octombrie 2011

The article below is from 2009, but it goes well with Danios’ series on how “Jewish Law” can be interpreted by some in a bellicose and genocidal manner. Can one imagine if the below were said by a mainstream Muslim scholar? All hell would break loose. (hat tip: DE)

Popular Rabbi’s Comments on Treatment of Arabs Show a Different Side of Chabad

By Nathaniel Popper (Forward.com)

Like the best Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis, Manis Friedman has won the hearts of many unaffiliated Jews with his charismatic talks about love and God; it was Friedman who helped lead Bob Dylan into a relationship with Chabad.

But Friedman, who today travels the country as a Chabad speaker, showed a less warm and cuddly side when he was asked how he thinks Jews should treat their Arab neighbors.

“The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle),” Friedman wrote in response to the question posed by Moment Magazine for its “Ask the Rabbis” feature.

Friedman argued that if Israel followed this wisdom, there would be “no civilian casualties, no children in the line of fire, no false sense of righteousness, in fact, no war.”

“I don’t believe in Western morality,” he wrote. “Living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations who suffer defeat because of a disastrous morality of human invention.”

Friedman’s use of phrasing that might seem more familiar coming from an Islamic extremist has generated a swift backlash. The editor of Moment, Nadine Epstein, said that since the piece was printed in the current issue they “have received many letters and e-mails in response to Rabbi Friedman’s comments — and almost none of them have been positive.”

Friedman quickly went into damage control. He released a statement to the Forward, through a Chabad spokesman, saying that his answer in Moment was “misleading” and that he does believe that “any neighbor of the Jewish people should be treated, as the Torah commands us, with respect and compassion.”

But Friedman’s words have generated a debate about whether there is a darker side to the cheery face that the Chabad-Lubavitch movement shows to the world in its friendly outreach to unaffiliated Jews. Mordecai Specktor, editor of the Jewish community newspaper in Friedman’s hometown, St. Paul. Minn., said: “The public face of Lubavitch is educational programs and promoting Yiddishkeit. But I do often hear this hard line that Friedman expresses here.”

“He sets things out in pretty stark terms, but I think this is what Lubavitchers believe, more or less,” said Specktor, who is also the publisher of the American Jewish World. “They are not about loving the Arabs or a two-state solution or any of that stuff. They are fundamentalists. They are our fundamentalists.” Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a regular critic of Arab extremists, said that in the Jewish community, “We are not immune to having these views. There are people in our community who have these bigoted, racist views.”

But, Foxman warned, Friedman’s views are not reflective of the Chabad rabbis he knows. “I am not shocked that there would be a rabbi who would have these views,” Foxman said, “but I am shocked that Moment would give up all editorial discretion and good sense to publish this as representative of Chabad.”

A few days after anger about the comment surfaced, Chabad headquarters released a statement saying that, “we vehemently disagree with any sentiment suggesting that Judaism allows for the wanton destruction of civilian life, even when at war.”

The statement added: “In keeping with Jewish law, it is the unequivocal position of Chabad-Lubavitch that all human life is G-d given, precious, and must be treated with respect, dignity and compassion.”

In Moment, Friedman’s comment is listed as the Chabad response to the question “How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors?” after a number of answers from rabbis representing other Jewish streams, most of which state a conciliatory attitude toward Arabs.

Epstein said that Friedman was “brave” for stating his views so clearly.

“The American Jewish community doesn’t have the chance to hear opinions like this,” Epstein said, “not because they are rare, but because we don’t often ask Chabad and other similar groups what they think.”

The Chabad movement is generally known for its hawkish policies toward the Palestinians; the Chabad Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, rejected peace accords with the Palestinians. Rabbi Moshe Feller, the top Chabad rabbi in Minnesota, said that the rebbe taught that it is not a mitvah to kill, but that Jews do have an obligation to act in self-defense.

“Jews as a whole, they try to save the lives of others,” Feller told the Forward, “but if it’s to save our lives, then we have to do what we have to do. It’s a last resort.”

Friedman is not a fringe rabbi within the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. He was the English translator for the Chabad Rebbe, and at the rebbe’s urging, he founded Beis Chana, a network of camps and schools for Jewish women. Friedman is also a popular speaker and writer on issues of love and relationships. His first book, “Doesn’t Anyone Blush Anymore?” was promoted with a quote from Bob Dylan, who Friedman brought to meet the rebbe.

On his blog and Facebook page, Friedman’s emphasis is on his sympathetic, caring side. It was this reputation that made the comment in Moment so surprising to Steve Hunegs, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council: Minnesota and the Dakotas.

