Friday, August 04, 2006
Talmudic Council: in war time, even enemy children may be exterminated
2 August, 2006
By Khalid Amayreh
The Talmudic council of Rabbis and Torah sages known as “Yesha”, which represents Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, has ruled that it is permissible, even desirable, to target and exterminate non-Jewish civilians during war time.
The council’s latest edict, published on the Israeli newspaper Yedeot Ahronot’s website “Ynetnews” Tuesday, stated that “according to Jewish law, during a time of war, there is no such term as ‘innocent civilians’ of the enemy.”
“All of the discussions on Christian morality are weakening the spirit of the army and the nation and are costing us in the blood of our soldiers and civilians,” the statement said.
The same council issued a similar ruling two weeks ago, urging the Israeli army to “exterminate the enemy” and “not to flinch from killing enemy civilians.”
The council described as “Christian morality” international conventions and laws prohibiting the deliberate targeting of civilians during war time.
It called the targeting and killing of enemy civilians “a mitzvah” or a good deed.
According to Israeli sources, much of the non-secular camp in Israel, which includes powerful religious and national-religious movements, expressed deep satisfaction at the Qana-II massacre, which took place on 31 July and resulted in the death of as many as 60 Lebanese civilians, 37 of them children and babies.
The Israeli army claimed initially that Hizbullah fighters had been staying inside the 3-story building targeted by the Israeli air force.
However, Israeli military commanders changed their account of the atrocity Tuesday, acknowledging that they had no evidence that any resistance fighters were among the civilians massacred in the bombing.
Some Israeli officials apologized for the carnage, upsetting rabbis and Talmudic sages who argued that Israel shouldn’t apologize for killing enemy civilian since according to Halacha or Jewish religious law there is no such thing as civilians and innocents in war time.
This is not the first time such rulings are issued. Nearly two years ago, a group of prominent rabbis urged the Israeli army “not to flinch from killing Palestinian civilians including children.”
In a letter to Shaul Mofaz, then Defense Minister, the rabbis, who represent mainstream Orthodox Judaism, wrote that “killing civilians was a normal thing in war time” and that the Israeli army “should not hesitate to kill non-Jewish civilians to save Jewish lives.”
“The Christian preaching of ‘turning the other cheek’ doesn’t concern us, and we will not be impressed by those who prefer the lives of our enemies to our lives,” said the letter, signed by dozens of rabbis, including Haim Druckman, a former Knesset member who heads a large religious youth movement known as the Bnei Akiva Society.
Other signatories include Elizer Melamed, head of the West Bank religious college, Youval Sharlo, the head of the Talmudic college in Petah Tikva which combines Talmudic studies with active military service, and Dov Lior, the rabbi of Kiryat Arba near Hebron.
Lior, who had called Jewish mass murderer Baruch Goldstein a “great saint,” argued that “it is very clear in light of the Torah that Jewish lives are more important than non-Jewish lives.”
“A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail.”
Goldstein on 25 February, 1994, murdered 29 innocent Palestinians who were praying at the Ibrahimi Mosque in downtown Hebron.
Jewish lives worth more
Talmudic edicts encouraging the targeting by the Israeli army of “enemy civilians” are based on several Talmudic injunctions as well as passages from the Old Testament where the Israelites are instructed by Yahweh to massacre every man, woman and child in the Land of Canaan and not to leave a living thing.
In fact, many Jewish rabbis supporting targeting enemy civilians in war time rely on Biblical passages such as Joshua 6-20:
“Then the people cried out, and still the trumpets blew, till every ear was deafened by the shouting and the clangor and all at once the walls fell down flat…and they took the city and all that was in it they slew, sparing neither man nor woman, neither youth nor age, even cattle and sheep and asses were put to the sword.”
There are also numerous and unmistakable passages in the Babylonian Talmud that view non-Jews as animals whose lives have little or no significance.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert publicly declared in June that “Jewish lives are worth more than non-Jewish lives.”
Talmudic edicts of this nature shouldn’t be dismissed as insignificant.
Indeed, with nearly 50% of high-ranking officers serving in the Israeli army indoctrinated in the Talmudic ideology and affiliated with the so-called national-religious camp, e.g. Talmudic rulings are unlikely to fall on deaf ears in the Israeli army.
This should explain, at least partially, the callous killings of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army without the slightest remorse or compunctions.