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Judaism and warfare

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Title: Judaism and warfare  
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Subject: Judaism and violence, Judaism and warfare, Criticism of Judaism, Judaism and peace, God in the Age of Science?
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Judaism and warfare

Normative Judaism is not pacifist and violence is condoned in the service of self-defense. While some biblical texts call for and justify offensive war and have had deep impact in Western culture, these texts have been repudiated by mainstream Jewish tradition. However, some strains of radical Zionism promote aggressive war and justify them with biblical texts.

Contemporary warfare conducted by the State of Israel is governed by Israeli law and regulation, which includes a Purity of arms code that is based in part on Jewish tradition. Tension between the conduct of the Israeli government and Jewish traditions and halakha on the conduct of war have caused controversy within Israel and have provided a basis for criticisms of Israel.

Views of violence in Judaism

Judaism's doctrines and texts have sometimes been associated with violence. Laws requiring the eradication of evil, sometimes using violent means, exist in the Jewish tradition. Judaism also contains peaceful doctrines.[1][2][3][4] Attitudes and laws towards both peace and violence exist within the Jewish tradition.[1] Throughout history, Judaism's religious texts or precepts have been used to promote[5][6][7] as well as oppose violence.[8]

Normative Judaism is not pacifist and violence is condoned in the service of self-defense.[9] J. Patout Burns asserts that Jewish tradition clearly posits the principle of minimization of violence. This principle can be stated as "(wherever) Jewish law allows violence to keep an evil from occurring, it mandates that the minimal amount of violence be used to accomplish one's goal."[10][11]

General teachings on war

The ancient orders like those of wars for Israel to eradicate idol worshiping do not apply today. Jews are not taught to glorify violence. The rabbis of the Talmud saw war as an avoidable evil. They taught, 'The sword comes to the world because of delay of justice and through perversion of justice.'Jews have always hated war and Shalom expresses the hope for peace, in Judaism war is evil, but at times a necessary one, yet, Judaism teaches that one has to go to great length to avoid it.[12]

The Talmud insists that before going to non-defensive war, the king would need to seek authorization from the Sanhedrin, as well as divine approval through the High Priest. As these institutions have not existed for 2,000 years, this virtually rules out the possibility of non-defensive war.[13]

The permissibility of war is limited and the requirement is that one always seek a just peace before waging war.[1][14] Modern Jewish scholars hold that biblical texts authorizing offfensive war no longer apply, and that Jewish theology instructs Jews to leave vengeance to God.[15] [16]

Forbidden war tactics

Jewish law prohibits the use of outright vandalism in warfare.[17] It forbids destruction of fruit trees as a tactic of war. It is also forbidden to break vessels, tear clothing, wreck that which is built up, stop fountains, or waste food in a destructive manner. Killing an animal needlessly or offering poisoned water to livestock are also forbidden.[17] According to Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, Jewish law forbids the killing of innocent people, even in the course of a legitimate military engagement.[18]

Those few cases in the Bible in which this norm was violated are special cases. One example was when King Hezekiah stopped all the fountains in Jerusalem in the war against Sennacherib, which Jewish scholars regard as a violation of the biblical commandment.[17]

According to Maimonides', on besieging a city in order to seize it, it must not be surrounded on all four sides but only on three sides, thus leaving a path of escape for whomever wishes to flee to save his life.[18] Nachmanides, writing a century later, strengthened the rule and added a reason: "We are to learn to deal kindly with our enemy." [18]

Wars of extermination in the Tanakh and Jewish responses

The Victory of Joshua over the Amalekites, by Nicolas Poussin
Jean Fouquet: The Taking of Jericho, c. 1452-1460

The Tanakh (Jewish Bible) contains commandments that require the Israelites to exterminate seven Canaanite nations, and describes several wars of extermination that annihilated entire cities or groups of peoples.

Wars of extermination are referred to in several of Judaism's biblical commandments, known as the 613 Mitzvot:[19]

  • Not to keep alive any individual of the seven Canaanite nations (Deut. 20:16)
  • To exterminate the seven Canaanite nations from the land of Israel (Deut. 20:17)
  • Always to remember what Amalek did (Deut. 25:17)
  • That the evil done to us by Amalek shall not be forgotten (Deut. 25:19)
  • To blot out the name (or memory) of Amalek (or, according to Maimonides: to destroy the seed of Amalek) (Deut. 25:19)

The extent of extermination is described in the commandment Deut 20:16-18 which orders the Israelites to "not leave alive anything that breathes… completely destroy them …." and on 1 Samuel 15 "Now, go and crush Amalek; put him under the curse of destruction with all that he possesses. Do not spare him, but kill man and woman, babe and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." Rabbinical commentator Rashi elaborates on this commandment: "From man unto woman, from infant unto suckling, from ox unto sheep, so that the name of Amalek not be mentioned even with reference to an animal by [someone] saying: 'This animal belonged to the Amalekites'."[20][21]

The targets of the "extermination commandments" were the seven Canaanite nations explicitly identified by God in Deut 7:1-2 and Deut 20:16-18.[22] These seven tribes are Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Most of these descended from the biblical figure Canaan, as described in Gen 10:15-18. In addition, two others tribes were subject to wars of extermination: Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:1-20)[23] and Midianites (Numbers 31:1-18). The extermination of the Canaanite nations is described primarily in the Book of Joshua (especially Joshua 10:28-42) which includes the Battle of Jericho described in Joshua 6:15-21.

