Keeping Israel On The Defensive As Long As Possible With Lie After Lie
One the most pernicious of these recurring lies is that Israel is an apartheid state. The dispute between Israel and the Arabs is not racial. Zionism is not a racial or a discriminatory movement any more than any other national liberation movement in Europe in the 19th century or in Africa and Asia in the 20th century. Jews do not constitute a separate race, even though Nazi pseudoscience branded them as such. Arabs are not a separate race and are not different than Jews. Zionism is less discriminatory and racist than most other movements, because it is defined in religious terms—not ethnic ones. Rabbinical law prescribes that the mother determines the religion of the child regardless of the race or religion of the father.
Practically every member-state of the United Nations practices some form of discrimination against those not in the dominant group—whether according to race, language, culture, religion, sex or origin. Citizenship in Arab countries is determined by native parentage. Immigrants from one Arab state to another find it is nearly impossible to become naturalized citizens, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Kuwait. Those Arab countries allowing foreign Arabs to be naturalized reject Arabs from Israel.
Jordanian law prohibits Jews from living in Jordan. In 1954, Jordan passed a law conferring citizenship to all former residents of Palestine—except Jewish ones. Civil Law No. 6 that governed the West Bank under Jordanian occupation, stated: “Any man will be a Jordan subject if he is not Jewish.”
Phyllis Chesler, a psychotherapist, observed that Jews in Israel are “black, brown, olive, yellow and white. Thus, Israel has not constructed an apartheid state based on racial differences or concepts of racial purity and impurity. Their policies are a direct result of security concerns and have everything to do with reality of terrorism and nothing to do with race.”
Significantly, Arabs living in Israel are guaranteed equality. Israel’s Proclamation of Independence declares that the state “will promote the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; will be based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew Prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; … and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.” Under apartheid South Africa, blacks were not citizens of the country and were not permitted to vote.
Although the infant state was embroiled in a war for its own survival, its leaders called “upon the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to return to the ways of peace and play their part in the development of the State, with full and equal citizenship and due representation in its bodies and institutions, provisional or permanent.”
The country’s steadfast determination to remain an explicitly Jewish state “does not make it any more racist than countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Mauritania, which constitutionally call themselves Islamic States,” the London Observer noted.
Aharon Barak, former chief justice of Israel’s Supreme Court, explains Zionism was not based on discrimination against non-Jews, but on their integration into the Jewish national home. Zionism was the response to European antisemitism. Certainly the values of Israel as a democratic state stand opposed to discrimination and demand equality. A democratic state is obliged to honor the basic rights of every individual in the state to equality and to protect them. Equality is a complex right. Treating individuals differently does not always imply discrimination. Nor does treating individuals in an identical manner automatically imply equality.
Equality is not absolute and may be infringed upon. But that is only in the context of a law that maintains the value of public safety, which is a valid purpose and does not exceed that which is necessary for the survival of the State of Israel.
Israel was created in 1948 in one-sixth of the area allotted by the Balfour Declaration. The Allies had gained a vast area from the Turks during the war, and the British took one percent of the land the Great Powers acquired from the Turks to establish a Jewish Homeland. In appreciation for having liberated the Arabs from the “tyranny of a bestial conqueror,” and providing them with independent states, Lord Balfour hoped they would begrudge the Jews “that small notch in what are now Arab territories being given to the people who for all these hundreds of years have been separated from it.” The Arabs found even this small accommodation to the Jews unacceptable.
For Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president, “The real opponents of Zionism can never be placated by any diplomatic formula: their objection to the Jews is that the Jews exist, and in this particular case, they exist in Palestine.”
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Elliott Aron Green - 10/4/2009
It's as if you said, "Yes, Virginia, there is antisemitism."
arthur m. eckstein - 10/2/2009
Why, Elliott--this sort of gross double standard might even lead one to suspect that anti-semitism is involved in all that hatred against Israel!
Elliott Aron Green - 10/1/2009
It may also indicate a defective eyesight and map-reading illiteracy on the part of the UN, Western govts, journalists, "human rights" advocates and NGOs, etc. That is, both Cyprus and Israel are in the Middle East, the eastern Mediterranean in particular. Cyprus is really not very far from northern Israel. Yet Israel gets so much attention over alleged "human rights" offenses, while Cyprus gets a bored "ho hum" from time to time, even though it is a member of the EU and most of the victims there are Christians, like the Europeans.
