16 November 2018 / 8 Kislev 5779
Last Friday life in the CBD began like any other normal day in Melbourne. However, by late afternoon, terror struck the heart of our city. This was an evil, despicable act that was spawned out of hatred, and, like all acts of terror, was designed to provoke fear.
Sisto Malaspina, the co-owner of beloved Melbourne restaurant Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar, was killed less than 400 metres from where he endeared himself to his clientele. This café first opened its doors 60 years ago and is credited with kickstarting the city’s cafe culture. Pellegrini’s was closed for business on Saturday, but that didn’t stop thousands of customers, now mourners, from laying flowers and leaving their condolence messages.
When the terrorist set fire to his ute this was intended to ignite three gas bottles in the car boot, thus, creating a deadly explosion and fireball that would spread shrapnel creating panic and death in the CBD. Miraculously, Shire Ali’s plan failed when the gas bottles did not explode.
Much credit goes to Victoria Police for their quick response. However, PM Scott Morrison went to heart of this matter when he immediately stated: “There is a special responsibility on religious leaders to protect their religious communities, to ensure that these dangerous teachings and ideologies do not take root here. Imams must be proactive, alert, and they must call this out.” It is regrettable that his words were rejected by the majority of Muslim leaders including Australia’s Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed who replied, “I’d like to remind him that security agencies failed to do their job; the offender’s passport had been cancelled and he was being monitored”.
More than 3,300 years ago, Judaism, gave the world 10 timeless and eternal principles to create a society based on belief in G-d and respect of one’s fellow man. The first commandment, “I am the L-rd your G-d” is parallel to, and opposite the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder”. These must continue to be heard particularly in our times. Today’s Muslim leadership has abandoned the sixth commandment,” Thou shall not murder”. Theirs is an atrocious belief that as long as you believe in the Lord, or in Allah, you can kill whomever you brand an “infidel.” Faith that does not imbue its adherents with the sanctity of every single human life desecrates the very purpose of faith. To believe in G-d means to honour the life of every single person, who is created in the image of G-d.
After the recent senseless attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, I was heartened to receive a letter from the President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association Australia (that was undoubtedly sent to many other Synagogues Australia Wide). In his letter he expressed his “deep sadness and sorrow for the recent tragic attack at the synagogue we must stand shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish community around the world and strongly condemn this hateful and barbaric crime. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all victims the Families.” Phil Goldman thanked him for the letter and acknowledging “how acts of this nature must always be condemned in the strongest possible terms” by all men regardless of their faith and belief.
Religious leaders, Government and the community must all to work together, regardless of political or religious differences to put an end to these extreme ideologies. The creator of heaven and earth who gave humanity an absolute and unwavering definition of what constitutes Good and Evil declared in his Ten Commandments, “To kill a man in G-ds name is a desecration of faith and of G-ds name”
Rabbi and Sheyna Riesenberg