Jewish responses

In Talmudic commentary, the Canaanite nations were given the opportunity to leave, and their refusal to leave "lay the onus of blame for the conquest and Joshua's extirpation of the Canaanites at the feet of the victims."[24] Another explanation of the exterminations is that God gave the land to the Canaanites only temporarily, until the Israelites would arrive, and the Canaanites extermination was punishment for their refusal to obey God's desire that they leave.[25] Another Talmudic explanation - for the wars in the [26]

A formal declaration that the “seven nations” are no longer identifiable was made by Joshua ben Hananiah, around the year 100 CE, making laws of exterminating war a dead letter.[13][27]

Maimonides explained that the commandment of destroying the nation of Amalek requires the Jewish people to peacefully request of them to accept upon themselves the Noachide laws.[28]

Some commentators, such as Rabbi Hayim Palaggi (1788–1869) argued that Jews had lost the tradition of distinguishing Amalekites from other people, and therefore the commandment of killing them could never practically be applied.[29]

Scholar Moshe Greenberg asserts that the laws of extermination applied only to the extinct tribes, and only to their contemporary generations of Israelites.[30][31] Scholar Carl Ehrlich states the biblical rules of extermination provide guidance to modern Israelis not for genocidal purposes, but rather simply as models for reclaiming the land of Israel.[32]

Contemporary Jewish biblical scholar Sidney Hoenig discussed the "brutality" in the book of Joshua, and emphasized that it is a story, and that the purpose of the story was to increase the glory of God.[33]

Scholar Carl Ehrlich states that Jewish commentators have tended to be silent regarding the morality of the violence in the Book of Joshua.[34] Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins asserts that the commandments to exterminate are immoral.[35]

Several Jewish scholars have characterized the exterminations as stories of genocide.[36] Scholar Shaul Magid characterizes the commandment to exterminate the Midianites as a "genocidal edict", and asserts that rabbinical tradition continues to defend the edict into the twentieth century.[37][38] Scholar Ra'anan S. Boustan asserts that - in the modern era - the violence directed towards the Canaanites would be characterized as genocide.[39] Scholar Carl Ehrlich characterizes the Battle of Jericho and the conquest of the Canaanite nations as genocide.[5][40] Scholar Zev Garber characterizes the commandment to wage war on the Amalekites as genocide.[41]

The Midianites Are Routed by Gustave Dore

Association with violent Jewish attitudes in the modern era

According to Ian Lustick, leaders of the now defunct[42] Jewish fundamentalist movement Gush Emunim, such as Hanan Porat, considered the Palestinians to be like Canaanites or Amalekites, and suggested that the biblical texts infer a duty to make merciless war against Arabs who reject Jewish sovereignty.[43]

Niels Peter Lemche asserts that European colonialism in the 19th century was ideologically based on the Old Testament narratives of conquest and extermination and that some radical Zionist groups have brought the same idea to bear in Israel.[44]

Nur Masalha, Elliot Horowitz, Josef Stern and others suggest that Amalekites have come to represent an "eternally irreconcilable enemy" that wants to murder Jews, and that some Jews believe that pre-emptive violence is acceptable against such enemies; for example modern Palestinians have been identified as "Amalekites" by rabbi Israel Hess.[45] [46] [47] [48]

Modern warfare

Jewish tradition permits waging war and killing in certain cases. However, the permissibility to wage war is limited and the requirement is that one always seek a just peace before waging war.[1]

In 1992, the Israel Defense Forces drafted a Code of Conduct that combines international law, Israeli law, Jewish heritage and the IDF's own traditional ethical code—the IDF Spirit (Hebrew: רוח צה"ל‎, Ru'ah Tzahal).[49]

According to Rabbi Judah Loew (Maharal) of Prague, Jewish law forbids the killing of innocent people, even in the course of a legitimate military engagement.[18] Nonetheless, some religious leaders have interpreted Jewish religious laws to support killing of innocent civilians during wartime in some circumstances, and that this interpretation was asserted several times: in 1974 following the Yom Kippur war, [50] in 2004, during conflicts in West Bank and Gaza,[51] and in the 2006 Lebanon War.[52] However, major and mainstream religious leaders have condemned this interpretation, and the Israeli military subscribes to the Purity of arms doctrine, which seeks to minimize injuries to non-combatants; furthermore, the advice was only applicable to combat operations in wartime.[50]

