What people hold sacred: compare and contrast — Updated

**Posted by Phineas

Five members of the Fogel family were slaughtered by Muslims waging jihad last week in the village of Itamar: Udi 36, the father; Ruth (35) the mother; and three of their children Yoav (11), Elad (4), and Hadas (3 months). All were stabbed or had their throats slit.

Above Yoav’s bed hung the following Hebrew prayer:

May it be Your will, L-rd G-d and G-d of our forefathers, that I love every one of Israel as myself, and to graciously perform the positive commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself.

And may it also be Your will, Lord G-d and G-d of my forefathers, that you cause the hearts of my friends and neighbors to love me fervently, and that I be accepted and desirable to everyone, and that I be loving and pleasant, and that I be gracious and merciful in the eyes of all who see me. As water reflects face to face, so the heart of man to man. And all for the sake of Heaven, to do Your will, Amen.

Compare that to one of the famous “verses of the sword” from the Qur’an, the sacred book of he who stabbed a three-month old girl twice through the heart:

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

And before someone argues that the Qur’an is filled with all sorts of peaceful verses — I agree, it is. But then familiarize yourself with the doctrine of abrogation, in which chronologically later verses of the Qur’an supersede and invalidate those that came earlier. In this case, classical Islamic scholarship considers the verse cited above to have abrogated 124 peaceful verses. It is those later, non-abrogated verses that represent the current ethos of Islam, just as the prayer above little Yoav’s bed represents that of Judaism.

“But,” one might argue, “that verse specifies ‘pagans,” and the Fogels were Jews, ‘People of the Book.’ Where is the command to fight and kill Jews?”

Okay, let’s take one of the hadiths, the sayings of Muhammad, considered a source second only to the Qur’an and necessary to understanding that book. This is one of the most famous antisemitic hadiths, from the Sahih Muslim collection, one of the two most highly regarded collections of hadiths in Sunni Islam:

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.

In other words, the Day of Resurrection won’t come until Muslims fight and kill the Jews.

But the prayer hung above Yoav’s bed by his parents asked for the grace to love his neighbor, not to hate them and kill them.

The comparison is revealing.

via Israel Matzav through Legal Insurrection

LINKS: An earlier compare and contrast, this time on forgiveness.

UPDATE: Andy McCarthy has a must-read article today on the massacre of the Fogels — Why They Celebrate Murdering Children:

As the Israeli press reported, jubilant Muslims crowded Gaza’s streets, handing out candy and sweets in the wake of the murders. Jennifer Rubin notes that the outpouring of joy over the slitting of an infant’s throat was, according to one resident, “a natural response to the harm settlers inflict” on Palestinians.

It is a natural response, if you are a monster. If you have been reared in a culture that worships suicide bombers, that dehumanizes Jews as the children of monkeys and pigs, and that insists Israel is not merely the enemy but does not have a right to exist. And these positions, it bears emphasizing, do not represent some fringe Islam of al-Qaeda terrorists who have purportedly hijacked an otherwise peaceful religion. This is mainstream Islam, the sorts of things you would hear in a classroom at al-Azhar University or a television show on al-Jazeera — the place where, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, people turn for “real news,” the place where Muslim Brotherhood guru Yusuf Qaradawi lionizes suicide bombers in his popular weekly program, Sharia and Life.

McCarthy surveys the religious justification for terrorism in Islam and then tells the story of the Kaiser family, who in 1979 lost two children and a father to jihad-by-murder. Their killer, Samir Kuntar, was lionized as a hero by the Palestinians and Hizbullah on his release a few years ago.

And yet we’re the bigots when we draw the logical conclusion upon noting the common religious thread in atrocity after atrocity.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Japan earthquake: before and after photos

**Posted by Phineas

Want to see something impressive, in that “so shocking my brain almost can’t process this” kind of way?

Australia’s ABC News has before and after photos of areas in Japan devastated by the Sendai quake and tidal wave. Roll you mouse over the photos to see the difference, and then go donate some money to relief efforts.

By the way, the US Geological Survey has “upgraded” the quake from magnitude 8.9 to 9.0. To give you an idea of the force generated, the 6.7 Northridge earthquake that trashed Los Angeles in 1994 equaled the force released by the explosion of a 168-kiloton nuclear bomb. What was the equivalent for last Friday’s 9.0 temblor?

474 megatons. The largest warhead we ever deployed was the 9-megaton W53, and it would take 52 of those to match the power of last week’s quake.