“Rabbi Friedman is a best-selling author who addresses some of the most sensitive issues of the time,” Hunegs said. “I intend to call him and talk to him about this.”

But Shmarya Rosenberg, a blogger and critic of Chabad who lives a few blocks from Friedman in Minnesota, says that the comment in Moment is not an aberration from his experiences with Friedman and many other Chabad rabbis.

“What he’s saying is the standard normal view of a Chabadnik,” Rosenberg said. “They just don’t say it in public.”

For his part, Friedman was quick to modify the statement that he wrote in Moment. He told the Forward that the line about killing women and children should have been in quotes; he said it is a line from the Torah, though he declined to specify from which part. Friedman also said that he was not advocating for Israel to actually kill women and children. Instead, he said, he believed that Israel should publicly say that it is willing to do these things in order to scare Palestinians and prevent war.

“If we took this policy, no one would be killed — because there would be no war,” Friedman said. “The same is true of the United States.”

Friedman did acknowledge, however, that in self-defense, the behavior he talked about would be permissible.

“If your children are threatened, you do whatever it takes — and you don’t have to apologize,” he said.

Friedman argued that he is different from Arab terrorists who have used similar language about killing Jewish civilians.

“When they say it, it’s genocide, not self-defense,” Friedman said. “With them, it’s a religious belief — they need to rid the area of us. We’re not saying that.”

Feller, the Chabad leader in Minnesota, said that the way Friedman had chosen to express himself was “radical.”

“I love him,” Feller said. “I brought him out here — he’s magnificent. He’s brought thousands back to Torah mitzvah. But he shoots from the hip sometimes.”

Contact Nathaniel Popper at popper@forward.com.


Kol Nidre is the most haunting prayer in the Jewish liturgy. I would gauge that more Jews attend synagogue at this moment than at any other time in the year. (You’ve already missed it if you wanted to go.) For some it may be an act of desperation, a stance between belief and non-belief, hovering somewhere between trust and trembling. In any case, it is my or your—if you had decided to try—last chance to settle accounts with God, in the heavens or with the god of your imagination. Kol Nidre means not “all prayers” but “all vows.” The theology of this distinction goes back many centuries, at least to the sixth century C.E. There are several interpretations. But the dry legal formula which introduces the plea certifies at least one explanation for sure, and it is that Jews had for more than a millennium been legally coerced or socially dragooned into swearing fidelity to one or another Christian faith and Christian prince. It happened to Jews in Muslim jurisdictions, as well.

Could these converts be admitted to a congregation of Jews? Here’s what the rabbis answered:

In the tribunal of Heaven and in the tribunal of Earth, by the permission of God and by the permission of the holy congregation, we hold it lawful to pray with the transgressors.

Simple! But what sturm und drang attended these trials of the soul.

Kol Nidre has its place in the general culture. A part of the traditionalniggun (melody) found its way into Beethoven’s 6th String Quartet, Op. 131. Max Bruch—a Protestant, by the way—did his own gorgeous orchestration and you can listen to it with either Pierre Fournier,Jacqueline Du Pre, or Yo-Yo Ma as cello soloist. It was also put to song by Perry ComoJohnny Mathis, and Neil Diamond, aside from a close-to-authentic rendition earlier in the century by Al Jolson in the filmThe Jazz Singer.

Still, the most chilling of the cultural expressions of Kol Nidre is the one composed by Arnold Schoenberg, the innovator of twelve scale and inspiration to just about everyone from Alban Berg through John Cage to Glenn Gould. Born a Jew, he was converted in 1898 to Christianity under the influence of Gustav Mahler, a prior convert himself. Schoenberg returned to the faith and to the Jewish people, with Marc Chagall at his side, at a 1933 religious ceremony in the synagogue on the rue Copernic in Paris where in 1980 Palestinian “freedom fighters” pulled off a bombing which killed four people and injured dozens. It was October 3, the eve of Simhat Torah, what turned out to be only the beginning of a series of attacks at pregnant moments of the Jewish calendar in places of Jewish worship, at each of which several lives were taken from the innocent.

