Naftali Moses
Naftali Moses

The Fire This Time

You never forget your first. Mine was a pudgy, quite unattractive second grader named Dorit. I remember the way she looked at me, her greasy hair framing a non-too-clean face and a pug nose. “You know that you’re going to burn in hell, don’t you?” I was taken aback at this bit of news, for over the first eight years of my life, I hadn’t given much thought to questions of the afterlife at all. So I asked her simply “Why?”

“Because you’re a Jew, that’s why.”

So among the many pleasures of reading Go Dog Go as often as I could, cutting colored construction paper with blunt scissors, playing tag and conquering the scary monkey bars in the primary playground, second grade also brought me my first anti-Semite. My first meeting with somebody waiting to see the Jews burn.

Of course, Dorit wasn’t the first and I’m sure that she won’t be the last. For generations, there have been those wishing mayhem and death upon our small nation. Take Jabril Rajoub, a high-ranking Fatah member and long-time enforcer for Yasser Arafat. Rajoub’s history of thuggery speaks for itself.  The public record shows that Rajoub seems to have spent much of his time terrorizing civilians—Jew and Arab alike. I recall how during the early days of the Palestinian Authority’s reign, my Arab co-workers would voice their fear, anger and frustration both at the PA for embittering their lives and at Israel for importing what they called the “Tunisian mafia” to do it. Each and every one of them had a neighbour or relative who had been swept up by Rajoub’s thugs in the dead of the night and taken to Jericho. They were being shaken down and harassed. As one of them complained, “You dare to dream about Arafat at night, you will awaken in Rajoub’s prison in the morning.”

Yet, Rajoub has voiced his regrets; regret that his reign of terror has been so limited. In a by-now well-known declaration to a sympathetic interviewer in 2013, he decried the fact that the Palestinians did not yet have nuclear arms and swore that they would use them against Israel if they did. Rajoub, it seems, lacks the patience to wait for the Jews to burn—he wants to bring down the hell fire already. Charcoaled corpses, melted flesh, tens and tens of thousands of dead and dying—that is what Rajoub wants for us. Because for him, longing for Jewish death is no mere theological fantasy, but his professional goal.

So, of course, who better for the Israel Policy Forum to fly into the Big Apple, all expenses paid, than this cheerleader for the murder of Jews. Manhattan certainly is lovely in the springtime and is, thank goodness, a sea and an ocean away from the latest Arab gassing of innocent children.  My apologies, IPF, but the tinkle of fine glassware and the squish of loafers on deep carpets cannot drown out the full-throated calls for mass murder voiced by your honored guest. This is a man who should be jailed, not feted.

Rajoub, touted by some as the successor to PA President Abbas, who we know worked so hard at denying the Shoa, seems to doing his best to bring about the next. I wonder then, has the pursuit of relevancy among the dozens of wood-paneled organizations on the East Coast (so comfortably removed from the Middle East) rendered even thugs like Rajoub persona grata? I know that terrorist Rasmea Odeh was already taken, but surely there are Jew-haters plenty in New York to invite to your conference without importing one who glorifies the killers of children and calls for more. I mean, it’s been years, but maybe even Dorit, all grown-up now, would have been happy to speak.

About the Author
Naftali Moses, born in NYC, has lived in Israel for over 30 years. He holds a PhD in medical history from Bar-Ilan University, and teaches and writes on the nexus of medicine and Judaism. The author of "Really Dead?" and "Mourning Under Glass", he has also translated several books on Jewish thought into English, published on philosophy in the Mishna, and aggadah.