This is in reference to Marsha Hurwitz’s letter last Monday, “Some Muslims don’t renounce all attacks.” Hurwitz suggested that her hope is shattered in regard to some statements about suicide bombings.
In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu indicated that the correct response to rocket attacks on the border town of Sderot is the collective punishment of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. He said: “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.
“According to Jewish war ethics, an entire city holds collective responsibility for the immoral behavior of individuals. In Gaza, the entire populace is responsible because they do nothing to stop the firing of Kassam rockets.”
His letter, published in Olam Katan, a weekly pamphlet to be distributed in synagogues nationwide, cited the biblical story of the Shechem massacre (Genesis 34) and Maimonides’ commentary (Laws of Kings 9, 14) on the story as proof texts for his legal decision.
Eliyahu’s son, Shmuel Eliyahu, who is chief rabbi of Safed, said: “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand, and if they do not 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.”
I checked the comments on the article. One commenter, responding to another, said: “Idiot, God gave Israel all the land between the Euphrates and the Nile. The sons of Ishmael are murderers.” Another said: “People forget Israel is God’s chosen people, and God is a God of war. Enemies of Israel can never win. They are evil incarnate. Who shall take down the enemies? Certainly not Bush.”
I guess such sentiments go on both sides. The thing is that when it comes from the highest moral and religious authority, then we have a major problem.
National vice chairman, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Columbus