A. M. Eckstein - 9/29/2009
Sure, Elliott. But it's best to know these facts, because they are recent, deal with a really gross case of imperialism and ethnic cleansing, and present an argument demonstrating that UN double standard that is unanswerable.
N. Friedman - 9/29/2009
Please add quote marks as follows:
"The Assembly recognises that there has been a new reality in the Middle East since the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 which created the refugee problems. It calls on all the parties involved in these problems to negotiate and achieve a just settlement based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (1967)."
N. Friedman - 9/29/2009
It is not my place to inform you of facts but, in this case, I think you might do a bit of homework before getting so sure of yourself.
First, the UN has two primary resolution that relate to resolving the problem of refugees from Arab Israeli wars. The first is UN 194, which does not require Israel to do anything but, instead, recommends that Israel either take in refugees or, if such refugees have hostile views regarding Israel, to compensate them. The second is UN 242 - a resolution of the Security Council and, while not mandatory, is nonetheless more than a mere recommendation -, which indicates that the parties should find a just resolution to the refugee problem.
Israel, it should be known, offered to pay money to the refugees in accordance with UN 194.
Now, you claim that Israel is ignoring the will of the world on this issue. However, the Council of Europe seems to disagree with you that Israel must reabsorb the refugees, since it takes the view that UN 242, not UN 194, should be used as the basis for resolving the problem. That is the same Council of Europe vote which I mentioned above. According to that Council:
The Assembly recognises that there has been a new reality in the Middle East since the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 which created the refugee problems. It calls on all the parties involved in these problems to negotiate and achieve a just settlement based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (1967). That is Recommendation 1612 (2003) and can be found here.
Which is to say, I think your comment is way off base, which is probably why you write that I should not even bother to reply. Or, were you unaware of the state of things and merely assumed that because people who think like you want Israel to commit suicide that such view was universal.
Elliott Aron Green - 9/29/2009
Gee whiz, Art. Who would have thunk that the UN employs a double standard against Israel??
Elliott Aron Green - 9/29/2009
`Umar points out that there were Germans, ethnic Germans, and ethnic Italians before either Germany or Italy was unified. Likewise, there were Wallachs [Vlakhs], now called Rumanians, before Romanian independence from the Ottoman Empire, in which many Arabs, including Palestinian Arabs of the leading notable families, held high office. So let `Umar bear in mind that Palestinian Arabs took part in Ottoman colonialism/imperialism. Such included Khalidis, Husseinis, Abdul-Hadis, etc.
Now since there were Germans and Italians and Romanians before united or independent Germany, Italy or Romania, then likewise there was a Jewish people, albeit dispersed, before Israeli independence in 1948.
arthur m. eckstein - 9/27/2009
Well, as A.S. has just demonstrated, "the right of return" as understood by the international community is not about standards of justice in general but purely about politics.
The Germans expelled in 1945, with their one million dead, are just as much refugees as the Hindus in 1947, with their 800,000 dead--or the Palestinians who fled or were expelled in 1948, who are a tiny group compared to these huge and far more bloody events. The Jews who were expelled from Arab/Muslim lands in 1948-1960, who are 100,000 victims larger in number than the Palestinians as well, and were not expelled to international approval, A.S. But nothing has been done for them by the UN except to classify that generation--but not their descendants--as refugees. The Greeks who were expelled from northern Cyprus in 1974 (200,000 of them) were not expelled to international approval, A.S.. But nothing has been done for them either by the international community except to classify that generation--but NOT their descendants--as refugees.
The difference with the Palestinians, those of 1948 and their descendants-- is indeed stunning, unique, and the double standard obvious.
Arnold Shcherban - 9/26/2009
You're right Mr. Friedman, about Germans. But intentionally or not your latest response concealed one crucial difference between those Germans' right of return and corresponding Palestinians' one:
The status-quo concerning German refugees or whatever one might call them was agreed upon by wide international community including post-war Germany, Poland, Chechoslavakia, and all other interested European countries, while Israel rejecting Palestinian refugees right of return despite wide international condemnation, the will of its Arab neighbors, and UN resolutions.
Don't even bother to respond, because I know that you know I, together with the world's overwhelming majority is right about this issue.
N. Friedman - 9/25/2009
Your above comment is so astounding and, frankly, stupid, that I have no idea what to write.