During the 2006 Lebanon War leaders of the Rabbinical Council of America issued a statement prodding the Israeli military to "review its policy of taking pains to spare the lives of innocent civilians", because Hezbollah “puts Israeli men and women at extraordinary risk of life and limb through unconscionably using their own civilians, hospitals, ambulances, mosques… as human shields, cannon fodder, and weapons of asymmetric warfare,” the rabbinical council said in a statement, “we believe that Judaism would neither require nor permit a Jewish soldier to sacrifice himself in order to save deliberately endangered enemy civilians.”[53]

In another case, a booklet published by an IDF military chaplain stated "... insofar as the killing of civilians is performed against the background of war, one should not, according to religious law, trust a Gentile 'The best of the Gentiles you should kill'...".[54] The booklet was withdrawn by the military after criticism, but the military never repudiated the guidance.[55]

Activist Noam Chomsky claims that leaders of Judaism in Israel play a role in sanctioning military operations: "[Israel's Supreme Rabbinical Council] gave their endorsement to the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, declaring that it conformed to the Halachi (religious) law and that participation in the war 'in all its aspects' is a religious duty. The military Rabbinate meanwhile distributed a document to soldiers containing a map of Lebanon with the names of cities replaced by alleged Hebrew names taken from the Bible.... A military Rabbi in Lebanon explained the biblical sources that justify 'our being here and our opening the war; we do our Jewish religious duty by being here.'"[56]

In 2007, Mordechai Eliyahu, the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel wrote that "there was absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings".[57] His son, Shmuel Eliyahu chief rabbi of Safed, called for the "carpet bombing" of the general area from which the Kassams were launched, to stop rocket attacks on Israel, saying "This is a message to all leaders of the Jewish people not to be compassionate with those who shoot [rockets] at civilians in their houses." he continued, "If they don't stop after we kill 100, then we must kill 1,000. And if they don't stop after 1,000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we must kill 100,000. Even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop."[57]

