However, it still happened.
When Moment Magazine asked rabbis representing various Jewish denominations "How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors?", a shocking answer was given by Chabad Rabbi Manis Friedman of the Bais Chana Institute of Jewish Studies in St. Paul, Minnesota. (to their credit, most other rabbis representing other Jewish denominations gave more reasonable answers)
Here is what he wrote:
I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, 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).
The first Israeli prime minister who declares that he will follow the Old Testament will finally bring peace to the Middle East. First, the Arabs will stop using children as shields. Second, they will stop taking hostages knowing that we will not be intimidated. Third, with their holy sites destroyed, they will stop believing that G-d is on their side. Result: no civilian casualties, no children in the line of fire, no false sense of righteousness, in fact, no war.
Zero tolerance for stone throwing, for rockets, for kidnapping will mean that the state has achieved sovereignty. Living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations who suffer defeat because of a disastrous morality of human invention.
We can not ignore such a call for genocide. This Rabbi is not a fringe person with no influence. According to his bio:
He has appeared on CNN, A&E Reviews, PBS, and BBC Worldwide, and has been the subject of articles in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Seventeen, Guideposts, Insight, Publisher’s Weekly and others.
Rabbi Friedman is a noted Biblical scholar, recognized for his sagacious grasp of Jewish mysticism...
Rabbi Friedman is a professionally ranked member of the National Speakers Association. His speaking tours take him to every part of this country as well as Israel, England, The Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Canada, and Hong Kong.
Such rhetoric, whether by a Jew, Muslim, Christian, or any person is not acceptable. It is the prelude to genocide. It is the type of language that is used by genocidal maniacs to justify their crimes against those deemed as subhumans.
Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of people of faith reject such hateful views, especially when espoused by those who claim a religious justification for it.
Richard Silverstein, a leading Jewish human rights activist and blogger, wrote on his blog Tikun Olam:
Is it possible that there can be pure evil in Judaism? It grieves me to say that yes, there can be. At least in one sect of Judaism, which harbors and encourages such genocidal impulses and lunatic leaders.
What Rabbi Friedman is talking about is the Biblical injunction to wipe out Amalek, the tribe that betrayed the Children of Israel and attacked them as they left Egypt. The only problem with Friedman’s claim that this is the “Jewish way” is that he has twisted the Biblical record. Wiping out Amalek was not the “Jewish way.” It was actually a command hardly, if ever, issued concerning any other Israelite neighbor. In the Bible, Jews did not routinely wipe out entire tribes merely because they were hostile to Israel.
Rabbi Haim Beliak, executive director of the national educational foundation HaMifgash, said:
The original quote and the apology by Manis Friedman suggest a debased morality and an atrophied ethical sensibility. Friedman does not speak for Judaism. There is no Judaism where neighbors - Jewish and non-Jewish - are treated without regard to their status as fellow human beings. Jewish ethics reminds us that we owe ‘the other’ infinite obligations of care and concern, not only in theory but in practice. In war and peace, the status of civilians and innocent bystanders must be respected.
Cecilie Surasky of Jewish Voice for Peace said:
Rabbi Manis Friedman's outrageous suggestion that killing Arab men, women and children, and destroying their religious sites is ‘the Jewish way’ is an affront to all people, but especially Jews who value all life equally. While his statement in no way represents the views of the vast majority of Jews, we are alarmed by the increasing numbers of extremist settlers in Israel, and their American supporters, who share his refusal to acknowledge the value of Palestinian and Arab life. Far from bringing peace and security to Jews, this abhorrent disregard for the lives of non-Jews only leads to more bloodshed and war.
In a joint statement released today, several Jewish and Muslim groups asked political and religious leaders to repudiate rabbi Friedman’s call to ‘genocide’. The statement quoted
CAIR-MN Communications Director Jessica Zikri saying:
This disturbing call to genocide and religious desecration must be repudiated by all Minnesotans who value peaceful coexistence and interfaith harmony.
Silence in the face of such extremist views will only serve to give the author a false sense of legitimacy and approval.