Like I said, the mind almost can’t process it.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Her “crime” was to demand justice for her daughter

Marisela Escobedo Ortiz’s daughter Rubi was murdered last year. No, “murdered” is too clean, too antiseptic a word. Her daughter, 17, was burned to death, her corpse was cut up into chunks, and the remains were thrown into a dumpster by her cartel-member boyfriend.

And the Chihuahua state courts let him go, citing a lack of evidence, even though he had confessed. (A confession he later recanted.)

So Rubi’s mother campaigned for over a year for justice for her daughter, until, just two days ago, she was gunned down by the man accused of murdering her child:

The brutal killing of activist Marisela Escobedo Ortiz stunned people across Mexico, and a group of women angrily demanding justice gathered outside the state prosecutors’ office in this border city, where the victim’s daughter was killed.

Escobedo’s slaying “shows that in Mexico, it is the victim who suffers,” anti-crime activist Alejandro Marti said.

The uproar resulted in the suspension of three state judges who had ordered the freeing of the main suspect in the slaying of Escobedo Ortiz’s daughter — the same man who was identified as a chief suspect in the mother’s death.

The vicious nature of the killing — which was caught on a security camera and broadcast repeatedly on national television — added to the anger. The video shows masked men pull up in a car Thursday night in front of the governor’s office in Chihuahua city, the capital of Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located.

One man appeared to exchange words with Escobedo Ortiz, who tried to flee by running across the street. The gunman chased her down and shot her in the head, said Jorge Gonzalez, special state prosecutor for crime prevention.

A spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, Carlos Gonzalez, said investigators believe one of the gunmen was Sergio Barraza, who had been the main suspect in the killing of Escobedo’s 17-year-old daughter. He was absolved by a court in April for lack of evidence.

Supposedly Escobedo Ortiz was being protected by Chihuahua state security police, which leaves open the question of where in God’s name they were when Barraza attacked her. Mexican state police forces have a bad reputation for corruption and it is not hard to imagine a few payoffs and/or threats working their magic here and in the trial court that freed this swine*, though incompetence may explain the trial result, too.

Regardless, northern Mexico is increasingly looking like a land where government authority counts for little, if anything. When a cry for justice earns one nothing but a bullet in the head, why should anyone place faith in the government’s promises of security?

This is one more marker on the road to state failure in Mexico, and the Mexican government had better do something before they reach its end.

*I probably owe an apology to the pigs of the world for the comparison.

via Cubachi.

UPDATE: Just days after Escobedo Ortiz’s murder, her husband’s business is destroyed by arsonists.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Where Was Kos A Few Weeks Ago?

Markos Moulitsas of the left’s biggest, most popular blog had the following to say about the shooting in Pittsburg:

When we were out of power, we organized to win the next election. Conservatives, apparently, prefer to talk “revolution” and kill cops.

Because, you know, this guy was a right-winger because that’s the way the AP has portrayed him. Pfft.

In any case, where was Kos a few weeks ago when this happened? And how about the vigil by left-wingers for the victim? Hmm?

Look, politics doesn’t make people go on a rampaging killing spree by itself, there’s usually other factors at work. Like being insane, for example. Just because a few “friends”, as “quoted” by the AP, said he was afraid Obama was going to take his guns doesn’t automatically make him a right-winger, it makes him a lunatic, just as the killer in Oakland was a lunatic. The problem in both cases is the fact that people try and exploit these incidents for political gain.

In every case where someone has killed a bunch of people, you can count on some hard-core liberal like Kos and Krew to somehow blame the right for the murderer’s actions. If there’s even a remote chance the guy is/was a lefty, then conservatives obviously drove him to do it (as was supposedly the case with the Oakland shooter). If there’s even a remote chance that the killer is a righty, then we’re to blame because we supposedly do nothing but spew hate-speech (given the fact that hate-speech is all we’ve seen from the left over the last eight or so years, that’s pretty rich).

If anything seems to have driven him over the edge (besides the fight with his mom), I’d have to say this was it:

The mother told police her son had been stockpiling guns and ammunition “because he believed that as a result of economic collapse, the police were no longer able to protect society,” the affidavit said.

I’d say that’s a little more damning evidence of left-wing guilt than right-wing guilt, wouldn’t you say? I mean, who has been spouting doom-and-gloom for the last few months, telling people the end was near, that we’re headed for a depression worse than the one in the 1930s, etc.? Yes, it was Obama and the left. They wanted to scare people into handing them more and more power. Looks like they scared this guy into going bat-s##t crazy, if you ask me, regardless of what his political ideology was.

