According to his profile on the United Synagogue, Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet is the Rabbi for Mill Hill Synagogue and Principal of the Rosh Pinah Jewish Primary School in Edgware.
He is a columnist for the Jewish News and Diary Rabbi for The Guardian. He lectures extensively throughout the country as well as abroad, and is married with four children. He is also a member of Lubavitch, a racist and extremist Jewish sect which is growing as British Jewry becomes both smaller and more Orthodox.
But Shochet likes to portray a friendly, even liberal persona, especially to gullible Gentiles (non-Jews). He is what you call media friendly and that was where I met him. It was the last edition of Big Questions hosted by Nicki Campbell, though I understand a new edition begins again in January 2011. The programme I was booked for was plagued by technical problems and in the end was not broadcast but it was recorded in Leicester in the wake of the murder of 9 human rights activists on the Mavi Marmara. The Zionists, led by Shochet, who was a panellist (Big Questions never has an anti-Zionist on the panel) tried to bait one of the survivors of the MM, Alex, for being ‘anti-semitic’. The usual nonsense of course.
In the course of the programme, which was not broadcast, I pointed out that 20 Israeli Jews had died in 7 years of ‘rocket attacks’ from Gaza, compared to some 7,000+ Palestinians. A ratio that even the Nazis didn’t manage in Yugoslavia where it was usually 100 Jews who were killed for every Nazi who died.
Shochet and Jonathan Hoffman of the Zionist Federation shrieked. It is the principle they cried. Presumably the principle being that Jewish blood is invaluable compared to its non-Jewish equivalent.
After the programme I was talking to someone and Rabbi Schochet walked by. I jocularly pointed out that Shochet was a member of Lubavitch, the racist Jewish sect which believes that Jewish life is more precious than non-Jewish life. I asked him whether it was right that the Jewish Oral Law, the Halacha, didn’t treat the killing of Jews and non-Jews as the same. ‘I don’t know what you are talking about’ said the normally unflappable Schochet. Lying comes naturally to these people. ‘This is a Tower of Babel’ he said as he ran off - presumably he wanted me to speak in a foreign language that non-Jews couldn't understand, because historically the Talmud does indeed rank non-Jews as inferior. That is why a book of Dispensations was drawn up in the diaspora which contained all the foulest excrescences because it was feared that if non-Jews learnt what Jews really thought about them they may pose a danger to Jews.
For those who are interested, the details of all this can be found in 'Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel' by the late Professor Israel Shahak of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a childhood survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and Belsen, and Norton Mezvinsky. [Pluto Press, 1999]
Over time of course these sayings fell into disuse. Jews weren’t willing to follow the chauvinism of their rabbis. There was nothing unique of course in this. The New Testament and the Quoran also have passages that are chauvinist and today, in the context of state policy, would undoubtedly be deemed racist. But we don't have Christian or Islamic states today that privilege Christians or Muslims over others. Iran oppresses its own Muslims in the name of Islam. Jews are relatively free in that country.
But we have a Jewish state, whose whole existence is predicated on the expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinians. Jewish rabbis provide the ideological legitimation which is why, when Lubavitch Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, author of the King’s Torah, a book devoted to justifying the murder even of Arab babies, was arrested there was an outcry among the Orthodox.
Shochet of course is a Lubavitch Rabbi and he is not the only one. In Britain he preaches tolerance and even took exception recently to the racism of Israel's immigration minister who had been warmly applauded by the BNP. He is all sweetness and light but he is also a member of one of the nastiest and most virulently racist Jewish sects. In other words, he is a hypocrite.
How To Kill Goyim And Influence People: Leading Israeli Rabbis Defend Manual for For Killing Non-Jews
On 08.31.10, By Max Blumenthall
When I went into the Jewish religious book emporium, Pomeranz, in central Jerusalem to inquire about the availability of a book called Torat Ha’Melech, or the King’s Torah, a commotion immediately ensued. “Are you sure you want it?” the owner, M. Pomeranz, asked me half-jokingly. “The Shabak [Israel's internal security service] is going to want a word with you if you do.” As customers stopped browsing and began to stare in my direction, Pomeranz pointed to a security camera affixed to a wall. “See that?” he told me. “It goes straight to the Shabak!”
