A Minnesota rabbi is in hot water after a controversial piece in the latest issue of Jewish culture magazine Moment.
In a piece featuring several rabbis, Rabbi Manis Friedman of Bais Chana Institute of Jewish Studies in St. Paul responded to the question "How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors?" by suggesting that Jewish people should kill Arab men, women and children in addition to destroying their holy sites.
The piece sparked outrage from many in the Jewish community, including two Jewish groups, and a response from the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Friedman responded to the outcry with his own update on the website.
Check it all out below.
This is Friedman's full piece in Moment:
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.Two Jewish groups and CAIR called on leaders in the political and religious communities to repudiate the piece's suggestion that it was acceptable to kill Arabs.
The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).
The first Israeli prime minister who declares that he will follow the Old Testament will finally bring peace to the Middle East. First, the Arabs will stop using children as shields. Second, they will stop taking hostages knowing that we will not be intimidated. Third, with their holy sites destroyed, they will stop believing that G-d is on their side. Result: no civilian casualties, no children in the line of fire, no false sense of righteousness, in fact, no war.
Zero tolerance for stone throwing, for rockets, for kidnapping will mean that the state has achieved sovereignty. Living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations who suffer defeat because of a disastrous morality of human invention.
Cecilie Surasky of Jewish Voice for Peace responded with a statement:
"Rabbi Manis Friedman's outrageous suggestion that killing Arab men, women and children, and destroying their religious sites is 'the Jewish way' is an affront to all people, but especially Jews who value all life equally. While his statement in no way represents the views of the vast majority of Jews, we are alarmed by the increasing numbers of extremist settlers in Israel, and their American supporters, who share his refusal to acknowledge the value of Palestinian and Arab life. Far from bringing peace and security to Jews, this abhorrent disregard for the lives of non-Jews only leads to more bloodshed and war."Here is the statement from CAIR-MN Communications Director Jessica Zikri:
"This disturbing call to genocide and religious desecration must be repudiated by all Minnesotans who value peaceful coexistence and interfaith harmony. Silence in the face of such extremist views will only serve to give the author a false sense of legitimacy and approval."
Rabbi Haim Beliak, executive director of national educational foundation HaMifgash also released a statement:
"The original quote and the apology by Manis Friedman suggest a debased morality and an atrophied ethical sensibility. Friedman does not speak for Judaism. There is no Judaism where neighbors - Jewish and non-Jewish - are treated without regard to their status as fellow human beings. Jewish ethics reminds us that we owe 'the other' infinite obligations of care and concern, not only in theory but in practice. In war and peace, the status of civilians and innocent bystanders must be respected."Moment published a response today from Friedman today explaining his piece, which doesn't make him look much better.
Friedman said the views expressed in the article were his own and do not represent the Jewish community as a whole. He also said his answer to the question was misleading because he claims he was responding to a question about how Jewish people should act in a time of war when the enemy uses women, children, and religious places as shields in the fight.
Here is an excerpt from his response:
It is obvious, I thought, that any neighbor of the Jewish people should be treated, as the Torah commands us, with respect and compassion. Fundamental to the Jewish faith is the concept that every human being was created in the image of G-d, and our sages instruct us to support the non-Jewish poor along with the poor of our own brethren.I apologize for any misunderstanding the words printed in my name created.
The question my statement addresses is: how should we act in time of war, when our neighbors attack us, using their women, children and religious holy places as shields. I attempted to briefly address some of the ethical issues related to forcing the military to withhold fire from certain people and places, at the unbearable cost of widespread bloodshed (on both sides!)--when one's own family and nation is mercilessly targeted from those very people and places! (I look forward to further clarifying my brief words, too, in a future issue.)