Several similarities between curret events and those of four years ago cannot be ignored. During the same period in 2008, Barack Obama had just been elected president of the U.S., Hamas rocket barrages from Gaza were about to precipitate Operation Cast Lead, and the Israeli elections were on the horizon.
But there is one other eerily tragic likeness — the slaughter of Rivka Holtzberg in Mumbai in November 2008 and that of Mirah Scharf in Kiryat Malachi on Thursday — that should remind us what the Palestinians’ real war against Israel is all about.
Holtzberg and her husband, who ran the Chabad House in Mumbai, were murdered in their home by Pakistani Islamists in front of their two-year-old son. She was five months’ pregnant. The orphaned boy, who was rescued by his Indian nanny, was brought to Israel to be raised by his grandparents.
Scharf and her husband also ran the Chabad House in New Delhi. During a home visit to Israel, Scharf, also pregnant, was killed by a missile that struck the apartment where she was staying in Kiryat Malachi. Her husband and three young children were all wounded in the same attack. As each was hospitalized, none was able to attend her funeral.
The horrible irony here is that Scharf had scheduled this trip to enable her to do two things: attend a memorial service marking the four-year-anniversary of the deaths of her colleagues, the Holtzbergs, and to give birth in Israel. Instead, the 25-year-old and her soon-to-be-born baby were laid to rest in Jerusalem on Thursday evening.
On Friday, a delegation headed by Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil arrived in Gaza to “broker a cease-fire” between Hamas and Israel. To call this ridiculous would be the understatement of the century. There is no need for “brokering.” The minute the rockets stop flying into Israel, there will be an end to Israeli strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, pure and simple.
But Egypt finds itself in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, the Muslim Brotherhood-led government has no problem with the street demonstrations in Cairo calling for Israel’s destruction. On the other, President Mohammed Morsi can’t afford to forfeit all the billions of dollars and euros he is about to receive to help keep his people from starving to death and rebelling against him. So acting as some kind of mediator with his close allies in Gaza provides a good show for America and Europe.
Aside from taking cynicism to new heights, this charade is yet another indication that the world still doesn’t get it. The conflict with Israel on the part of the Arabs has nothing to do with Gaza blockades or West Bank settlements. The Middle East, which has been falling like dominoes into the hands of Islamist parties, is on a religious path of jihad against all infidels.
Their first stated order of business is to wipe out the Jews. Indeed, the Hamas charter includes the hadith (oral directives handed down from the Prophet Muhammad) according to which, “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.'”
It is this tenet that is being chanted by imams across the globe. It is this belief that jihadists the world over take literally and act upon accordingly.
Indeed, the Holtzbergs were not gunned down by Pakistanis in India four years ago because of the borders of the State of Israel. They, like Mirah Scharf in Kiryat Malachi this week, were murdered for being Jews.
Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the Arab Spring," available on Amazon and in bookstores in Europe and North America.