Almost every one of the several hundred worshippers at this overflowing synagogue was swaying back and forth, seemingly consumed with an intense and unswerving faith. While their fathers were praying—I could not see the women, who were all on the floor above—little boys passed around chocolate bars and Gummi Bears. Aside from the occasional break to keep the boys from running out into the narrow aisle, the men spent the entire time praying the same prayers that have been prayed every Friday night for centuries.
There were no calls for “death to Arabs” or “death to Palestinians.” There were no calls for revenge. Afterward, I specifically listened for any tone or temperament that suggested people venting in a way they couldn’t during the prayer service. I heard no such thing.
After the service, people were shaking hands and hugging. They were smiling and greeting each other by saying, “Shabbas,” which starts at sundown on Friday and ends some 25 hours later.
Dozens of men—mostly with long beards and either skull caps or strange-looking hats (the likes of which I had never seen before)—approached me. This was understandable since not only had they never seen me before, but I was dressed in long khaki pants and a casual blue button-down shirt—a far cry from the black slacks and pressed white dress shirts almost everyone else was wearing. But rather than scorning me as an outsider, they embraced me and welcomed me to their house of worship.
Less than 48 hours later, at a funeral for a Hamas terrorist responsible for repeatedly plotting mass murders of innocent Israelis, this was the scene as described by the New York Times:
“‘We want martyrs, more sacrifice,’ blared a voice amplified through loudspeakers as more than 1,000 Palestinians marched through Gaza City today during the funeral procession.”
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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