I shall confine it to this. There was no Germany in 1700. There were, however, Germans and they lived in many places including places that are now called Germany. There are, today, two other countries which have had a large German presence for ages - Switzerland and Austria. However, Those Germans who made the country we call Poland and Czechoslovakia home were all expelled at the end of WWII.
That's it for this discussion.
omar ibrahim baker - 9/24/2009
What we have here is a intrepid attempt by Mr Friedman to tell us that some Germans were not German because at the time there was NO United ( this is only implied) Germany. Although, patently, the mere existence of Germans denotes the existence of a Germany; whether it was united at the time or to be united at a latter stage is of course , strictly speaking, an altogether different question.
Mr Friedman’s assertion leads to interesting sequels such as, say, Germans in Prussia and Bavaria were NOT German until Germany was united.
Nor for that matter were there Italians until Italy was united.
( Which makes one wonder why non-German Germans and non-Italian Italians worked so assiduously for German and Italian unity respectively.)
This semantic/intellectual acrobatics, though couched in pseudo erudition and irrelevant history, was not only made to escape the clearly ridiculous and revealing words of a comrade, BUT more importantly, to avoid facing and dealing with the issue of aliens/colonists residing in a certain country , such as Germans in Poland, that would depict and accurately reflect the present situation of all non indigenous Palestinian Jews presently residing in Palestine.
Mr Friedman points out an interesting aspect on “WHY” the Council of Europe declined to endorse the Palestinians Right of Return to their homeland : “that it would be a precedent to ethnic Germans who sought a right of return. “ which patently reflects a desire to avoid facing the issue of German colonists in Poland, that would upset Germany, and consequently the issue of Zionist colonists in Palestine that would upset Israel.
Interestingly neither legal nor a moral grounds were the basis for this rejection of the Arab request re Palestinian refugees; it was pure and simple politics!
My last point is to kindly ask Mr Friedman to spare me his hypocritical, facetious and facile advise about the reading of books; a domain in which he seems to deem himself not only paramount but also a final arbiter.
arthur m. eckstein - 9/24/2009
The population of Cyprus, taken as a whole, is 80% Greek and 20% Turkish. In 1974, however, the Turkish army invaded and occupied the entire northern half of Cyprus. 200,000 ethnic Greeks, who had lived there for 2,500 years, fled or were forced to flee into the southern half of the island.
In 2004, UN Sec'y General Kofi Annan proposed a "right of return" for those Greeks:
1. ONLY Greeks OVER 65 can return to the northern half of Cyprus.
2. And ONLY on condition that their return does not lead to Greeks constituting more than 10% of the total Turkish population in the northern half of Cyprus.
The UN proposal gives us an insight into the international community's view of the "right of return" in general--in all places, everywhere, EXCEPT Israel. Think about the implications of the Cyprus situation.
And like all the millions of refugees EXCEPT Palestinians, refugees on Cyprus are officially counted by the UN only as the ORIGINAL refugee population (hence only those who are over 65 in the UN proposal can return--and then only under certain stringent conditions), NOT their descendants as well.
A. M. Eckstein - 9/22/2009
The Germans who were expelled from E Europe and cannot legally go back had lived there for 1,000 years. That's almost Omar's "1,400" for the Palestinian Arabs. (They called themselves southern Syrians into the 1920s; on Omar's principle enunciated above re the Germans they should all go back to Syria and accept things. This doesn't help his case!)
The 850,000 Jews who were expelled from Arab/ Muslim lands in 1948-1960 (i.e., 100,000 more people than in the Palestinian Nakbah) had lived there for 2,000 years or in some cases 2,500 years.
The Greeks who were expelled from Egypt in the mid-1950s had lived there for 2,300 years; those expelled from Turkey in the mid-1950s had lived there for 2,800 years.
The 7 million Hindus expelled from Pakistan in 1947-1948 had lived there for 2,500 years or more. The Hindu refugee population created by Muslims in 1947/1948 was 10 times that of the Palestinian Nakbah (so was the Muslim refugee population created by the Hindus). The Hindu refugees suffered 500,000 dead in 1947-1948, during the same period as the Palestinian Nakbah. Omar wishes to ignore these people, erase them from our conversation: but would the Palestinians care to trade casualties with them, care to claim they suffered worse,Omar? And those Hindus can't go back to Pakistan.
