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“I want to tell the mainstream media that you can be a lunatic and an antisemite at the same time!”

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The BBC couldn’t bring themselves to admit to their audience that it was Jews who were “detained” by a rabid antisemitic Islamist radical who “interrupted” Shabbat prayers with a pistol (and claimed to have explosives). For their part, The New York Times buried the entire dramatic standoff on Page 19, and didn’t run the item in many of their regional printings. (Image: Twitter)

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In exclusive interviews with TheJ.ca, attendees from Congregation Beth Israel, the synagogue in Colleyville, Texas attacked last Saturday declared it was “antisemitic” regardless of what mainstream media outlets say, imply, debate and even downplay. They revealed that nature of the attack by Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British of Pakistani descent and more importantly, his words, both reveal this obvious fact.

“We are clearly shell shocked and traumatized, it very upsetting that some of the news outlets even say or debate that this is not antisemitic; they cite that he had mental issues or he wanted a ‘relative’ who was incarcerated to be released?” congregant Stacey Silverman said.

“Well I want to tell the media that you can be a lunatic and an antisemite at the same time!” she pronounced, eviscerating the mainstream media claim to the contrary.

Former congregant, Paulette Yousefzadeh Greenfield, watched the livestream. The camera was focused on the bimah, not the congregants, so no one could not see the actions but were able to hear everything -including Akram’s rants – and said it was a very “horrific” ordeal. Akram demanded the release of his ‘sister’ Aafia Siddiqui, who is currently held in a Texas federal prison on a 86 year sentence, after being convicted in 2010 of attempting to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan. 

Silverman reveals that “The doors are always locked, we have security: We had the Tree of Life, Chabad of Poway and other notable incidents and so we did take precautions.”

She narrated the series of events “So Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker was a Mensch (gentleman), he invited the perpetrator in only because he said that he was homeless and cold and even made him tea. He went to start the service, turned towards the congregation, then he heard a click from behind, looked back and saw a gun! We didn’t know if the gun was pointed to the rabbi’s head or someone else’s and it made it all the more scary; he hinted that he had explosives!”

In a conference call, both Silverman and Greenfield stated they viewed the livestream for 3 hours, before Facebook realized what was happening and pulled it down. Many other congregants were glued to their screens for these 3 hours.

Silverman said that the gunman raged partly in English, partly in his native language (she couldn’t tell what language it was) and every few words he cursed in English “F**k, F**k”. He screamed “I picked the synagogue because America doesn’t give a F** about anyone but Jews” they heard him say.

“He knew that there was an FBI SWAT team outside and said, “I see your shadows, I have hostages”

Silverman added “There is a church on every corner in this Bible Belt we live in, but he picked a synagogue and he admitted that he wanted to kill Jews and mentioned Israel/ Palestine.”  

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We asked a third woman, a founder of Congregation Beth Israel, how Texas is a place where many people have guns, and yet this still unfolded?

Anna Salton Eisen, the first president of the synagogue, responded, “We have a “no open gun policy” because of “safety, it could be a distraction, or there could be children”, although concealed carry by congregants is permitted.

Eisen also cited that almost none of the 140 families who are members attended the sanctuary Saturday because of a combination of Covid-19 risk and cold weather. There were only 4 members present and no minyan, so even if gun-carrying members were part of this congregation and normally might come with (concealed) guns, they probably did not attend on this day.  

At the forefront of the attempted propaganda to distort the motives of strident Islamist Malik Faisal Akram in taking Jewish hostages in a Texas synagogue, was the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Screengrab: Twitter)

Silverman and Greenfield both narrated that there are “MANY” churches in the vicinity. They explained that the shul is situated in between the Dallas and Fort Worth metropolitan areas, two areas there have more significant Jewish numbers (70,000) than their neighborhood. This was a small Reform shul and in a residential area, so it is very obvious to them that this was premeditated.

“He went out of his way looking for this: he definitely did his homework,” Silverman quipped. 

“He may have had mental issues but he had the wherewithal to take a flight to the US and procure a gun and make a plan to do this” Greenfield added. The congregants said that the Rabbi had a “very good relationship and built bridges” with the local Muslim and Christian communities and Silverman noted that “a lot of love was given” in lieu of outreach and interfaith events.

After the livestream was taken down, friends and family of the hostages waited on edge for almost another 8 hours and did not know about the rabbi throwing a chair at Akram, the three remaining hostages fleeing, and the FBI SWAT team eventually killing the gunman until they saw it on the news. (One elderly hostage had been released a few hours into the stand-off.)

“I must say that we cannot address it unless we call it out for the truth that it is – It was an antisemitic attack!” Silverman firmly intoned. 

Avi Kumar is a historian of Sri Lankan descent who lives in New York.

He has a unique spin on current affairs.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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