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Case dropped against authors, endorsers of gentile-killing manual

Israel’s attorney general decided to drop the case against racist book “Torat Ha’Melech” – since its racism was couched in religious terms.

The prosecution, backed by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, announced Monday that it is dropping the case against rabbis Yizhak Shapira, Yoseph Elizur, Dov Lior and Yizhak Ginzburg. The first two wrote a book called “Torat Ha’Melech” (The King’s Bible) two years ago. It is a religious treatise on the killing of gentiles – that is, when a Jew is permitted to kill a non-Jew. Lior and Ginzburg endorsed the book. It is worth noting that all four rabbis are state employees and belong to a state-funded yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar.

The main theme of the book was that pretty much everything goes; in a notorious paragraph, Shapira and Elizur – rabbis in the infamousleery yeshiva, which the ISA (Shin Bet) tried to close down – claimed that

there is reason to believe harming children, if there is reason to think they will grow up to harm us, is permitted; and in such a case, the harm should be directed specifically at them, and not just while harming grown-ups.

For “harm,” read “kill.” There’s much more there, including permission to kill any gentile which does not follow the “Laws of the Sons of Noah,” which conveniently enough encompasses the vast majority of mankind, if by killing that gentile you intended to punish him for not following a divine mandate he was not aware of. All Christians, pagans and atheists are ipso facto non-Noah-observant, and can be slain at will.

Naturally, even in the decayed state of the only Jewish theocracy in the Middle East, this raised some eyebrows. An investigation went on leisurely, as the rabbis resisted being interrogated and the police was always leery of them. There were several large congregations of rabbis expressing support for the investigated rabbis; some of them would say afterwards they did not support the book in any way, but that they just could not stand aside while a rabbi was interrogated for preaching the torah. It is worth noting no serious rabbinical figure took on debunking the book, and, while it does contain some errors, is basically sound – according to Jewish law, that is.

The investigation has now petered out miserably. The most alarming part of the decision is its reasoning: Attorney General Weinstein noted that while Torat Ha’Melech contained severe racist terms, he did not have grounds for conviction, since the rabbis couched their incitement to racism in religious terms. Weinstein wrote that the law allowed for punishing someone who implicitly incited to racism was, well, his intention to such incitement, the law specifically exempted “religious studies” from prosecution.

Weinstein is certainly correct. The Israeli criminal code – article 144c(b) – is explicit: “publishing a quotation out of religious tracts and prayer books, or maintaining a religion’s practice, would not be considered a felony according to article 144b, so long as it was not done purposefully to incitement to violence.” Since Shapira and Elizur went to the trouble of writing 230 pages of incitement to racism, replete with scholarly quotations, they are off the hook.

Basically what this decision means is that Israel’s hate speech laws are dead. Jewish racism is religious by nature. This is not an accident: the Knesset was moved to write the prohibition against racism after Meir Martin Kahane was elected in 1984, and used it as a platform for vile racism – though it seems mild compared to what we’re seeing these days from Danon, Regev, and the rest of the litter.

However, the legislators found themselves in a quandary: outlawing racism without granting religion an exemption would basically outlaw Orthodox Judaism, which is racist to the core. A male Orthodox Jew thanks Jehova every morning for not being made a gentile; for not being made a woman; and for not being made a slave. (Women praise Jehova for “creating me as he saw fit.”)

The daily prayer Shmone Esre, repeated three times a day contains a curse against Christians and other heretics; and other prayers basically call for the fall of the gentile nations.  The Havdala, the prayer separating the Sabbath from the work week, contains the phrase “He who separated light from darkness, between holiness and the secular, between Israel and the nations.” There are various nasty and racist Jewish laws (Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef recently reminded us the only reason Jewish doctors are allowed to treat gentiles on the Sabbath is for fear of being sacked if they won’t), which would be illegal to impart if the law was to have any teeth.

So they had to grant religion (read: Orthodox Judaism) an exemption. By doing so, they fatally weakened the law. It became so brittle, even Kahane voted for the law which was supposed to outlaw him.

While this was the law for some 25 years now, the prosecution did everything it could to avoid testing it. There is only one rabbi I can think of, Ido Alba, who was prosecuted for violating it; he wrote a book named “an investigation into the religious edicts regarding the killing of a gentile.” But that was in the 1990s, soon after the Goldstein massacre (Alba was a fan), and presumably Alba was not cautious enough. There is reason to think that, under the careful Weinstein, Alba would not have been prosecuted at all.