N. Friedman - 9/22/2009
The ethnic Germans expelled from Poland and Czechoslovakia were the native population, so to speak. Germany is a relatively recent country, not an ancient country. There were German peoples throughout the region and, when the nation of Germany was formed, many ethnic Germans still found themselves living in their ancestral homes but such ancestral homes came, in many cases, to be located in countries other than Germany. Among the places were Poland and the former Czechoslovakia.
Nazi Germany exploited the situation, championing the cause of such ethnic Germans, using it as an excuse to demand incorporation of such regions of Czechoslovakia and Poland into Germany. After losing the war, the ethnic Germans were sent packing from Poland and Czechoslovakia and told never to return.
It should be added that when the Council of Europe rejected the request by Palestinian Arabs to press Israel for a "right of return," the argument raised against that proposal - and the proposal was, in fact, rejected - was that it would be a precedent to ethnic Germans who sought a right of return. And, Europe was not going to help Palestinian Arabs in a manner that might re-open European wounds.
It really would help, Omar, if you were to pick up a book before saying things that are so obviously incorrect.
omar ibrahim baker - 9/22/2009
In his rush to defend the morally and legally indefensible the Prof fails to note the inherent contradiction in his on words.
Note his own words in the following quote:
“Germans expelled from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania in 1945 are not allowed to return to those countries,… "
wherein he refers to GERMANS, denied return to POLAND,CZEKIA,SLOVANIA and ROMANIA
Germans denied return to Germany or POLES denied return to Poland or Rumanians denied return to Romania etc .
Whereas the point at issue here is Palestinians denied return to PALESTINE by alien colonists.
His reply is equally illuminating and revealing, actually subconsciously self revelatory, in two respects in that:
a-those Germans he refers to were actually colonists denied return to areas colonized by Germany.
Whereas NOT a single German was denied return to Germany despite the fact that Germany, then, had lost the war!
b- German colonists were expelled and denied return to and habitation in their "ex" colonies .
As such Professor Eckstein’s position is welcome !
The rest of the Prof’s post deals with some of the concomitant results of the AGREED partition of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan between Hindus and Moslems or, in the case of Turks in Bulgaria, the results of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire where both cases bear absolutely no semblance to and are totally irrelevant to the issue at hand.
arthur m. eckstein - 9/22/2009
Also, Per--weren't you the guy touting a book by Brenner about Zionist "cooperation" with the Nazis in the 1930s--a book that turned out to be published in Britain by a Holocaust denial press?
I actually checked with reputable scholars on what you claimed from that Brenner book, including people you named. These are scholars who have published serious studies with university, peer-review presses, and hold professorships. They just shook their heads at what was being claimed by you and by Brenner.
If you are the guy who was touting Brenner, these results ought to make you think. If you are not, then my apologies.
arthur m. eckstein - 9/22/2009
Omar, Germans expelled from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania in 1945 are not allowed to return to those countries, though they had often lived there for "14 centuries" themselves.
Hindus expelled from Pakistan in 1947-1948 had better not try to return to Muslim Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands Muslim Turks who fled the Balkans in the 19th and 20th centuries do not have the right to return to their old homes. Actually, this ethnic cleansing continued in Bulgaria into the 1980s, when additional refugees were created.)
300,000 Christian Greeks expelled from Alexandria in the mid-1950s do not have a right to return to their old homes, and that is true of another 50,000 Christian Greeks expelled from northern Turkey in the same period.
In the course of the last century, millions of people have fled their native lands in the wake of religious or ethnic conflict. Millions, Omar. Only in the case of the Palestinians is there a harping on "right of return."
You should learn some history before claiming the Palestinian/Israeli situation is unique. It isn't.
arthur m. eckstein - 9/22/2009
The point, Per, is this:
Since we have examples of far *worse* behavior by others in terms of racism and religious bigotry (including those who acuse the Israelis of racism and/or religious bigotry when they are far worse in their behavior on both counts), why is it that Israel and only Israel is always in the dock?
The hypocrisy and double standards smell.
omar ibrahim baker - 9/22/2009
Professor Eckstein declaims that:" Jane, you seem to think this is unusual. But Poland, Ireland, Germany, China and Japan--to name just five--have the same right of return enshrined in law. "
I wonder whether "Poland, Ireland, Germany, China and Japan-- " do deny return to their respective countries people who have dwelled therein uninterruptedly for some fourteen centuries and only left temporarily to avoid being in war zones.
