Judaism's doctrines and texts have sometimes been associated with violence. Judaism also contains peaceful doctrines, as well as laws requiring the eradication of evil, sometimes using violent means, exist in the Jewish tradition.[1][2] This article deals with the juxtaposition of Judaic law and theology to violence and non-violence by groups and individuals. Attitudes and laws towards both peace and violence exist within the Jewish tradition.[1] Throughout history, Judaism's religious texts or precepts have been used to promote[3][4][5] as well as oppose violence.[6]

Judaism as a violent religionEdit

Some critics of religion such as Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer argue that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent. For example, Nelson-Pallmeyer writes that "Judaism, Christianity and Islam will continue to contribute to the destruction of the world until and unless each challenges violence in "sacred texts" and until each affirms nonviolent power of God".[7]

Bruce Feiler writes that "Jews and Christians who smugly console themselves that Islam is the only violent religion are willfully ignoring their past. Nowhere is the struggle between faith and violence described more vividly, and with more stomach-turning details of ruthlessness, than in the Hebrew Bible".[8] Similarly, Burggraeve and Vervenne describe the Old Testament as full of violence and evidence of both a violent society and a violent god. They write that, "(i)n numerous Old Testament texts the power and glory of Israel's God is described in the language of violence." They assert that more than one thousand passages refer to YHWH as acting violently or supporting the violence of humans and that more than one hundred passages involve divine commands to kill humans.[9]

Some Christian churches and theologians argue that Judaism is a violent religion and the God of Israel as a violent God. Reuven Firestone asserts that these assertions are usually made in the context of claims that Christianity is a religion of peace and that the God of Christianity is one that expresses only love.[10] However, some scholars such as Deborah Weissman readily acknowledge that "normative Judaism is not pacifist" and that "violence is condoned in the service of self-defense."[11] Although Judaism condones the use of violence in certain cases, J. Patout Burns asserts that Jewish tradition clearly posits the principle of minimization of violence. This principle can be stated as "(wherever) Jewish law allows violence to keep an evil from occurring, it mandates that the minimal amount of violence be used to accomplish one's goal."[12]


Main article: Judaism and war
File:Prise de Jéricho.jpg

Regarding war, the commandment of Milkhemet Mitzvah (Hebrew: מלחמת מצווה, "War by commandment") refers to a war during the times of the Bible when a king would go to war in order to fulfill something based on, and required by, the Torah.[13]

What is a milchemet mitzvah? It is a war to assist Israel against an enemy that has attacked them.
-Maimonedies, Laws of Kings 5:1

Wars of this type do not need the approval of the Sanhedrin.[citation needed]

This is in contrast to a Milkhemet Reshut (a discretionary war), which according to Jewish law require the permission of a Sanhedrin.[citation needed] These wars (discretionary wars) tend to be for economic reasons and had exemption clauses (Deuteronomy 20:5) while, milhemet mitzvah tended to be invoked in defensive wars, when vital interests were at risk and had no such exemption clauses.[14]

The Talmud insists that before going to non-defensive war, the king would need to seek authorization from the Sanhedrin, as well as divine approval through the High Priest. As these institutions have not existed for 2,000 years, this virtually rules out the possibility of non-defensive war.[15]

The permissibility of war is limited and the requirement is that one always seek a just peace before waging war.[1][16] Modern Jewish scholars hold that the calls to war these texts provide no longer apply, and that Jewish theology instructs Jews to leave vengeance to God.[17] [18]

Laws of siegeEdit

According to Deuteronomy, an offer of peace is to be made to any city which is besieged, conditional on the acceptance of terms of tribute.[15] According to Maimonides', on besieging a city in order to seize it, it must not be surrounded on all four sides but only on three sides, thus leaving a path of escape for whomever wishes to flee to save his life.[19] Nachmanides, writing a century later, strengthened the rule and added a reason: "We are to learn to deal kindly with our enemy." [19]

Forbidden war tacticsEdit

Jewish law prohibits the use of outright vandalism in warfare.[20] It forbids destruction of fruit trees as a tactic of war. It is also forbidden to break vessels, tear clothing, wreck that which is built up, stop fountains, or waste food in a destructive manner. Killing an animal needlessly or offering poisoned water to livestock are also forbidden.[20] According to Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, Jewish law forbids the killing of innocent people, even in the course of a legitimate military engagement.[19]

Wars of extermination in the TanakhEdit

The Tanakh (Jewish Bible) contains commandments that require the Israelites to exterminate seven Canaanite nations, and describes several wars of extermination that annihilated entire cities or groups of peoples.

Wars of extermination are of historical interest only, and do not serve as a model within Judaism.[15] A formal declaration that the “seven nations” are no longer identifiable was made by Joshua ben Hananiah, around the year 100 CE.[15]

Extermination is described in several of Judaism's biblical commandments, known as the 613 Mitzvot:[21]

  • Not to keep alive any individual of the seven Canaanite nations (Deut. 20:16)
  • To exterminate the seven Canaanite nations from the land of Israel (Deut. 20:17)
  • Always to remember what Amalek did (Deut. 25:17)
  • That the evil done to us by Amalek shall not be forgotten (Deut. 25:19)
  • To destroy the seed of Amalek (Deut. 25:19)

The extent of extermination is described in the commandment Deut 20:16-18 which orders the Israelites to "not leave alive anything that breathes… completely destroy them …".[22] Several scholars have characterized the exterminations as genocide.[23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32]


The targets of the extermination commandments were the seven Canaanite nations explicitly identified by God as targets in Deut 7:1-2 and Deut 20:16-18.[33] These seven tribes are Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Most of these descended from the biblical figure Canaan, as described in Gen 10:15-18. In addition, two others tribes were subject to wars of extermination: Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:1-20)[34] and Midianites (Numbers 31:1-18). The extermination of the Canaanite nations is described primarily in the Book of Joshua (especially Joshua 10:28-42) which includes the Battle of Jericho described in Joshua 6:15-21.

The instruction God gives in Deut 20:16-18 is for Israelites to exterminate "everything that breaths", but the precise extent of the killing varied:[35] The instruction was made with respect to the Amalekites 1 Samuel 15:1-20, Canaanites (Battle of Jericho) Joshua 6:15-21, Canaanite nations Joshua 10:28-42, and Midianites Numbers 31:1-18.[33]

Some scholars such as Van Wees conclude that the biblical accounts of extermination are exaggerated, fictional, or metaphorical.[36] In the archaeological community, the Battle of Jericho is very thoroughly studied, and the consensus of modern scholars is that the story of battle and the associated extermination are a pious fiction and did not happen as described in the Book of Joshua.[37] For example, the Book of Joshua describes the extermination of the Canaanite tribes, yet at a later time, Judges 1:1-2:5 suggests that the extermination was not complete.[38]

Likewise, it is not clear if the historical Amalekites were exterminated or not. 1 Samuel 15:7-8 implies ("He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword.") that - after Agag was also killed - the Amalekites were extinct, but in a later story in the time of Hezekiah, the Simeonites annihilated some Amalekites on Mount Seir, and settled in their place: "And five hundred of these Simeonites, led by Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi, invaded the hill country of Seir. They killed the remaining Amalekites who had escaped, and they have lived there to this day." (1 Chr 4:42-43).[citation needed]

As genocideEdit

The wars of extermination have been characterized as genocide by a number of scholars and commentators.[33][39][40] Shaul Magid characterizes the commandment to exterminate the Midianites as a "genocidal edict", and asserts that rabbinical tradition continues to defend the edict into the 20th century.[41] L. Daniel Hawk describes the extermination of Canaanites as "ethnic cleansing", but notes that the narrative includes contradictory indications that Canaanites were absorbed into Israeli society.[42][43] Ra'anan Boustan, Alex Jassen, and Calvin Roetzel assert that - in the modern era - the violence directed towards the Canaanites would be characterized as genocide.[44] Zev Garber characterizes the commandment to wage war on the Amalekites as genocide.[45] Pekka Pitkanen asserts that Deuteronomy involves "demonization of the opponent" which is typical of genocide, and he asserts that the genocide of the Canaanites was due to unique circumstances, and that "the biblical material should not be read as giving license for repeating it."[46]

Justifications and rationalizationsEdit

File:055.The Midianites Are Routed.jpg

Several justifications and explanations for the extreme violence associated with the wars of extermination have been offered, some found in the Jewish Bible, others provided by Rabbinic commentators, and others hypothesized by scholars.

In Deut 20:16-18 God tells the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanite nations, "otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the lord your God". Another reason, justifying the war against the Midianites, was revenge for Midian's role in Israel's apostate behavior during the Heresy of Peor (Numbers 25:1-18).[47]

Another justification is that the Canaanites were sinful, depraved people, and their deaths were punishments (Deut 9:5). Another justification for the exterminations is to make room for the returning Israelites, who are entitled to exclusive occupation of the land of Canaan: the Canaanite nations were living in the land of Israel, but when the Israelites returned, the Canaanites were expected to leave the land.[48]

In Talmudic commentary, the Canaanite nations were given the opportunity to leave, and their refusal to leave "lay the onus of blame for the conquest and Joshua's extirpation of the Canaanites at the feet of the victims."[49] Another explanation of the exterminations is that God gave the land to the Canaanites only temporarily, until the Israelites would arrive, and the Canaanites extermination was punishment for their refusal to obey God's desire that they leave.[50] Another Talmudic explanation - for the wars in the Book of Joshua - was that God initiated the wars as a diversionary tactic so Israelites would not kill Joshua after discovering that Joshua had forgotten certain laws.[51]

Some scholars trace the extermination of the Midianites to revenge for the fact that Midianites were responsible for selling Joseph into slavery in Egypt (Genesis 37:28-36).[52]

Association with violent attitudes in the modern eraEdit

Some analysts have associated the biblical commandments of extermination with violent attitudes in modern era.