So, if you want to spout racism in Israel, wear your yarmulke, quote your Maimonides, and you’ll be fine and dandy. This was basically the case for 25 years; now the prosecution openly admits it.

One does wonder, though, whether an Imam expounding away the religious edicts of Jihad would fare just as well under the scrutiny of Weinstein.

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    1. Mareli

      This just proves that the late Christopher Hitchens was correct when he said religion poisons everything. Religion used to justify murder – now where have we heard that one before? Usually in the past it was used AGAINST Jews, not by them against others. This decision is appalling and I hope it is challenged by all intelligent Israelis.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Max: It’s clear you disagree but unless you want to have a real conversation I suggest you either state why exactly you disagree or just go busy yourself with the observation of some obscure nonsensical centuries-old prohibition or other instead, like avoiding ladders or black cats or the internet, even.

      As for the post ex facto evolution of religious nonsense to something approaching atheism such as what one or two Reform rabbis do, I’ve already said that that’s not what I’m talking about. Why not just argue that today’s Nazi is a much more sophisticated National Socialist, too — open to Slavs and other non-Nordics now…still doesn’t detract from the idiocy of white supremacy…or that today’s Zionist, unlike that of Herzl’s day, is a lot more tolerant, too….

      Stupidity, like evil, doesn’t get better just because it enlarges itself to encompass some bit of sense finally.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Rowan: That is an interesting thesis but I’m not sure it’s the scholarly consensus, for whatever scholarly consensuses are worth. My understanding is that Jesus was something of an ancient Jewish Martin Luther, perhaps even unwittingly, only much less successful in his own lifetime, and that what lead to the separation of Christianity and Judaism was the fact that as time went on more and more Christians were not Jewish originally — not that the Romans had some kind of a divide-and-conquer policy, as it were….

      Reply to Comment
    4. Elisabeth

      Hi Mareli,
      Religion makes good people better and bad people worse. I didn’t invent that saying, but from what I see it is true.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Mareli: Depending on how far back in history you want to go, Judaism was a genocidal religion: it says so right there in the holy texts! That no one in thousands of years thought to excise such embarrassing material only suggests to me, a disinterested third-party observer, that Abrahamic religions are all about blood and gore, blood and brimstone, blood and destiny, blood blood blood…so I don’t wonder too much now that modern-people who coalesce around Iron Age attitudes should seem just as silly — and scary….

      Reply to Comment
    6. max

      Discussion, JF, when all you bring to the table are labels of religions as “blood-curdling”, “religions preach hate” and a series of statements that expose your ignorance?
      “one right way of doing things, one right way of thinking about things, and of course one right people” and the fantastic “non-believers are condemned for all eternity” applied to Judaism.
      Sorry, JF, you are a pretentious ignorant.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Elisabeth: I suppose that quip may be valid on an individual basis, but in a large sample population it has been repeatedly disproven. Anyway, what really is the point of religion if it can’t even do what it itself claims to do?? As a great Jew once said (even better than Moses and King David combined), religion is only the sigh of the oppressed creature, the opiate of the masses….

      Just imagine “the Israel/Palestinian issue” without any Abrahamic context whatsoever, without Ishmael and Issac, Hagar and Sarai, at each other’s throats…the whole thing’s ridiculous on the face of it, like the old Abbott and Costello routine about who’s on first and what’s on second….

      Reply to Comment
    8. Max: You seem to insist on referring to sectarian variety within Judaism, whereas I’m talking about taking the original texts at face value. We’re stumbling over semantics, of course, but you won’t see that because you wish Moses to remain a holy man instead of the wild-eyed mass murderer we’d take someone like him for today.

      Ultimately, I think you are just unwilling to entertain such notions as I’ve put forth. I shall therefore consider your future remarks to be not directed to me, requiring a good faith response, but mere venting at a truth you find uncomfortable.

      My parting remark now is that it is not the truth which makes you feel uncomfortable but your own common sense struggling to break through.