Dare we hope hear from the Prof an answer to that!
The constant reiteration of this false parallelism does, consciously and deliberately, ignore and attempt to side step that cardinal , unique to Israel, fact: denial of the Right of Return for the indigenous people who moved away from war theatres.
Play on words ( ...enshrined in law. ), irrelevant reference to other nations and, mostly, the conscious effort to exploit the absence of knowledge and outright fabrications
(e.g.: a land with no people for a people with no land) was, still is, the mainstay of Zionist/Israel west oriented PR.
An extremely important development is that more and more people know the truth and make up their minds based on that!
Jonny Bb - 9/22/2009
As long as the state of Israel continues to commit acts, such as the deliberate murder of world citizens, they will always have the types of critics mentioned by the good (but obviously biased)professor.
As a citizen of the USA I provide here the most blatant relevant example of such premeditated murders as those of the sailors aboard the USS Liberty on June 8 1967.
The only crimes of that period I find even more reprehensible were those committed by our president LBJ and that war criminal McNamara, when they covered up the incident instead of punishing the criminal behavior of Israel, which had committed an act of undeclared war on the USA, which still needs to be repaid to this day!
Jonny Bb - 9/22/2009
It never ceases to amaze that when caught the guilty or their apologists try and change the subject. I did and will not say that other atrocious behavior is OK or that there are none worse than Israel. I merely state that if Israel wants unconditional support from people they must achieve it by the way it acts and not because they are owed undying support.
The attack on the USS Liberty to any chance of that away and It's behavior since has not improved. There is a difference between right and wrong and Israel will never be right with the world just because it is always prepared to kill someone. Fundamentalism is just that, no matter the stripe. One day Israel will stand alone if it continues to follow the path it is on.
Jonny Bb - 9/22/2009
Ask the average Non-European Jew in Israel how he or she is treated these days. There is No great shining city on the hill, None. No greater irony is there than applauding the right of return for some and not mentioning the refusal for the right of return for the Palestinians. Again, as long as Israel thinks it can maintain the status quo because it carries (and uses) the bigger stick it is doomed for failure. The sad part of this it will not just be the middle east which suffers. The US should have stopped it's support for the evil governments all over the mideast years ago. Let the chips fall where they may because the policy of supporting one side only is not, and will never work. Israel often claims that they are a buffer for The US in the mideast as it's only Democracy. Our government always fall for this baloney hook line and sinker.
This was wrong in Chile, El Salvador, or any other.
Per Fagereng - 9/22/2009
So, are those four Islamic republics the role model for Israel? What a comedown.
arthur m. eckstein - 9/21/2009
Jane, you seem to think this is unusual. But Poland, Ireland, Germany, China and Japan--to name just five--have the same right of return enshrined in law.
What makes Israel somewhat different, however, is that Ethiopian Jews, or Jews from India, have the same right of return as those from Europe or the U.S., which is why in Israel Jews come in black, brown, yellow, olive, and white (to quote Phyllis Chesler). Is this supposed to be a bad thing?
arthur m. eckstein - 9/21/2009
No, Omar--I'm saying your Arab/Muslim brethren are far *worse* than Israel in the argument you bring up.
Jane Shevtsov - 9/21/2009
I am a third- or fourth-generation atheist, but if I decided to move to Israel, I would be considered a Jew because my mother, who is not religious either, is considered a Jew. This may not be precisely race, but it's certainly not about religion. Certainly, secular Jews are prominent in both America and Israel.
Also, unlike Christianity and Islam, Judaism does not seek converts. In fact, among the Orthodox, conversion is discouraged at first. While I think not proselytizing is a good thing, it does result in greater exclusivity. (That said, I'm certainly not a supporter of theocracy, which is what the various Islamic Republics are.)
omar ibrahim baker - 9/21/2009
Which rebuttal/defense by Professor Eckstein is as clear an admission of guilt as could be!
A. M. Eckstein - 9/21/2009
Look at the whole board: say, the murder of 250 children by Muslim extremists for a Muslim purpose at Beslan, Russia; or the intentional murder of dozens of Israeli schoolchildren both in 1974 and during the second intifada; or the intentional murder of old people at a religious service during that same second intifada; or the intentional murder of 34,000 Iraqi civilians in the name of Allah by Al Q in Iraq in 2006 (UN figures).