As soon as it was published late last year Torat Ha’Melech sparked a national uproar. The controversy began when an Israeli tabloid panned the book’s contents as “230 pages on the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews, a kind of guidebook for anyone who ponders the question of if and when it is permissible to take the life of a non-Jew.” According to the book’s author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, “Non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and should be killed in order to “curb their evil inclinations.” “If we kill a gentile who has has violated one of the seven commandments… there is nothing wrong with the murder,” Shapira insisted. Citing Jewish law as his source (or at least a very selective interpretation of it) he declared: “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.”
“Non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and should be killed in order to “curb their evil inclinations.” “If we kill a gentile who has has violated one of the seven commandments… there is nothing wrong with the 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.” Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, Torat Ha’Melech (The King's Torah)In January, Shapira was briefly detained by the Israeli police, while two leading rabbis who endorsed the book, Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef, were summoned to interrogations by the Shabak. However, the rabbis refused to appear at the interrogations, essentially thumbing their noses at the state and its laws. And the government did nothing. The episode raised grave questions about the willingness of the Israeli government to confront the ferociously racist swathe of the country’s rabbinate. “Something like this has never happened before, even though it seems as if everything possible has already happened,” Israeli commentator Yossi Sarid remarked with astonishment. “Two rabbis [were] summoned to a police investigation, and announc[ed] that they will not go. Even settlers are kind enough to turn up.”
In response to the rabbis’ public rebuke of the state’s legal system, the Israeli Attorney General and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kept silent. Indeed, since the publication of Torat Ha’Melech, Netanyahu has strenuously avoided criticizing its contents or the author’s leading supporters. Like so many prime ministers before him, he has been cowed into submission by Israel’s religious nationalist community. But Netanyahu appears to be particularly impotent. His weakness stems from the fact that the religious nationalist right figures prominently in his governing coalition and comprises a substantial portion of his political base. For Netanyahu, a confrontation with the rabid rabbis could amount to political suicide, or could force him into an alliance with centrist forces who do not share his commitment to the settlement enterprise in the West Bank.
On August 18, a pantheon of Israel’s top fundamentalist rabbis flaunted their political power during an ad hoc congress they convened at Jerusalem’s Ramada Renaissance hotel. Before an audience of 250 supporters including the far-right Israeli Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari, the rabbis declared in the name of the Holy Torah that would not submit to any attempt by the government to regulate their political activities — even and especially if those activities included inciting terrorist attacks against non-Jews. As one wizened rabbi after another rose up to inveigh against the government’s investigation of Torat Ha’Melech until his voice grew hoarse, the gathering degenerated into calls for murdering not just non-Jews, but secular Jews as well.
“The obligation to sacrifice your life is above all others when fighting those who wish to destroy the authority of the Torah,” bellowed Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira, head of the yeshiva in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. “It is not only true against non-Jews who are trying to destroy it but against Jewish people from any side.”
The government-funded terror academy
The disturbing philosophy expressed in Torat Ha’Melech emerged from the fevered atmosphere of a settlement called Yitzhar located in the northern West Bank near the Palestinian city of Nablus. Shapira leads the settlement’s Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, holding sway over a small army of fanatics who are eager to lash out at the Palestinians tending to their crops and livestock in the valleys below them. One of Shapira’s followers, an American immigrant named Jack Teitel, has confessed to murdering two innocent Palestinians and attempting to the kill the liberal Israeli historian Ze’ev Sternhell with a mail bomb. Teitel is suspected of many more murders, including an attack on a Tel Aviv gay community center.
Despite its apparent role as a terror training institute, Od Yosef Chai has raked in nearly fifty thousand dollars from the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs since 2007, while the Ministry of Education has pumped over 250 thousand dollars into the yeshiva’s coffers between 2006 and 2007. The yeshiva has also benefited handsomely from donations from a tax-exempt American non-profit called the Central Fund of Israel. Located inside the Marcus Brothers Textiles store in midtown Manhattan, the Central Fund transferred at least thirty thousand to Od Yosef Chai between 2007 and 2008.
Though he does not name “the enemy” in the pages of his book, Shapira’s longstanding connection to terrorist attacks against Palestinian civilians exposes the true identity of his targets. In 2006, Shapira was briefly held by Israeli police for urging his supporters to murder all Palestinians over the age of 13. Two years later, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz, he signed a rabbinical letter in support of Israeli Jews who had brutally assaulted two Arab youths on the country’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. That same year, Shapira was arrested under suspicion that he helped orchestrate a rocket attack against a Palestinian village near Nablus. Though he was released, Shapira’s name arose in connection with another act of terror, when in January, the Israeli police raided his settlement seeking the vandals who set fire to a nearby mosque. After arresting ten settlers, the Shabak held five of Shapira’s confederates under suspicion of arson.