      Reply to Comment
    9. max

      JF – the original texts (in Judaism, I can’t start thinking about a call for blood in the New Testament to justify your claims) don’t call for blood, they tell of blood that was; and avoidance of blood wasn’t a matter of sectarian variety but mainstream. The ‘original text’, you know, is more than a few passages you’ll get at when searching for the word ‘blood’…
      you’re so pretentious that you don’t even consider the possibility of an atheist disagreeing with your lack of knowledge

      Reply to Comment
    10. Unlike Jack, I am actually quite enmeshed in Judaism (without being Jewish), and it is a matter of great regret for me that I cannot become a Jew without immersing myself in fascist politics up to the eyeballs. It’s also a matter of some regret that the interesting left-wing religious-zionist party Meimad apparently bit the dust (it does not currently even seem to have websites). I would have been interested to find out whether, if I converted to orthodox Judaism via Meimad rabbis (whose politics are close to Peace Now’s), my conversion would be recognised by the Israeli chief rabbinates. Given my combativeness and penchant for dialectics, I could have served as an interesting test case (more interesting, I think, than those who undergo non-orthodox conversions). But whatever Meimad rabbis there were have probably died of old age, emigrated, or given up.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Jack Foreigner

      Max: Now you’re just plain lying. The Old Testament specifically called for killing all non-Yahweh worshippers within the expanding territories of Israel…Judaism only started to become a somewhat humbler religion when the kingdom fell to pagans, and it’s only after millennia of being derided by outsiders (after all, someone who claims to be chosen of God should look the part, no?) that Judaism developed its latter day concern with social justice and so on.
      Islam needs to undergo a similar process to evolve past its own roots in the Abrahamic blood cult of old — hence the Global War on Terror, which will in time break Muslim pride in the same manner in which the Romans finally dispersed the Jews.
      But I guess I’m just preaching veganism to carnivores here, so to speak. My mistake.

      Rowan: Religion is fascist by its very nature. You will not find any religion, any organized religion with a hierarchy of teachers and disciples, to be anything but fascist, however subtle. Religion is blind faith and will to power instead of true love. No matter how innocent and noble some religious precept might sound, the moment it gets organized it becomes a fascist enterprise. After all, power corrupts, and a religion is not founded by people voting on what they believe to be true of God; religion is not about discovery but revelation: don’t bother doing the math — here’s all you need to know.
      (I know Socratic debate over God and God’s will has become central to Judaism since the Roman Diaspora if not the Babylonian Exile before that but that’s just debating the proper curtain colors of the prison cell window; it’s not freedom, it’s not knowledge.)

      Reply to Comment
    12. ‘Religion’ and ‘fascist’ are both pretty complicated concepts. But in any case, I would be keen to explore the possibility, if it exists, of becoming a non-fascist Israeli Jew. It’s a fascinating challenge.

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    13. Rowan: Perhaps religion and fascism are only as complicated as we’d like to make them out to be? In the manner of awarding any number of shiny medals to people for killing others, dressing up these hitmen like peacocks so that they aren’t confused for butchers.
      There’s a line in Anothony Swafford’s memoir “Jarhead” about how there’s no such thing as an anti-war war movie, no matter its themes. As a former U.S. Army infantryman, I understood immediately what he meant. I submit once more to you that if you will be religious you will necessarily be a fascist, however nuanced your rationalizations.

      Reply to Comment
    14. OK, Jack, I shall break it down, as follows. I’ll do fascism first, because it’s easier. Fascism is a last ditch defense of capitalism in the face of the falling rate of profit (which is caused by automation itself). That’s why the only remaining growth industry is war. But the dollar is only as strong as the military that imposes it, and the military is only as strong as the dollar that pays for it, so there’s a circular logic operating which must eventually devour itself.
      Now the Jews have seen a lot of empires come and go in their time. Much of their Bible is about empires, and their inevitable collapse. But it is also about something that is often confused with imperial power, but is really quite different, something which survives when empires fall. I am very interested in seeing whether the Jews will survive the fall of the US empire. So far, the signs are not encouraging, but they’re a clever bunch once the get the message. Perhaps in 20 years’ time they will be allied with China, and the US empire will be nothing but a memory.

      Reply to Comment
    15. max

      @JF, you’re just pretending (?) to not understand, but in fact, you agree. What a relief it must be to get down to facts!
      You write “Old Testament specifically called for” while I wrote “the original texts … don’t call for blood, they tell of blood that was”
      Now unless you claim that the bible was indeed given by God at ‘realtime’ you’ll see that your statement is senseless.
      “Judaism only started to become a somewhat humbler religion when the kingdom fell” – so you do agree that Judaism as we know it in the past 2,000 years, is different from the one you described.
      That was, of course, the essence of Amir’s comment.
      So it’s great to see you come to reason once we leave the stratospheric levels of pretension!
      “hence the Global War on Terror, which will in time break Muslim pride”
      Your typical big words? Saying that 1.5B Muslims are bound on terror, and that there will be someone to break their pride!
      “Religion is fascist by its very nature. You will not find any …, any organized … with a hierarchy of …., to be anything but fascist, however subtle”
      Interesting… do you know of any form of government that doesn’t fit the bill? Are you advocating anarchy as the non-fascist alternative?