That's the real world, not some bien-pensant leftist dream. We learn by comparison, said Polybius 2,200 years ago.
arthur m. eckstein - 9/21/2009
I cannot believe that Omar would bring up Shahak again. This person, a professor of Chemistry, not History, has been proven a grossly inaccurate source (and that is being polite about Shahak) time after time on this very hnn blog.
And if emphasis on religion is a source or cover for exclusivism and racism, perhaps Omar might like to comment on the following, where the emphasis on one religion, and one religion alone, is absolute and overt:
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
The Islamic Republic of Iran
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan
The Islamic Republic of Mauretania
omar ibrahim baker - 9/21/2009
Professor Grobman claims:
" Zionism is less discriminatory and racist than most other movements, because it is defined in religious terms"
But that is exactly whence Zionist /Jewish racism springs from and is embedded: in Judaism which classifies all human kind into two distinct categories : the Jews and the GOYIM (GENTILES)!
This distinction, inherited through the mother to ensure a blood lineage/linkage , far from being a theoretical distinction has very grave practical implications and consequences mainly in the legal domain which ordains matters of life and death!
The following are extracts from Shahak’s monumental work…"Jewish History, Jewish Religion : The Weight of Three Thousand Years" by Israel Shahak.
Well illustrate this point.
"Chapter 5 : The Laws Against Non-Jews
As explained in Chapter 3, the Halakhah, that is the legal system of classical Judaism - as practiced by virtually all Jews from the 9th century to the end of the l8th and as maintained to this very day in the form of Orthodox Judaism - is based primarily on the Baabylonian Talmud.
Murder and Genocide
According to the Jewish religion, the murder of a Jew is a capital offense and one of the three most heinous sins (the other two being idolatry and adultery). Jewish religious courts and secular authorities are commanded to punish, even beyond the limits of the ordinary administration of justice, anyone guilty of murdering a Jew. A Jew who indirectly causes the death of another Jew is, however, only guilty of what talmudic law calls a sin against the 'laws of Heaven', to be punished by God rather than by man.
When the victim is a Gentile, the position is quite different. A Jew who murders a Gentile is guilty only of a sin against the laws of Heaven, not punishable by a court 1 . To cause indirectly the death of a Gentile is no sin at all.2
Thus, one of the two most important commentators on the Shulhan Arukh explains that when it comes to a Gentile, 'one must not lift one's hand to harm him, but one may harm him indirectly, for instance by removing a ladder after he had fallen into a crevice .., there is no prohibition here, because it was not done directly: 3 He points out, however, that an act leading indirectly to a Gentile's death is forbidden if it may cause the spread of hostility towards Jews.4
A Gentile murderer who happens to be under Jewish jurisdiction must be executed whether the victim was Jewish or not. However, if the victim was Gentile and the murderer converts to Judaism, he is not punished.5
All this has a direct and practical relevance to the realities of the State of Israel. Although the state's criminal laws make no distinction between Jew and Gentile, such distinction is certainly made by Orthodox rabbis, who in guiding their flock follow the Halakhah. Of special importance is the advice they give to religious soldiers.
Since even the minimal interdiction against murdering a Gentile outright applies only to 'Gentiles with whom we [the Jews] are not at war', various rabbinical commentators in the past drew the logical conclusion that in wartime all Gentiles belonging to a hostile population may, or even should be killed 6 . Since 1973 this doctrine is being publicly propagated for the guidance of religious Israeli soldiers. The first such official exhortation was included in a booklet published by the Central Region Command of the Israeli Army, whose area includes the West Bank. In this booklet the Command's Chief Chaplain writes:
When our forces come across civilians during a war or in hot pursuit or in a raid, so long as there is no certainty that those civilians are incapable of harming our forces, then according to the Halakhah they may and even should be killed... Under no circumstances should an Arab be trusted, even if he makes an impression of being civilized ... In war, when our forces storm the enemy, they are allowed and even enjoined by the Halakhah to kill even good civilians, that is, civilians who are ostensibly good.7
Saving of Life
This subject - the supreme value of human life and the obligation of every human being to do the outmost to save the life of a fellow human - is of obvious importance in itself. It is also of particular interest in a Jewish context, in view of the fact that since the second world war Jewish opinion has - in some cases justly, in others unjustly - condemned 'the whole world' or at least all Europe for standing by when Jews were being massacred. Let us therefore examine what the Halakhah has to say on this subject.