According to Ian Lustick, leaders of the now defunct[53] Jewish fundamentalist movement Gush Emunim, such as Hanan Porat, consider the Palestinians to be like Canaanites or Amalekites, and suggest that infers a duty to make merciless war against Arabs who reject Jewish sovereignty.[54] Atheist commentator Christopher Hitchens discusses the association of the "obliterated" tribes with modern troubles in Palestine.[55]

Niels Peter Lemche asserts that European colonialism in the 19th century was ideologically based on the biblical narratives of conquest and extermination. He also states that European Jews who migrated to Palestine relied on the biblical ideology of conquest and extermination, and considered the Arabs to be Canaanites.[56] Scholar Arthur Grenke claims that the view or war expressed in Deuteronomy contributed to the destruction of Native Americans and to the destruction of European Jewry.[57]

Nur Masalha writes that the "genocide" of the extermination commandments has been "kept before subsequent generations" and served as inspirational examples of divine support for slaughtering enemies.[58] Ra'anan Boustan, Alex Jassen, and Calvin Roetzel assert that, like other groups have done to their enemies, militant Zionists have identified modern Palestinians with Canaanites, and hence as targets of violence mandated in Deut 20:15-18.[59] Scholar Leonard B. Glick states that Jewish fundamentalists in Israel, such as Shlomo Aviner, consider the Palestinians to be like biblical Canaanites, and that some fundamentalist leaders suggest that they "must be prepared to destroy" the Palestinians if the Palestinians do not leave the land.[60] Scholar Keith Whitelam asserts that the Zionist movement has drawn inspiration from the biblical conquest tradition, and Whitelam draws parallels between the "genocidal Israelites" of Joshua and modern Zionists.[61]

Commandment to exterminate the AmalekitesEdit

File:Poussin, Nicolas - The Victory of Joshua over the Amalekites.jpg

The Jewish Bible contains a mitzvah (commandment) to exterminate the Amalekites, based on the verse 1 Samuel 15 "Now, go and crush Amalek; put him under the curse of destruction with all that he possesses. Do not spare him, but kill man and woman, babe and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." Some commentators, including Maimonides, have discussed the ethics of the commandment to exterminate all the Amalekites, including the command to kill all the women and children, and the notion of collective punishment.[62] Maimonides explains that the commandment of killing out the nation of Amalek requires the Jewish people to peacefully request of them to accept upon themselves the Noachide laws and pay a tax to the Jewish kingdom. Only if they refuse is the commandment applicable. Some commentators, such as Rabbi Hayim Palaggi (1788–1869) argued that Jews had lost the tradition of distinguishing Amalekites from other people, and therefore the commandment of killing them could not practically be applied.[63] Rabbis nullified the Torah’s commands to kill idolatrous people, by ruling that the Canaanite peoples no longer existed, that the Assyrians, not Israelites, had wiped them out – and therefore the command was a dead letter.[64] In addition, the Talmud asserts that today "since Sancheriv mixed up the nations, there is no nation that is identified as Amalek."[65]

In later Jewish tradition, the Amalekites came to represent the metaphorical enemy of the Jews. Nur Masalha, Elliot Horowitz and Josef Stern suggest that Amalekites have come to represent an "eternally irreconcilable enemy" that wants to murder Jews, and that Jews In post-biblical times sometimes associate contemporary enemies with Haman or Amalekites, and that some Jews believe that pre-emptive violence is acceptable against such enemies.[66] Nur Masalha and other scholars describe several associations of modern Palestinians with Amalekites, including recommendations by rabbi Israel Hess to kill Palestinians, which are based on biblical verses such as 1 Samuel 15.[67]

Modern warfareEdit

Jewish tradition permits waging war and killing in certain cases. However, the permissibility to wage war is limited and the requirement is that one always seek a just peace before waging war.[1]

Some commentators claim that religious leaders have interpreted Jewish religious laws to support killing of innocent civilians during wartime in some circumstances, and that this interpretation was asserted several times: in 1974 following the Yom Kippur war, [68] in 2004, during conflicts in West Bank and Gaza,[69] and in the 2006 Lebanon War.[70] However, major and mainstream religious leaders have condemned this interpretation, and the Israeli military subscribes to the Purity of arms doctrine, which seeks to minimize injuries to non-combatants; furthermore, the advice was only applicable to combat operations in wartime.

Activist Noam Chomsky claims that leaders of Judaism in Israel play a role in sanctioning military operations: "[Israel's Supreme Rabbinical Council] gave their endorsement to the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, declaring that it conformed to the Halachi (religious) law and that participation in the war 'in all its aspects' is a religious duty. The military Rabbinate meanwhile distributed a document to soldiers containing a map of Lebanon with the names of cities replaced by alleged Hebrew names taken from the Bible.... A military Rabbi in Lebanon explained the biblical sources that justify 'our being here and our opening the war; we do our Jewish religious duty by being here.'"[71]

In 2007, Mordechai Eliyahu, the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel wrote that "there was absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings".[72] His son, Shmuel Eliyahu chief rabbi of Safed, called for the "carpet bombing" the general area from which the Kassams were launched, to stop rocket attacks on Israel, saying "This is a message to all leaders of the Jewish people not to be compassionate with those who shoot [rockets] at civilians in their houses." he continued, "If they don't stop after we kill 100, then we must kill 1,000. And if they don't stop after 1,000, then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we must kill 100,000. Even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop."[72] In March 2009, he called for "state-sponsored revenge" to restore "Israel's deterrence... It's time to call the child by its name: revenge, revenge, revenge. We mustn't forget. We have to take horrible revenge for the terrorist attack at Mercaz Harav yeshiva," referring to an earlier incident in which eight students were brutally gunned down in cold blood. "I am not talking about individual people in particular. I'm talking about the state. (It) has to pain them where they scream 'Enough,' to the point where they fall flat on their face and scream 'help!' "[73]

An influential Chabad Lubavitch Hassid rabbi Manis Friedman in 2009 was quoted as saying: "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".[74] Later, Friedman apologised for his choice of words "the sub-question I chose to address instead is: how should we act in time of war, when our neighbors attack us, using their women, children and religious holy places as shields."[75]

Retribution and punishmentEdit

Eye for an eyeEdit

Main article: Eye for an eye

George Robinson characterizes the passage of Exodus that contains the principle of lex talionis("an eye for an eye") as one of the "most controversial in the Bible". According to Robinson, some have pointed to this passage as evidence of the vengeful nature of justice in the Hebrew Bible.[76] Similarly, Abraham Bloch asserts that the "lex talionis has been singled out as a classical example of biblical harshness."[77]

Harry S. Lewis points to Lamech, Gideon and Samson as Biblical heroes who were renowned for "their prowess in executing blood revenge upon their public and private enemies. Lewis asserts that this "right of 'wild' justice was gradually limited."[78] Isaac Kalimi explains that the “lex talionis was humanized by the Rabbis who interpreted it to mean pecuniary compensation. As in the case of the lex talionis, humanization of the law replaces the peshat of the written Torah law.[79] Pasachoff and Littman point to the reinterpretation of the lex talionis as an example of the ability of Pharisaic Judaism to "adapt to changing social and intellectual ideas."[80] Stephen Wylen asserts that the lex talionis is "proof of the unique value of each individual" and that it teaches "equality of all human beings for law."[81]

Capital and corporal punishmentEdit

Main article: Capital and corporal punishment (Judaism)

The Jewish bible specifies several violent punishments, including death by stoning, decapitation, and burning. Judaism's oral law, the Talmud, additionally includes the punishment of death by strangulation for some crimes.[82] Violent punishments by death are referred to in several of Judaism's 613 mitzvot.[83] The transgressions that call for violent punishment by death in Judaism include the following: cursing one's parents,[84] fornication (sex outside of marriage),[85] bestiality,[86] sorcery,[87] taking advantage of widows or orphans,[88] blasphemy,[89] stubborn and rebellious son,[90] incest,[91] adultery,[92] and homosexuality.[93] Whipping is specified as punishment for lesser transgressions.[94]

The punishments established in the biblical era were substantially modified during the rabbinic era, primarily by adding additional requirements for conviction. As a consequence, the death penalty was very rarely applied, and it became more of a principle than a practice. The Talmud states that a court that executes one person in seven years is considered bloodthirsty (Makkot 1:10). The 12th-century Jewish legal scholar Maimonides stated that "It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death."[95]

Purim and the Book of EstherEdit

The Book of Esther, one of the books of the Jewish Bible, is a story of palace intrigue centered on a plot to kill all Jews which was thwarted by Esther, a Jewish queen of Persia. Instead of being victims, the Jews killed "all the people who wanted to kill them."[96] The king gave the Jews the ability to defend themselves against their enemies who tried to kill them.[97] numbering 75,000 (Esther 9:16) including Haman, an Amalekite that led the plot to kill the Jews. The annual Purim festival celebrates this event, and includes the recitation of the biblical instruction to "blot out the remembrance [or name] of Amalek". Scholars - including Ian Lustick, Marc Gopin, and Steven Bayme - state that the violence described in the Book of Esther has inspired and incited violent acts and violent attitudes in the post-biblical era, continuing into modern times, often centered on the festival of Purim.[98]

Other scholars, including Jerome Auerbach, state that evidence for Jewish violence on Purim through the centuries is "exceedingly meager", including occasional episodes of stone throwing, the spilling of rancid oil on a Jewish convert, and a total of three recorded Purim deaths inflicted by Jews in a span of more than 1,000 years.[99] In a review of historian Elliot Horowitz's book Reckless rites: Purim and the legacy of Jewish violence , Hillel Halkin pointed out that the incidences of Jewish violence against non-Jews through the centuries are extraordinarily few in number and that the connection between them and Purim is tenuous.[100]

Rabbi Arthur Waskow and historian Elliot Horowitz state that Baruch Goldstein, perpetrator of the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, may have been motivated by the Book of Esther, because the massacre was carried out on the day of Purim[101] but other scholars point out that the association with Purim is circumstantial because Goldstein never explicitly made such a connection.[102]

The festival has been used by non-Jews as an opportunity to direct violence against Jews. Nazi attacks against Jews often coincided with Jewish festivals and on Purim 1942, ten Jews were hanged in Zduńska Wola to avenge the hanging of Haman's ten sons.[103] In a similar incident in 1943, the Nazis shot 10 Jews from the Piotrków ghetto.[104] On Purim eve that same year, over 100 Jewish doctors and their families were shot by the Nazis in Czestochowa. The following day, Jewish doctors were taken from Radom and shot nearby in Szydlowiec.[104]

Modern violenceEdit

Radical ZionistsEdit

The motives for violence by extremist Jewish settlers in the West Bank directed at Palestinians are complex and varied. Religious motivations have also been documented.[105][106][107] Some Jewish religious figures living in the occupied territories have condemned such behaviour.[108] After Baruch Goldstien carried out the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in 1994, some claimed[who?] that his actions were influenced by Jewish religious doctrine, based on the ideology of the Kach movement.[109] The act was denounced by mainstream Orthodox Judaism.[110]

Ian Lustick, Benny Morris, and Nur Masalha assert that Zionist leaders relied on religious doctrines for justification for the violent treatment of Arabs in Palestine, citing examples where pre-state Jewish militia used verses from the Bible to justify their violent acts, which included expulsions and massacres such as the one at Deir Yassin.[111] Jewish religious leaders at the time condemned such acts.[112]

Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935), the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Mandate Palestine, urged that Jewish settlement of the land should proceed by peaceful means only.[15] Contemporary settler movements, follow Kook’s son Tzvi Yehuda Kook (1891–1982), who also did not advocate aggressive conquest.[15] Critics claim that Gush Emunim and followers of Tzvi Yehuda Kook advocate violence based on Judaism's religious precepts.[113]

Assassination of Yitzhak RabinEdit

The assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by Yigal Amir was motivated by Amir’s personal political views and his understanding of Judaism's religious law of moiser (the duty to eliminate a Jew who intends to turn another Jew in to non-Jewish authorities, thus putting a Jew's life in danger[114]) and rodef (a bystander can kill a one who is pursuing another to murder him or her if he cannot otherwise be stopped).[115] Amir’s interpretation has been described as "a gross distortion of Jewish law and tradition"[116] and the mainstream Jewish view is that Rabin's assassin had no Halachic basis to shoot Prime Minister Rabin.[117]