An influential Chabad Lubavitch Hassid rabbi Manis Friedman in 2009 was quoted as saying: "I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral. The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children".[58] Later, Friedman explained: "the sub-question I chose to address instead is: how should we act in time of war, when our neighbors attack us, using their women, children and religious holy places as shields."[59]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Fighting the War and the Peace: Battlefield Ethics, Peace Talks, Treaties, and Pacifism in the Jewish Tradition. Michael J. Broyde, 1998, p. 1
  2. ^ Reuven Firestone (2004), "Judaism on Violence and Reconciliation: An examination of key sources" in Beyond violence: religious sources of social transformation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Fordham Univ Press, 2004, pp 77, 81.
  3. ^ Goldsmith (Ed.), Emanuel S. (1991). Dynamic Judaism: the essential writings of Mordecai M. Kaplan. Fordham Univ Press. p. 181.  
  4. ^ Spero, Shubert (1983). Morality, halakha, and the Jewish tradition. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. pp. 137–318.  
  5. ^ a b Carl. S. Ehrlich (1999) "Joshua, Judaism, and Genocide", in Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, Judit Targarona Borrás, Ángel Sáenz-Badillos (Eds). 1999, Brill.
  6. ^ Horowitz, Elliott S. (2006). Reckless rites: Purim and the legacy of Jewish violence. Princeton University Press.  
  7. ^ Stern, Jessica (2004). Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill, Jessica Stern. HarperCollins.  
  8. ^ The Columbus Platform: The Guiding Principles of Reform Judaism, 1937
  9. ^ "The Co-existence of Violence and Non-Violence in Judaism". Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  10. ^ Burns, J. Patout (1996). War and its discontents: pacifism and quietism in the Abrahamic traditions. Georgetown University Press. p. 18. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Judaism by Arye Forta, Heinemann, 1995, ISBN 978-0-435-30321-1 , p. 122 [1]
  13. ^ a b Judaism and the ethics of war, Norman Solomon. International Review of the Red Cross. Volume 87 Number 858 June 2005
  14. ^ Deut 20:10
  15. ^ Weiss, Steven I. (2010-02-26). "The Ghosts of Purim Past: The holiday's violent beginnings—and what they mean for the Jewish future". 
  16. ^ "Violence and Vengeance: Purim and Good Friday". Dialogika (Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations). 1998-03-28. 
  17. ^ a b c Rabbi Norman Lamm Bal Tashhit: The Torah Prohibits Wasteful Destruction Reprinted with permission from the chapter “Ecology in Jewish Law and Theology” in Faith and Doubt, © Norman Lamm, 1971, KTAV Publishing House.
  18. ^ a b c d The Ethics of Jewish War , By Dr. Michael Walzer
  19. ^ Eisenberg, Ronald L, The 613 mitzvot: a contemporary guide to the commandments of Judaism, Schreiber Pub., 2005, pp 129-130 Eisenberg notes on page 130: "However, the Israelites failed to heed this command and permitted many Canaanites to remain in the land."
  20. ^ Harris, Michael J, Divine command ethics: Jewish and Christian perspectives, p 137
  21. ^ Ruttenberg, Danya, Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: War and National Security Danya Ruttenberg (Ed.) page 54 (citing Reuven Kimelman, "The Ethics of National Power: Government and War from the Sources of Judaism", in Perspectives, Feb 1987, pp 10-11)
  22. ^ Van Wees, p 242
  23. ^ Ruttenberg, p 54
  24. ^
    • See Joshua 11:19-20
    • Ehrlich, p 119-120: "At least some of the Rabbis asked themselves … what had they [Canaanites] done to deserve this punishment?.. In essence, the solution was to lay the onus of blame for the conquest and Joshua's extirpation of the Canaanites at the feet of the victims. [Describes a Talmudic narrative that says that Joshua sent a msg to Canaanites before the war, telling them to leave or else] .. In this manner this midrash makes the Canaanites responsible for their own demise. They were not innocent victims, but elected of their own free will to attempt to contravene the divine promise of land to Israel. The conscience of Joshua, and of his descendants, was clean…."
  25. ^ Ehrlich, p 120: "The Canaanites were given the land of Israel to care for until the time .. the Israelites .. would arrive…. Joshua and the Israelites were forced against their will to wage war upon the Canaanites, who, contravening God, would not even cede an inch of land without a fight to the finish. This midrash also attempts to justify the fury and brutality of Joshua's holy war against the Canaanites….
  26. ^ Ehrlich, p 120: "That not all Rabbis shared these feelings of ethical ambivalence about their ancestor's alleged genocidal war against the Canaanites is indicated by another midrash … [Joshua forgot some laws so] the Israelites were so outraged at his lack of learning that they wanted to kill him. Since there was no time to reteach him all that he had forgotten, the only way in which God could save Joshua was by diverting the attention of the people through a war. Thus the war of extermination against the Canaanites was begun earlier than planned as a diversionary tactic to save the life of one individual. It would appear that the author of this midrash was not all too concerned about the ethical implications of a God who sees nothing wrong with wiping out a whole nation just to save the life of a man whose life is threatened … "
  27. ^ Sword and Plowshare as Tools of Tikkun Olam: Violence & Nonviolence in Jewish Thought & Action, By Rabbi Arthur Waskow, 10/2/2007
  28. ^ Drazin, Israel, Maimonides and the Biblical Prophets, Gefen Publishing House Ltd, 2009 p 79
  29. ^ Eynei Kol Ḥai, 73, on Sanhedrin 96b