According to the Halakhah, the duty to save the life of a fellow Jew is paramount 14 . It supersedes all other religious obligations and interdictions, excepting only the prohibitions against the three most heinous sins of adultery (including incest), murder and idolatry.
As for Gentiles, the basic talmudic principle is that their lives must not be saved, although it is also forbidden to murder them outright. The Talmud itself 15 expresses this in the maxim 'Gentiles are neither to be lifted [out of a well] nor hauled down [into it]'. Maimonides 16 explains:
"As for Gentiles with whom we are not at war ... their death must not be caused, but it is forbidden to save them if they are at the point of death; if, for example, one of them is seen falling into the sea, he should not be rescued, for it is written: 'neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy fellow' 17 - but [a Gentile] is not thy fellow."
In particular, a Jewish doctor must not treat a Gentile patient. Maimonides - himself an illustrious physician - is quite explicit on this; in another passage 18 he repeats the distinction between 'thy fellow' and a Gentile, and concludes: 'and from this learn ye, that it is forbidden to heal a Gentile even for payment...'
The whole doctrine - the ban on saving a Gentile's liife or healing him, and the suspension of this ban in cases where there is fear of hostility - is repeated (virtually verbatim) by other major authorities, including the 14th century Arba'ah Turirn and Karo's Beyt Yosef and Shulhan 'Arukh 19 . Beyt Yosef adds, quoting Maimonides: 'And it is permissible to try out a drug on a heathen, if this serves a purpose'; and this is repeated also by the famous R. Moses Isserles.
Sexual intercourse between a married Jewish woman and any man other than her husband is a capital offense for both parties, and one of the three most heinous sins. The status of Gentile women is very different. The Halakhah presumes all Gentiles to be utterly promiscuous and the verse 'whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue [of semen] is like the issue of horses (40) is applied to them. Whether a Gentile woman is married or not makes no difference, since as far as Jews are concerned the very concept of matrimony does not apply to Gentiles ('There is no matrimony for a heathen'). Therefore, the concept of adultery also does not apply to intercourse between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman; rather, the Talmud 41 equates such intercourse to the sin of bestiality. (For the same reason, Gentiles are generally presumed not to have certain paternity.)
According to the Talmudic Encyclopedia: (42) 'He who has carnal knowledge of the wife of a Gentile is not liable to the death penalty, for it is written: "thy fellow's wife" (43) rather than the alien's wife; and even the precept that a man "shall cleave unto his wife" (44) which is addressed to the Gentiles does not apply to a Jew, just there is no matrimony for a heathen; and although a married Gentile woman is forbidden to the Gentiles, in any case a Jew is exempted.'
This does not imply that sexual intercourse between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman is permitted - quite the contrary. But the main punishment is inflicted on the Gentile woman; she must be executed, even if she was raped by the Jew: 'If a Jew has coitus with a Gentile woman, whether she be a child of three or an adult, whether married or unmarried, and even if he is a minor aged only nine years and one day - because he had willful coitus with her, she must be killed, as is the case with a beast, because through her a Jew got into trouble. (45) The Jew, however, must be flogged, and if he is a Kohen (member of the priestly tribe) he must receive double the number of lashes, because he has committed a double offense: a Kohen must not have intercourse with a prostitute, and all Gentile women are presumed to be prostitutes. (46)
According to the Halakhah, Jews must not (if they can help it) allow a Gentile to be appointed to any position of authority, however small, over Jews. (The two stock examples are commander over ten soldiers in the Jewish army' and 'superintendent of an irrigation ditch'.) Significantly, this particular rule applies also to converts to Judaism and to their descendants (through the female line) for ten generations or 'so long as the descent is known'.
Gentiles are presumed to be congenital liars, and are disqualified from testifying in a rabbinical court. In this respect their position is, in theory, the same as that of Jewish women, slaves and minors; but in practice it is actually worse. A Jewish woman is nowadays admitted as a witness to certain matters of fact, when the rabbinical court 'believes' her; a Gentile - never.
