Ikhwanweb :: The Muslim Brotherhood Official English Website

Tue109 2018

Last update19:14 PM GMT

Back to Homepage
Font Size : 12 point 14 point 16 point 18 point
:: Issues > Human Rights
An Army of Extremists
An Army of Extremists
Recent reports of atrocities committed by Israeli soldiers in the course of the intervention in Gaza have described the incitement of conscripts and reservists by military rabbis who characterized the battle as a holy war for the expulsion of non-Jews from Jewish land. The secular Israeli academic Dany Zamir, who first brought the testimony of shocked Israeli soldiers to light, has been quoted as if the influence of such extremist clerical teachings was something new. This is not the c
Thursday, March 26,2009 05:05
by Christopher Hitchens* Slate.com

Recent reports of atrocities committed by Israeli soldiers in the course of the intervention in Gaza have described the incitement of conscripts and reservists by military rabbis who characterized the battle as a holy war for the expulsion of non-Jews from Jewish land. The secular Israeli academic Dany Zamir, who first brought the testimony of shocked Israeli soldiers to light, has been quoted as if the influence of such extremist clerical teachings was something new. This is not the case.

I remember being in Israel in 1986 when the chief army "chaplain" in the occupied territories, Rabbi Shmuel Derlich, issued his troops a 1,000-word pastoral letter enjoining them to apply the biblical commandment to exterminate the Amalekites as "the enemies of Israel." Nobody has recently encountered any Amalekites, so the chief educational officer of the Israeli Defense Forces asked Rabbi Derlich whether he would care to define his terms and say whom he meant. Rather evasively—if rather alarmingly—the man of God replied, "Germans." There are no Germans in Judaea and Samaria or, indeed, in the Old Testament, so the rabbi"s exhortation to slay all Germans as well as quite probably all Palestinians was referred to the Judge Advocate General"s Office. Forty military rabbis publicly came to Derlich"s support, and the rather spineless conclusion of the JAG was that he had committed no legal offense but should perhaps refrain in the future from making political statements on the army"s behalf.

The problem here is precisely that the rabbi was not making a "political" statement. Rather, he was doing his religious duty in reminding his readers what the Torah actually says. It"s not at all uncommon in Israel to read discussions, featuring military rabbis, of quite how to interpret the following holy order from Moses, in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 31, Verses 13-18, as quoted from my 1985 translation by the Jewish Publication Society. The Israelites have just done a fairly pitiless job on the Midianites, slaughtering all of the adult males. But, says their stern commander-in-chief, they have still failed him:

Moses, Eleazer the priest, and all the chieftains of the community came out to meet them outside the camp. Moses became angry with the commanders of the army, the officers of thousands and the officers of hundreds, who had come back from the military campaign. Moses said to them, "You have spared every female! Yet they are the very ones who, at the bidding of Balaam, induced the Israelites to trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, so that the Lord"s community was struck by the plague. Now, therefore, slay every male among the children, and slay also every young woman who has known a man carnally; but spare every young woman who has not had carnal relations with a man."

Moses and Eleazar the priest go on to issue some complex instructions about the ritual cleansings that must be practiced after this exhausting massacre has been completed.

Now, it"s common to hear people say, when this infamous passage and others like it come up, that it"s not intended to be "taken literally." One also often hears the excuse that some wicked things are done "in the name of" religion, as if the wicked things were somehow the result of a misinterpretation. But the nationalist rabbis who prepare Israeli soldiers for their mission seem to think that this book might be the word of God, in which case the only misinterpretation would be the failure to take it literally. (I hate to break it to you, but the people who think that God"s will is revealed in scripture are known as "religious." Those who do not think so must try to find another name for themselves.)

