Yitzhak Shapira, the fanatical Zionist rabbi, who heads the Old Yosef Chai Yeshiva in the illegal settlement of Yitzhar, near Nablus and rabbi Yossi Elitzur have penned a new book: Torah HaMelech (The King’s Torah) that has become the subject of the news in Eretz Yisrael (Hebrew for Land of Israel) (1). According to Roee Sharon, the book contains no less than “230 pages on the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews, a kind of guide for anyone who ponders the question of if and when it is permissible to take the life of a non-Jew” (see the original Hebrew article by Roee Sharon in Maariv, November 9, 2009 (2). A translation of the Maariv article can be read at Coteret News) (3).
The book follows the halachic laws (the collective body of Jewish religious law, including the 613 biblical laws) for the killing of the goyim (Hebrew for nations), who threaten Eretz Yisrael (4). “Jews have the right to kill non-Jews in just about any circumstance.” “If we kill a gentile who has sinned or has violated one of the seven commandments … there is nothing wrong with the murder” (5). The permission to kill is given on the basis of the Sheva mitzvot B’nei Noach (the seven Noachian Laws), which, according to the Talmud, should be followed by all mankind (6); (see The Noachian Laws in Jewish Encyclopedia (7). “When we approach a non-Jew who has violated the seven Noachian laws and kill him out of concern for upholding these seven laws, no prohibition has been violated” (8). The Yeshiva World News official website justifies the book’s permission to kill with the following statement: “The sefer [Hebrew for book] adds that killing a non-Jew who has violated the Seven Mitzvos [Hebrew for commandments] given to non-Jews because we care about torah and mitzvos, then this is acceptable. It stresses the importance of Eretz Yisrael, the halachic requirements of the land, and living within a torah framework” (9). Similarly, the book justifies the killing of “non-Jews who demand the land for themselves” (10).
Civilians are not immune from Shapira’s and Elitzur’s attacks: “Any case in which the life of the civilian endangers Israel – it is allowed to kill a gentile.” This authorization applies to direct and indirect “endangering” of Israel. Thus civilians who aid fighters, support the war, or sympathise with the resistance should be killed (11). The Rabbis also encourage the killing of non-Jews that bear Israeli citizenship but are suspected of assisting organizations that are considered a “threat to national security” by the present regime (12). According to Shapira and Elitzur babies and children can be killed too because they are “hindrances.” “Hindrances – babies are found many times in this situation. They block the way to rescue by their presence and do so completely by force. Nevertheless, they may be killed because their presence aids murder. There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.” “The children of the leader may be harmed in order to apply pressure to him. If attacking the children of a wicked ruler will influence him not to behave wickedly, they may be harmed” (13).
The conclusion of the book contains the following statement: “In religious law, we have found that non-Jews are generally suspected of shedding Jewish blood, and in war, this suspicion becomes a great deal stronger. One must consider killing even babies, who have not violated the seven Noachian laws, because of the future danger that will be caused if they are allowed to grow up to be as wicked as their parents” (14). Encouraging retaliation, Rabbis Shapira and Elitzur support violence and give credence to the notion that “In order to defeat the enemy … [they] must behave toward … [the enemy] in a spirit of retaliation and measure for measure.” “Retaliation is absolutely necessary in order to render such wickedness not worthwhile. Therefore, sometimes we do cruel deeds in order to create the proper balance of terror” (15).
The idea of using terror fits with Israel Koenig’s recommendation in “The Koenig Memorandum” – “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population” (16). It also fits with Rafael Eitan’s prescription for the removal of Palestinians from Palestine: “We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimetre of Eretz Israel [the land of Israel] … Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours” (17). A similar sentiment was expressed by the co-signer of the document called The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel (18) and future Prime Minister of Israel David Ben Gurion: “We must expel Arabs and take their places” (19). Yoram Bar Porath supported these views: “It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonisation or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands” (20). Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism, had expressed similar views long before the establishment of the State of Israel: “If you wish to colonize a land in which people are already living, you must provide a garrison for the land … or else, give up your colonization, for without an armed force which will render physically impossible any attempt to destroy or prevent this colonization, colonization is impossible, not difficult, not dangerous, but IMPOSSIBLE! … Zionism is a colonization adventure and therefore it stands or falls by the question of armed force[s]” (21).