(Cross-posted at my blog, Liberty Pundit)

VTech students return to class today

And are trying to restore some sense of normalcy:

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – Still grieving and increasingly wary of the media spotlight, Virginia Tech students returned to their beleaguered campus Sunday, preparing to salvage the final weeks of a semester eclipsed by violence.

The scene on campus resembled move-in day in late summer, with parents helping their children carry suitcases into dormitories. There were tears and hugs goodbye. But instead of excitement for the year ahead, there was simply determination to endure and regroup in the fall.

When classes resume Monday, the university will give students three choices: They can continue their studies through the end of the semester next week, take a grade based on what they have done so far, or withdraw from a course without penalty.

“I want to go back. It’s just really strange to just stop going,” said Paul Deyerle, a sophomore from Roanoke who was helping a friend move belongings from the dormitory where another close friend, Ryan Clark, was among those killed in the worst shooting massacre in modern U.S. history.

A number of students living in West Ambler Johnston Hall have asked to be relocated elsewhere.

“I need to keep going back,” Deyerle said, struggling for words. “It seems like every other facet of my life is different now, so I have to.”

To make the return to classes a little less difficult, their student government asked that the media leave their campus by this morning:

And now, the student government at Virginia Tech is asking for all of that to end. It’s calling on hundreds of reporters to leave campus by Monday morning, when students are supposed to return toclasses.

A spokeswoman for the student government says the campus appreciates the reporting on the story, but that students are ready to move forward.

Liz Hart says “The best way to know how to do that is get the campus back to normal.”

She says students need to be able to get back to class and back into a “normal routine as much as possible” without any reminders of what a “difficult road” it will be.

In her words … “We already know it.”

Can’t say that I blame ’em. I know at least two of the big news nets did ‘specials’ on them this weekend (Fox and CNN) and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the others did their own ‘specials’ on the tragedy. I think at this point, though, the mediots should honor the request of the SGA and let returning students return to class knowing they won’t be hassled by the media on their way. If they want interviews, they should request them off campus. Let these students try to get on with their lives without the constant hounding of a reporter nipping at their heels while they’re on their way to their next class, or jogging on campus, or just taking a break. It’s kind of hard to move forward when certain folks in the press won’t let you.

Hat tip: Joe Gandelman

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Keeping the faith during times of tragedy

It is in times of tragedy, such as the one we witnessed earlier this week at VTech, that the faith of Christians is strongly tested. Some move closer to God, while others withdraw because they don’t understand.

Usually the first questions asked when things like the 32 murders at VTech happen, or the 3,000 killed on 9-11, is “who did this and why?” The answers to those questions are much easier to find than the answer to the age-old question of “Why does God allow tragedy to happen?” The Rev. Billy Graham brought up this question in the address he made on what was called on the Occasion of the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, just three days after 9-11:

But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The old testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ‘Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.

I consoled myself after 9-11 with the belief that the pain and suffering that happens in the world happens in order to bring people either to Him or closer to Him so they can walk with Him. After 9-11, churches were filled with people who had never sat in a church pew before, or hadn’t sat in one in a long time. People were looking for answers, and first and foremost, they looked to Him.

I suspect the same will happen in light of the VTech massacre. More people will fill the churches this weekend, looking for answers only God can provide. And although the answers may not completely satsify them, what will hopefully comfort them in their sorrow is knowing He is all around us, is our refuge, and in control of all things:

Psalm 46:1 …God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

In case you are unfamiliar with the band “Mercy Me”, they are a popular Christian rock band who sing one of the most beautiful Christian songs I’ve ever heard. You’ll hear it in the video below. I should note that the video itself is not one the band did (as far as I know, they never did a video for this song) but instead the song put to some of the scenes from the movie Passion of the Christ. The music, the lyrics, and the video are incredibly moving, and inspiring, and have provided a great source of comfort for me as I struggle to understand why, when God is in control, bad things happen to good people, like those who were killed senselessly on 4/16.

Lyrics to “Here With Me”
Artist: Mercy Me

I long for your embrace
Every single day
To meet you in this place
And see you face to face

Will you show me?
Reveal yourself to me
Because of your mercy
I fall down on my knees

And I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

You’re everywhere I go
I am not alone
You call me as your own
To know you and be known

You are holy
And I fall down on my knees

I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

I surrender to your grace
I surrender to the one who took my place

I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender

I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

We’ll never forget

(via Insty)

In many cities, vigils, moments of silence, and days of mourning have all been held or declared in honor of those slain in Monday morning’s massacre at VTech. VTech declared today “Hokie Hope” day.

