Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Israel okays book licensing murder of non-Jews

[Originally posted at NOW Lebanon]

And for today’s sermon, let’s take a dip into the collected wisdom of West Bank Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, as published in their 2009 opus, Torat Hamelech (“The King’s Torah”):

“Anywhere where the influence of gentiles [non-Jews] constitutes a threat to the life of Israel, it is permissible to kill them.”

“When we approach a gentile who has violated the seven laws of Noah and kill him out of devotion to the upholding of these Noahide laws, this is not forbidden.”

“You can kill those [gentiles] who are not supporting or encouraging murder in order to save the lives of Jews.”

According to the BBC, this inspired piece of exegesis even “suggests that babies can justifiably be killed if it is clear they will grow up to pose a threat.”

For some reason, the book – which was endorsed by relatively mainstream rabbis including Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef – raised objections when it was published, prompting the Israeli attorney general to investigate whether it constituted incitement to racism and/or violence. Protests erupted in Orthodox circles last year when Lior and Yosef were taken into custody. In a statement yesterday, the attorney concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” for a prosecution.

Being a free speech absolutist, in one sense I applaud the decision. The pseudo-liberal concepts of “hate speech” and “abuse of free expression” don’t sit well with my enthusiastic blasphemy, and I believe we surrender dearly-bought terrain to fascism when we make it a crime to write words.

But ask yourself this: would the attorney general have ruled the same way had the book been written by Islamic fundamentalists, calling for the murder of Jewish babies? To ask the question is to answer it. So far from being a victory for liberal democracy, therefore, the decision is merely yet another example of the Judeochauvinist bigotry that poisons even (or especially) the highest echelons of the Israeli establishment.

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