Friends in high places
Despite his longstanding involvement in terrorism, or perhaps because of it, Shapira counts Israel’s leading fundamentalist rabbis among his supporters. His most well-known backer is Dov Lior the leader of the Shavei-Hevron yeshiva at Kiryat Arba, a radical Jewish settlement near the occupied Palestinian city of Hebron and a hotbed of Jewish terrorism. Lior has vigorously endorsed Torat Ha’Melech, calling it “very relevant, especially in this time.”
Lior’s enthusiasm for Shapira’s tract stems from his own eliminationist attitude toward non-Jews. For example, while Lior served as the IDF’s top rabbi, he instructed soldiers: “There is no such thing as civilians in wartime… A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail!” Indeed, there are only a few non-Jews whose lives Lior would demand to be spared. They are captured Palestinian militants who, as he once suggested, could be used as subjects for live human medical experiments.
“There is no such thing as civilians in wartime… A thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail!” Rabbi Dov Lior of the Yesha Council & Kiryat ArbaOtherwise, Lior appears content to watch Palestinians perish as they did at the muzzle of Dr. Baruch Goldstein’s machine gun in 1994. Goldstein, who massacred 29 Palestinians and wounded 150 in a shooting spree while they prayed in Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs mosque, was a compatriot and neighbor of Lior in the settlement of Kiryat Arba. At Goldstein’s funeral, Lior celebrated the massacre as an act carried out “to sanctify the holy name of God.” He then extolled Goldstein as “a righteous man.” Thanks to Lior’s efforts, a shrine to Goldstein was constructed in center of Kiryat Arba so that locals could celebrate the killer’s deeds and pass his legacy down to future generations.
Though Lior’s inflammatory statements resulted in his being barred from running for election to the Supreme Rabbinical Council, according to journalist Daniel Estrin, the rabbi remains “a respected figure among many mainstream Zionists.” By extension, he maintains considerable influence among religious elements in the IDF. In 2008, when the IDF’s chief rabbi, Brigadier General Avichai Ronski, brought a group of military intelligence officers to Hebron for a special tour, he concluded the day with a private meeting with Lior, who was allowed to revel the officers with his views on modern warfare — “no such thing as civilians in wartime.”
Besides Lior, Torat Ha’Melech has earned support from another nationally prominent fundamentalist rabbi: Yaakov Yosef. Yosef is the leader of the Hazon Yaakov Yeshiva in Jerusalem and a former member of Knesset. Perhaps more significantly, he is the son of Ovadiah Yosef, the former chief rabbi of Israel and spiritual leader of the Shas Party that forms a key segment of Netanyahu’s governing coalition.
Yaakov Yosef has brought his influence to bear in defense of Torat Ha’Melech, insisting at the August 18 convention in Jerusalem that the book was no different than the Hagadah that all Jews read from on the holiday of Passover. The Hagadah contains passages about killing non-Jews and so does the Bible, Yosef reminded his audience. “Does anyone want to change the Bible?” he asked.
Only days before direct negotiations in Washington between Israel and the Palestinian Authority planned for early September, Yaakov Yosef’s 89-year-old father, Ovadiah delivered his weekly sermon. With characteristic vitriol, he declared: “All these evil people should perish from this world… God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians.”
The remarks have sparked an international furor and earned a stern rebuke from Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. “While the PLO is ready to resume negotiations in seriousness and good faith,” Erekat remarked, “a member of the Israeli government is calling for our destruction.”
Palestinian Israeli member of Knesset Jamal Zehalka subsequently demanded that the Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein put Yosef on trial for incitement. “If, heaven forbid, a Muslim spiritual leader were to make anti-Jewish comments of this sort,” Zehalka said, “he would be arrested immediately.”