The statements by Israel Koenig, Rafael Eitan, David Ben Gurion, Yoram Bar Porath and Vladimir Jabotinsky bear all the trappings of a jihad against the Palestinians. Commonly translated as Holy War, the Arabic word literally means “striving,” “struggling,” “endeavouring” (22). Webster’s Encyclopaedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language defines it as 1) “a holy war undertaken as a sacred duty by Muslims” and 2) “any vigorous, often bitter crusade for an idea or principle” (23). The online version of the same dictionary identifies it as a noun, provides a variant (Jehad), the etymology (Arabic jihād) but maintains the same definitions (24). T. P. Hughes explains that there are two kinds of jihads – “the greater” against one’s own lusts and “the lesser” against infidels (25). According to Hughes, the description of the “lesser jihad” occurs in al-Madinah Surahs (an Islamic term denoting a chapter in the Qur’an), written after Muhammad established his supreme rule and was able to dictate his terms and conditions to his enemies (26). Historically, this type of jihad can be viewed as a way of advancing Islam among the conquered unbelievers offering them three choices (1) “the reception of Islam, in which case the conquered became enfranchised citizens of the Muslim state; (2) “the payment of a poll-tax (Jizyah), by which unbelievers in Islam obtain protection, and become Zimmis …” and (3) “death by sword, to those who will not pay the poll-tax” (27).
Unlike its Islamic counterpart, the Zionist jihad does not differentiate between “greater” and “lesser” types and terror is not used as a last resort, as was the case with the last option in the al-Madinah Surahs of the Qur’an. Terror is part and parcel of all Zionist undertakings. The notion not only justifies the senseless killing of civilians, including women, children and the elderly, but also promotes it. Israel’s former chief rabbi, Mordechai Elyahu encouraged the Israeli army to mass murder Palestinians in 2007: “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.” A similar feeling is expressed in June 2009, by US Hasidic Rabbi Manis Friedman, who encouraged Israelis to kill Palestinian “men, women and children.” “I don’t believe in Western morality, i.e., don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during the holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, and 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 (and cattle)” (28).
According to Maariv, Shapira’s and Elitzur’s Torah HaMelech does not mention Palestinians or Arabs; the “killing of gentiles” is a “theoretical concept,” supposedly unrelated to the politics of the region – “he [Shapira] was ‘careful not to explicitly encourage private individuals to take the law into their own hands” (29). The Yeshiva World News official website stresses the fact that while “the media is having a field day with the sefer, it is written that the sefer discusses theoretic halachic principles, and in no way calls for the murder of goyim, ‘Arabs’ or ‘Palestinians’ as the media seeks to imply” (30). This may be so, but Torah HaMelech, the new halachic guide for the Zionist jihad is popular among several prominent rabbis, who recommended it to their followers and students. The Yeshiva World News official website enlists approbation from Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, and Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh (31).
In 2003, under pressure from left-wing groups, Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein charged Rabbi Yitzchak Ginzburgh, the former head of the Old Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Shechem, with incitement to racism. Rabbi Ginsburgh’s June 19, 1989 statement clearly declares: “Jewish blood and a goy’s (gentile’s) blood are not the same.” Thus, killing isn’t murder if the victim is Gentile. (32). According to Rabbi Ginsburgh “… every single cell in a Jewish body entails divinity, and is thus part of God.” If this is so, “then every strand of DNA is a part of God. Therefore, something is special about Jewish DNA.” Using similar logic, Rabbi Ginsburg declared that “the Arabs … don’t have the right to live in … [Israel] and that “they want to take land that doesn’t belong to them and therefore they are also robbers.” “The concept of the third world, which is the most primitive on the scale of nations, refers to the Arabs who are on the lowest rung in the scale … According to Kabbalah, the Jewish people are the most advanced people in mind and spirit, but Yishmael is a nation of slaves and the character of a slave is licentious and undisciplined” (33). Approbation from a brilliant “haematologist” and “DNA specialist” Rabbi Ginsburgh speaks volumes, especially when considering the fact that Ginsburgh’s own sentiments concerning the killing of non-Jews do not differ from those of Shapira and Elitzur – Ginsburgh justified the US-born Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 killing of the Palestinian worshippers in the Machpela Cave mosque in Hebron during Ramadan on halachic grounds (34).