Possibly you remember Dr. Baruch Goldstein, the man who in February 1994 unslung his weapon and killed more than two dozen worshippers at the mosque in Hebron. He had been a physician in the Israeli army and had first attracted attention by saying that he would refuse to treat non-Jews on the Sabbath. Now read Ethan Bronner"s report in the March 22 New York Times about the preachments of the Israeli army"s latest chief rabbi, a West Bank settler named Avichai Rontzski who also holds the rank of brigadier general. He has "said that the main reason for a Jewish doctor to treat a non-Jew on the Sabbath … is to avoid exposing Diaspora Jews to hatred." Those of us who follow these things recognize that statement as one of the leading indicators of a truly determined racist and fundamentalist. Yet it comes not this time in the garb of a homicidal lone-wolf nut bag but in the full uniform and accoutrement of a general and a high priest: Moses and Eleazar combined. The latest news, according to Bronner, is that the Israeli Defense Ministry has felt compelled to reprimand Rontzski for "a rabbinal edict against showing the enemy mercy" that was distributed in booklet form to men and women in uniform (see Numbers 31:13-18, above).

Peering over the horrible pile of Palestinian civilian casualties that has immediately resulted, it"s fairly easy to see where this is going in the medium-to-longer term. The zealot settlers and their clerical accomplices are establishing an army within the army so that one day, if it is ever decided to disband or evacuate the colonial settlements, there will be enough officers and soldiers, stiffened by enough rabbis and enough extremist sermons, to refuse to obey the order. Torah verses will also be found that make it permissible to murder secular Jews as well as Arabs. The dress rehearsals for this have already taken place, with the religious excuses given for Baruch Goldstein"s rampage and the Talmudic evasions concerning the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Once considered highly extreme, such biblical exegeses are moving ever closer to the mainstream. It"s high time the United States cut off any financial support for Israel that can be used even indirectly for settler activity, not just because such colonization constitutes a theft of another people"s land but also because our Constitution absolutely forbids us to spend public money on the establishment of any religion.

* Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the Roger S. Mertz media fellow at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, Calif.

The Source


Posted in Human Rights , Palestine  
Add Comment Send to Friend Print
Related Articles
European campaign condemns IOF troops’ practices at Gaza borders
IOF troops wound two US activists and one Palestinian in weekly Bil’in protest
Agriculture minister denounces continued IOF shooting at fishermen
IOF warplanes cut water supply to northern Gaza Strip
UN to hold independent investigation on IOF shelling of its Gaza buildings
Egyptian company supplied IOF with food during war on Gaza
Egypt Rights Groups Denounce IOF Nazi Massacre
IFJ condemns IOF shelling of Aqsa TV
Legal center: 55 children, 9 women among victims of the IOF Gaza massacre
IOF warplanes blast Aqsa TV station headquarters
New wave of IOF air raids on Gaza kills four, destroys mosque
IOF troops round up 14 Palestinians in a single village
Abbas to meet Olmert despite IOF escalation in Gaza
Report: IOF troops killed six Palestinians including two children last month
IOF troops injure 7 participants in the Bilin anti-wall protest, assault MEP
Hamas strongly denounces IOF shooting at school
Two Palestinians wounded in IOF shooting
IOF fire tear-gas, rubber coated bullets at anti-wall protestors
IOF troops kill third Palestinian young man in Ramallah
IOF troops shoot at hundreds of Palestinians in Nablus
IOF troops kidnap eight Palestinians, prevent farmers from harvesting olives
IOF troops kidnap 9 Palestinians in various parts of the West Bank
IOF troops kidnapped 70 Palestinians from Nablus in August
Hebrew sources: Mofaz gave orders to IOF to kill 70 Palestinians daily
IOF troops kidnap four Palestinians
IOF troops storm Jerusalemite home, kidnap youth and steal golden jewelry
IOF extort Palestinian students to work as collaborators
IOF troops kill Palestinian child participating in peaceful rally in W. Bank
IOF kidnap father of girl that filmed soldier shooting handcuffed detainee
IOF troops kill 78 Palestinian children, kidnap 260 others within six months
Dozens wounded in confrontation with IOF troops in Na’lin
IOF troops destroy agriculture sector in Gaza; kill Palestinian farmers
IOF aerial raid kills Qassam fighter, wounds three others
IOF troops kidnap 19 Palestinians in different parts of WB
Hamas warns the IOF against Gaza’s explosion
IOF troops assassinate commander of AMB arrest commander of Quds Brigades
IOF artillery shells Palestinian hospital
PA security apparatuses and IOF troops kidnap 14 carders of Hamas in WB
IOF troops round up 24 Palestinians in Nablus
IOF troops kill Palestinian farmer, wound another