It is ironical, given that fundamentalist Christians are those who are most supportive of Israel and the Zionists. Ironical because within Orthodox Judaism there is a virulent anti-Christian strain.
Of course some of this was understandable, given the existence of Christian anti-Semitism you might think, but in fact Talmudic anti-Christian sentiments were a product of the Jews' historic social roles as traders. The contempt for Christianity was on a par with the contempt that the rich have for the poor, in other words a distorted form of class hatred at a time when Jews were, in Abram Leon's words [The Jewish Question, A Marxist Interpretation] a People-Class.
As chance would have it, I was having a debate over this very topic. As is well known the Talmud holds that there is a difference between saving a Jewish life or killing a Jew and saving or not saving a non-Jew or killing them. We have seen that with the recent controversy over Torat Hamelech in Israel – a book which justifies the mass murder of non-Jews.
It's author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, whose arrest was attacked across the religious Zionist spectrum, wrote e.g. this under "Conclusions - Chapter Five: The Killing of Gentiles in War":
"There is a reason to kill babies [on the enemy side] even if they have not transgressed the seven Noahide Laws [to believe in God, not to commit idolatry, murder, theft or adultery, to set up a legal system, and not to tear a limb from a live animal] because of the future danger they may present, since it is assumed that they will grow up to be evil like their parents...."Is there anyone who can honestly say these are not Nazi-like principles? Babies and children can be killed because of the 'future danger they may represent.' Wasn't this exactly the justification for killing Jewish children and babies by the Nazis?
But these view have a long pedigree, albeit in a very different context from today, i.e. it was never possible to carry them out and they therefore fell into disuse like much religious schmatter. The Talmudic principle in general is that Gentiles’ lives must not be saved although it is forbidden to murder them outright. Tractate Avodah Zarah p. 26b expresses this in the saying ‘Gentiles are neither to be lifted [out of a well] nor hauled down [into it]’.
Maimonides [Mishneh Torah, ‘Laws on Murderers’ 4,11 Talmudic Encyclopaedia, ‘Goy’] explained:
‘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 they fellow - but [a Gentile] is not thy fellow.’But of course this fell into disuse and it was disallowed if such behaviour were to cause Jews to come under threat, as it certainly would. It is under Zionism in Israel, that these long fallen into disuse religious commandments have taken on a new life as Jews have power again over non-Jews (Palestinians). These are the religious views that are exterminatory, because those holding these views have power already of life and death over the inhabitants of Gaza. Hamas has no power.
[for more such, see Israel Shahak Jewish History, Jewish Fundamentalism]
Although this article is over 2 years old it is an important one. How hundreds of New Testaments were burned by Orthodox Jews with the encouragement of Or Yehuda’s Mayor. Imagine the uproar if this had been Sifrei Torah.
And note how Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, head of the Har Etzion Yeshiva who came out against the letter of the Chief Rabbi of Safed that Jews shouldn’t rent properties to non-Jews admitted that:
"There is no doubt the arguments in the letter are based on sources from the sages of blessed memory, and generations of halakhic tradition, but the document in general leaves one with the impression that it builds its conclusions on assumptions that reflect a particular, but not the only possible, halakhic approach."His views owed, of course, more to pragmatism, which has always guided the operative principles of Talmudic wisdom rather than any point of principle per se.
And also note how the 'moderate' Rabbi Haim Druckman is against discrimination against 'loyal' Arabs. In other words they face a political purity test of adherence to Zionism. But it was Zionism that led to the discrimination they faced in the first place. Zionism is, after all, about achieving a pure Jewish state. So there aren't too many Zionist Arabs around! Druckmann's is a nice compromise. You keep the discrimination and ban on renting to Arabs but the excuse changes - a bit!!
20.05.08. Associated Press
Orthodox Jews set fire to hundreds of copies of the New Testament in the latest act of violence against Christian missionaries in the Holy Land.
Or Yehuda Deputy Mayor Uzi Aharon said missionaries recently entered a neighborhood in the predominantly religious town of 34,000 in central Israel, distributing hundreds of New Testaments and missionary material.
After receiving complaints, Aharon said, he got into a loudspeaker car last Thursday and drove through the neighborhood, urging people to turn over the material to Jewish religious students who went door to door to collect it.