“If, heaven forbid, a Muslim spiritual leader were to make anti-Jewish comments of this sort,” Zehalka said, “he would be arrested immediately.” Jamal Zehalka, Knesset Member for Balad.Here was a perfect opportunity for Netanyahu to demonstrate sincerity about negotiations by shedding an extremist ally in the name of securing peace. All he had to do was forcefully reject Yosef’s genocidal comments — a feat made all the easier by the White House’s condemnation of the rabbi. But the Israeli Prime Minister ducked for political cover instead, issuing a canned statement through his office. “Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef’s remarks do not reflect Netanyahu’s views,” the statement read, “nor do they reflect the position of the Israeli government.”
Thus on the eve of peace negotiations, Bibi chose political expediency over condemning the murderous oath of a coalition partner.
Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, head of the Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva, released from police custody hours after being arrested for encouraging the killing of non-Jews.
By Chaim Levinson • Ha'aretz
Police released the head rabbi of a prominent yeshiva yesterday hours after arresting him for encouraging to kill non-Jews.
Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, head of the Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva and author of "The King's Torah," was arrested early yesterday morning at his home in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. His book describes how it is possible to kill non-Jews according to halakha (Jewish religious law ).
Detectives first carried out a search at the yeshiva, where they confiscated 30 copies of the book. The investigation and arrest were carried out on the orders of Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan.
The preface of the book, which was published in November, states that it is forbidden to kill non-Jews - but the book then apparently describes the context in which it is permitted to do so.
According to Shapira, it is permissible to kill a non-Jew who threatens Israel even if the person is classified as a Righteous Gentile. His book says that any gentile who supports war against Israel can also be killed.
Killing the children of a leader in order to pressure him, the rabbi continues, is also permissible. In general, according to the book, it is okay to kill children if they "stand in the way - children are often doing this." "They stand in the way of rescue in their presence and they are doing this without wanting to," he writes. "Nonetheless, killing them is allowed because their presence supports murder. There is justification in harming infants if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us. Under such circumstances the blow can be directed at them and not only by targeting adults."
The daily Maariv's report on the book was immediately followed by calls for Shapira's arrest and a petition was filed with the High Court of Justice for a ban on the book's distribution. The petition was rejected as premature.
The rabbi's arrest has stirred angry responses on both the left and right. "The police did well to initiate an investigation," attorney Lila Margalit of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said. "Incitement for racist violence seriously undermines human rights and it should not be ignored. However, it is not entirely clear whether the arrest was justified in this case."
She added that the tendency in Israel is to "overuse" arrests, and in cases where there is no justification for it.
A spokesman for Yitzhar said: "Once more we are seeing rabbis being gagged and serious damage inflicted to their honor, along with the razing of homes in the settlements."
See also and Religious Zionist Rabbis Plan Mass Gathering In Support Of Rightist Rabbis Who Refused To Answer Police Summons
Following outrage in religious public over police summoning of rabbis who endorsed controversial book permitting killing of gentiles, Religious Zionism leaders organize mass support conference 'in honor of Torah, entrenchment of its independence'
Akiva Novick • Ynet
The summoning of Rabbis Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef for police questioning stirred outrage among the religious and haredi public, and now the Religious Zionist Movement plans to hold a large gathering in support of the two, with the attendance of hundreds of rabbis.
Last week the two rabbis were summoned for questioning – but refused to appear – after endorsing Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira's controversial book, "Torat Hamelech", in which he presented a halachic perspective on the killing of gentiles, including women and children.
The organizing rabbis published a notice in the religious papers' weekend edition titled "Conference for the Torah's Independence," in which they invite the city rabbis, yeshivas heads, and rabbis of all communities and neighborhoods to attend the special gathering at the Ramada Renaissance hotel in Jerusalem.
The notice was signed by "the eldest rabbis" of the Religious Zionist Movement across the spectrum, including Rabbis Yaacov Ariel, Chaim Drukman and Shmuel Eliyahu.
In an unusual step, two of the senior haredi-Sephardic yeshiva heads also joined the call – Head of Porat Yosef Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehuda Mualem, which is considered the flagship of haredi-Sephardic yeshivas (Rabbi Ovadia Yosef among its former students), and Head of Kisse Rahamim Yeshiva Rabbi Meir Mazuz, who is regarded as the rabbi of all exiled Tunisian Jews across the world.
"In light of the summoning for police investigation of the brilliant rabbis, of highest rabbinical religious authority in our times, Rabbis Lior Shalita and Yaakov Yosef Shalita, we thought it right to invite all of Israel's rabbis to a conference of rabbis and scholars in honor of the Torah and the entrenchment of its independence," read the notice.