  30. ^ Greenberg, Moshe, "On the Political User of the Bible in Modern Israel: An Engaged Critique", in Pomegranates and golden bells: studies in biblical, Jewish, and Near Eastern ritual, law, and literature, EISENBRAUNS, 1995, p 467-469: "No 'national' commandment such as that of 'conquest and settling the land' occurs in any of these [Judaic] summaries [of the Torah]… [arguments for applying herem to modern Israel] introduces a distinction that Scripture does not recognize; nowhere are the obligations referred to in the summaries contingent on the achievement of the land-taking or the destruction of Israel's enemies. To suppose that they may be set aside or suspended for the accomplishment of national ends is a leap far beyond scripture…. The [biblical] injunctions to take the land are embedded in narrative and give the appearance of being addressed to a specific generation, like the commandment to annihilate or expel the natives of Canaan, which refers specifically to the seven Canaanite nations… Now, had there ben any inclination to generalize the law [of extermination], it would have been easy for the talmudic sages to [do so]. But in fact the sages left the ancient herem law as they found it: applying to seven extinct nations."
  31. ^ See also, for discussion of Greenberg's argument: Seibert, Eric A. Disturbing divine behavior: troubling Old Testament images of God, Fortress Press, 2009, pp 47-48
  32. ^ Ehrlich, p 121
    Ehrlich: page 121 "It is only with the rise of the modern state of Israel that the book of Joshua and its account of the conquest of the land has assumed a renewed importance with the context of Judaism…. the battles of Joshua were viewed as paradigmatic for the modern age, not - it should be noted - in the sense of prescribing genocide against non-jews, but in providing models for the reclamation of the land."
  33. ^ Erhlich, p 118: "Sidney Hoenig is one of the few relatively modern commentators … who has raised the issue of violence in respect to Joshua, only to justify it as a divinely ordained holy war…." [quoting Hoenig:] "Sensitive readers are concerned about the brutality shown in Joshua, but one should not forget that it is a story of a war - of a holy war. The theme is the obliteration of historically hated pagans and the battle is only in honor of God" . (Quoting Hoenig, Sidney, The Book of Joshua: A New English Translation of the Text and Rashi with a Commentary Digest. Judaica Press, 1969. Chapter VIII; in Hebrew; translated into English in 1984).
  34. ^ Ehrlich, p 117:
    "It thus behooves us to ask … how has the Jewish community dealt with these foundational narratives, saturated as they are with acts of violence against others?…. The question of how to deal with traditional texts that advocate violence against human beings who are different from the in-group writing the text, be they foreigners, women, homosexuals, etc, is one that motivates many of the modern struggles with the textual corpus of inherited tradition…. Among Jewish commentators … the disturbing nature of Joshua has for the most part been passed over in silence….
  35. ^ Dawkins, Richard, The God Delusion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008, p 281
  36. ^ Kravitz, Leonard, "What is Crime?", in Crime and punishment in Jewish law: essays and responsa, Editors Walter Jacob, Moshe Zemer Berghahn Books, 1999, p 31:
    "Sin has changed [since biblical times]; crime has changed. We bring a different sensibility to our reading of the sacred texts of the past, even the Torah. There are passages in it which to our modern minds command crimes, the kind of crimes which our age would call 'crimes against humanity' … I think of the problematic section in the Mattot [Numbers 31] which contains the commandment to exact revenge against the Midianites by slaying every male and every female old enough to engage in sexual intercourse…. I used to think that were they [Midianites] suddenly to appear, no Jew would be willing to carry out such a commandment. Then Baruch Goldstein appeared on the scene, and he was followed by Yigal Amir and now I am not sure…. I find the commandment to commit genocide against the Midianite unacceptable. To accept the commandment to do the same to 'the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Peruzzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites' seems to me to make permissible the Holocaust, the attempted genocide of the Jewish people."
  37. ^ Shaul Magid, "Subversion as Return: Scripture, Dissent, and Renewal in Contemporary Judaism, in Subverting Scriptures: Critical Reflections on the Use of the Bible Beth Hawkins Benedix (Ed), pp 217-236; quote from p 234:
    "The rabbinic tradition connects the commandment to destroy Midian in Numbers 31 to Genesis 37:36, … Thus Moses's call for 'revenge' killing here has a long history…. Perhaps the rabbinic assessment of Moses's reasons for rebuking Israel for keeping the Midianite women alive is captured by Yaakov Moshe Harlap… Harlap writes 'Moses's reasons (for having all the Midianite women killed) was that a person should not enter into a doubtful situation even if the intention is for the sake of heaven'. I cite this not to defend this position but to illustrate the way in which the tradition, even to the twentieth century, defends this genocidal edict."
  38. ^ Cohn, Robert L, "Before Israel: The Canaanites as Other in Biblical Tradition", in The Other in Jewish thought and history: constructions of Jewish culture and identity, Laurence Jay Silberstein, (Ed.), NYU Press, 1994, pp 76-77:
    "By representing the Canaanites stereotypically as people sunk in depravity [Lev 18:27, Deut 18:9-14, Deut 12:2-3], the biblical writers provide a moral justification for the conquest of their land by a just deity. Moreover, this depiction provides a rationale for the genocide of the Canaanites commanded in Deuteronomy (Deut 7:1-2) and purportedly accomplished by Joshua (Josh 10:40)."
  39. ^ Boustan, Ra'anan S., Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity, BRILL, 2010, pp 3-5 "The specific focus in this volume is violence and Scripture. Violence can be found throughout the pages of the Hebrew Bible… The Israelite God is portrayed as a divine warrior (Ex. 15:3); the Israelites themselves are commanded to obliterate the inhabitants of Canaan and are often presented as engaging in such holy wars; … Instigators of religious violence believe that they are carrying out God's directive as articulated in the Bible…. For example, the Deuteronomic directive to destroy entirely (herem) the Canaanites (Deut 20:15-18) is a thoroughly violent commandment - and in modern terms would be characterized as genocide. The later historical absence of any Canaanites, however, does not blunt this passage's violent legacy".