"The books were dumped into a pile and set afire in a lot near a synagogue," he said.
The newspaper Maariv reported Tuesday that hundreds of yeshiva students took part in the book-burning. But Aharon told The Associated Press that only a few students were present, and that he was not there when the books were torched.
"Not all of the New Testaments that were collected were burned, but hundreds were," he said.
He said he regretted the burning of the books, but called it a commandment to burn materials that urge Jews to convert.
"I certainly don't denounce the burning of the booklets, he said. I denounce those who distributed the booklets."
Jews worship from the Old Testament, including the Five Books of Moses and the writings of the ancient prophets. Christians revere the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, which contains the ministry of Jesus.
Calev Myers, an attorney who represents Messianic Jews, or Jews who accept Jesus as their savior, demanded in an interview with Army Radio that all those involved be put on trial. He estimated there were 10,000 Messianic Jews, who are also known as Jews for Jesus, in Israel.
Police had no immediate comment.
Israeli authorities and Orthodox Jews frown on missionary activity aimed at Jews, though in most cases it is not illegal. Still, the concept of a Jew burning books is abhorrent to many in Israel because of the association with Nazis torching piles of Jewish books during the Holocaust of World War II.
Earlier this year, the teenage son of a prominent Christian missionary was seriously wounded when a package bomb delivered to the family's West Bank home went off in his hands.
Last year, arsonists burst into a Jerusalem church used by Messianic Jews and set the building on fire, raising suspicions that Jewish extremists were behind the attack. No one claimed responsibility, but the same church was burned down 25 years ago by ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremists.
Rabbi Druckman seeks compromise on rabbinic ban against leasing to Arabs, says there is a difference between 'loyal Arabs' and 'Israel-hating Arabs'.
By Yair Ettinger, Chaim Levinson and Ilan Lior
Rabbi Chaim Druckman, a moderate religious Zionist leader, is working to achieve a compromise on the controversy surrounding the banning of Jews from selling or leasing property to Arabs, as proclaimed by 50 prominent rabbis last week. [it is worth pointing out that a few years ago Rabbi Druckmann was considered an extreme racist settler rabbi - that he is now called a 'moderate' is a sign of how the climate is changing]
Druckman is proposing an alternative that would distinguish between "loyal Arabs" and "Israel-hating rabbis."
Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein came out against the rabbis’ letter.
Druckman says a "loyal Arab" must have equal rights, but "Israel-haters" should be ostracized. He opposed the sweeping ruling of the 50 rabbis. Names of potential signatories to Drukman's letter are expected to be released later this week.
Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, head of the Har Etzion Yeshiva and another moderate religious Zionist leader, also came out against the letter.
In an article published in his yeshiva's internal newsletter, Lichtenstein tries to undermine the halakhic argument of the original letter, and wonders why the authors could not anticipate the outrage it provoked. He notes the criticism of the ultra-Orthodox rabbis in the wake of the letter and "attacks from left and right on the religious-nationalist rabbis."
"Particular grief was caused to the community of those loyal to the Torah and fearful about the stature and character of the state, and to the peacefulness of the spiritual leaders laboring to make the Torah loved, to stay loyal to the halakha, and aspiring to build the state on the foundation of tradition," he says.
"There is no doubt the arguments in the letter are based on sources from the sages of blessed memory, and generations of halakhic tradition, but the document in general leaves one with the impression that it builds its conclusions on assumptions that reflect a particular, but not the only possible, halakhic approach."Lichtenstein highlights the commandment prohibiting housing to non-Jews or idol-worshipers in the Holy Land. He lists four examples of misinterpretation in the letter, and of the authors ignoring other opinions in the Gemara and halakha. He says the ruling that anyone selling an apartment to a Gentile must be ostracized "is completely false."
"We should state the obvious: In the balance are key questions .... The readiness and ability to consider extensive factors linked to halakhic content and their connection to historic and social reality necessitate a wider discussion."
Meanwhile, the Tel Aviv city council has unilaterally endorsed a motion by Meretz's Ahmed Mashharawi to denounce the rabbis' letter. "I'm proud to be the resident of a mixed, pluralist city that has a place for all religions and nationalities," Mashharawi said.
See also Alleged Bomber of Christian Boy in Israel to Stand Trial