Extremist organizationsEdit

In the course of history there have been some organizations and individuals that endorsed or advocated violence based on their interpretation to Jewish religious principles. Such instances of violence are considered by mainstream Judaism to be extremist aberrations, and not representative of the tenets of Judaism.[17][18]

Controversial Sermons by Ovadia YosefEdit

Former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Ovadia Yosef, was quoted as saying in 2001, supposedly about the Palestinans, "It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable."[130] He later said his sermon had been taken out of context and that he was not referring to Arabs in general, but rather to terrorists.[131] He added that he has deep respect for peace seeking Arabs.[132]

In August 2010, he drew further criticism when in another sermon he called for: "All the nasty people who hate Israel, like Abu Mazen (Abbas), vanish from our world... May God strike them down with the plague along with all the nasty Palestinians who persecute Israel."[133]

Sources in the rabbi's home reported that since the statements were made, the rabbi "was very sorry" and looked for a way of sending a conciliatory message to the Palestinians.[134] Three weeks later, Yosef sent out a conciliatory message reiterating his old positions in support of the peace process. He wished the Palestinians and their leaders, “who are partners to this important [peace] process and want its success long days and years”. He continued, “The People of Israel are taught to seek peace, and three times daily pray for it. We wish for a sustainable peace with all our neighbors". He blessed "all the leaders and peoples, Egyptians Jordanians and Palestinians, who are partners to this important process and want its success, a process that will bring peace to our region and prevent bloodshed."[135]

Endorsement of violence by extremist settler rabbis Edit

Some settler rabbis, in the unique conditions of West Bank settlements, issued statements that diverge from normative Jewish practice.[136]

Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba in the southern West Bank and head of the "Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria" has made speeches legitimizing the killing of non-Jews and praising Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish settler who is in a deadly terrorist attack killed 29 Muslim worshippers while they were praying in mosque in Hebron, as a saint and martyr. Lior also said "a thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew's fingernail".[137][138][139] Lior publicly gave permission to spill blood of Arab persons and has publicly supported extreme right-wing Jewish terrorists.[140]

In July 2010, Yitzhak Shapira who heads Dorshei Yihudcha yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, was arrested by Israeli police for writing a book that allegedly encourages the killing of non-Jews. In his book "The King's Torah" (Torat Hamelech) he wrote that under Torah and Jewish Law it is legal to kill Gentiles.[141] The section entitled "Conclusions – Chapter Five: The Killing of Gentiles in War" reads that in some cases it is permitted to kill the babies of enemy forces "because of the future danger they may present since they will grow up to be evil like their parents."[142] Later in August 2010 police arrested rabbi Yosef Elitzur-Hershkowitz - co-author of Shapira's book - on the grounds of incitement to racial violence, possession of a racist text, and possession of material that incites to violence. The controversial book was endorsed by Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba, a respected figure among many mainstream religious Zionists[136] and Yaakov Yosef, son of Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef.[143]

According to Avinoam Rosenak, "The King's Torah" reflects a fringe viewpoint held by a minority of rabbis in the West Bank. The book's wide dissemination and the enthusiastic endorsements of prominent rabbis have spotlighted what might have otherwise remained an "isolated commentary". A coalition of religious Zionist groups, has asked Israel's Supreme Court to order confiscation of books inciting to violence and to arrest the authors.[136]

Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg who initially endorsed the book, rescinded his approval a month after its release, saying that the book includes statements that "have no place in human intelligence."[136]

The book has also been denounced by Shlomo Aviner, chief rabbi of Beit El and head of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim.[136]

Notable incidents Edit

On 3 October 2010, a mosque in Yasuf village was arsoned, suspected to be by Jewish extremist settlers.[144][145][146] Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger condemned the attack and equating the arson to Kristallnacht, he said: "This is how the Holocaust began, the tragedy of the Jewish people of Europe."[147] Rabbi Menachem Froman, a well-known peace activist, visited the mosque and replaced the burnt Koran with new copies.[148] The rabbi stated: "This visit is to say that although there are people who oppose peace, he who opposes peace is opposed to God" and "Jewish law also prohibits damaging a holy place." He also remarked that arson in a mosque is an attempt to sow hatred between Jews and Arabs.[147][149]

Rejection of Violence and Pursuit of PeaceEdit

Main article: Judaism and peace

Judaism's religious texts endorse compassion and peace, and the Hebrew Bible contains the well-known commandment to "love thy neighbor as thyself".[2] In fact, the love of peace and the pursuit of peace is one of the key principles in Jewish law. Jewish tradition permits waging war and killing in certain cases, however, the requirement is that one always seek a just peace before waging war.[1]

According to the 1947 Columbus Platform of Reform Judaism, "Judaism, from the days of the prophets, has proclaimed to mankind the ideal of universal peace, striving for spiritual and physical disarmament of all nations. Judaism rejects violence and relies upon moral education, love and sympathy."[6]

The philosophy of Nonviolence has roots in Judaism, going back to the Jerusalem Talmud of the middle 3rd century. While absolute nonviolence is not a requirement of Judaism, the religion so sharply restricts the use of violence, that nonviolence often becomes the only way to fulfilling a life of truth, justice and peace, which Judaism considers to be the three tools for the preservation of the world.[150]

Jewish law (past and present) does not permit any use of violence unless it is in self defense.[117] Any person that even raises his hand in order to hit a nother person is called "evil.".[151]

Guidelines from the Torah to the 'Jewish Way to Fight a War': When the time for war has arrived, Jewish soldiers are expected to abide by specific laws and values when fighting. Jewish war ethics attempts to balance the value of maintaining human life with the necessity of fighting a war. Judaism is somewhat unique in that it demands adherence to Jewish values even while fighting a war. The Torah provides the following rules for how to fight a war. Pursue Peace Before Waging War. Preserve the Ecological Needs of the Environment. Maintain Sensitivity to Human Life. The Goal is Peace[152]

The ancient orders (like those) of wars for Israel to eradicate idol worshiping does not apply today. Jews are not taught to glorify violence. The rabbis of the Talmud saw war as an avoidable evil. They taught, 'Thew sword comes to the world because of delay of justice and through perversion of justice.'Jews have always hated war and Shalom expresses the hope for peace, in Judaism war is evil, but at times a necessary one, yet, Judaism teaches that one has to go to great length to avoid it.[153]

See alsoEdit


  • Berger, Michael S., "Taming the Beast: Rabbinic Pacification of Second-Century Jewish Nationalism", in Belief and bloodshed: religion and violence across time and tradition, James K. Wellman (Ed.), Rowman & Littlefield, 2007, pp 47–62
  • Boustan, Ra'anan S., "Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity", in Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity, Ra'anan S. Boustan, Alex P. Jassen, Calvin J. Roetzel (Eds), BRILL, 2010 pp 1–12
  • Chilton, Bruce, Abraham's Curse: The Roots of Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Doubleday, 2009
  • Chomsky, Noam, World orders, old and new, Columbia University Press, 1996
  • Ehrlich, Carl. S, "Joshua, Judaism, and Genocide", in Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, Judit Targarona Borrás, Ángel Sáenz-Badillos (Eds). 1999, Brill. pp 117–124.
  • Ellens, J. Harold (Ed.), The destructive power of religion: violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007
  • Esber, Rosemarie M., Under the Cover of War: The Zionist Expulsion of the Palestinians, Arabicus Books & Media, LLC, 2009
  • Feldman, Louis H., "Remember Amalek!": vengeance, zealotry, and group destruction in the Bible according to Philo, Pseudo-Philo, and Josephus, Hebrew Union College Press, 2004
  • Firestone, Reuven, "Judaism on Violence and Reconciliation: An Examination of Key Sources", in Beyond violence: religious sources of social transformation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, James Heft (Ed.), Fordham Univ Press, 2004, pp 74–87
  • Glick, Leonard B., "Religion and Genocide", in The Widening circle of genocide, Alan L. Berger (Ed). Transaction Publishers, 1994, pp 43–74
  • Gopin, Marc, Between Eden and Armageddon: the future of world religions, violence, and peacemaking, Oxford University Press US, 2000.
  • Harkabi, Yehoshafat, Arab attitudes to Israel, John Wiley and Sons, 1974
  • Heft, James (Ed.), Beyond violence: religious sources of social transformation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam , Fordham Univ Press, 2004
  • Hirst, David, The gun and the olive branch: the roots of violence in the Middle East, Nation Books, 2003
  • Hoffman, R. Joseph, The just war and jihad: violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Prometheus Books, 2006
  • Horowitz, Elliott S., Reckless rites: Purim and the legacy of Jewish violence, Princeton University Press, 2006
  • Jacobs, Steven Leonard, "The Last Uncomfortable Religious Question? Monotheistic Exclusivism and Textual Superiority in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as Sources of Hate and Genocide", in ‪Confronting genocide: Judaism, Christianity, Islam‬, ‪Steven L. Jacob‬s (Ed.), ‪Lexington Books, 2009‬, pp 35–46
  • Juergensmeyer, Mark, Terror in the mind of God: the global rise of religious violence, University of California Press, 2003
  • Kuper, Leo, "Theological Warrants for Genocide: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity", in ‪Confronting genocide: Judaism, Christianity, Islam‬, ‪Steven L. Jacob‬s (Ed.), ‪Lexington Books, 2009‬, pp 3–34
  • Lustick, Ian, For the land and the Lord: Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, Council on Foreign Relations, 1988
  • Masalha, Nur, The Bible and Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology and Post-colonialism in Palestine-Israel, Zed Books, 2007
  • Morris, Benny, The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem revisited, Cambridge University Press, 2004
  • Niditch, Susan, War in the Hebrew Bible: a study in the ethics of violence, Oxford University Press US, 1995
  • Pappe, Ilan, The ethnic cleansing of Palestine, Oneworld, 2007
  • Pedahzur, Ami, Jewish terrorism in Israel, Columbia University Press, Columbia University Press, 2009
  • Perliger, Arie and Weinberg, Leonard, "Jewish Self-Defence and Terrorist Groups Prior to the Establishment of the State of Israel: Roots and Traditions", in Religious fundamentalism and political extremism, Perliger, Arie (Ed.), Taylor & Francis, 2004, pp 91–118
  • Phillips, Gary A., "More Than the Jews … His Blood Be Upon All the Children: Biblical Violence, Genocide and Responsible Reading", in ‪Confronting genocide: Judaism, Christianity, Islam‬, ‪Steven L. Jacob‬s (Ed.), ‪Lexington Books, 2009‬, pp 77–87
  • Pitkanen, Pekka, "Memory, Witnesses, and Genocide in the Book of Joshua", in Reading the law: studies in honour of Gordon J. Wenham, J. Gordon McConville, Karl Möller (Eds), Continuum International Publishing Group, 2007, pp 267–282
  • Prior, Michael P., The Bible and colonialism: a moral critique, Sheffield Academic Press, 1997.
  • Quigley, John B., Palestine and Israel: a challenge to justice, Duke University Press, 1990
  • Saleh Abd al-Jawad (2007) "Zionist Massacres: the Creation of the Palestinian Refugee Problem in the 1948 War" in Israel and the Palestinian refugees, Eyal Benvenistî, Chaim Gans, Sari Hanafi (Eds.), Springer, 2007
  • Selengut, Charles, Sacred fury: understanding religious violence, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008
  • Shahak, Israel, Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, Pluto Press, 1999
  • Sprinzak , Ehud, Brother against brother: violence and extremism in Israeli politics from Altalena to the Rabin assassination, Simon and Schuster, 1999
  • Van Wees, Hans, "Genocide in the Ancient World", in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies, Donald Bloxham, A. Dirk Moses (Eds), Oxford University Press US, 2010, pp 239–258.
  • Weisburd, David, Jewish Settler Violence, Penn State Press, 1985
  • Whitelam, Keith W., The invention of ancient Israel: the silencing of Palestinian history, Routledge, 1996