Another religious leader, Rabbi Dov Lior, the chairman of the Yesha rabbinical council, chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba (35) that has endorsed Shapira’s and Elitzur’s new halachic guide for the Zionist jihad is an “expert” on military matters: “There is no such thing as enemy civilians in war time. The law of our Torah is to have mercy on our soldiers and to save them … A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail” (36). A student of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, the founder of the extremist Gush Emunim with the slogan “The Land of Israel, for the people of Israel, according to the Torah of Israel,” Rabbi Dov Lior continues to sponsor the teachings of his mentor Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook and the latter’s father, fundamentalist Rabbi Abraham Kook , the founder of the first Zionist Yeshiva in Jerusalem in 1924, during the British Mandate, who said: “The difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews – all of them in all different levels – is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle” (37). In late 1980s, following a public protest over his suggestions to use captured Arab terrorists “to conduct medical experiments,” Rabbi Lior was barred from the election to the Supreme Rabbinical Council (38). More recently, Rabbi Dov Lior issued a halachic decree, which states that “it is forbidden by Jewish law to employ Arabs or rent homes to them” (39). In an interview published by “Eretz Israel Shelanu” (Our Land of Israel), Rabbi Lior said: “since this is a matter of endangering souls, it is clear that it is completely forbidden to employ them and rent houses to them in Israel. Their employment is forbidden not only at yeshivas, but at factories, hotels and everywhere” (40).
Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, the head of the Hazon Yaakov Yeshiva in Jerusalem and the son of Shas’ spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (41) is another supporter of Yitzhak Shapira’s and Yossi Elitzur’s new halachic guide for the Zionist jihad. He is a member of the national-religious community and has served as a Shas MK in the past (42). The fact that Shapira and Elitzur began selling Torah HaMelech at the memorial for Rabbi Meir Kahane, the Israeli Knesset member who advocated “mass expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and the territories” (43) is significant. It implies that even though it is not distributed by the leading book-sellers (44), Shapira’s and Elitzur’s sefer is known among past and present members of the Israeli Knesset, suggesting that the halachic guide for the Zionist jihad is tacitly promoted at the highest level of the government.
The statement that Rabbi Shapira’s and Rabbi Elitzur’s halachic guide for the Zionist jihad does not target Palestinians or Arabs and approaches the “killing of gentiles” from a “theoretical” perspective is more worrisome than one might suspect. It can be interpreted as a license to kill all gentiles that fit into the authors’ category of the “goyim who threaten Eretz Yisrael.” But the category can be broadened to include all who oppose Israel’s Zionist agenda in the occupied territories, conveniently branded as anti-Semites by the Zionist-controlled media (see What is Anti-Semitism? by the same author (45). And finally, the category can be broadened to include all opposition to the Zionist programme of world domination: “We will have a world government whether you like it or not. The only question is whether that government will be achieved by conquest or consent.” (Jewish Banker Paul Warburg’s testimony before the U.S. Senate, February 17, 1950 (46); Paul Warburg, the founder of the US Federal Reserve, was the brother of Max Warburg, the chief of German Intelligence and an associate of Adolf Hitler – both were executives of I.G. Farben).
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Whether these categories were delineated or not is secondary to the fact that Shapira’s and Elitzur’s sefer was sold at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, the flagship of Orthodox Zionism. According to Mathew Wagner of The Jerusalem Post, there was a small sign at the entrance advertising the sale of Torah HaMelech at NIS 30 and “those interested in buying the book were asked to place money in a small cup and take … [a copy]” (47). A young man called Lior, whose name and phone number had appeared on the advertisement, was surprised to realize how fast the copies were sold. The authors and promoters of the halachic guide for the Zionist jihad could not have chosen a better location for the sale – Torah HaMelech is especially useful for the students of the yeshiva “who have served, are presently serving or plan on serving in the IDF” (48). Mathew Wagner further explains that since “a large portion of Torat Hamelech is dedicated to exploring Jewish “rules of engagement” according to the authors’ interpretation of Jewish law,” the book is relevant “for many young men at Mercaz Harav or other Orthodox Zionist yeshivot where IDF service is combined with intense Torah learning” (49). The fact that “the book could have practical implications for how religious soldiers do battle” (50) is of no consequence to Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, who is “a highly respected halachic authority in both haredi and religious Zionist circles” – his endorsement appeared in the book.
