest it.
Israel was built as a refuge for the survivors of the greatest crime in
history. It remains a refuge to the present day.
It is a living contradiction of the Holocaust, not a replica.
Israeli troops do not give the Nazi salute or goosestep when they march.
Yet every day its enemies try to destroy it.
In Europe, in countries whose citizens should know better, the streets are
full of men and women baying in support of terrorist movements. These
are movements which would give neither quarter nor refuge to Jews,
Christians, Druze, Baha’is, Ahmadis, Hindus, homosexuals, agnostics,
atheists, secularists, reformists, or intellectuals.
Most of the marchers, in other words.
When you say you are all Hizbullah, what do you mean? Is it your plan
to kill Israeli civilians? Because this is what Hizbullah rockets do. This
is murder. This is what you are signing up for. Perhaps you think there
are no innocent Israeli civilians, just as the Nazis thought there were no
If it’s wrong to bomb a bus in London, it’s wrong to bomb a bus in Haifa.
Perhaps it’s time to think twice about Israel.
Could the Israelis be the good guys after all… ?
A teacher and child at an Israeli AIDS project in Malawi
Israeli eye surgeons help South Sudanese refugees in Kenya, one of
several such projects Israel makes happen…
A workshop on learning disabilities, Sri Lanka. Run by Israel’s Mount
Carmel International Training Centre… Under the Nazis, people with
disabilities were experimented on and gassed.
An Israeli aid worker works with traumatized children in Sri Lanka after
the tsunami. Israeli aid agencies provide help to people round the
world without discrimination. Their work seldom hits the headlines.
But it makes a huge difference for all who need it.
Do candles in Israeli churches flicker against the dying of the light?
The Christian population of Israel has grown steadily since 1948.
The Russian Church, Jerusalem
This is not Gaza, where Christians have been forced to convert to
Islam. This is not the West Bank, where Christians have been driven
out en masse. This is not Bethlehem, where Christians have been
barred from the Church of the Nativity at Christmas.
This is Jerusalem. This is Israel. Where Christians pray in freedom.
The Russian Church, Jerusalem
This is the cupola of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Beneath it
stands the rock on which Abraham planned to sacrifice his son, where
Jacob dreamed of angels ascending and descending. Here, the Ark of
the Covenant was placed in the First Temple. From here, Muhammad
made his ascent to heaven. It forms part of the Temple Mount. It is one
of the holiest places on earth. Jerusalem passed into Israeli hands in
1967. Since then, no harm has come to the rock or the mosque.
But no Jews are allowed to enter.
Four religions consider Israel to be their Holy Land. Prophets have
walked and preached here, the scriptures of three faiths have been
written here, the land is drenched with the blood of martyrs and the
tears of saints. But for one people above all others, Israel is their
original and final home. The Jews have not taken custodianship of the
Holy Land lightly, and they do not administer it through fear.
What is the problem with that?
Almost 2000 years ago, the Romans
destroyed the Second Jewish Temple.
Today, the Romans have gone and now
Jews pray beside the Western Wall.
Today, for the first time in almost 2000 years, the Jews have a state. A
refuge from persecution. A tiny strip of land to call their own.
You have a choice:
You can join those who want to destroy that state and all the holy places
it protects. You can join with religious fanatics, Nazi sympathizers, anti-
Semites and racists.
Or you can stand up for justice and human rights, and recognize Israel
for what it is: an imperfect progressive democracy that stands head and
shoulders above most countries when it comes to human rights and a
love for peace. The choice is yours.
About the Author
This presentation was devised and written by a former Lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies
at a UK University. He has several degrees, including a PhD in Persian. He has published
extensively on Islamic topics, contributing to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, the Oxford
Encyclopaedia of Islam in the Modern World, the Encyclopaedia Iranica and the Penguin
Handbook of Religions.
Photos of Baha’i buildings and gardens in Haifa, all copyright Marco Abrar
Sepia photographs of places and people in Israel, all courtesy of Jimmy Sng, Singapore
Photos of Russian Church interior, Shmuel Halevi - www.pbase.com/acumedico .
Photo of Dome of the Rock cupola, Damon Lynch.
Photo of al-Aqsa, Lane Green
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