[R-G] Israeli Rabbi's Guide to Killing
mstainsby at resist.ca
Wed Nov 11 14:57:50 MST 2009
Israeli Rabbi's Guide to Killing Causes Firestorm
Written by Benjamin Joffe-Walt
Published Tuesday, November 10, 2009
An Israeli Rabbi living in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank has
caused a firestorm in both Israeli and Palestinian media with a new book
outlining a series of Jewish theological arguments for killing those who
threaten Israel or demand Israeli land.
The 230-page book, "The King's Torah" was released over the weekend by
Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira and gives theological backing to Jews killing
those perceived to be violating Jewish commandments or threatening the
Jewish nation. A theological treatise based on Rabbi Shapira's
interpretation of passages from the Jewish bible, "The King's Torah" is
an extensive guide to when it is permissible for Jews to kill non-Jews.
Rabbi Shapiro's book argues that Jewish law allows the killing of
"non-Jews who demand the land for themselves", those from a nation which
"helps a murderer of Jews," those spreading "hostile blasphemy" and
"those who, by speech, weaken our sovereignty."
"Any case in which the life of the civilian endangers Israel," the book
states, "it is allowed to kill a gentile."
"The permit also applies when the persecutor is threatening to kill
indirectly rather than directly," Rabbi Shapiro's book reads. "If the
civilian is aiding fighters it is permissible to kill... Any citizen who
supports the war or the fighters or expresses satisfaction with their
deeds - the killing is permitted."
Rabbi Shapira's book argues that revenge is a necessity under Jewish law.
"To defeat the wicked one should be vengeful, tit for tat," the book
reads. "Revenge is a necessity... and sometimes doing savage things
intended to create a true balance of terror."
The book further states that Jews are permitted to kill children "If it
is clear they will grow up to harm us."
"If hurting an evil leader's children will pressure him to stop acting
maliciously," Rabbi Shapira wrote, "you can hurt them."
The book discusses the laws regarding such killings in theological
terms, never specifically mentioning Palestinians, Arabs or Israeli
soldiers sent to remove Jewish settlements. Its release comes weeks
after the arrest of Yaakov Teitel, a Jewish Israeli settler of American
origin who is understood to have admitted to killing Palestinians and
attacking progressive and messianic Jews.
Rabbi Shapira is head of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, a religious school
for Jewish boys based in the Yitzhar Jewish settlement a few miles
southwest of the Palestinian city of Nablus. Rabbi Shapira's followers
adhere to a radical form of Jewish religious nationalism and call for a
Torah-based theocracy to replace the State of Israel, which they see as
having abandoned core Jewish principals.
The school is best known for its former leader, American-born Rabbi
Yitzhak Ginzburg, seen as the spiritual heir to the late Rabbi Meir
Kahane, the American-Israeli founder of the extreme-right political
party Kach, classified by both Israel and the U.S. as a terrorist
organization. Rabbi Ginzburg was imprisoned for an article praising
Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli physician who killed dozens
of Muslim worshipers in Hebron and injured 150 others in 1994.
Both Rabbi Ginzburg and Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef, another prominent leader of
the radical Jewish religious nationalist movement, have recommended
Rabbi Shapira's new book, which was first released over the weekend at a
Jerusalem memorial for Rabbi Kahane.
Rabbi Hank Skirball, the chairperson of Hiddush, an Israeli organization
dedicated to religious freedom and equality, said Rabbi Shapira's book
represented only the far right fringe of religious Jews.
"It's a perversion of Jewish law and I don't think it's taken seriously
by most," he told The Media Line. "It's giving people tremendous
latitude to kill people they disagree with and opens itself up to
violation of much more important prohibitions in Jewish law."
"In Israel we did not kill the murderer of Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin
and we didn't kill any of the people who created sedition at the time,"
he said. "We have freedom of speech and its very difficult to know what
is dangerous and what is not. Jewish law does not provide for us to go
out and kill someone for what he's saying. You are only allowed to kill
someone if it is very obvious that he's about to kill you and you have
no other way to save your life other than by killing him."
Rabbi David Hartman, founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute in
Jerusalem and a philosopher of contemporary Judaism, said that the
rabbis of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva were not taking into account the
consequences of their teachings.
"Has the Jewish tradition ever created a distinction based on race,
gender, etc? Of course, there is no doubt that there are serious Jewish
sources that do not look at the non-Jew with full equality," he told The
Media Line. "But they have lots of sources they could use, and which
sources you choose to read and don't read is important."
"One of the interesting things about Jewish law is that perception is a
part of the criteria," Rabbi Hartman said. "Jewish theologians aren't
pure academics nor are they spokesmen, so they are not writing in a
vacuum. The most serious Jewish theological figures are very careful
about the implications or consequences of their writings."
Rabbi Hartman argued that while such books touched a cultural chord,
they were mostly ignored in the mainstream Jewish theological community.
"I make a distinction between a cultural fringe and what is fringe in
terms of Jewish theological thought," he told The Media Line. "On the
one hand, this is not fringe, and you have mainstream kids talking this
talk. But in terms of Jewish law, there is no significant Jewish
theological movement to permit the blood of non-Jews. If you're looking
at the major thinkers, nobody is talking with that language, whether
they are ultra-orthodox, Sephardic or Ashkenazi, and these kinds of
things are ignored."
"The problem is that if you ignore something it doesn't mean it doesn't
have any influence over students," Rabbi Hartman said. "Beware of that
which you ignore, what is a cultural phenomenon today may become
acceptable to major Jewish thinkers tomorrow."
"For example, when it comes to Israel, our return to power and the
desire to strengthen the claim to the land has created a push for a new
Jewish theological creativity and a cultural phenomenon in which certain
Jewish theological positions are given more significance than what the
major Jewish theological authorities would allow."
"Forty years ago there were no major Jewish theological figures who said
the land of Israel was more significant than Pikuach Nefesh, the concept
of the saving of a life," he said, in reference to Jewish theological
debates over exchanging land captured by Israel for peace. "Today in the
religious Zionist community there are major theological figures for whom
this is now a self evident truth."
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