  40. ^ Quotes from Ehrlich, pp 121–122:
    p 121: "The broad consensus of Jewish tradition has been that the conquest of the land [ancient Israel] belongs to the distant past. In this manner, any discomfort with the anachronistic notion of genocide to be found in the Joshua narrative could be passed off as something that belonged to a certain time and place, not be [sic?] be repeated. The restrictions on the waging of war in Maimonides and his biblical and rabbinical sources would seem to support this contention"
    p 122: "It was particularly in the field of archaeology that the ideological battle about [the historicity of] Joshua was waged. It was felt that proving the veracity of the book of Joshua would in some way prove to be a justification of modern historical reality. In this manner, the battles of Joshua were viewed as paradigmatic for the modern age, not - it should be noted - in the sense of prescribing genocide against non-Jews, but in providing models for the reclamation of the land."
  41. ^ Garber, Zev, "Deconstructing Theodicy and Amalekut", in Post-Shoah dialogues: re-thinking our texts together, James F. Moore (Ed.), University Press of America, 2004, pp 241-243.
    p 242: "Any attempt at understanding this warrant for genocide [Exodus 17:14-16] against the Amalekites and their descendants must start …"
  42. ^ Encyclopaedia Judaica: Volume 8, p. 145
  43. ^ Lustick, Ian, For the land and the Lord: Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, Council on Foreign Relations, 1988.
    Lustick, p 3: "The fear and uncertainty that this demographic shift [increasing Arab population within Israel] is generating within the Jewish population as a whole make more attractive fundamentalist appeals to use Joshua's destruction and subjugation of the Canaanites as a model for solving the contemporary 'Arab problem'…. "
    Lustick: p 78:" The image of Palestinians as doomed and suicidal in their opposition to Jewish rule in the Land of Israel corresponds to a more fundamental categorization of them. Gush rabbis and ideologues regularly refer to the local Arabs as 'Canaanites' … Thus Rav Tzvi Yehuda cited Maimonides to the effect that Canaanites had three choices - to flee, to accept Jewish rule, or to fight. These are the choices both [fundamentalists] suggest, that frame the appropriate attitude for Jews to take towards Palestinian Arabs. Of course, the decision by most Canaanites to fight ensured their destruction. The same fate awaits present-day non-Jewish inhabitants of the land who choose to resist the establishment of Jewish sovereignty over its entirety…. Humane treatment is appropriate, [Hanan] Porat emphasizes 'only for those Arabs ready to accept the sovereignty of the people of Israel'. From this general principle he infers a duty to make merciless war against Arabs in the Land of Israel who reject Jewish sovereignty and the specific requirement to deport the families of Arab juveniles who throw stones at the passing automobiles of Jewish settlers."
    Lustick: p 131: "No evidence exists of concrete plans to carry out genocidal policies towards the 'Arabs of the Land of Israel'. Nevertheless, analysis of the range of disagreement within the Jewish fundamentalist movement over the Arab question must begin with the fact that a number of rabbis supportive of Gush Emunim have offered opinions that could provide the halachic basis for such policies. The substance of these opinions pertains to the identification of the Palestinian Arabs, or Arabs in general, as Amalekites. According to the biblical account, the Amalekites harassed the Israelites … As a consequence, God commanded the Jewish people not only to kill all Amalekites - men, women, and children - but to 'blot out the memory of Amalek' from the face of the earth. Traditionally, great enemies of the Jews, such as Haman in ancient Persia … and Torquemada during the Spanish Inquisition, have been identified as descendants of Amalek. Accordingly, the most extreme views within Gush Emunim on the Arab question, views quoted extensively by Israeli critics of the movement, speak of Arabs as descendants of the Amalekites… A Gush veteran, Haim Tsuria, defended [violence towards Arabs]: 'In every generation there is an Amalek. In our generation, our Amalek are the Arabs who oppose the renewal of our national existence in the land of our fathers."
  44. ^ Lemche, Niels Peter, The Old Testament between theology and history: a critical survey, Westminster John Knox Press, 2008,pp 315–316:"The [Biblical] story of the 'morally supreme people' that defeats and exterminates another, inferior, nation was part of the ideological baggage of European imperialists and colonizers throughout the nineteenth century. It was also carried by European Jews who,... migrated to Palestine to inherit their ancestral country … In this modern version of the biblical narrative, the Palestinian population turned into 'Canaanites', supposed to be morally inferior to the Jews, and of course the Arabs were never considered their equals … The Bible was the instrument used to suppress the enemy".
  45. ^ Masalha, Nur, Imperial Israel and the Palestinians: the politics of expansion, Pluto Press, 2000, pp 129-131. Quote: "Frequently Jewish fundamentalists refer to the Palestinians as the 'Amalekites' … of today… According to the Old Testament, the Amalek … were regarded as the Israelites' inveterate foe, whose 'annihilation' became a sacred duty and against whom war should be waged until their 'memory be blotted out' forever (Ex 17:16; Deut 25:17-19)…. Some of the [modern] political messianics insist on giving the biblical commandment to 'blot out the memory of the Amalek' an actual contemporary relevance in the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. In February 1980, Rabbi Israel Hess … published an article [titled] 'The Genocide Commandment in the Torah' … which ends with the following: 'The day is not far when we shall all be called to this holy war, this commandment of the annihilation of the Amalek'. Hess quotes the biblical commandment … 'Do not spare him, but kill man and woman, baby and suckling, ox and sheep, camel, and donkey'…. In his book On the Lord's Side Danny Ribinstein has shown that this notion permeates the Gush Emunim movement's bulletins [one of which] carried an article … which reads 'In every generation there is an Amalek. The Amalekism of our generation finds expression in the deep Arab hatred towards our national revival …'… Professor Uriel Tal … conducted his study in the early 1980s … and pointed out that the totalitarian political messianic stream refers to the Palestinian Arabs in three stages or degrees: …[stage] (3) the implementation of the commandment of Amalek, as expressed in Rabbi Hess's article 'The Commandment of Genocide in the Torah', in other words 'annihilating' the Palesinian Arabs'".