I didn’t know this until last night, but there is a Charlotte chapter of the VTech Alumni Association, and it boasts that North Carolina is “home to the second largest contingent of Hokies outside Virginia.”

Last night, they had a memorial service at Myers Park Methodist Church in which 800 people attended. 33 candles were lit, and the church bell rang 33 times, which means they included Cho.

Here’s a list of other vigils in Charlotte that have been held in honor of the VTech victims this week.

MSNBC has a slide show and stories telling you a little bit about the victims and who they were.

We won’t forget:

NBC’s decision to air video and photos from the VTech killer: right or wrong?

Ed Driscoll, among others, is questioning NBC’s decision to air video snippets and photos sent to them from VTech killer Cho Seung-Hui. The WaPo reports that the network “debated hours” on whether or not to air what was sent and eventually decided to air it while others strongly disagreed with their decision. NBC’s Brian Williams, who is their nightly news anchor, didn’t seem too keen on going on air with it. The families of some of the victims are outraged NBC decided to release the killer’s propaganda, with some of them even cancelling scheduled interviews with the network.

Do you think NBC should have gone to air with the video and photos? Some people suggest that it would have been ok to broadcast some of it, but not so soon after the tragedy – that perhaps NBC should have waited a while out of respect for the victims, and to not sensationalize the ‘manifesto’ so as not to give Cho’s propaganda a chance to influence potential copycat killers. I can see the rationale in all that, but at the same time I wonder if people feel the same way about network airing of Al Qaeda videos that we see from time to time. Should networks be sensitive not to air them because of the potential they have to spawn another generation of jihadis? Or does this fall into the category of the ‘public’s right to know’?

Related: What happened Monday, in detail, including a descriptive timeline of what happened in Norris Hall. Chilling.

More: I’m having a somewhat busy day, so I won’t be able to keep up with the latest news on this story like I have been, but Allah’s got up to the minute updates on the latest developments and will likely be updating throughout the day.

Update: Read more thoughts on NBC’s decision via ST reader Karl.

PM Update: Some VTech students have weighed in on the issue of media coverage of the tragedy:


Cho Seung-Hui: The face of a killer

MSNBC has released this photo of Cho Seung-Hui, which he sent to them:

NBC Nightly News will be revealing more photos he is reported to have sent (and perhaps video, too?) tonight on their 6:30 broadcast.

Chris Matthews, believe it or not, had some good questions about the package, which can be seen/heard here – the best question, I think, was the one where he was asking whether or not authorities knew for sure that Cho was the one who mailed the package. Right now, authorities are checking for any type of surveillance video they can find to see if it was indeed Cho who mailed the package to NBC.

— As if your heart couldn’t break anymore: Here’s video of one of the victims – Reema Samaha – taken the day before she was murdered.

Allah makes a good point in noting that there’s nothing written on Cho’s inner arm, as has been reported, which would mean that either he wrote it on his arm after the photo was taken, or that reports of the words “Ismail Ax” being written in red ink on his inner arm are erroneous.

— Am watching NBC Nightly News now. Brian Williams was interviewing Pete Williams who said that what was sent to NBC encompassed six days of material, video, etc by Cho.

— Williams just said that Cho’s manifesto mentioned the Columbine killers (Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris) as “martyrs.” Speaking of Klebold and Harris, I think this piece on ‘why’ they did it is worth examining in light of what happened this week:

School shooters tend to act impulsively and attack the targets of their rage: students and faculty. But Harris and Klebold planned for a year and dreamed much bigger. The school served as means to a grander end, to terrorize the entire nation by attacking a symbol of American life. Their slaughter was aimed at students and teachers, but it was not motivated by resentment of them in particular. Students and teachers were just convenient quarry, what Timothy McVeigh described as “collateral damage.”

The killers, in fact, laughed at petty school shooters. They bragged about dwarfing the carnage of the Oklahoma City bombing and originally scheduled their bloody performance for its anniversary. Klebold boasted on video about inflicting “the most deaths in U.S. history.” Columbine was intended not primarily as a shooting at all, but as a bombing on a massive scale. If they hadn’t been so bad at wiring the timers, the propane bombs they set in the cafeteria would have wiped out 600 people. After those bombs went off, they planned to gun down fleeing survivors. An explosive third act would follow, when their cars, packed with still more bombs, would rip through still more crowds, presumably of survivors, rescue workers, and reporters. The climax would be captured on live television. It wasn’t just “fame” they were after—[FBI Supervisory Special] Agent Fuselier bristles at that trivializing term—they were gunning for devastating infamy on the historical scale of an Attila the Hun. Their vision was to create a nightmare so devastating and apocalyptic that the entire world would shudder at their power.

