Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saleh Al-Naami, "Genocide announced," Al-Ahram Weekly, April 10-16, 2008.

[Muslims aren't the only ones campaigning to have their own religous authority replace the secular rule of law by the state. -jlt]

"All of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and even their beasts." This was the religious opinion issued one week ago by Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, director of the Tsomet Institute, a long-established religious institute attended by students and soldiers in the Israeli settlements of the West Bank. In an article published by numerous religious Israeli newspapers two weeks ago and run by the liberal Haaretz on 26 March, Rosen asserted that there is evidence in the Torah to justify this stand. Rosen, an authority able to issue religious opinions for Jews, wrote that Palestinians are like the nation of Amalekites that attacked the Israelite tribes on their way to Jerusalem after they had fled from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. He wrote that the Lord sent down in the Torah a ruling that allowed the Jews to kill the Amalekites, and that this ruling is known in Jewish jurisprudence.


The danger of these religious opinions lies in the fact that the religious authorities issuing them have wide respect among religious Jewish youth. And while only 28 per cent of Israel's population is religious, more than 50 per cent of Israelis define themselves as conservative and grant major significance to opinions issued by Jewish religious authorities. According to a study conducted by the Social Sciences Department of Bar Elon University, more than 90 per cent of those who identify as religious believe that if state laws and government orders are incongruous with the content of religious opinions issued by rabbis, they must overlook the former and act in accordance with the latter.

What grants the racist religious opinions a deeper and far-reaching impact is the fact that for the last decade followers of the Zionist religious current, who form nearly 10 per cent of the population, have been seeking to take control of the army and security institutions. They are doing so through volunteering for service in special combat units. The spokesperson's office in the Israeli army says that although the percentage of followers of this current is low in the state's demographic makeup, they form more than 50 per cent of the officers in the Israeli army and more than 60 per cent of its special unit commanders. According to an opinion poll of religious officers and soldiers supervised by the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya and published last year, more than 95 per cent of religious soldiers and officers say that they will execute orders from the elected government and their leaders in the army only if they are in harmony with the religious opinions issued by leading rabbis and religious authorities.

Read the whole article =>

[Ha'aretz has raised the alarm about the rapid growth in anti-Arab feeling before. Last year (Dec 9 07) the Association for Civil Rights in Israel released its annual report. At the time, Ha'aretz quoted the group's president, author Sami Michael, "Israeli society is reaching new heights of racism that damages freedom of expression and privacy."

In June 2007, the Israel Democracy Institute issued its annual Democracy Index which found that only half the Israeli public believes that Jews and Arabs must have full equal rights.

A Haifa University study found that 74 percent of Jewish youths in Israel think that Arabs are "unclean."

The point is that this is not an isolated phenomenon, but rather a widely-observed one with a respected and high-profile leadership.

"Israel's chief Ashkenazi rabbi proposed, shortly after the current crisis began, that the entire Palestinian population of Gaza should just be removed and transferred to the Egyptian desert. "They will have a nice country, and we shall have our country and we shall live in peace," he said, without eliciting even a murmur of protest in Israel" (Makdisi Nation Feb 1 08).

Commenting on the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva attack in Jerusalem, Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu offered the judgement that
"A state that really respects the lives of its citizens would have hanged the 10 sons of the terrorist on a tree 50 amot [25 meters] tall, so that others would see it and be afraid," wrote Eliahu, referring figuratively to the Book of Esther's depiction of how the Jews of ancient Persia took revenge against Haman and his 10 sons....We have to exact a revenge that is so painful," he said, "it will burn into their souls the message of all our enemies that Jewish blood is more valuable than gold and platinum" (Wagner Jerusalem Post Mar 26 08)

On the other hand, the Jerusalem Post went on to cit Rabbi Gilad Kariv, legal adviser for the Reform Movement in Israel, who said,
"Jewish history is full of zealots whose zealotry has brought tragedies upon the nation while bringing about the moral corruption of the Jewish people.

"Unlike deterrence, revenge should be shunned by Israel as a democratic country of law and order and as the state of the Jewish people. It is hoped that the Jewish people, enjoying a renaissance in its land, will have the sense to expel from its midst dangerous extremists like Rabbi Eliahu," he added.

"Rabbi Eliahu's recent comments prove once again that the attorney-general made a big mistake when he decided to rescind an indictment against him for incitement to racism in exchange for a dubious retraction," Kariv said. -jlt
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