"Without addressing the content of the book, we cannot agree in any way to the denial of scholar independence on matters pertaining to the Torah," wrote the rabbis.
On Monday Rabbis Lior and Yosef explained their support for the book: "The Torah is not open to investigation," they wrote. "The attempts to stop Israel's rabbis from expressing their opinions, the Torah's opinions, using fear and threats, is a grave act and will not succeed.
"A regime that acts in this manner joins the evil regimes which have forbidden the study of the Torah and raised their hands against it. We therefore declare that we intend not to come to be questioned," they concluded.
The rabbis' letter was submitted along with the signatures of over 50 rabbis, including city rabbis and yeshiva heads.
Head of Yeshivat Or Etzion Rabbi Chaim Drukman, who is among the moderate leaders of the Religious Zionist rabbis and Chairman of the Union of Hesder Yeshivot, addressed Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein over the weekend and urged him to cancel the investigation summons.
Throughout the week, Rabbi Drukman slammed the decision to summon the rabbis and said police should not investigate rabbis, and rabbis should not appear for questioning.
"Would they also investigate Rabbi Ovadia Yosef? Do they summon professors in the academia who call to boycott Israel and IDF commanders? Academic freedom should be extended to rabbis expressing the Torah's word," he said.
by Jesse Bacon
Max Blumenthal exposes some religious leaders calling for the actual killing of babies and other Palestinians, a far worse rehtorical offense then “failing to condemn terrorism.”
According to the book's author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, 'Non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature' and should be killed in order to 'curb their evil inclinations. If we kill a gentile who has has violated one of the seven commandments… there is nothing wrong with the murder,' Shapira insisted. Citing Jewish law as his source (or at least a very selective interpretation of it) he declared: '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.'
But because the religious leaders in question are Jewish, the Israeli government seems powerless to do much. When the spirtual leader of Shas, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef made similar statements about killing Palestinians. “God should strike them with a plague, them [leaders like Mahmoud Abbas] and these Palestinians,” Yosef's son had endorsed the book mentioned above. Netanyahu responded with a disclaimer that the views of his own coalition member, the fifth largest party in Parliament, are not the views of his government. Blumenthal calls this statement, “not only weak. It was false.” To paraphrase Dante Atkins' Daily Kos post which asked the same question about General “My god was bigger than his god” Boykin, who would you rather have build a community center in your neighborhood, Shapira or Imam Rauf? And whose views sound closer to those of Al-Qaeeda? And while Rauf is well-connected and even serves as a government envoy, he is far from the spirtual leader of a major political party. And yet Hamas is excluded from the direct talks, while Shas is able to participate, an imbalance that is just one of the many reasons these talks are doomed.
Blumenthal reports on the following thought experiment, Palestinian Israeli member of Knesset Jamal Zehalka subsequently demanded that the Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein put Yosef on trial for incitement. 'If, heaven forbid, a Muslim spiritual leader were to make anti-Jewish comments of this sort,' Zehalka said, “he would be arrested immediately.'
Stanley Fish describes the double standard well in the New York Times. The formula is simple and foolproof (although those who deploy it so facilely seem to think we are all fools): If the bad act is committed by a member of a group you wish to demonize, attribute it to a community or a religion and not to the individual. But if the bad act is committed by someone whose profile, interests and agendas are uncomfortably close to your own, detach the malefactor from everything that is going on or is in the air (he came from nowhere) and characterize him as a one-off, non-generalizable, sui generis phenomenon.
Finally, James D. Besser blogs in New York's Jewish week about the need for Jewish American leaders to condemn Yosef's remarks. And wonder of wonders, the Anti Defamation League was the first to do so. Now if they would just condemn the abusive actions of the Israeli Governments, not just the abusive words of its members.
Forward, January 20, 2010The marble-patterned, hardcover book embossed with gold Hebrew letters looks like any other religious commentary you’d find in an Orthodox Judaica bookstore — but reads like a rabbinic instruction manual outlining acceptable scenarios for killing non-Jewish babies, children and adults.
By Daniel Estrin
By Daniel Estrin
“The prohibition ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder’” applies only “to a Jew who kills a Jew,” write Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. Non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and attacks on them “curb their evil inclination,” while babies and children of Israel’s enemies may be killed since “it is clear that they will grow to harm us.”