      Reply to Comment
    16. Alan

      “I am very interested in seeing whether the Jews will survive the fall of the US empire. So far, the signs are not encouraging, but they’re a clever bunch once the get the message. Perhaps in 20 years’ time they will be allied with China, and the US empire will be nothing but a memory.”

      Ni hao, Reb Berkowitz. We are indeed a “clever” bunch. Have you ever met a stereotype about Jews you didn’t like? By the way, the US economy declined during the Iraq war– the first time in American history when a foreign war didn’t generate economic growth for the economy. I guess dumb George W. didn’t have enough clever Jews working for him, despite all the neocons who drove the country to war.

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    17. You seem to be strangling yourself in the coils of your own tortuous sarcasm, Alan.

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    18. Alan

      “You seem to be strangling yourself in the coils of your own tortuous sarcasm, Alan.” Love your laconic prose style.

      Let me give it to you straight, Rowan: Your view of Jews is absolutely encrusted with anti-Semitic typologies. It’s not simply the tired stereotype of Jews as a “clever bunch.” It’s the more insidious notion that American Jews are Jewish before they are American: “I am very interested in seeing whether the Jews will survive the fall of the US empire. So far, the signs are not encouraging, but they’re a clever bunch once the get the message. Perhaps in 20 years’ time they will be allied with China…” Virtually everyone in this country has a hyphenated identity: African Americans, Polish Americans, Irish Americans, Italian Americans, Asian Americans. However, you would never say, “The Irish are a clever bunch…I’m very interested to see whether the Irish will survive the fall of the US empire.” Only someone who sees Jews through a lens of anti-Semitic stereotypes, and who has your cartoonish understanding of the US in general, would imply that American Jews are less American than other citizens.

      Reply to Comment
    19. That sounds like an example of the famous “we shall be x as if we weren’t y, and y as if we weren’t x” logic, which doesn’t actually work.

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    20. max

      @RB, are you able to address Alan’s comment or are you (once again) going to dodge the question, as it becomes too pointed?

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    21. What do you mean, “address Alan’s comment”? You want me to prove I’m not actually a self-hating Jew called Berkowitz? And what do you mean, “dodge the question”? The only actual question he has asked is “Have you ever met a stereotype about Jews you didn’t like?” which is such a stupid question it doesn’t merit an answer. The trouble with you trolls is that you never read anything I write properly. You grab what you regard as incriminating phrases and build fantasies of your own around them. You are just propaganda robots with no brains of your own.

      Reply to Comment
    22. It might be helpful to summarise the right-wing ideology:
      (1) All criticism of any Jewish leadership is motivated by anti-Semitism, i.e. gratuitous hatred of Jews as such;
      (2) Jewish leaders are by definition justified in everything that they do, unless they are leftists, in which case they are self-haters;
      (3) All leftism is actually fascism in disguise;
      (4) It is anti-Semitic to describe right-wing Jewish leaders as fascists, because fascism is by definition anti-Semitic, so it is impossible for Jews to be fascists;
      (5) Any policy that claims to be defending Jews is necessarily justified and all opposition to it is anti-Semitic and fascist;
      (6) Whenever possible change the subject to any atrocity or oppression happening anywhere else, or attack the critic ad hominem by inventing random slurs or misapplying quotes from other contexts. All the above can be inverted, combined, rephrased, and repeated as and when desired, because nothing is too circular or nonsensical when it comes to defending Jews (i.e. right-wing Jewish leadership). Right-wing ideology is about preventing criticism, and indeed thought of any sort. Its purpose is to waste time and discredit critics, by painting then as anti-Semites, self-haters, crypto-fascists, supporters of terrorism, anti-Americans, or whatever else sounds sufficiently emotive.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Alan

      @RB: I think you know exactly what comment Max had in mind. You seem to imply that American Jews are Jewish before they are American. Is that what you believe? Do you think American Jews are less American than other Americans?

      Here are your comments, which my prompted my response:

      “I am very interested in seeing whether the Jews will survive the fall of the US empire. So far, the signs are not encouraging, but they’re a clever bunch once the get the message. Perhaps in 20 years’ time they will be allied with China…”

      Reply to Comment
    24. Rowan: I’m sorry we continue to quibble over semantics (though, as semanticists say, all arguments are over semantics and not things themselves). When I say that religions are inherently “fascist,” I mean that they cannot but help act like fascists. I certainly do not mean that religions constitute a reaction to capitalism.