Read the whole thing. You’ll see a lot of parallels in the Columbine murderers and the VTech killer.

—- Thank you.

—- Here in Charlotte, NC, several high schools were on lockdown for about an hour this afternoon after a 16 y/o, upset with a former girlfriend, allegedly came onto the campus of North Meck High and pointed it at two people, before driving off later and killing himself at a nearby gas station.

“Ismail Ax”?

In reporting on the killer of 32 innocent people on the campus of VTech, several news outlets have noted that the words “Ismail Ax” were written on the inside of one of Cho’s arms. That led to a massive wave of Internet searches for what it could possibly mean, as the Chicago Tribune reports:

At Technorati.com, a Web site that tracks more than 71 million blogs, only 30 blog posts were up about “Ismail Ax” before noon Central Standard Time. That was shortly after the first few news stories that cited the term were posted. By 3:45 CST, there were 202 blog posts regarding the term.

Additionally, the term was not in Technorati’s top search terms at noon, but by 2.30, it reached No 10.

As the public sought news from Virginia Tech, many turned to the Web sites of news organizations. The Chicago Tribune’s Web site, for instance, recorded more than 524,000 page views during the afternoon’s first hour, the busiest pace in the site’s history.

But it was the speculation of what Ismail Ax meant that sent the Internet into a particular frenzy on Tuesday.

One popular theory, mentioned at many sites, speculated that the phrase comes from a story in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, about Ibrahim and his son, Ismail. In the Muslim religion, Ibrahim is known as the father of the prophets and, upset that people in his hometown still worshiped idols and not Allah, he smashed all but one statue in a local temple with an ax. Ibrahim’s son is Ismail, who also became a prophet.

Another theory comes from literature. The name Ismail could be a variant of the narrator from Moby Dick, spelled Ishmael. Literary historians consider Ishmael an enigma who is well educated yet considers his time on a whaling ship worthy of time at Yale or Harvard, according to education site Sparknotes.com.

The NYPost examines “Ismail Ax” theories, too:

The reference may be to the Islamic account of the Biblical sacrifice of Abraham, where God commands the patriarch to sacrifice his own son. Abraham begins to comply, but God intervenes at the last moment to save the boy.

In the Jewish and Christian traditions, the son is Isaac, father of the Jewish people; in Islam, it is his brother, Ismail (Ishmael in Hebrew).

Abraham uses a knife in most versions of the story, but some accounts have him wielding an ax.

A more obscure reference may be to a passage in the Koran referring to Abraham’s destruction of pagan idols; in some accounts, he uses an ax to do so.


Is there an Islamofascism connection here, or is it just coincidence?

Anyone out there have any insight as to what “Ismail Ax” could mean?

Hat tip to Atlas Shrugs, who is on the case and has more, including what looks like a Flickr photo of Cho Seung-Hui. Sweetness and Light is blogging about this, also.

Update: Paul at Wizbang thinks it was supposed to be Ismail YK, a Turkish singer. Perhaps … Also, Kim at Wizbang posts a flashback video of the daughter of a man and woman killed in the Luby’s Cafeteria massacre, which happened back in Texas in 1991. The woman’s name is Suzanne Hupp, and she testified in 1993 that she wasn’t mad at the perp, but at the lawmakers who pass such tight gun control laws that people aren’t even allowed to use one to defend themselves in public places. Watch it here.

Related: Gina Cobb offers her thoughts on how to try and prevent the next mass killing.

John Hawkins believes that we’re never going to get a satisfactory answer to the nagging question of “why” this happened.

Mary Katharine Ham blogs about more heros from yesterday’s massacre, as does Tammy Bruce.

— Curt at Flopping Aces remembers the victims.

— Jeralyn Merrit at Talk Left thankfully isn’t falling for the “we need more gun control!” arguments. And surprisingly neither is, as she notes, Senator Harry Reid.

Bob Leibowitz wonders if Virginia Tech is education’s 9/11, and also writes about how he feels schools need to stop teaching kids to be “good victims” and instead show them how to fight back. Some interesting food for thought there. Read related thoughts on fighting back via Dafydd at Big Lizards.