A problem therefore arises when a rabbinical court needs to establish a fact for which there are only Gentile witnesses. An important example of this is in cases concerning widows: by Jewish religious law, a woman can be declared a widow - and hence free to remarry - only if the death of her husband is proven with certainty by means of a witness who saw him die or identified his corpse. However, the rabbinical court will accept the hearsay evidence of a Jew who testifies to having heard the fact in question mentioned by a Gentile eyewitness, provided the court is satisfied that the latter was speaking casually ('goy mesiah left tummd) rather than in reply to a direct question; for a Gentile's direct answer to a Jew's direct question is presumed to be a lie 47 . If necessary, a Jew (preferably a rabbi) will actually undertake to chat up the Gentile eyewitness and, without asking a direct question, extract from him a casual statement of the fact at issue.
Attitudes to Christianity and Islam
In the foregoing, several examples of the rabbinical attitudes to these two religions were given in passing. But it will be useful to summarize these attitudes here.
Judaism is imbued with a very deep hatred towards Christianity, combined with ignorance about it. This attitude was clearly aggravated by the Christian persecutions of Jews, but is largely independent of them. In fact, it dates from the time when Christianity was still weak and persecuted (not least by Jews), and it was shared by Jews who had never been persecuted by Christians or who were even helped by them. Thus, Maimonides was subjected to Muslim persecutions by the regime of the Almohads and escaped from them first to the crusaders' Kingdom of Jerusalem, but this did not change his views in the least. This deeply negative attitude is based on two main elements.
First, on hatred and malicious slanders against Jesus. The traditional view of Judaism on Jesus must of course be sharply distinguished from the nonsensical controversy between antisemites and Jewish apologists concerning the 'responsibility' for his execution. Most modern scholars of that period admit that due to the lack of original and contemporary accounts, the late composition of the Gospels and the contradictions between them, accurate historical knowledge of the circumstances of Jesus' execution is not available. In any case, the notion of collective and inherited guilt is both wicked and absurd. However, what is at issue here is not the actual facts about Jesus, but the inaccurate and even slanderous reports in the Talmud and post-talmudic literature - which is what Jews believed until the 19th century and many, especially in Israel, still believe. For these reports certainly played an important role in forming the Jewish attitude to Christianity.
According to the Talmud, Jesus was executed by a proper rabbinical court for idolatry, inciting other Jews to idolatry, and contempt of rabbinical authority. All classical Jewish sources which mention his execution are quite happy to take responsibility for it; in the talmudic account the Romans are not even mentioned.
The more popular accounts - which were nevertheless taken quite seriously - such as the notorious Toldot Yesbu are even worse, for in addition to the above crimes they accuse him of witchcraft. The very name 'Jesus' was for Jews a symbol of all that is abominable, and this popular tradition still persists 70 . The Gospels are equally detested, and they are not allowed to be quoted (let alone taught) even in modern Israeli Jewish schools.
Secondly, for theological reasons, mostly rooted in ignorance, Christianity as a religion is classed by rabbinical teaching as idolatry. This is based on a crude interpretation of the Christian doctrines on the Trinity and Incarnation. All the Christian emblems and pictorial representations are regarded as 'idols' - even by those Jews who literally worship scrolls, stones or personal belongings of 'Holy Men'.
The attitude of Judaism towards Islam is, in contrast, relatively mild. Although the stock epithet given to Muhammad is 'madman' ('meshugga'), this was not nearly as offensive as it may sound now, and in any case it pales before the abusive terms applied to Jesus. Similarly, the Qur'an - unlike the New Testament - is not condemned to burning. It is not honored in the same way as Islamic law honors the Jewish sacred scrolls, but is treated as an ordinary book. Most rabbinical authorities agree that Islam is not idolatry (although some leaders of Gush Emunim now choose to ignore this). Therefore the Halakhah decrees that Muslims should not be treated by Jews any worse than 'ordinary' Gentiles. But also no better. Again, Maimonides can serve as an illustration. He explicitly states that Islam is not idolatry, and in his philosophical works he quotes, with great respect, many Islamic philosophical authorities. He was, as I have mentioned before, personal physician to Saladin and his family, and by Saladin's order he was appointed Chief over all Egypt's Jews. Yet, the rules he lays down against saving a Gentile's life (except in order to avert danger to Jews) apply equally to Muslims."
The book is worthy of careful perusal and coming from a erudite Jewish scholar makes it all the more reliable and bias free..
Blue Canary - 9/21/2009
"Israel was created in 1948 in one-sixth of the area allotted by the Balfour Declaration."
I have rarely read such rubbish. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 allotted absolutely nothing! Is this article merely an Hasbara propaganda exercise?
November 2nd, 1917.
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:
"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country".
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour"
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