As Rabbi Shapira’s and Rabbi Elitzur’s halachic guide will undeniably incite more violence against non-Jews, it will also contribute to the rift between Jews and Gentiles. The Zionist intellectual Maurice Samuel, in his You Gentiles of 1924 polarized the gentile and the Jewish worlds: “There are two life-forces in the world I know: Jewish and gentile, ours and yours … Your outlook on life, your dominant reactions, are the same to-day as they were two thousand years ago. All that has changed is the instrument of expression. You live the same life under different faiths, but something clings to you here and there resembling the original form of the faith we gave you ” (51). Samuel admits that the “surface credo of a Jewish faith” imposed on a gentile way of life did not make a fundamental difference: “But in the end your true nature works itself into the pattern of the borrowed faith, and expresses itself undeniably” (52). Samuel suggests that there is a “clear and fateful division of life – Jewish and gentile,” with an “unsounded abyss between” them. Gentiles have a “way of living and thinking” that is distinctly different from Jews: “I do not believe that this primal difference between gentile and Jew is reconcilable. You and we may come to an understanding, never to a reconciliation. There will be irritation between us as long as we are in intimate contact. For nature and constitution and vision divide us from all of you forever…” (53). Similar to other Zionists, Samuel’s “solution” is based on the destruction of the existing world order: “A century of partial tolerance gave us Jews access to your world. In that period the great attempt was made, by advance guards of reconciliation, to bring our two worlds together. It was a century of failure. … We Jews, we, the destroyers, will remain the destroyers forever. Nothing that you will do will meet our needs and demands. We will forever destroy because we need a world of our own, a God-world, which it is not in your nature to build” (54).
The separation between Jews and non-Jews lies at the heart of the teachings of Zionist intellectuals and religious leaders. This teaching is encouraged even outside of Israel. Elliot Abrams, a neo-conservative in charge of President Bush’s “global democracy strategy,” wrote in 1997 that “[Jewish law] does indeed separate Jews from their fellow citizens” and that “Jews are in a permanent covenant with God and with the land of Israel and its people” (55). The sentiment of irreconcilable differences is enforced in the following statement, this time with overt shades of racial superiority: “We Jews regard our race as superior to all humanity, and look forward not to its ultimate union with other races, but to its triumph over them.” Rabbi Saadya Grama’s 2003 book Romemut Yisrael Ufarashat Hagalut (The Majesty of Israel and the Question of the Diaspora) provides a race-based theory of Jewish supremacy arguing that non-Jews are “completely evil,” while Jews are genetically superior: “The difference between the people of Israel and the nations of the world is an essential one. The Jew by his source and in his very essence is entirely good. The goy, by his source and in his very essence is completely evil. This is not simply a matter of religious distinction, but rather of two completely different species” (56). This attitude towards the goyim is reinforced by the statement of Golda Maier on March 8, 1969. Her declaration: “How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to” (57) is a clever pun suggesting that the original inhabitants of Palestine are “nobody” i.e., not people. Apart from its inherent falsehood (see the statements by Israel Koenig, Rafael Eitan, David Ben Gurion, Yoram Bar Porath, Vladimir Jabotinsky above), Golda Maier’s derogatory remark downplays the danger posed to Israel by the original inhabitants: a “nobody” surely does not threaten the security of Eretz Yisrael. If there is no real danger to threaten Eretz Yisrael, then Rabbi Shapira’s and Rabbi Elitzur’s halachic guide for the killing of the goyim is founded on the principle of HATRED – a sentiment shared by Israel Koenig, Rafael Eitan, David Ben Gurion, Yoram Bar Porath, Vladimir Jabotinsky, Maurice Samuel, Paul Warburg , Rabbi Abraham Kook, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Rabbi Meir Kahane, Rabbi Saadya Grama, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, Rabbi Mordechai Elyahu, Rabbi Manis Friedman, Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, whose statements demonstrate similar hatred for the goyim.
