"Hitler Dead!" "Bin Laden Dead!" Exactly sixty-six years elapsed between the two headlines, both splashed across newspapers on May 2.
Another "coincidence:" The day Jews around the world mourn and remember the enormous evil of Hitler's genocide, Yom haShoa, was the very same day Osama bin Laden was eliminated. Eerie how these two clear reminders of evil—and death—occurred together.
Jews around the world presently have heightened awareness of days, as we're in the midst of a special period that links the Passover exodus from Egypt to its purpose, receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Each day we "count the Omer," saying aloud the number of days and weeks in this transition. As part of this, we're ideally preparing ourselves with attention to specific character traits, in order to emulate our biblical ancestors who, in unity and lofty spirit, replaced their bondage to Pharaoh with voluntary service to God.
I've been reading that some well-meaning, soft-hearted people, while glad the threat Osama bin Laden's continued existence posed is gone, refuse to "celebrate" the fact he's dead. I find this inappropriate.
Yes, I, too, remember the sickening videos of Muslims whooping and jumping for joy when they heard about the 9-11 attacks. That was particularly heinous and offensive, because the American civilians killed were just going about their daily lives. They were indiscriminately murdered for the sole purpose of terrorizing and humiliating our nation.
Osama Bin Laden, on the other hand, considered himself a holy warrior. He not only planned and facilitated the deaths of those 3,000 innocents on 9-11 but masterminded or enabled attacks dating to 1992. In 1998 he signed a fatwa or commanding decree, which includes the following: "We—with God’s help—call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it."
Three reasons were offered in the fatwa, the first two rooted in alleged American crusades against Muslims, with a supposed toll (as of Feb. 1998) of a million dead. The third justification for the fatwa is decidedly anti-Semitic: "...if the Americans’ aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews’ petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there."
Ironically, a 2009 Pew poll found that Arabs in Middle Eastern countries hold overwhelmingly negative views of Jews—except those who live in Israel. Only 35% of Israeli Arabs expressed a negative opinion of Jews, while 56% had a positive response.
What we must consider, given the confluence of Yom haShoa and the killing of Osama bin Laden is the similarity of target between the Nazis and militant Islamic jihadists. It all seems to come back to the Jews, a religious group too tiny in number to affect any real rulership or oppression of Muslims, even if it were permitted or desired. Yom haShoa, the remembrance of the unspeakable annihilation of Jews on no basis except heritage, is whispered in Osama's fatwa, and broadened to include an entire nation, or more accurately, western civilization and culture.
America is not only hospitable to Muslims, but even now officially tiptoes to assure them they are respected and not held responsible for the faction who would destroy us. President Obama was careful to say in his announcement that Osama "Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries including our own."
I don't think al Qaeda was aiming for Muslims when it took down the Twin Towers, but I also don't think killing Muslims who defend America would be seen as more than collateral damage to the jihadists who have such low regard for human life, even their own.
Jewish tradition teaches that certain individuals and groups are imbued with a proclivity toward evil, and we remember these destructive forces ("Amalek") yearly before Passover. As we offer thanks to the courageous American security and military personnel who sought and destroyed Osama—for eight years under President Bush, and for two more under President Obama—we need to remain vigilant and cautious. On an individual, spiritual level, the timing is right to pursue personal elevation as a means to replace the world's evil with good.
The headlines are just a reminder that little in this world is truly coincidence.