“The King’s Torah (Torat Hamelech), Part One: Laws of Life and Death between Israel and the Nations,” a 230-page compendium of Halacha, or Jewish religious law, published by the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar, garnered a front-page exposé in the Israeli tabloid Ma’ariv, which called it the stuff of “Jewish terror.” Now, the yeshiva is in the news again, with a January 18 raid on Yitzhar by more than 100 Israeli security officials who forcibly entered Od Yosef Chai and arrested 10 Jewish settlers. The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, suspects five of those arrested were involved in the torching and vandalizing of a Palestinian mosque last month in the neighboring Palestinian village of Yasuf. The arson provoked an international outcry and condemnation by Israeli religious figures, including Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who visited the village to personally voice his regret.
Yet, both Metzger and his Sephardic counterpart, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, have declined to comment on the book, which debuted in November, while other prominent rabbis have endorsed it — among them, the son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Sephardic Jewry’s preeminent leader. Also, despite the precedent set by previous Israeli attorneys general in the last decade and a half to file criminal charges against settler rabbis who publish commentaries supporting violence against non-Jews, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has so far remained mum about “The King’s Torah.”
“Sometimes the public arena deals with the phenomenon and things become settled by themselves,” Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen told the Forward.
A coalition of religious Zionist groups, the “Twelfth of Heshvan,”—– named after the Hebrew date of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, has asked Israel’s Supreme Court to order Mazuz to confiscate the books and arrest its authors.
“You open the book, and you feel that you read a halachic book. And it’s a trap,” said Gadi Gvaryahu, a religious Jewish educator who heads the coalition. It was, in fact, “a guidebook [on] how to kill,” he charged.
Family members who answered phone calls placed to the homes of both authors said they did not wish to comment.
In 2008, author Shapira was suspected of involvement in a crude rocket attack directed at a Palestinian village. Israeli police investigated but made no arrests.
Co-author Elitzur wrote an article in a religious bulletin a month after the book’s release saying that “the Jews will win with violence against the Arabs.”
In 2003, the head of the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, was charged by then-Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein with incitement to racism for authoring a book calling Arabs a “cancer.”
In 2006-2007, the Israeli Ministry of Education gave about a quarter of a million dollars to the yeshiva, and in 2007-2008 the yeshiva received about $28,000 from the American nonprofit Central Fund of Israel.
“The King’s Torah” reflects a fringe viewpoint held by a minority of rabbis in the West Bank, said Avinoam Rosenak, a Hebrew University professor specializing in settler theology. Asher Cohen, a Bar Ilan University political science professor, thought its influence would be “zero” because it appeals only to extreme ideologues.
But the book’s wide dissemination and the enthusiastic endorsements of prominent rabbis have spotlighted what might have otherwise remained an isolated commentary.
At the entrance to Moriah, a large Jewish bookstore steps from the Western Wall, copies of “The King’s Torah” were displayed with children’s books and other halachic commentaries. The store manager, who identified himself only as Motti, said the tome has sold “excellently.” Other stores carrying the book include Robinson Books, a well-known, mostly secular bookshop in a hip Tel Aviv shopping district; Pomeranz Bookseller, a major Jewish book emporium near the Ben Yehuda mall in downtown Jerusalem; and Felhendler, a Judaica store on the main artery of secular Rehovot, home of the Weizmann Institute.
The yeshiva declined to comment on publication statistics. But Itzik, a Tel Aviv-area book distributor hired by the yeshiva who declined to give his last name because of the book’s nature, said the yeshiva had sold 1,000 copies to individuals and bookstores countrywide. He said an additional 1,000 copies were now being printed.
Mendy Feldheim, owner of Feldheim Publishers, Israel’s largest Judaica publishing house, said he considered this a “nice” sales figure for a tome of rabbinic Halacha in Israel. He said his own company, which distributes to 200 bookstores nationwide, is not distributing “The King’s Torah” because the book’s publishers did not approach the company.
Prominent religious figures wrote letters of endorsement that preface the book. Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, son of former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, blessed the authors and wrote that many “disciples of Torah are unfamiliar with these laws.” The elder Yosef has not commented on his son’s statement.
Dov Lior, chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba and a respected figure among many mainstream religious Zionists, noted that the book is “very relevant especially in this time.”
Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, one of the country’s most respected rabbinic commentators, initially endorsed the book, but rescinded his approval a month after its release, saying that the book includes statements that “have no place in human intelligence.”
A handful of settler rabbis echoed Goldberg’s censure, including Shlomo Aviner, chief rabbi of Beit El and head of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim, who said he had “no patience” to read the book, and spoke out against it to his students.
Previously, Israel has arrested settler rabbis who publish commentaries supporting the killing of non-Jews. In addition to Ginsburgh, the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva head, in 1994, the government jailed Rabbi Ido Elba of Hebron for writing a 26-page article proclaiming it a “mitzva to kill every non-Jew from the nation that is fighting the Jew, even women and children.”
“The atmosphere has changed,” said Yair Sheleg, senior researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute, who specializes in issues of religion and state. Previous governments took a tougher stance against such publications, he said, but “paradoxically, because the tension between the general settler population and the Israeli judicial system…is high now, the attorney general is careful not to heighten the tension.”
It is not uncommon for some settler rabbis, in the unique conditions of West Bank settlement life, to issue religious decrees, or psakim, that diverge from normative Jewish practice. In 2008, Avi Gisser, considered a moderate rabbi from the settlement of Ofra, ruled that Jews may violate Sabbath laws and hire non-Jews to build hilltop settlements. And in 2002, Yediot Aharanot reported that former Israeli Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu sanctioned Jewish harvesting of Palestinian-owned olive trees.
LATEST UPDATE — August 30 2010:
Max Blumenthal reports from a conference supporting the rabbi (older updates at bottom.)
The ultra-fundamentalist Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar is infamous for its involvement in settler violence against Palestinians. Memorably, one of the students fired a homemade “Kassam” rocket at the neighboring village of Burin in June 2008. This morning, Maariv reports that the Yeshiva’s dean has just published on the proscribed dos and don’ts (mainly the former) regarding the killing of gentiles. Here are some choice excerpts.
“In any situation in which a non-Jew’s presence endangers Jewish lives, the non-Jew may be killed even if he is a righteous Gentile and not at all guilty for the situation that has been created…When a non-Jew assists a murderer of Jews and causes the death of one, he may be killed, and in any case where a non-Jew’s presence causes danger to Jews, the non-Jew may be killed…The [Din Rodef] dispensation applies even when the pursuer is not threatening to kill directly, but only indirectly…Even a civilian who assists combat fighters is considered a pursuer and may be killed. Anyone who assists the army of the wicked in any way is strengthening murderers and is considered a pursuer. A civilian who encourages the war gives the king and his soldiers the strength to continue. Therefore, any citizen of the state that opposes us who encourages the combat soldiers or expresses satisfaction over their actions is considered a pursuer and may be killed. Also, anyone who weakens our own state by word or similar action is considered a pursuer…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.”…In a chapter entitled “Deliberate harm to innocents,” the book explains that war is directled mainly against the pursuers, but those who belong to the enemy nation are also considered the enemy because they are assisting murderers.
When is it permissible to kill non-Jews? The book Torat ha-Melekh [The King’s Teaching], which was just published, was written by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, the dean of the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in the community of Yitzhar near Nablus, together with another rabbi from the yeshiva, Yossi Elitzur. The book contains no fewer 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.
Although the book is not being distributed by the leading book companies, it has already received warm recommendations from right-wing elements, including recommendations from important rabbis such as Yitzhak Ginsburg, Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef, that were printed at the beginning of the book. The book is being distributed via the Internet and through the yeshiva, and at this stage the introductory price is NIS 30 per copy. At the memorial ceremony that was held over the weekend in Jerusalem for Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was killed nineteen years ago, copies of the book were sold.
Throughout the book, the authors deal with in-depth theoretical questions in Jewish religious law regarding the killing of non-Jews. The words “Arabs” and “Palestinians” are not mentioned even indirectly, and the authors are careful to avoid making explicit statements in favor of an individual taking the law into his own hands. The book includes hundreds of sources from the Bible and religious law. The book includes quotes from Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, one of the fathers of religious Zionism, and from Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli, one of the deans of the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, the stronghold of national-religious Zionism that is located in Jerusalem.