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Fighting the War and the Peace: Battlefield Ethics, Peace Talks, Treaties, and Pacifism in the Jewish Tradition. Michael J. Broyde, 1998, p. 1
  2. 2.0 2.1 *Reuven Firestone (2004), "Judaism on Violence and Reconciliation: An examination of key sources" in Beyond violence: religious sources of social transformation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Fordham Univ Press, 2004, pp 77, 81.
    • Goldsmith (Ed.), Emanuel S. (1991). Dynamic Judaism: the essential writings of Mordecai M. Kaplan. Fordham Univ Press. p. 181. ISBN 0823213102. 
    • Spero, Shubert (1983). Morality, halakha, and the Jewish tradition. KTAV Publishing House, Inc.. pp. 137–318. ISBN 0870687271. 
  3. Carl. S. Ehrlich (1999) "Joshua, Judaism, and Genocide", in Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, Judit Targarona Borrás, Ángel Sáenz-Badillos (Eds). 1999, Brill.
  4. Horowitz, Elliott S. (2006). Reckless rites: Purim and the legacy of Jewish violence. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691124914. 
  5. Stern, Jessica (2004). Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill, Jessica Stern. HarperCollins. ISBN 0060505338. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Columbus Platform: The Guiding Principles of Reform Judaism, 1937
  7. Nelson-Pallmeyer, Jack (2005). Is religion killing us?: violence in the Bible and the Quran. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 136. 
  8. Feiler, Bruce S. (2005). Where God was born: a journey by land to the roots of religion. HarperCollins. p. 4. 
  9. Burggraeve, Roger; Vervenne, Marc (1991). Swords into plowshares: theological reflections on peace. Peeters Publishers. pp. 82,109. 
  10. Heft, James, ed (2004). Beyond violence: religious sources of social transformation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Fordham Univ Press. 
  11. "The Co-existence of Violence and Non-Violence in Judaism". Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  12. Burns, J. Patout (1996). War and its discontents: pacifism and quietism in the Abrahamic traditions. Georgetown University Press. p. 18. 
  13. Maimonedies, Laws of Kings 5:1
  14. Mishnah, Tractate Sotah 8:7
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 Judaism and the ethics of war, Norman Solomon. International Review of the Red Cross. Volume 87 Number 858 June 2005
  16. Deut 20:10
  17. 17.0 17.1 Weiss, Steven I. (2010-02-26). "The Ghosts of Purim Past: The holiday's violent beginnings—and what they mean for the Jewish future". 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Violence and Vengeance: Purim and Good Friday". Dialogika (Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations). 1998-03-28. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 The Ethics of Jewish War , By Dr. Michael Walzer
  20. 20.0 20.1 Bal Tashhit: The Torah Prohibits Wasteful Destruction. My Jewish Learning. Retrieved on 2010-10-27.
  21. Eisenberg, Ronald L, The 613 mitzvot: a contemporary guide to the commandments of Judaism, Schreiber Pub., 2005, pp 129-130
  22. Ruttenberg, Danya, Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: War and National Security Danya Ruttenberg (Ed.) page 54 (citing Reuven Kimelman, "The Ethics of National Power: Government and War from the Sources of Judaism", in Perspectives, Feb 1987, pp 10-11)
  23. Grenke, Arthur, God, greed, and genocide: the Holocaust through the centuries, pp 17-30
  24. Philip Jenkins - quoted in NPR article "Is The Bible More Violent Than The Quran?" by Barbara Hagerty. Online at [1].
  25. Kravitz, Leonard, "What is Crime?", in Crime and punishment in Jewish law: essays and responsa, Editors Walter Jacob, Moshe Zemer, Berghahn Books, 1999, p 31.
  26. Magid, Shaul, "Subversion as Return: Scripture, Dissent, and Renewal in Contemporary Judaism, in Subverting Scriptures: Critical Reflections on the Use of the Bible Beth Hawkins Benedix (Ed), pp 217-236, p 234.
  27. Cohn, Robert L, "Before Israel: The Canaanites as Other in Biblical Tradition", in The Other in Jewish thought and history: constructions of Jewish culture and identity, Laurence Jay Silberstein, (Ed.), NYU Press, 1994, pp 76-77
  28. Boustan, Ra'anan S., Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity, BRILL, 2010, pp 3-5
  29. Firestone, Reuven, "Judaism on Violence and Reconciliation: An Examination of Key Sources", in Beyond violence: religious sources of social transformation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, James Heft (Ed.), Fordham Univ Press, 2004, p 75
  30. Ehrlich, Carl S., "Joshua, Judaism, and Genocide" in Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, BRILL, 1999, pp 121-122
  31. Garber, Zev, "Deconstructing Theodicy and Amalekut", in Post-Shoah dialogues: re-thinking our texts together, James F. Moore (Ed.), University Press of America, 2004, pp 241-243.
  32. Van Wees, Hans, "Genocide in the Ancient World", in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies, Donald Bloxham, A. Dirk Moses (Eds), p 242.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 Van Wees, p 242
  34. Ruttenberg, p 54
  35. *Van Wees, p 242
    • Van Wees, p 242, "largely fictional"
  36. Ehrlich, pp 117
  37. Ehrlich, p 119
  38. Hagerty, Barbara, "Is The Bible More Violent Than The Quran?"; online at [2]. Jenkins quote: "By the standards of the time, which is the 7th century A.D., the laws of war that are laid down by the Quran are actually reasonably humane," he says. "Then we turn to the Bible, and we actually find something that is for many people a real surprise. There is a specific kind of warfare laid down in the Bible which we can only call genocide."
  39. Kravitz, Leonard, "What is Crime?", in Crime and punishment in Jewish law: essays and responsa, Editors Walter Jacob, Moshe Zemer Berghahn Books, 1999, p 31:
    "Sin has changed [since biblical times]; crime has changed. We bring a different sensibility to our reading of the sacred texts of the past, even the Torah. There are passages in it which to our modern minds command crimes, the kind of crimes which our age would call 'crimes against humanity' … I think of the problematic section in the Mattot [Numbers 31] which contains the commandment to exact revenge against the Midianites by slaying every male and every female old enough to engage in sexual intercourse…. I used to think that were they [Midianites] suddenly to appear, no Jew would be willing to carry out such a commandment. Then Baruch Goldstein appeared on the scene, and he was followed by Yigal Amir and now I am not sure…. I find the commandment to commitgenocide against the Midianite unacceptable. To accept the commandment to do the same to 'the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Peruzzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites' seems to me to make permissible the Holocaust, the attempted genocide of the Jewish people."
  40. Shaul Magid, "Subversion as Return: Scripture, Dissent, and Renewal in Contemporary Judaism, in Subverting Scriptures: Critical Reflections on the Use of the Bible Beth Hawkins Benedix (Ed), pp 217-236; quote from p 234:
    "The rabbinic tradition connects the commandment to destroy Midian in Numbers 31 to Genesis 37:36, … Thus Moses's call for 'revenge' killing here has a long history…. Perhaps the rabbinic assessment of Moses's reasons for rebuking Israel for keeping the Midianite women alive is captured by Yaakov Moshe Harlap… Harlap writes 'Moses's reasons (for having all the Midianite women killed) was that a person should not enter into a doubtful situation even if the intention is for the sake of heaven'. I cite this not to defend this position but to illustrate the way in which the tradition, even to the twentieth century, defends this genocidal edict."
  41. Reading Bibles, writing bodies: identity and the Book Biblical limits Author Timothy Kandler Beal Editors Timothy Kandler Beal, David M. Gunn Edition illustrated Publisher Psychology Press, 1997, pp 153-163
  42. Cohn, Robert L, "Before Israel: The Canaanites as Other in Biblical Tradition", in The Other in Jewish thought and history: constructions of Jewish culture and identity, Laurence Jay Silberstein, (Ed.), NYU Press, 1994, pp 76-77:
    "By representing the Canaanites stereotypically as people sunk in depravity [Lev 18:27, Deut 18:9-14, Deut 12:2-3], the biblical writers provide a moral justification for the conquest of their land by a just deity. Moreover, this depiction provides a rationale for the genocide of the Canaanites commanded in Deuteronomy (Deut 7:1-2) and purportedly accomplished by Joshua (Josh 10:40)."
  43. Ra'anan S. Boustan, Alex Jassen, and Calvin Roetzel, "Introduction: Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity,” Biblical Interpretation 17.1–2 (2009): 1–11. Reprinted in Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity, ed. Ra‘anan S. Boustan, Alex Jassen, and Calvin Roetzel (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 1–11: "The specific focus in this volume is violence and Scripture. Violence can be found throughout the pages of the Hebrew Bible… The Israelite God is portrayed as a divine warrior (Ex. 15:3); the Israelites themselves are commanded to obliterate the inhabitants of Canaan and are often presented as engaging in such holy wars; … Instigators of religious violence believe that they are carrying out God's directive as articulated in the Bible…. For example, the Deuteronomic directive to destroy entirely (herem) the Canaanites (Deut 20:15-18) is a thoroughly violent commandment - and in modern terms would be characterized as genocide. The later historical absence of any Canaanites, however, does not blunt this passage's violent legacy" (pp. 3-5). Compare Ehrlich, Carl S., "Joshua, Judaism, and Genocide," in "Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century" (Leiden: BRILL, 1999), 121–122: "The broad consensus of Jewish tradition has been that the conquest of the land [ancient Israel] belongs to the distant past. In this manner, any discomfort with the anachronistic notion of genocide to be found in the Joshua narrative could be passed off as something that belonged to a certain time and place, not be [sic?] be repeated. The restrictions on the waging of war in Maimonides and his biblical and rabbinical sources would seem to support this contention" (p. 121). "It was particularly in the field of archaeology that the ideological battle about [the historicity of] Joshua was waged. It was felt that proving the veracity of the book of Joshua would in some way prove to be a justification of modern historical reality. In this manner, the battles of Joshua were viewed as paradigmatic for the modern age, not - it should be noted - in the sense of prescribing genocide against non-Jews, but in providing models for the reclamation of the land."
  44. Garber, Zev, "Deconstructing Theodicy and Amalekut", in "Post-Shoah dialogues: re-thinking our texts together," James F. Moore (Ed.), University Press of America, 2004, pp 241-243.
    p 242: "Any attempt at understanding this warrant for genocide [Exodus 17:14-16] against the Amalekites and their descendants must start …"
  45. Pitkanen, Pekka, "Memory, Witnesses, and Genocide in the Book of Joshua", in Reading the law: studies in honour of Gordon J. Wenham, J. Gordon McConville, Karl Möller (Eds), Continuum International Publishing Group, 2007, pp 267-282 quote (Page 280-281): "The 'demonization of the opponent' that Deuteronomy advocates is precisely something that accompanies genocides. This then in fact speaks for the conceptual plausibility of the historical occurrence of the events portrayed in Joshua. In addition, that genocides are often triggered by war or some other severe crisis also speaks for the conceptual plausibility of the events portrayed in Joshua. … It is certainly right, I believe, to try to show that the genocide of the Canaanites (whether real or imaginary) was a unique set of events and that the biblical material should not be read as giving license for repeating it. … the theological difficulty of the [holy war] is not mitigated by arguments against its historicity, since the text has in any case shown its capacity to mandate violence against peoples. … But we also saw that the book of Joshua advocates a vision where an important part of achieving an ideal society was to destroy anyone or anything not compatible with its central tenet of Yahwism."
