Public Comment

Understanding the Palestinian Tragedy

By Hassan Fouda
Thursday January 07, 2010 - 08:41:00 AM

To understand the Palestinian tragedy and how young Israelis are motivated to commit monstrous acts look for the pronouncements of several influential rabbis. 

Addressing students of a pre-army yeshiva in mid November, Israeli army Chief Rabbi, Avichai Rontzki, invoked Maimonides’ laws of war and other sacred texts to pronounce that soldiers showing mercy will be “damned.” Rontzki is the rabbi who during the latest war on Gaza, distributed to soldiers booklets, written by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, commanding maximum cruelty. The Jerusalem Post reported that Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu advocated, on religious grounds, the carpet-bombing of Gaza. Any one paying attention knows about the heinous crimes committed in Gaza as documented by Judge Goldstone and as reported in Israeli media. The magnitude of the crimes can also be appreciated by reading the testimony of the Israeli soldiers themselves in their web site 

Last month, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, who heads Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, published his book “The King’s Torah.” Shapira ruled 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,” “you can hurt them.” 

• Jewish law allows the killing of “non-Jews who demand the land for themselves” and 

• Revenge is a necessity under Jewish law. 

Shapira is not alone in his interpretations. Two other rabbis, with a significant following among Jewish colonial settlers, Yizchak Ginzburg and Ya’akov Yosef, recommended Shapira’s book. Is it any wonder that in only three weeks last winter, the Israeli military killed 320 minors in Gaza? 

Justice requires that war crimes in Gaza not go unpunished. The above rabbis whose religious incitement precipitated the crimes should face Nuremberg type tribunals along with Israeli soldiers and commanders. 

It would be wrong to generalize and conclude that the above-cited rabbis represent most Jews or most rabbis. They do not. What is important to know is that the militant rabbis hold very influential positions in Israel’s military and among ideological religious settlers. Their incitement leads directly to heinous crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. They are part of the ethnic cleansing scheme; many of the militant rabbis are employees of the Israeli government like Rabbi Rontzki or are funded by it like Rabbi Shapira. 

Readers may doubt the above information. Here are the sources: Israeli Newspaper Haaretz, Nov. 11, 2009, Nov. 15, 2009 and March 20, 2009; Jerusalem Post, Jan. 25, 2009; JTA, The Global News Service of the Jewish People, Nov. 9, 2009; and Reuters, Jan. 26, 2009. 


Hassan Fouda is a Kensington resident.