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No tears for Osama

I have no tears for Osama bin Laden. There is a reason the crowds have gathered at the White House, Time Square and Ground Zero.  America feels a sense of vindication.  A sense of justice done. The leader and mastermind of attacks on democracy and freedom through his evil terrorist network of Al-Qaida is dead.  The events of 9/11 so seared in all of our consciousness happened almost ten years ago.  Hard to believe that it has taken this long. But it is no less an important moment.  Especially for the families who lost someone that horrible day.
Bravo to the President for his courage and decision in action.  Bravo to the brave Navy Seals who executed this sensitive mission.

The month before 9/11 in August 2001 I was in Washington, D.C. with my family.  We toured the FBI building and learned about the ten most wanted people in the world.  Even then Osama was #1.  My son the baseball player (who was only 7 then) was worried by the tour guide’s description of Osama bin Laden as the #1 enemy.  He asked, “Could he come here?”   We quickly tried to allay his fears and told him no.  On 9/11 when the Towers came down and the Pentagon was crashed  into and the plane down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and Osama Bin Laden claimed these evil attacks, the baseball player was properly upset. As we were.

I will never forget that August day when I first learned of Osama bin Laden.  And I will never forget today when even the now almost grown baseball player remembered both that August day and September 11, 2001.

The reaction of our country is as if we won a war.

Terrorism is not over.  Al-Qaida remains a threat.

But on this day of Holocaust Memorial that recalls the evil perpetrated by another human being,

let us  remember the victims of both Hitler and Osama bin Laden.  Let the  souls of the victims of their terror rest in peace.

And let us use today’s news of Osama’s death to help think about the capacity of the human being to do evil in the world.

May the good soldiers, men and women who continue to fight the war on terror be protected in their honorable service.

2 thoughts on “No tears for Osama”

  1. Well said, Rabbi. I wrestle with pacifism in the face of a hitler or his like and I do feel that Bin Laden’s evil reached that level. I found it odd lighting a memorial candle last night while waiting for the president’s speech last night. We honor those killed in ALL genocides: 9/11, Armenia, Darfur and Congo, Cambodia, Rwanda – not just the Jewish genocide.

    9/11 did indeed teach us that YES, it can happen here.

  2. I definitely conflicted. Certainly, my initial, visceral reaction is one of happiness and vindication – and revenge. Justice was served. But then I read a post somewhere about how the celebration at the White House last night was easily comparable to the celebrations in parts of the world following the destruction of the towers. And while I certainly see the differences – innocent victims versus one culpable evil-doer, I still have some level of an issue celebrating the death of anyone. Do we differentiate between the evil-doer who surrenders and the one who resists capture, when it comes to the killing (by firefight, summary execution or death-penalty following trial) of either? And who defines the evil? What, if anything, does Judaism say about such a conflict?

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