  46. Walvoord, John F., The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, David C. Cook, 1985, pp 250-251
  47. Van Wees, p 241-242
    • See Joshua 11:19-20
    • Ehrlich, p 119-120: "At least some of the Rabbis asked themselves … what had they [Canaanites] done to deserve this punishment?.. In essence, the solution was to lay the onus of blame for the conquest and Joshua's extirpation of the Canaanites at the feet of the victims. [Describes a Talmudic narrative that says that Joshua sent a msg to Canaanites before the war, telling them to leave or else] .. In this manner this midrash makes the Canaanites responsible for their own demise. They were not innocent victims, but elected of their own free will to attempt to contravene the divine promise of land to Israel. The conscience of Joshua, and of his descendants, was clean…."
  48. Ehrlich, p 120: "The Canaanites were given the land of Israel to care for until the time .. the Israelites .. would arrive…. Joshua and the Israelites were forced against their will to wage war upon the Canaanites, who, contravening God, would not even cede an inch of land without a fight to the finish. This midrash also attempts to justify the fury and brutality of Joshua's holy war against the Canaanites….
  49. Ehrlich, p 120: "That not all Rabbis shared these feelings of ethical ambivalence about their ancestor's alleged genocidal war against the Canaanites is indicated by another midrash … [Joshua forgot some laws so] the Israelites were so outraged at his lack of learning that they wanted to kill him. Since there was no time to reteach him all that he had forgotten, the only way in which God could save Joshua was by diverting the attention of the people through a war. Thus the war of extermination against the Canaanites was begun earlier than planned as a diversionary tactic to save the life of one individual. It would appear that the author of this midrash was not all too concerned about the ethical implications of a God who sees nothing wrong with wiping out a whole nation just to save the life of a man whose life is threatened … "
  50. Magid, Shaul, "Subversion as Return: Scripture, Dissent, and Renewal in Contemporary Judaism, in Subverting Scriptures: Critical Reflections on the Use of the Bible Beth Hawkins Benedix (Ed), p 234:
    "The rabbinic tradition connects the commandment to destroy Midian in Numbers 31 to Genesis 37:28-36, … (Midianites sold Joseph into Egyptian slavery) "Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard."
  51. Encyclopaedia Judaica: Volume 8, p. 145
  52. Lustick, Ian, For the land and the Lord: Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, Council on Foreign Relations, 1988.
    Lustick, p 3: "The fear and uncertainty that this demographic shift [increasing Arab population within Israel] is generating within the Jewish population as a whole make more attractive fundamentalist appeals to use Joshua's destruction and subjugation of the Canaanites as a model for solving the contemporary 'Arab problem'…. "
    Lustick: p 78:" The image of Palestinians as doomed and suicidal in their opposition to Jewish rule in the Land of Israel corresponds to a more fundamental categorization of them. Gush rabbis and ideologues regularly refer to the local Arabs as 'Canaanites' … Thus Rav Tzvi Yehuda cited Maimonides to the effect that Canaanites had three choices - to flee, to accept Jewish rule, or to fight. These are the choices both [fundamentalists] suggest, that frame the appropriate attitude for Jews to take towards Palestinian Arabs. Of course, the decision by most Canaanites to fight ensured their destruction. The same fate awaits present-day non-Jewish inhabitants of the land who choose to resist the establishment of Jewish sovereignty over its entirety…. Humane treatment is appropriate, [Hanan] Porat emphasizes 'only for those Arabs ready to accept the sovereignty of the people of Israel'. From this general principle he infers a duty to make merciless war against Arabs in the Land of Israel who reject Jewish sovereignty and the specific requirement to deport the families of Arab juveniles who throw stones at the passing automobiles of Jewish settlers."
    Lustick: p 131: "No evidence exists of concrete plans to carry out genocidal policies towards the 'Arabs of the Land of Israel'. Nevertheless, analysis of the range of disagreement within the Jewish fundamentalist movement over the Arab question must begin with the fact that a number of rabbis supportive of Gush Emunim have offered opinions that could provide the halachic basis for such policies. The substance of these opinions pertains to the identification of the Palestinian Arabs, or Arabs in general, as Amalekites. According to the biblical account, the Amalekites harassed the Israelites … As a consequence, God commanded the Jewish people not only to kill all Amalekites - men, women, and children - but to 'blot out the memory of Amalek' from the face of the earth. Traditionally, great enemies of the Jews, such as Haman in ancient Persia … and Torquemada during the Spanish Inquisition, have been identified as descendants of Amalek. Accordingly, the most extreme views within Gush Emunim on the Arab question, views quoted extensively by Israeli critics of the movement, speak of Arabs as descendants of the Amalekites… A Gush veteran, Haim Tsuria, defended [violence towards Arabs]: 'In every generation there is an Amalek. In our generation, our Amalek are the Arabs who oppose the renewal of our national existence in the land of our fathers."
  53. Hitchens, Christopher, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Random House, Inc., 2007, p 101
  54. Lemche, Niels Peter, The Old Testament between theology and history: a critical survey, Westminster John Knox Press, 2008, pp 315–316:
    "The [Biblical] story of the 'morally supreme people' that defeats and exterminates another, inferior, nation was part of the ideological baggage of European imperialists and colonizers throughout the nineteenth century. It was also carried by European Jews who,.. migrated to Palestine to inherit their ancestral country … In this modern version of the biblical narrative, the Palestinian population turned into 'Canaanites', supposed to be morally inferior to the Jews, and of course the Arabs were never considered their equals … The Bible was the instrument used to suppress the enemy".
  55. Grenke, Arthur, God, greed, and genocide: the Holocaust through the centuries, New Academia Publishing, LLC, 2005, pp 17-18:
    "Discussing the influence of Christian beliefs on the destruction of the Native peoples in the Americas, Stannard argues that while the New Testament view of war is ambiguous, there is little such ambiguity in the Old Testament. He points to sections in Deuteronomy in which the Israelite God, Yahweh, commanded that the Israelites utterly destroy idolaters whose land they sought to reserve for the worship of their deity (Deut 7:2, 16, and 20:16-17). … According to Stannard, this view of war contributed to the .. destruction of the Native peoples in the Americas. It was this view that also led to the destruction of European Jewry. Accordingly, it is important to look at this particular segment of the Old Testament: it not only describes a situation where a group undertakes to totally destroy other groups, but it also had a major influence on shaping thought and belief systems that permitted, and even inspired, genocide."
    • Masalha, Nur, The Bible and Zionism: invented traditions, archaeology and post-colonialism in Palestine-Israel, Volume 1, Zed Books, 2007, pp 273-276:
    "[Michael] Prior revisits the old ground [in his book The Bible and colonialism: a moral critique] … First, the biblical narrative, with its 'divine promise' was inherently linked with the mandate to ethnically cleanse or exterminate the indigenous people … third, in the narrative of the Book of Deuteronomy the divine command to commit 'genocide' is explicit. Fourth, genocide and mass slaughter follow in the Book of Joshua. These highly dubious traditions of the Bible have been kept before subsequent generations of Jews and Christians in their prayers…. The historical evidence, however, strongly suggests that such genocidal massacres never actually took place, although these racist, xenophobic and militaristic narratives remained for later generations as powerful examples of divine aid in battle and of a divine command for widespread slaughter of an enemy…. [Professor Bernardo Gandulla, of the University of Buenos Aires], while sharing Prior's critique of the perverse use that Zionism and the State of Israel have made of the Bible to support their 'ethnic cleansing' policies in Palestine, … Prior … found incitement to war and violence in the very foundation documents of Judaism, Christianity and islam. In the Hebrew Bible, for instance, there is a dominant strand that sees God as ethnocentric and militaristic. Furthermore, in their conquest of Canaan, the Israelites are commanded by Yahweh to destroy the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine. Later in the days of the Israelite kingdoms, they are urged to show no pity, but to massacre their enemies…. Today, both Christian Zionists in the West and Israeli messianics continue to refer to the Hebrew Scriptures for archetypal conflicts, which guide their attitudes towards the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine: the Palestinian Muslims and Christians."
    • Masalha refers to: Prior, Michael P. The Bible and colonialism: a moral critique, Sheffield Academic Press, 1997.
  56. Boustan, Jassen, and Roetzel, "Introduction: Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity," 4-5: "Later readers of the Bible dramatically transformed this divine directive [Deut 20:15-18] through hermeneutic alignment of the Canaanites with the current detested 'other.' Thus the Canaanites have been identified with the Irish Catholics (by Oliver Cromwell), Native Americans (by the New England Puritans), Palestinians (by militant Zionists), and scores of other 'enemies' of Israel. In doing so, the violence perpetrated against these groups is not only justified, but indeed, part and parcel of the original divine plan. The violent legacy of the Bible is a product of both its own violent narrative and the hermeneutics of violence applied to it".
  57. Glick, Leonard B., "Religion and Genocide", in The Widening circle of genocide, Alan L. Berger (Ed). Transaction Publishers, 1994, p 46:
    "[God] looked with favor on what we may fairly call their [Israelite] proto-genocidal destructiveness. The Book of Joshua provides us with one of the earliest texts in which a deity quite plainly promotes the destruction of a people. As the Hebrews, under Joshua's leadership, undertake the conquest of Canaan, they massacre everyone who stands in their way…. It is instructive (and distressing) to note that contemporary Jewish ultra-nationalists in Israel root their politics in the Book of Joshua and equate their territorial aspirations with the will of God. Here, for example, is Shlomo Aviner, a prominent theorist of the Gush Emunim … movement: 'from the point of view of mankind's humanistic morality we were in the wrong in (taking the land) from the Canaanites. There is only one catch. The command of God ordered us to be the people of the land of Israel'. Others have identified the Palestinians as 'Canaanites' who are engaged in a 'suicidal' struggle opposing God's own intentions; hence the Jewish people must be prepared to destroy them if they persist in pursuing their collective 'death-wish'."
    • Whitelam, Keith W., The invention of ancient Israel: the silencing of Palestinian history, Routledge, 1996, especially pp 71–121.
    • Whitelam cited by Ehrlich, pp 117:
    "Keith Whitelam (1996) has published a book [The invention of ancient Israel: the silencing of Palestinian history] in which he has implied that the modern European imperialist Zionist Jewish movement has drawn inspiration from the biblical conquest tradition … Parallels are thus drawn in Whitelam's thought between the genocidal Israelites presumably of Joshua's day and the racist Zionists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and also between the ancient Canaanites and the modern Palestinians … the interpretations attributed to [Whitelam] of the place of the book of Joshua and its … genocidal account of Israel's emergence in the land that it claims as its own pose a challenge to Judaism…. It thus behooves us to ask … how has the Jewish community dealt with these foundational narratives, saturated as they are with acts of violence against others?…."
    • Divine command ethics: Jewish and Christian perspectives, Michael J. Harris, pp 137-138
    • The Bible's Top Fifty Ideas: The Essential Concepts Everyone Should Know, Dov Peretz Elkins, Abigail Treu, pp 315 - 316
    • The ethics of war: shared problems in different traditions, Richard Sorabji, David Rodin, p 98
    • Theory and practice in Old Testament ethics, John William Rogerson, M. Daniel Carroll R., p 92
  58. Eynei Kol Ḥai, 73, on Sanhedrin 96b
  59. Sword and Plowshare as Tools of Tikkun Olam: Violence & Nonviolence in Jewish Thought & Action, By Rabbi Arthur Waskow, 10/2/2007
  60. Purim and the Sin of Amalek - Torah on the Web
    • Masalha, Nur, Imperial Israel and the Palestinians: the politics of expansion, Pluto Press, 2000, pp 129-131.
    • Stern, Josef, "Maimonides on Amalek, Self-Corrective Mechanisms, and the War against Idolatry" in Judaism and modernity: the religious philosophy of David Hartman, David Hartman, Jonathan W. Malino (Eds), Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004 page 360-362
    "The example concerns the set of biblical commandments … centered on Amalek, the ancient nation that ambushed Israel during the Exodus from Egypt… What does it mean to 'blot out the name of Amalek'? We have evidence of what this meant for biblical Israel … where the commandment is taken literally to mean: destroy by actually killing every Amalekite, man, woman, and child…. Some rabbis allegorize Amalek, taking it as a eupemism for the evil inclination; others have it symbolize the enemies of Israel throughout history; yet others make it the personification of evil…. There are also more specific historital identifications of the people of Amalek. It is well known that in medieval rabbinic literature Esau, and his land Edom, are typologically identified with Rome and, in turn, with Christianity. It is less widely known that Amalek … also came to be conflated with his ancestor and identified with Rome and then Christianity. By the early medieval period, the descendants of the ancient nation of Amalek were identified by some Jewish authors as the Armenians…. Jewish authors could put a biblical face on this overarching foe by identifying it with Amalek and find hope for ultimate victory in the biblical promise that 'God is at war with Amalek from generation to generation' (Ex. 17:16)."
    • Hunter, Alastair G. "Denominating Amalek: Racist stereotyping in the Bible and the Justification of Discrimination" in Sanctified aggression: legacies of biblical and post biblical vocabularies, Jonneke Bekkenkamp, Yvonne Sherwood (Eds), Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003, page 99-105.
    "The Amalekites could well be regarded as the archetypal vicitims in the Pentateuch, in that divine instructions to dispose of this people are given on more than one occasion… They also symbolize a further classic device: the rhetorical move … of portraying the victim as aggressor in order to justify his/her elimination…. For most Jews .. .the denunciation of Haman the enemy is part of the light-hearted celebration of a rather 'laid back' festival. But there are more sinister implications which have in recent years emerged on the political scene …. In the early 1900s Rabbi Hayim Soloveitchik of Brisk argued that … there was a possibility of contemporary war against Amalek … Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik used this position in the early 1940s to contend that the Allied war against Nazi Germany could be understood in Jewish law as a war against Amalek… [regarding the Sept 11 attacks] a couple of 'position pieces' draw disturbing parallels between the suicide plots and the enemy Amalek. The first is .. written by Rabbi Ralph Tawil, in which the writer … comes perilously close to equating President George Bush's war against terrorism with Israel's command to eradicate their troublesome enemy."
    • Masalha, Nur, Imperial Israel and the Palestinians: the politics of expansion, Pluto Press, 2000, pp 129-131.
    "Frequently Jewish fundamentalists refer to the Palestinians as the 'Amalekites' … of today… According to the Old Testament, the Amalek … were regarded as the Israelites' inveterate foe, whose 'annihilation' became a sacred duty and against whom war should be waged until their 'memory be blotted out' forever (Ex 17:16; Deut 25:17-19)…. Some of the [modern] political messianics insist on giving the biblical commandment to 'blot out the memory of the Amalek' an actual contemporary relevance in the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. In February 1980, Rabbi Israel Hess … published an article [titled] 'The Genocide Commandment in the Torah' … which ends with the following: 'The day is not far when we shall all be called to this holy war, this commandment of the annihilation of the Amalek'. Hess quotes the biblical commandment … 'Do not spare him, but kill man and woman, baby and suckling, ox and sheep, camel, and donkey'…. In his book On the Lord's Side Danny Ribinstein has shown that this notion permeates the Gush Emunim movement's bulletins [one of which] carried an article … which reads 'In every generation there is an Amalek. The Amalekism of our generation finds expression in the deep Arab hatred towards our national revival …'… Professor Uriel Tal … conducted his study in the early 1980s … and pointed out that the totalitarian political messianic stream refers to the Palestinian Arabs in three stages or degrees: …[stage] (3) the implementation of the commandment of Amalek, as expressed in Rabbi Hess's article 'The Commandment of Genocide in the Torah', in other words 'annihilating' the Palesinian Arabs'".
    • See also Hunter, p 103
    • Also describing Palestinians as targets of violence due to association with Amalek is: Geaves, Ron, Islam and the West post 9/11, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004, p 30
    • Rabbi Shim'on Weiser, "Purity of weapons - an exchange of letters" in Niv" Hammidrashiyyah Yearbook of Midrashiyyat No'am, 1974, pp.29-31.
    quoted in Masalha, Nur (2007). The Bible and Zionism: invented traditions, archaeology and post-colonialism in Palestine-Israel. Zed Books. p. 158. ISBN 1842777610. . This book quotes Amnon Rubinstein, From Herzl to Gush Emunim and Back (1980), p. 124.
  61. "ADL Strongly Condemns Declaration of Rabbis" - ADL press release, dated Sept 9, 2004;
  62. Rebecca Spence " Rabbis: Israel Too Worried Over Civilian Deaths", in The Jewish Daily Forward, issue of August 25, 2006.
  63. Chomsky, Noam (1999). Fateful triangle: the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (2nd Ed, revised). South End Press. pp. 153–154. ISBN 0896086011. 
  64. 72.0 72.1 Wagner, Matthew, "Eliyahu advocates carpet bombing Gaza," The Jerusalem Post, 30 May 2007
  65. "Religious fundamentalism in Israel" by Stephen Lendman, Research associate of the Centre for Research on Globalisation.
  66. Popper, Nathaniel, "Chabad rabbi: Jews should kill Arab men, women and children during war", in Haaretz, 9 June 2009 [3]
  67. Friedman's apology for his choice of words regarding dealing with enemies.
  68. Robinson, George (2001). Simon and Schuster. 
  69. Bloch, Abraham P. (1984). A book of Jewish ethical concepts: biblical and postbiblical. KTAV Publishing House, Inc.. 
  70. Lewis, Harry Samuel (1915). Liberal Judaism and social service. Bloch Pub. Co.. p. 37. 
  71. Kalimi, Isaac; Haas, Peter J. (2006). Biblical interpretation in Judaism and Christianity. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 2. 
  72. Pasachoff, Naomi E.; Littman, Robert J. (2005). A concise history of the Jewish people. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 64. 
  73. Wylen, Stephen M. (2005). The seventy faces of Torah: the Jewish way of reading the Sacred Scriptures. Paulist Press. p. 20. 
    • Sanhedrin 11:1 specifies strangulation
    • Neusner, Jacob, Comparing religions through law: Judaism and Islam,
    page 107-111
    "The earthly court enjoys full power to dispose of the property and life of all subject to its authority - in the contex imagined by Rabbinic Judaism, of all residing in territory that comes under the state's control. Imposing the death penalty is described in the following way: …stoning, burning, decapitation, and strangulation…. [Summarizing Mishnah-tractate Sanhedrin 7:3]: (a) The religious requirement of decapitation [is carried out as follows]: … (g) the religious requirement of strangulation [is carried out as follows] … [Neusner conducts a survey of punishments] First come the death penalty on earth and its counterpart, which is extirpation (death before one's allotted time) imposed by heaven. "Heaven" refers to the heavenly court. [Crimes that are punished by extirpation by the heavenly court include:] incest, violating sex taboos (bestiality, homosexuality), blasphemy, idolatry, magic, sorcery, profaning Sabbath,… That is, the heavenly court and the earthly court impose precisely the same sanctions for the same crimes or sins. The earthly court therefore forms down here the exact replica and counterpart, within a single system of power, of the heavenly court up there."
    • Holmes, Barbara, "Sex, Stones, and Power Games" in Pregnant passion: BRILL, 2004, Holmes p 161
    • Costanzo, Mark, Just Revenge: Costs and Consequences of the Death Penalty, Macmillan, 1997, page 130
    • Rogerson , John William, Theory and practice in Old Testament ethics, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004, p 15
    • Seland, Torrey, Establishment violence in Philo and Luke: a study of non-conformity to the Torah and Jewish vigilante reactions, BRILL, 1995, pp 120-123 (a good overview of all the punishments, and which is in Tanakah, and which is in Tlamud)
  74. Commandments that refer to violent punishments include:
    • The courts must carry out the death penalty of stoning, Deut. 22:24
    • The courts must carry out the death penalty of burning, Lev. 20:14
    • The courts must carry out the death penalty of the sword, Ex. 21:20
    • The courts must carry out the death penalty of strangulation, Lev. 20:10
    • The courts must hang those stoned for blasphemy or idolatry, Deut. 21:22
    • The court must not let the sorcerer live, Ex. 22:17
    • The court must give lashes to the wrongdoer, Deut. 25:2
    • Lev 20:9, "If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death."
    • Milgrom, Jacob, Leviticus: a book of ritual and ethics : a continental commentary, Fortress Press, 2004 p 255
    • Deut 22:20-21,: "If, however, the charge [by a husband that his new bride is not a virgin] is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father's house. You must purge the evil from among you."
    • Deut 22:23-24: "If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the girl because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man's wife. You must purge the evil from among you."
    • However, victims of rape were not subject to punishment
    • Rofé, Alexander, Deuteronomy: issues and interpretation, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002, pp 172-178
    • Brenner , Athalya, Runions, Erin, "Violence and the Economy of Desire", in The feminist companion to the Bible, Volume 2 Continuum International Publishing Group, 1998, p 156
    • Holmes, Barbara, "Sex, Stones, and Power Games" in Pregnant passion: gender, sex, and violence in the Bible, Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan (Ed.), BRILL, 2004, p 153
    • Ex 22:19 - "Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death."
    • Rosner, Fred, Encyclopedia of medicine in the Bible and the Talmud, Jason Aronson, 2000, p 48
    • Dozeman, Thomas B, Exodus, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2009, pp 543-544