      It’s as if I were to say that Chinese culture is inherently capitalistic (“never met a Chinese who didn’t know how to make a buck” — hence the old racist ditty about “chink chink chinaman sitting on a fence/trying to make a dollar out of fifty cents”) but of course there was no “capitalism” at all in the ancient world.

      As for whether the Jews will survive the American empire, of course they will — assuming you mean “people of Jewish ancestry/heritage.” Hopefully, however, all religions will be overcome one day, such that that’s all “Jewish” will ever mean.

      Yes, the Abrahamic holy texts, like all holy texts (except possibly certain Zen Buddhist ones) like to refer to another world, another plane of existence, that ol’ “something more to life”…the thing has has me so exercised about Abrahamism is that they’re so overtly fascist, as I say, and I think that as long as we hold Abrahamism dear and Abrahamic representatives (priests, rabbis, and imams) to be dear as well we’re going to have problems in the world.

      Why, just look at all those sex scandals in the Catholic Church — and in Brooklyn’s Ultra-Orthodox communities — where if it’d been non-religious people involved in shielding sexual predators there would have been mass arrests! But oh no, because it’s these dear holy men of an ancient Canaanite wargod, we must respect their perogatives and give them the benefit of the doubt…it’s been like this with the Abrahamic religions ever since Pontius Pilate!

      Reply to Comment
    25. Max: I feel like you insist on deliberately misinterpreting the spirit of my remarks, willingly missing the forest for the trees, and in such a situation we’re just having two different conversations, only using the same labels.

      Not productive, and not very interesting to me.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Well, I suppose statistically some Jews will survive the fall of the US empire, as individuals, but it seems to me quite probable that Jewish politics as such will be completely discredited, globally, along with the US itself. As I mentioned, the Bible contains a number of warnings about the long-term consequences of over-identification with the empires du jour.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Alan

      JF writes: “Chinese who didn’t know how to make a buck” — hence the old racist ditty about “chink chink chinaman sitting on a fence/trying to make a dollar out of fifty cents”)”

      Very similar to RB’s claim that “the Jews are a clever bunch.”

      RB meant this in earnest, not as an example of racism; however both statements are racist because they ascribe an innate characteristic to an entire class of people– Chinese or Jews.

      Reply to Comment
    28. klang

      perhaps you should be grateful that the authors of Torat Hamelech arent prosecuted. It is just as contentious that Torat Hamelech is a Gentile killing manual as it is that your columns are a Jewish killing manual. SO if Rabbi Lior had to go to jail, you might have to go to jail as well. At best, you are opposite sides of the same coin

      Reply to Comment
    29. max

      JF – “the Abrahamic holy texts, … like to refer to another world”
      And this nonsense from a person who says that he cares only for the ‘original text’ as it was meant to be.
      Arrogance and ignorance

      Reply to Comment
    30. max

      JF – “I feel like you insist on deliberately misinterpreting the spirit of my remarks”
      If you mean that I deflate your spirit by showing that it’s based on fabrications of its detailed components, then yes, you’re right.
      You don’t know squat about religions, you only know things others have said about religions, some tidbits that seem to fit your view

      Reply to Comment
    31. Alan, if you feel that it’s racist to say “the Jews are a clever bunch,” then I’ll retract it. The Jews are not a clever bunch. There, that’s better, isn’t it?

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    32. Alan: Well, while we’re on the subject, many Asians do regard Jews as being very smart. The wartime Japanese were puzzled why the Germans would want to murder many of their own best citizens, and quite a number of Chinese today hold without any irony that Chinese are only the second smartest people in the world…after the Jews.

      I’m not sure that all these people are “racist” because they believe that Jews are so smart. After all, by many indicators, “the Jewish people” have made many seminal contributions to human civilization and evolution these past two hundred years or so, of the Copernican paradigm shift sort, akin to harnessing fire or inventing the wheel. I’d think such a people are correctly determined to be “smart” or “clever.”

      Yes, this doesn’t say anything about any particular individual Jew, but there is such a thing as tendencies, standard distributions. Not all men are alike, but when compared to any sizable group of women, they are often much more alike than not. Is that “sexist?”

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that I personally don’t dismiss generalizations as inherently bad — racist, sexist, or whatever…depends on the context, I think.

      Reply to Comment
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