Rabbis who bring shame to Judaism

05/08/08

By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

Religious extremism is very dangerous. It means that every
thinkable vice under the sun can be committed, “sanctioned”
and “justified” in the name of the Almighty.

In Israel, rabbis with hundreds of thousands of followers,
many of whom serve in the Gestapo-like Israeli occupation
army, openly teach that non-Jews are only human in form but
animals in substance.

These racist teachings can’t be dismissed as “innocuous” or
“esoteric.” Very often, they constitute “a manual for
action” for many Jewish settlers roaming the hills of the
West Bank, fetching for an Arab prey to kill, or attack or
tie up to a power pole.

The teachings also serve as a direct inspiration to
numerous Israeli soldiers operating in the West Bank who,
thanks to the racist indoctrination they receive from their
rabbis, have come to view the estimated 3.7 million
Palestinians living under Israel’s military rule, not as
real human beings, but rather as animals walking on two
feet. The often barbaric treatment meted out to the
Palestinians in the occupied territories testifies to the
rampantly racist indoctrination soldiers and settlers
receive at the hands of religious Zionist rabbis.

Last year, a Jewish immigrant from France, who murdered an
Arab taxi driver after luring him to his home north of Tel
Aviv, told police interrogators that he didn’t kill a human
being; he only killed an animal.

“Merkaz Harav”

Merkaz Harav (the Rabbi’s Center) is the ideological and
theological central nervous system of religious Zionism in
Israel. Established in honor of Rabbi Abraham Kook,
Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, the center, which is actually a
religious college, teaches students that God Almighty
created the entire universe for the sake of “the Jew,” and
that all non-Jews ought to be slaves laboring for the
“chosen people.”

As to the Palestinians, Merkaz Harav teaches that “non-Jews
living under Jewish law in Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel)
must either be enslaved as water carriers and wood hewers,
or banished, or exterminated.”

Some rabbinic authorities associated with Merkaz Harav have
been preaching the view that Palestinians are descendants
of the Amalek, or Amalekites, whom the Bible says must be
totally exterminated.

Such hateful views are actually espoused by hundreds of
thousands of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. This is the
religious doctrine of religious Zionism. This is the
theology taught in hundreds of Yeshivot (religious schools)
throughout Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Settlers as well as the increasingly Settler-dominated
Israeli army may very well act on these doctrines in a more
wanton manner if the world goes into a slumber. They are
only awaiting the opportune time to do it.

According to Rabbi Kook, “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 soul of cattle.”

The late Israeli philosopher, Yisrael Shahak, pointed out
that the teachings of Kook were based on the Lurianic
Cabala, one of whose basic tenets is the absolute
superiority of the Jewish soul and body over the non-Jewish
soul and body “so much so that the world was created solely
for the sake of Jews.”

In 2003, Rabbi Saadya Grama, an alumnus of Beth Medrash
Govoha, the renowned Yeshiva in Lakewood, N.J., wrote a
book titled “Romemut Yisrael Ufarashat Hagalut,” which can
be translated as “the Majesty of Israel and the Question of
the Diaspora,” in which he argued that non-Jews were
“completely evil” and that Jews constituted a separate,
genetically superior species.

The book was condemned by many reform and conservative
rabbis in the US as manifestly racist and incompatible with
normative Jewish religious thinking. However, major Jewish
organizations in Israel and North America, such as Agudat
Yisrael, refused to condemn the book.

In Israel, numerous Orthodox Zionist rabbis, many of them
graduates of and lecturers at Merkaz Harav, continue to
teach the theologically dubious concept that the ten
commandments don’t apply to non-Jews and that, therefore,
the Biblical commandments against committing murder, theft,
and lying don’t cover non-Jews.

For example, Rabbi Dov Lior, Chairman of the Jewish
Rabbinic Council, teaches that “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. This is the real moral behind Israel’s Torah
and we must not feel guilty due to foreign morals,” he was
quoted as saying by the Hebrew newspaper Ma’ariv in 2004.

“A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s
fingernail.”

Lior is not a marginal figure in the Zionist religious
establishment.

I asked Rabbi Menachem Froman, who himself has taught at
Merkaz Harav, about Lior’s religious credentials and he
told me that the man “is considered among the most learned
sages of the Torah.”

Earlier this year, Rabbi David Batsri told followers that
“it is impossible to mix the pure with the impure. They
(the Arabs) are a blight, a devil, a disaster. The Arabs
are donkeys, and we have to ask ourselves why God didn’t
create them to walk on all four. Well, the answer is that
they are needed to build and clean. They don’t have any
place in our school.”

In May, 2007, Mordechai Elyahu, a former Chief Rabbi of
Israel, issued an edict that would permit the Israeli army
to murder hundreds of thousands of Palestinians .

“If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a
thousand. 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.”

I don’t believe that this repulsive extremism represents
true Judaism, the Judaism that is based on the Ten
Commandments.

Jewish traditions relate the story of a heathen who came to
Shammai with the request to be accepted as a convert on
condition that he was taught the whole Torah while he stood
on one foot. Shammai drove him away with the yard-stick he
was holding. Then the man went to Hillel with the same
request. Hillel told the man “what is hateful to yourself
don’t do to your fellow human being. That is the whole of
the Torah and the rest is commentary.”

Unfortunately, the rabbis of religious Zionism, including
the so-called Chabadim who have effectively replaced the
Torah with a notoriously racist manual called “Hatanya,”
pay no attention to such traditions. And when they are
reminded of them, they arrogantly claim that words such as
“man” or “human being” refer solely and exclusively to the
“Jew.”

Besides, it is obvious that these fanatics only select the
most racist and most hateful texts from a huge body of
scriptures, Biblical and Talmudic, while utterly ignoring
and shunning authentic texts, including biblical texts,
that urge Jews to treat kindly and justly non-Jews who live
in their midst.

In addition, one wonders if these so-called religious
leaders and “holy men” understand what it means to rule
that in wartime all holds are barred and there is no such a
thing as enemy civilians.

Well, Adolph Hitler could have made the same argument to
justify his genocidal onslaught against Jews and non-Jews
in Europe?

Finally, I hope that moderate Jewish religious authorities
will move to challenge these extremist rabbis who I am
convinced misrepresent Judaism by presenting it as a
religion of fire and blood and hate. God-fearing rabbis
should make it abundantly clear to Jews in Israel-Palestine
that harming innocent people is wrong.

This is a paramount issue because if the ideology and
theology of Merkaz Harav are allowed to prevail, then
Judaism itself will suffer immensely.

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