    • Ex 22:18 - "Do not allow a sorceress to live"
    • Dozeman, p 544
    • Rosner, p 287-288
    • Ex 22:22-24 - "Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless."
    • Dozeman, p 545-546
    • Lev 24:16 - "anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death."
    • Ex 22:28 "Do not blaspheme God [a] or curse the ruler of your people.
    • Prohibition against blashpemy is one of Judaism's 613 commandments ( based on Ex. 22:27; in Christian texts, Ex. 22:28), the penalty for which is death (Lev. 24:16) (negative).
    • Alexander, T. Desmond, Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, InterVarsity Press, 2003, p 82
    • Deut 21:18:21 - "If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." 21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid."
    • Drinkwater, Gregg, Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible, NYU Press, 2009, p 254
    • Lev 20:11 - "If a man sleeps with his father's wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
    • Lev 20:12 - "If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads."
    • Leviticus 20:14 - " 'If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.
    • See also Lev 18:7-19
    • Rosner, p 69, 173-174: Punishment for incest is by stoning or burnnig
    • Woods, Clyde M., Leviticus and Numbers, College Press, 2006, p 128
    • Deut 22:22 - "If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel."
    • Lev 20:10 - "If a man commits adultery with another man's wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death"
    • Rosner: p 14-15: strangulation is specified in Sanhedrin 84b (strangulation is not specified in the Torah) and also in Sanhedtrin 11:1
    • Lev 20:13 - "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
    • See also Lev 18:22 - " Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable."
  75. Deuteronomy 25:1-3 - When men have a dispute, they are to take it to court and the judges will decide the case, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty. 2 If the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall make him lie down and have him flogged in his presence with the number of lashes his crime deserves, 3 but he must not give him more than forty lashes. If he is flogged more than that, your brother will be degraded in your eyes.
  76. Goldstein, Warren (2006). Defending the human spirit: Jewish law's vision for a moral society. Feldheim Publishers. p. 269. ISBN 9781583307328. Retrieved 22 October 2010. 
  77. Free Bible Version...
  78. Megilat Esther - the Jewish Magazine
    • Lustick, Ian, For the land and the Lord: Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, Council on Foreign Relations, 1988. pp ix-xi.
    "Of decisive importance to Jewish fundamentalists is their belief that contemporary political developments are part of an unfolding cosmic drama that will determine, depending on the willingness of Jews to act decisively on its behalf, whether God's redemption of his people Israel, and of the whole world, will or will not soon reach its completion…. The massacre in the Hebron mosque on the Jewish holiday of Purim is a tragic, but telling, example. Preceded by a rash of killings of Jewish settlers by Muslim fundamentalists … it is not in the least a conincidence that the massacre took place on the Jewish holiday of Purim. For most Jews Purim means listening to .. the Book of Esther .. .It is an occasion for merry-making, games, charity and the exchange of gifts. But as Goldstein sat reading that same book on Purim even in 1994, it is almost certain he identified Yasir Arafat with Haman, the arch-enemy of the Jews of ancient Persia, and the killing of Jewish settlers over the previous months with Haman's murderous designs. Accordingly, he [Goldstein] focused on often-ignored verses at the end of the book [of Esther] which, for Jewish fundamentalists, capture the essence of the story under contemporary circumstances and contain a divine imperative to act. According to the Book of Esther the Jews are saved by the king who reverses Haman's evil decree and declares instead that Jews may do unto their enemies what their enemies had intended to do unto them 'to stand up for themselves, to destroy, to slay, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might assault them, with their little ones and women' (Esther 8:11)….By mowing down Arabs he believed wanted to kill Jews, Goldstein was re-enacting part of the Purim story."
    • Horowitz, Elliott S. (2006). Reckless rites: Purim and the legacy of Jewish violence. Princeton University Press. pp. 2–19, 107–146, 187–212, 213–247. ISBN 0691124914. 
    page 16: "This book deals not only with the theme of Amalek and responses - Christian as well as Jewish - to the book of Esther over the centuries, but also with Jewish violence connected with the holiday of Purim, from the early fifth century to the late twentieth."
    page 19: "The first [part of this book] is devoted .. to the book of Esther … Was it a book that promoted cruel vengance…? Since according to Jewish law the Amalekites, including women and children, had to be utterly destroyed, thinking about Amalek involved … thinking about the possibilities of, and justifications for, Jewish violence. [The second part of this book includes discussion of] one specific form of Jewish violence over many centuries - the descration of the cross and other Christian images…. [chapter 8 is] devoted to violence against Christians, sometimes within the context of the Purim festiviy, in the 5th-7th centuries. Chapter 9 carries the subject of Purim violence into the medieval and early modern Europe, especially against the background of the often violent rites of Carnival."
    • Bayme, Steven, "Saddam, Haman, and Amalek", in Jewish arguments and counterarguments: essays and addresses, KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2002: pp 75–80:
    "For many centuries Purim has been a source of both joy and embarassment for Jews. … Still others have challenged the doctrine of violence associated with the holiday… Martin Luther, for one, accused the Jews of bloodthirsty and vengeful spirit in the Book of Esther… [Luther] reflect[s] the close association of Purim with the biblical doctrine of war against the Amalek. The theme of Jewish violence against Haman and his supporters, the doctrine of Amalek, has caused Jews the greatest discomfort with the Book of Esther and the holiday with which it is associated…. Judaism teaches that violence is justified under certain circumstances - particularly defense against aggression … Amalek, the rabbis argue, is the eternally irreconcilable enemy who represents a value system that promotes murder … Herein lies the enduring relevance of Purim. Aggression must be stopped and evil eliminated…. The meaning of Purim is relevant to the question of the war in the Persian Gulf today [2002]…. [Saddam Hussein's] unprovoked Scud missle attacks against entirely civilian targets in Israel are reminiscent of Amaleks's treacherous attacks upon the … Israelites...."
    • The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Augmented Third Edition Michael David Coogan (Ed), p 708:
    "Jews and Christians have also been troubled by the story's [Book of Esther] enthusiastic account of the violence of the Jewish community's response to their enemies, which involved not only self defense but also the slaughter of women and children, including the sons of Haman. The bloodthirsty language, however, derives from the story's symmetric pattern of reversals.."
    • Gopin, Marc, Between Eden and Armageddon: the future of world religions, violence, and peacemaking, Oxford University Press US, 2000, pp 52–53:
    "I have known many Orthodox rabbis, for example, who would be happy to ensure that a holiday such as Purim, with its obligatory reading of the Book of Esther, which cluminates with the slaughter of the people - including their children - who tried to exterminate the Jewish people, would never be used to justify the killing of anyone today. They certainly are deeply ashamed by Baruch Goldstein's mass murder at the Hebron mosque, which was inspired in part by Purim…. They can and do give moralistic sermons, and they can and do interpret the story in less violent terms…. The hermeneutic give and take of Purim is but one example of the way in which a deeply embedded tradition will not disappear even when many people reject its implicit message of violence…. It is not likely [that Purim would diminish in importance] in the current climate of religious revivalism, but it is possible that the violence of the story could be overshadowed with time by the numerous benevolent characteristics of the holiday, such as aiding the poor…. Jewish empowerment allows for a new hermeneutic that could centralize the violence of the story. If the political situation were to rapidly deteriorate, it is conceivable that Purim could become for radical Jews what Ramadan has become for radical Muslims in Algeria, a killing season…. Even the most radically pacifist Jews that I know do not eliminate this holiday, although they do not really know what to do with sacralized violence yet, and are now only evolving a spiritual and ritual reworking of traumatic and violent episodes."
    • Nirenberg, David, Communities of violence: persecution of minorities in the Middle Ages, Princeton University Press, 1998page 220:
    "There is evidence … that Jews could use ritual violence to criticize the Christians in whose lands they dwelled An obvious example is Purim, on which see E. Horowitz, The Rite to Be Reckless ..; and for a late medieval Iberian example, S. Levy, "Notas sobre el 'Purrim de Zaragoza", Anuario do Filologia 5 (1979): 203-217."
    • Gonen, Jay Y., Yahweh versus Yahweh: the enigma of Jewish history, Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2005, pp 63–64:
    "In 1994, on Purim day, Jewish physician Baruch Goldstein burst into an Arab Mosque in Hebron … and sprayed Arab worshipers who were kneeling in prayer with bullets from an automatic weapon. Twenty-nine Palestinians were killed before the enraged crowd tore him to pieces. It was a shameful day in Jewish hisotyr, the memory of which should be injected into all future Purim celebrations as a sober reminder of the potential barbarism that is hidden within the old myths of vengeance wrought by the Sons of Israel upon their enemies…. [Baruch's] memorial plaque affirmed that 'he was murdered for the sanctification of the Name…'. In this manipulative phrasing the old Jewish ethos of martyrdom, the sanctification of the Name, was given new meaning - messianic, activist, and murderous…. Purim celebrations in Israel in 2001 were again blotted by ugly incidents. As Jewish hotheadedness increased … harassments of Palestinians took place. During Purim it was a mitzvah, or good deed, to sock it to the modern Amalekites… In Jerusalem dozens of Jews gathered in the Sabath Square, pelted cars with stones, tried to set a minibus on fire, and threw various objects at residents of the Arab quarter. In Zion Gate Jews beat up Palestinians, calling them 'dirty Arabs' and 'terrorists'. One drunken Jew who wounded an Arab in the eye subsequently attacked the police as he was arrested. There was no loss of life in these incidents, but this cannot be said about the Baruch Goldstein precedence of violence that was deliberately injected into the Purim ritual. And if it has become a Purim commandment to drink and then attack Arabs, how should the Arabs react?"
    • Robins, Robert S. and Post, Jerrold M., Political paranoia: the psychopolitics of hatred, Yale University Press, 1997, pp 162–163:
    "On February 25, 1994, when Dr. Baruch Goldstein walked into the mosque atop the Tomb of the patriarchs in Hebron and fired his automatic weapon into the worshipping Muslims, killing or wounding at least 130 of them … Also on the night before … Goldstein had read … from the Book of Esther which tells the story of the Jewish festival of Purim…. Purim [Baruch's] friend explained 'is a holiday to kill the people who are trying to kill the Jews'" … For most Jews Purim is a joyous celebration of deliverance. But for some it is a celebration of violence, commemorating an uprising of the Jews against their enemies, a day of righteous wrath when 'the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword and with slaughter and destruction, and did what they would unto them that hated them' (Esther 9:1)."