According to Roee Sharon, Shapira’s and Elitzur’s halachic guide for the Zionist jihad
includes “hundreds of sources from the Bible and religious law” (58). Indeed, the Bible demands separation, segregation and discrimination. After restating his “abhorrence” (Lev 20:23) towards the previous inhabitants of the land and his reasons for driving them out, God promises their land “flowing with milk and honey” – a clear reference to Exodus 33:3 – to his people declaring: “I am the Lord your God; I have separated you from the peoples” (Lev 20:24). Ezra marks this separation with his famous term “the holy seed” (Ezra 9:2), “zera hakodesh” in Hebrew (59), which compels the entire community to dissolve all inter-marriages, getting rid of foreign wives and their children (Ezra 10:3). The ideology of separation, segregation and discrimination combined with the toxic rhetoric of the fundamentalists yields a dangerous brew made up of insanity and criminality. Mathew Wagner discusses the critical response of a “leading religious Zionist media figure” (60). One may take a sigh of relief in thinking that the criticism is based on a sound evaluation of the dangers associated with endorsing radical jihadist ideology. Alas, this is not the case – the anonymous “leading religious Zionist media figure” is NOT concerned with the moral imperative of such indoctrination, in fact he agrees with the conclusions of Shapira’s and Elitzur’s halachic guide: “I do not doubt the halachic conclusions of the book” (61). He is concerned with the negative publicity the book generated: “I grabbed my head when I saw the headline in Ma’ariv … I said to myself we have just managed to contain the media damage done to us by Teitel, by showing he is an isolated element, and now this happens” (62). Thus, while the civilized world is screaming about Shapira’s and Elitzur’s sefer Torah HaMelech, the reaction towards the new Halachic Guide is positive in Israel. No one seems to worry about the fact that it will definitely lead to more violence. The “leading religious Zionist media figure” epitomizes the Zionist mentality: the life of the goyim is less important than the media damage caused by the publication of Shapira’s and Elitzur’s halachic guide for the Zionist jihad.
(1), (30), (31) Rav Yitzchak Shapira’s Sefer Makes Headlines in Eretz Yisrael
(2), (4), (9) ספר שמופץ בימין מסביר מתי מותר להרוג “גויים”
(3), (6), (8), (13), (14), (15), (44), (58) Settler Rabbi publishes “The complete guide to killing non-Jews”
(5), (10), (11), (29), (43) Settler rabbi authors guidelines on killing gentiles
(7) The Noachian Laws
(12) Zionist Rabbi Calls for Killing of Even Non-Jewish Children and Infants if They Pose a ‘Threat’ to Israel
(16) Israel Koenig, the Koenig Memorandum
(17) Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, 1983
(18) Declaration of Establishment of State of Israel
(19), (21), (32), (57) Al- Awda PRRC
(20) Yoram Bar Porath, Yediot Aharonot, July 14, 1972,
(22) Massive Online Encyclopedia of Islam Hyper-linked to the Qur’an, Hadiths, Taurat, Injil and other sources
(23) Webster’s Encyclopaedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, p. 767.
(24) Merriam-Webster’s Online dictionary
(25), (26), (27) A Dictionary of Islam by Thomas Patrick Hughes, London, 1895, pp. 243-248
(28), (36), (37), (56) Religious fundamentalism in Israel
(33) Jewish Forum and Discussions – Chabad Talk
(34) 1994: Jewish settler kills 30 at holy site
(35), (39), (40) Top Yesha rabbi says Jewish law forbids renting houses to Arabs
(38) Dov Lior
(41) Rabbi: Older bachelors must leave Jerusalem
(42) Shas rabbi’s son: No afterlife for Federman farm destroyers
(45) What is Anti-Semitism?
(46) Jewish Banker Paul Warburg’s testimony before the U.S. Senate, February 17, 1950
(47), (48), (49), (50), (60), (61), (62) Book advocating killing gentiles who endanger Jews is hard to come by
(51) Maurice Samuel, You Gentiles, pp. 19-20
(52) Samuel, p. 22
(53) Samuel, pp. 22, 23
(54) Samuel, p. 155
(55) Jeff Gates, Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War. Santa Barbara: State Street Publications, 2008, p. 139.
(59) Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, ed. A. Schenker. Stuttgart: C. H. Beck, Nördingen, 1997 p. 1426.
* Anait Brutian (B. Mus. with Honours in Theory, McGill University; M. A. in Music Theory, McGill University) is a student in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill. Her previous research includes a self-published book entitled: Reconciling Geometry, Rhetoric and Harmony: A Fresh Look at C. P. E. Bach. She is currently working on another book on mathematical paradigms in literature (Old and New Testaments), art, architecture, and music.