The book opens with a prohibition against killing non-Jews and justifies it, among other things, on the grounds of preventing hostility and any desecration of God’s name. But very quickly, the authors move from prohibition to permission, to the various dispensations for harming non-Jews, with the central reason being their obligation to uphold the seven Noahide laws, which every human being on earth must follow. Among these commandments are prohibitions on theft, bloodshed and idolatry. [The seven Noahide laws prohibit idolatry, murder, theft, illicit sexual relations, blasphemy and eating the flesh of a live animal, and require societies to institute just laws and law courts]
“When we approach a non-Jew who has violated the seven Noahide laws and kill him out of concern for upholding these seven laws, no prohibition has been violated,” states the book, which emphasizes that killing is forbidden unless it is done in obedience to a court ruling. But later on, the authors limit the prohibition, noting that it applies only to a “proper system that deals with non-Jews who violate the seven Noahide commandments.”
The book includes another conclusion that explains when a non-Jew may be killed even if he is not an enemy of the Jews. “In any situation in which a non-Jew’s presence endangers Jewish lives, the non-Jew may be killed even if he is a righteous Gentile and not at all guilty for the situation that has been created,” the authors state. “When a non-Jew assists a murderer of Jews and causes the death of one, he may be killed, and in any case where a non-Jew’s presence causes danger to Jews, the non-Jew may be killed.” When a non-Jew assists a murderer of Jews and causes the death of one, he may be killed, and in any case where a non-Jew’s presence causes danger to Jews, the non-Jew may be killed…
One of the dispensations for killing non-Jews, according to religious law, applies in a case of din rodef [the law of the “pursuer,” according to which one who is pursuing another with murderous intent may be killed extrajudicially] even when the pursuer is a civilian. “The dispensation applies even when the pursuer is not threatening to kill directly, but only indirectly,” the book states. “Even a civilian who assists combat fighters is considered a pursuer and may be killed. Anyone who assists the army of the wicked in any way is strengthening murderers and is considered a pursuer. A civilian who encourages the war gives the king and his soldiers the strength to continue. Therefore, any citizen of the state that opposes us who encourages the combat soldiers or expresses satisfaction over their actions is considered a pursuer and may be killed. Also, anyone who weakens our own state by word or similar action is considered a pursuer.”
Rabbis Shapira and Elitzur determine that children may also be harmed because they are “hindrances.” The rabbis write as follows: “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.”
In addition, 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. “It is better to kill the pursuers than to kill others,” the authors state.
In a chapter entitled “Deliberate harm to innocents,” the book explains that war is directly mainly against the pursuers, but those who belong to the enemy nation are also considered the enemy because they are assisting murderers.
Retaliation also has a place and purpose in this book by Rabbis Shapira and Elitzur. “In order to defeat the enemy, we must behave toward them in a spirit of retaliation and measure for measure,” they state. “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.”
In one of the footnotes, the two rabbis write in such a way that appears to permit individuals to act on their own, outside of any decision by the government or the army.
“A decision by the nation is not necessary to permit shedding the blood of the evil kingdom,” the rabbis write. “Even individuals from the nation being attacked may harm them.”
Unlike books of religious law that are published by yeshivas, this time the rabbis added a chapter containing the book’s conclusions. Each of the six chapters is summarized into main points of several lines, which state, among other things:
“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 Noahide laws, because of the future danger that will be caused if they are allowed to grow up to be as wicked as their parents.”Even though the authors are careful, as stated, to use the term “non-Jews,” there are certainly those who could interpret the nationality of the “non-Jews” who are liable to endanger the Jewish people. This is strengthened by the leaflet “The Jewish Voice,” which is published on the Internet from Yitzhar, which comments on the book: “It is superfluous to note that nowhere in the book is it written that the statements are directly only to the ancient non-Jews.” The leaflet’s editors did not omit a stinging remark directed at the GSS, who will certainly take the trouble to get themselves a copy. “The editors suggest to the GSS that they award the prize for Israel’s security to the authors,” the leaflet states, “who gave the detectives the option of reading the summarized conclusions without any need for in-depth study of the entire book.”
One student of the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in Yitzhar explained, from his point of view, where Rabbis Shapira and Elitzur got the courage to speak so freely on a subject such as the killing of non-Jews. “The rabbis aren’t afraid of prosecution because in that case, Maimonides [Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, 1135–1204] and Nahmanides [Rabbi Moses ben Nahman, 1194–1270] would have to stand trial too, and anyway, this is research on religious law,” the yeshiva student said. “In a Jewish state, nobody sits in jail for studying Torah.”