    • Hunter, Alastair G. "Denominating Amalek: Racist stereotyping in the Bible and the Justification of Discrimination" in Sanctified aggression: legacies of biblical and post biblical vocabularies, Jonneke Bekkenkamp, Yvonne Sherwood (Eds), Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003, pp 102–106.
    One illustrative quote from p 103: Hunter quotes Arthur Waskow: "on hearing of the murderous attack by Baruch Goldstein": "I know at once that this is no isolated crazy, this 'Baruch Goldstein' who has murdered forty of my cousins. I know at once, he has decided on this Purim to 'blot out the memory of the Amalek' not with a noise maker but with a machine gun… So then, in our generation, for some Jews the Palestinians become Amalek."
    • Boustan, Ra'anan S., Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in Early Judaism and Christianity, BRILL, 2010, p. 218
    "..Christians had grown apprehensive at what they perceived, not without reason, as the ill-will that Jews harbored against the Christian Church… Such concerns are already reflected in the legislation pased in 408 CE against the alleged Jewish practice of burning Haman in effigy on 'a form made to resemble the sainted cross' during the festival of Purim, which the authorities suspected was a gesture of ridicule aimed at the Savior himself…. And, indeed, a verse parody in Jewish Aramaic .. .which features Jesus Christ amid a host of Israel's enemies … justifying the punishment of Haman and bewailing their own cruel fates, may suggest that the dim view of Purim taken by Christian authorities was far from baseless."
  79. Hebron Jews: memory and conflict in the land of Israel, by Jerold S. Auerbach, p 137
    "Aside form an alleged 'great slaughter' of local Christians by Galilee Jews after the Persian invasion of Jerusalem in 614 CE, which other scholars believed to be dubious, evidence for repetitive Jewish violence on Purim through the centuries was exceedingly meager: occasional episodes of stone throwing, the spilling of 'rancid oil' on a Jewish convert, mockery of the Christian cross, and a total of three recorded Purim deaths inflicted by Jews in a span of more than 1,000 years…. Then, during the annual Purim parade in Hebron five years later [in 1986] a Jewish settler placed a keffiyah on an effigy of Haman, infuriating local Arabs."
  80. Abby Wisse Schachter, The Problem with Purim, February 2010, Commentary Magazine
    • Horowitz, pp, 4, 11, 315.
    Page 4: "On [Purim in 1994] Dr. Baruch Goldstein .. opened fire, with his army-issued semi-automatic rifle, on dozens of Muslims who were praying inside the mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, killing twenty nine. At the time [I was writing] a Hebrew version of an article about the history of Purim violence … as I saw the raucous celebrations in the center of Jerusalem continuing unabated, that there was a clear connection between past Purims and the present one was both exhilarating and disturbing… And the Sabbath before Purim … opens with the command to 'remember what th Amalek did' and concludes with .. the … exhortation to 'blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven'.
    • Hunter, Alastair G. "Denominating Amalek: Racist stereotyping in the Bible and the Justification of Discrimination" in Sanctified aggression: legacies of biblical and post biblical vocabularies, Jonneke Bekkenkamp, Yvonne Sherwood (Eds), Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003, page 103.
    Hunter quotes Arthur Waskow: "on hearing of the murderous attack by Baruch Goldstein": "I know at once that this is no isolated crazy, this 'Baruch Goldstein' who has murdered forty of my cousins. I know at once, he has decided on this Purim to 'blot out the memory of the Amalek' not with a noise maker but with a machine gun… So then, in our generation, for some Jews the Palestinians become Amalek."
    • Gopin, Marc, Between Eden and Armageddon: the future of world religions, violence, and peacemaking, Oxford University Press US, 2000, pp 52-53.
    • New, David S. Holy war: the rise of militant Christian, Jewish, and Islamic fundamentalism, McFarland, 2002, pp 147-148
  81. Auerbach, Jerold S, Hebron Jews: memory and conflict in the land of Israel, Rowman & Littlefield, 2009, p 137
  82. Paul Mendes-Flohr. 20th Century Jewish Religious Thought: Original Essays on Critical Concepts, Movements, and Beliefs, Jewish Publication Society, 2009. pg. 948. ISBN 0827608926.
  83. 104.0 104.1 Elliott S. Horowitz. Reckless rites: Purim and the legacy of Jewish violence, Princeton University Press, 2006. pg. 91. ISBN 0691124914.
  84. Weisburd, Jewish Settler Violence, Penn State Press, 1985, pp 20-52
  85. Lustick, Ian, "Israel's Dangerous Fundamentalists", Foreign Policy, 68 (Fall 1987), pp 118-139
  86. Tessler, Mark, "Religion and Politics in the Jewish State of Israel", in ‪Religious resurgence and politics in the contemporary world‬, (Emile Sahliyeh, Ed). SUNY Press, 1990 pp 263-296.
  87. Rabbi slams Jewish 'hooligans' - Israel News, Ynetnews. (1995-06-20). Retrieved on 2010-10-27.
    • Horowitz, Elliott S. (2006). Reckless rites: Purim and the legacy of Jewish violence. Princeton University Press. pp. 6–11. ISBN 0691124914. 
    • Rayner, John D. (1997). An understanding of Judaism. p. 57. ISBN 1571819711. 
  88. The ethics of war in Asian civilizations: a comparative perspective By Torkel Brekke, Routledge, 2006, p.44
    • Saleh Abdel Jawad (2007) "Zionist Massacres: the Creation of the Palestinian Refugee Problem in the 1948 War" in Israel and the Palestinian refugees, Eyal Benvenistî, Chaim Gans, Sari Hanafi (Eds.), Springer, p. 78:
    ".. the Zionist movement, which claims to be secular, found it necessary to embrace the idea of 'the promised land' of Old Testament prophecy, to justify the confiscation of land and the expulsion of the Palestinians. For example, the speeches and letter of Chaim Weizman, the secular Zionist leader, are filled with references to the biblical origins of the Jewish claim to Palestine, which he often mixes liberally with more pragmatic and nationalistic claims. By the use of this premise, embraced in 1937, Zionists alleged that the Palestinians were usurpers in the Promised Land, and therefore their expulsion and death was justified. The Jewish-American writer Dan Kurzman, in his book Genesis 1948 … describes the view of one of the Deir Yassin's killers: 'The Sternists followed the instructions of the Bible more rigidly than others. They honored the passage (Exodus 22:2): 'If a thief be found …' This meant, of course, that killing a thief was not really muder. And were not the enemies of Zionism thieves, who wanted to steal from the Jews what God had granted them?'
    • Carl. S. Ehrlich (1999) "Joshua, Judaism, and Genocide", in Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, Judit Targarona Borrás, Ángel Sáenz-Badillos (Eds). 1999, Brill. p 117-124.
  89. Morris 2008, pp. 126–128.
    • Weisburd, David (1985). Jewish Settler Violence. Penn State Press. p. 65. ISBN 0271026731. 
    • Bruce, Steve (2008). Fundamentalism. Polity. p. 4. ISBN 0745640753. 
    • Ehud Sprinzak, "From Messianic Pioneering to Vigilante Terrorism: The Case of the Gush Emunim Underground", in Inside terrorist organizations David C. Rappoport (Ed.), Routledge, 2001. p. 194-214.
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  92. Rabbinic response: Jewish Law on the Killing of Yitzhak Rabin, By Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center, 11/14/2005: "First of all, the law of the pursuer only applies to a spontaneous act, whereas Yigal Amir planned this assassination for two years. Secondly, the law of the pursuer is only intended to save a potential victim from imminent death. There is absolutely no proof that withdrawing from certain territories will directly lead to the death of any Jews. On the contrary, Prime Minister Rabin, over half the members of the Knesset, and over half the population of Israel believe exactly the opposite - that it will save Jewish lives. Lastly, this law does not refer to elected representatives, for if Yitzhak Rabin was really a pursuer, then so are all his followers and that would mean that Amir should have killed over half the population of Israel! In other words, even according to the law of the pursuer, this act was totally futile and senseless since the peace process will continue."
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  95. U.S. Appeals Court Affirms Designation of Kahane Chai, Kach as Terrorist Groups Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
  96. Kach, Kahane Chai (Israel, extremists) Council for Foreign Relations, 20 March 2008
  97. Lustick For The Land and The Lord: The Evolution of Gush Emunim, by Ian S. Lustick
  98. Pedahzur, Ami, and Arie Perliger (2009). Jewish Terrorism in Israel. Columbia University Press. pg 33-36
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  100. Bohn, Michael K. (2004). The Achille Lauro Hijacking: Lessons in the Politics and Prejudice of Terrorism. Brassey's Inc.. p. 67. ISBN 1574887793. 
  101. Federal Bureau of Investigation - Congressional Testimony
  102. JDL group profile from National Consortium for the Study of Terror and Responses to Terrorism
  103. Kahane Chai (KACH) Public Safety Canada
  104. Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) U.S. Department of State, 11 October 2005
  105. Council Decision of 21 December 2005 implementing Article 2(3) of Regulation (EC) No 2580/2001 on specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities with a view to combating terrorism and repealing Decision 2005/848/EC Official Journal of the European Union, 23 December 2005
  106. On the Air, Palestinians Soften Tone on Israelis New York Times, December 15, 2004
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  109. "Israel rabbi calls for 'plague' on Mahmoud Abbas". BBC News. 30 August 2010. 
  110. Ovadia Yosef atones to Mubarak after declaring Palestinians should die By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz, 16.09.10
  111. Ovadia Yosef 'blesses' peace partners in letter By JONAH MANDEL Jerusalem Post, 09/16/2010 21:47
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  114. "The List: The World’s Worst Religious Leaders". April 2008 (original article no longer available online). Copies are cached at and reproduced on Retrieved 17 March 2010.
  115. Stephen Lendman (20–26 August 2009). "Religious fundamentalism in Israel". Al Ahram Weekly. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  116. Haaretz, 2010 Aug. 23, "Those Noisy Barbarians, Dov Lior, the Chief Rabbi of Hebron, Doesn't Want Jews to Take on Boogie-Woogie from the Jungle,"
  117. "Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira is the alleged author of a book which deems as legal, according to 'Jewish law,' the killing of non-Jews" by Chaim Levinson. Haaretz.
  118. "Yitzhar rabbi suspected of incitement" by Ben Hartman.
  119. "Yitzhar rabbi detained by police". Investigators suspect Elitzur-Hershkowitz of racial incitement by Yaakov
  120. "Does the Torah back burning mosques?" by Rabbi Gideon Sylvester. The Jewish Chronicle Online. 22 october 2010.
  121. "Palestinian mosque torched in suspected 'price tag' operation by settlers." by Avi Issacharoff. Haaretz.
  122. "Arsonists torch mosque in West Bank village" by Diaa Hadid. Associated Press.
  123. 147.0 147.1 "Chief rabbi: Palestinian mosque burning harkens to Kristallnacht" by Anshel Pfeffer. Haaretz.
  124. "Settlers replace Korans burnt in West Bank mosque attack". Reuters.
  125. "Board slams West Bank mosque arson". The Jewish Chronicles Online. October 7, 2010.
  126. Bearing witness: violence and collective responsibility, Sandra L. Bloom, Michael Reichert, Routledge, 1998: page 242
  127. Rasha. Retrieved on 2010-10-27.
  128. The Jewish Way to Wage War. (2009-12-17). Retrieved on 2010-10-27.
  129. Judaism by Arye Forta, Heinemann, 1995, ISBN 9780435303211 , p. 122 [7]


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