  46. ^ Stern, Josef, "Maimonides on Amalek, Self-Corrective Mechanisms, and the War against Idolatry" in Judaism and modernity: the religious philosophy of David Hartman David Hartman, Jonathan W. Malino (Eds), Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004 page 360-362
    "The example concerns the set of biblical commandments … centered on Amalek, the ancient nation that ambushed Israel during the Exodus from Egypt… What does it mean to 'blot out the name of Amalek'? We have evidence of what this meant for biblical Israel … where the commandment is taken literally to mean: destroy by actually killing every Amalekite, man, woman, and child…. Some rabbis allegorize Amalek, taking it as a eupemism for the evil inclination; others have it symbolize the enemies of Israel throughout history; yet others make it the personification of evil…. There are also more specific historital identifications of the people of Amalek. It is well known that in medieval rabbinic literature Esau, and his land Edom, are typologically identified with Rome and, in turn, with Christianity. It is less widely known that Amalek … also came to be conflated with his ancestor and identified with Rome and then Christianity. By the early medieval period, the descendants of the ancient nation of Amalek were identified by some Jewish authors as the Armenians…. Jewish authors could put a biblical face on this overarching foe by identifying it with Amalek and find hope for ultimate victory in the biblical promise that 'God is at war with Amalek from generation to generation' (Ex. 17:16)."
  47. ^ Hunter, Alastair G. "Denominating Amalek: Racist stereotyping in the Bible and the Justification of Discrimination" in Sanctified aggression: legacies of biblical and post biblical vocabularies, Jonneke Bekkenkamp, Yvonne Sherwood (Eds), Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003, page 99-105.
    "The Amalekites could well be regarded as the archetypal vicitims in the Pentateuch, in that divine instructions to dispose of this people are given on more than one occasion… They also symbolize a further classic device: the rhetorical move … of portraying the victim as agressor in order to justify his/her elimination…. For most Jews .. .the denunciation of Haman the enemy is part of the light-hearted celebration of a rather 'laid back' festival. But there are more sinister implications which have in recent years emerged on the political scene …. In the early 1900s Rabbi Hayim Soloveitchik of Brisk argued that … there was a possibility of contemporary war against Amalek … Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik used this position in the early 1940s to contend that the Allied war against Nazi Germany could be understood in Jewish law as a war against Amalek… [regarding the Sept 11 attacks] a couple of 'position pieces' draw disturbing parallels between the suicide plots and the enemy Amalek. The first is .. written by Rabbi Ralph Tawil, in which the writer … comes perilously close to equating President George Bush's war against terrorism with Israel's command to eradicate their troublesome enemy."
  48. ^ Geaves, Ron, Islam and the West post 9/11, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004, p 30
  49. ^ "Ethics – The IDF Spirit".  
  50. ^ a b
    • Rabbi Shim'on Weiser, "Purity of weapons - an exchange of letters" in Niv" Hammidrashiyyah Yearbook of Midrashiyyat No'am, 1974, pp.29-31.
    quoted in Masalha, Nur (2007). The Bible and Zionism: invented traditions, archaeology and post-colonialism in Palestine-Israel. Zed Books. p. 158.  . This book quotes Amnon Rubinstein, From Herzl to Gush Emunim and Back (1980), p. 124.
  51. ^ "ADL Strongly Condemns Declaration of Rabbis" - ADL press release, dated Sept 9, 2004;
  52. ^ Rebecca Spence " Rabbis: Israel Too Worried Over Civilian Deaths", in The Jewish Daily Forward, issue of August 25, 2006.
  53. ^ Rebecca Spence " Rabbis: Israel Too Worried Over Civilian Deaths", in The Jewish Daily Forward, issue of August 25, 2006.
  54. ^
    • Abraham Avidan (Zamel), After the War: Chapters of Meditation, Rule, and Research, as quoted by
    • Schwarzschild article states that the booklet was discussed contemporaneously in the Mapam newspaper. Other sources cite contemporaneous discussions by Haolam Hazeh, 5 January 1974; by David Shaham, 'A chapter of meditation', Hotam, 28 March 1974; and by Amnon Rubinstein, 'Who falsifies the Halakhah?' Maariv, 13 October 1975.
    • See also a discussion of "Religious Zionist military rabbinate" in George Wilkes (2003) "Judaism and Justice in War", in Just war in comparative perspective, Paul F. Robinson (Ed.), Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., p. 22.
  55. ^ Schwarzschild, Stephen (1990). The pursuit of the ideal: Jewish writings of Steven Schwarzschild. SUNY Press. pp. 125–126.  
  56. ^ Chomsky, Noam (1999). Fateful triangle: the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (2nd Ed, revised). South End Press. pp. 153–154.  
  57. ^ a b Wagner, Matthew, "Eliyahu advocates carpet bombing Gaza," The Jerusalem Post, 30 May 2007
  58. ^ Popper, Nathaniel, "Chabad rabbi: Jews should kill Arab men, women and children during war", in Haaretz, 9 June 2009 [2]
  59. ^ Friedman's apology for his choice of words regarding dealing with enemies. "I apologize for any misunderstanding my words created."

