The home of Kaddafi’s Ambassador to the UN, Muhammad Shalgham.
As of this writing, a Libyan ‘aid’ ship that was on its way to challenge Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza and further inflame the world against the Jewish state for keeping arms out of the hands of Hamas terrorists has now docked in Egypt. The ship is paid for by a charity run by Muammar Kaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Kaddafi. When it comes to the Kaddafi family mob, anything with the word charity in it must be taken with an Everest-sized helping of salt. This is, after all, a family that has brutalized Libya and plundered its wealth for four decades making it easy to give away money that was never theirs in the first place.
It should come as no surprise, however, that Kaddafi’s ‘charity’ is directed against provoking and delegitimizing Israel. Godfather Muammar’s hatred of Israel is obsessive and neurotic. In just the last year alone Kaddafi has accused Israel of instigating every current African conflict, being responsible for genocide in Sudan, and, at the UN general assembly in September, murdering John F. Kennedy. Last summer the tyrant called for Israel’s embassies to be kicked out of all Africa. In March, 2009 his mission to the UN accused Israel of turning Gaza into a concentration camp and last December Kaddafi’s Ambassador to the UN, Muhammad Shalgham, my next-door neighbor, showed images of decapitated and burned Palestinian adults at the Security Council, blaming the grizzly carnage on unprovoked Israeli aggression. His display, which flouted all rules of UN protocol, was condemned by the United States as a ‘rhetorical display designed to inflame.’
All of this makes me ask a simple question. How is it that Englewood, New Jersey, which has thousands of prominent Jewish residents and an estimated 700 orthodox Jewish families, simply accepts the presence of the Libyan mission to the UN in its midst?
I will not here recount my ongoing and fruitless effort to have our elected local and state officials in New Jersey challenge the presence of the Libyan mission, which refuses to pay a single dollar in taxes, even for their own police protection and trash removal, since the tale of their capitulation to the Libyans is something they justify with having launched a failed court challenge nearly thirty years ago. It seems odd that a state that tragically lost 37 residents in the Lockerbie bombing would feel comfortable allowing the terrorist government who sponsored the attack – and today celebrates the cowardly terrorist who planted the bomb – safe haven within New Jersey borders.
I am, however, extremely puzzled at how committed Jews, who love and publicly support Israel, can allow an embassy which regularly defames and threatens the Jewish state, to live peacefully in its community and immediately next-door to one of North America’s largest Jewish day schools without protest. After all, Englewood, New Jersey, is not the United Nations. What are the Libyans doing here?
Is the job of combating all the evil libels directed against Israel from Libya solely the responsibility of Israel’s Jews? Do we in the American Jewish community have no role in combating Kaddafi’s attacks?
In May the New York Post reported that another Kaddafi son, Al-Saadi Kaddafi, invested $100 million into a Los Angeles-based movie production company, Natural Selection, run by Matthew Beckerman, a Jewish producer. That a Jewish American could accept the blood money of the Kaddafi family, who have murdered so many innocent people, including American servicemen, in order to make entertainment is simply staggering.
Like the Jewish Day School which is my neighbor, I too live immediately next-door to the Libyan mission. Waking up every morning and seeing the Libyan flag flying in the midst of a robust American community is shocking. I ask myself, What kind of example is it for American children to learn that we adults are utterly passive in the face of Kaddafi’s evil? Should these children not be learning that part of being an American and part of being Jewish is protesting oppression and banishing it from our communities?
Visualize this for a moment. Every day, hundreds of Jewish children play on swingsets and in sandboxes a few hundred feet from a fluttering Libyan flag. If a convicted sex offender moved right next door to the school, there would be an outcry. Pressure would be brought to ensure that the resident, however legal, moved elsewhere. But the Ambassador of an Israel-hating, terror-sponsoring government – whose leader Ronald Reagan called the mad-dog of the Middle East – lives in the heart of a robust, American Jewish community. Where is the logic?
Jewish education must be first and foremost about Jewish values, one of the greatest being an ironclad commitment to opposing injustice and the trampling of innocents. We are the people who produced Moses who brought Pharaoh’s oppressive regime to its knees. We are the people who gave the world the Ten Commandments, with its injunction to forever rail against murder. And we are the people who gave the world the Hebrew Bible with its magnificent commandment to never stand idly by the blood of one’s neighbor.
I speak here not only of Jewish blood but also, of course, of Arab blood, of whom Kaddafi has murdered untold thousands. All are equally G-d’s children.
In Englewood we need the residents of our community making it clear to our public officials, some of whom are up for election this coming November, that our support for their candidacies is contingent on their public opposition to Kaddafi and his representatives’ presence. Englewood, like every American city, should be a terrorist-free zone.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, founder of This World: The Values Network, hosts ‘The Shmuley Show’ on WABC in New York City and is the author most recently of ‘Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life.’ Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.