Further reading

  • Artson, Bradley Shavit, "Love Peace and Pursue Peace: A Jewish Response to War and Nuclear Annihilation", United Synagogue, 1988
  • Berger, Michael S., "Taming the Beast: Rabbinic Pacification of Second-Century Jewish Nationalism", in Belief and bloodshed: religion and violence across time and tradition, James K. Wellman (Ed.), Rowman & Littlefield, 2007, pp 47–62
  • Boustan, Ra'anan S., "Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity", in Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity, Ra'anan S. Boustan, Alex P. Jassen, Calvin J. Roetzel (Eds), BRILL, 2010 pp 1–12
  • Chilton, Bruce, Abraham's Curse: The Roots of Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Doubleday, 2009
  • Chomsky, Noam, World orders, old and new, Columbia University Press, 1996
  • Ehrlich, Carl. S, "Joshua, Judaism, and Genocide", in Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, Judit Targarona Borrás, Ángel Sáenz-Badillos (Eds). 1999, Brill. pp 117–124.
  • Ellens, J. Harold (Ed.), The destructive power of religion: violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007
  • Esber, Rosemarie M., Under the Cover of War: The Zionist Expulsion of the Palestinians, Arabicus Books & Media, LLC, 2009
  • Feldman, Louis H., "Remember Amalek!": vengeance, zealotry, and group destruction in the Bible according to Philo, Pseudo-Philo, and Josephus, Hebrew Union College Press, 2004
  • Glick, Leonard B., "Religion and Genocide", in The Widening circle of genocide, Alan L. Berger (Ed). Transaction Publishers, 1994, pp 43–74
  • Gopin, Marc, Between Eden and Armageddon: the future of world religions, violence, and peacemaking, Oxford University Press US, 2000.
  • Harkabi, Yehoshafat, Arab attitudes to Israel, John Wiley and Sons, 1974
  • Heft, James (Ed.), Beyond violence: religious sources of social transformation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Fordham Univ Press, 2004
  • Hirst, David, The gun and the olive branch: the roots of violence in the Middle East, Nation Books, 2003
  • Hoffman, R. Joseph, The just war and jihad: violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Prometheus Books, 2006
  • Horowitz, Elliott S., Reckless rites: Purim and the legacy of Jewish violence, Princeton University Press, 2006
  • Jacobs, Steven Leonard, "The Last Uncomfortable Religious Question? Monotheistic Exclusivism and Textual Superiority in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as Sources of Hate and Genocide", in Confronting genocide: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Steven L. Jacobs (Ed.), Lexington Books, 2009, pp 35–46
  • Juergensmeyer, Mark, Terror in the mind of God: the global rise of religious violence, University of California Press, 2003
  • Kuper, Leo, "Theological Warrants for Genocide: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity", in Confronting genocide: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Steven L. Jacobs (Ed.), Lexington Books, 2009, pp 3–34
  • Lustick, Ian, For the land and the Lord: Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, Council on Foreign Relations, 1988
  • Masalha, Nur, The Bible and Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology and Post-colonialism in Palestine-Israel, Zed Books, 2007
  • Morris, Benny, The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem revisited, Cambridge University Press, 2004
  • Niditch, Susan, War in the Hebrew Bible: a study in the ethics of violence, Oxford University Press US, 1995
  • Pappe, Ilan, The ethnic cleansing of Palestine, Oneworld, 2007
  • Pedahzur, Ami, Jewish terrorism in Israel, Columbia University Press, Columbia University Press, 2009
  • Perliger, Arie and Weinberg, Leonard, "Jewish Self-Defence and Terrorist Groups Prior to the Establishment of the State of Israel: Roots and Traditions", in Religious fundamentalism and political extremism, Perliger, Arie (Ed.), Taylor & Francis, 2004, pp 91–118
  • Phillips, Gary A., "More Than the Jews … His Blood Be Upon All the Children: Biblical Violence, Genocide and Responsible Reading", in Confronting genocide: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Steven L. Jacobs (Ed.), Lexington Books, 2009, pp 77–87
  • Pitkanen, Pekka, "Memory, Witnesses, and Genocide in the Book of Joshua", in Reading the law: studies in honour of Gordon J. Wenham, J. Gordon McConville, Karl Möller (Eds), Continuum International Publishing Group, 2007, pp 267–282
  • Prior, Michael P., The Bible and colonialism: a moral critique, Sheffield Academic Press, 1997.
  • Quigley, John B., Palestine and Israel: a challenge to justice, Duke University Press, 1990
  • Saleh Abd al-Jawad (2007) "Zionist Massacres: the Creation of the Palestinian Refugee Problem in the 1948 War" in Israel and the Palestinian refugees, Eyal Benvenistî, Chaim Gans, Sari Hanafi (Eds.), Springer, 2007
  • Selengut, Charles, Sacred fury: understanding religious violence, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008
  • Shahak, Israel, Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, Pluto Press, 1999
  • Van Wees, Hans, "Genocide in the Ancient World", in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies, Donald Bloxham, A. Dirk Moses (Eds), Oxford University Press US, 2010, pp 239–258.
  • Weisburd, David, Jewish Settler Violence, Penn State Press, 1985
  • Whitelam, Keith W., The invention of ancient Israel: the silencing of Palestinian history, Routledge, 1996

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