You might have noticed the year of Schoenberg’s return: 1933. It was not an accident. He was standing up as in a confessional to declare himself a Jew and a Zionist when mobs all over Europe were braying for the skin of his people. I always listen to some of Schoenberg’s music around the High Holidays—and, frankly, some of it is trying. But the environment was much more than trying, especially for Jews, and his compositions were part of his way of coming to terms with the hatred of the gentile world—at once oh, so polite and so bloody—for the people of the book who, in Palestine, were also making themselves the people of the plow. Now, they are a people among very few other peoples who can claim to have put their stamp on science. I confess to feeling fraternal pride whenever one of my tribe receives the Nobel Prize. So I’ve admitted it: I have tribal feelings and I pity those Jews who don’t. They are nothing Jews. You can see the discomfort on their faces when they try to explain to you that they are “cultural Jews” when all that means is that they like Woody Allen. A world of thought and spirit and body, and they proudly reduce it all to one little drip. Oops! This is another sin of mine, to insult a great comic and just before Kol Nidre.

Fifteen years ago, maybe 20, I was asked to do the narration to Schoenberg’s Kol Nidrewith the American Symphony Orchestra and its conductor Leon Botstein at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall. It was not a star performance. But after the concert I was accosted (politely) by a tall and elegant old man who told me he had survived Sobibor, theumshlagplatz from which very few escaped alive. My guess (he told me but I can’t remember now) from his accent is that he hailed from Germany or Austria or maybe Czechoslovakia, not Poland where my mother and father’s families were led or fed to the slaughter. The man told me that he’d been a communist in his youth, that there were communists as well as Jews in the camp. And then his eyes teared up. He asked me whether I knew the poem “Elegy for the Soviet Yiddish Writers” by the late great novelist Chaim Grade. I said yes. I even recalled some lines. He wandered off, muttering something like “the communists, too. For survival trust only ourselves.”

It’s a harsh judgment he made. And wrong in a way. FDR may not have much cared for the dying Jews under his war watch. Maybe, in the tangle of strategy and tactics, he didn’t much notice. But it is America and some of the commonwealth English-speaking countries who have bonded with Israel and in the crazy house of the United Nations sheltered it from what could be a Charlie Chaplin spoof of international diplomacy. The U.S. has made itself responsible for some of the margins in military hardware that insure the Jewish state. I want to be very candid about this: As some of you understand, I do not trust Barack Obama’s feelings for Israel. But he has not ever endangered Israel’s strategic edge. What his silly talk does is another matter. Still, his talk has become in recent weeks less silly. But only in recent weeks.

Some synagogues and congregations—this means mostly their rabbis—charge their faithful with transgressions of the whole house of Israel. Some charge them with bearing the sins, real and imagined, of the State of Israel. I do not deny that there are such sins. But—this is a weak defense—even they are lesser offenses than the offenses of other nations. Compare the targeted assassinations conducted by Israel and by our own country. Hands down. For Israel, this struggle is a fight for survival, no way out. For the U.S., it is an intricate calculation with many alternatives: After all, George Bush didn’t conduct the Iraq war relying on targeted assassinations (although I would have wished he had). I could go on and on.

There is a new type of Jew in the world: one whose only Jewish feelings and only Jewish thoughts are criticisms of Israel. Nothing else. If he cries gevald he’s so full of heart—for Israel’s declared enemies. If he’s of the cerebral type he’s a dreykop with clever burglaries from Jewish logic. It cannot be a gratifying life. Or certainly a gratifying Jewish life. His Jewishness—in name only, of course—is an instrument, a useful instrument to more effectively lambaste Israel. “I am one of them. And even I despise them.”

On the day before Kol Nidre, Nicholas Kristof took it upon himself tolecture the Jews about their responsibility to chastise Israel for the idea of a “whole” Jerusalem, for new housing in Jerusalem, even for Israel’s rough-going with Turkey, “its most important friend in the region.” Why do I say that he is lecturing the Jews? It’s simple, all too simple. He addressed his column to Israel’s friends: “Friends do not let friends drive drunk.” He is finished arguing with Netanyahu. It’s hopeless, although the Israeli prime minister has been willing to come to the table for eons but without having settled the issues that have divided the two parties for more than 60 years—and actually closer to a century.

Now, I have a grudge against Kristof. Last year about this time he wrote a column attacking me for what he deemed racist words about Muslims. I apologized for one stupid, really stupid and perhaps also prejudiced remark about them. I’ve woken up nights thinking about this fault—yes, even sin—against conscience. But I am not so sure that my main point that Muslim societies and Arab societies tolerate mass violence with greater equanimity is wrong. Just think of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, even Egypt. And Libya where the rebels are said to have triumphed over the tragic-comic personalist killer-fascism of Qaddafi. But in that liberated Libya there is an epidemic of revenge. Anyway, Kristof wrote and a mob of thugs, following him, so to speak, tried to chase me across Harvard Yard, shouting, “Peretz is a racist pig.” Big triumph for Kristof and his sensitive sensibility.

I suppose that I am among the friends of Israel who is called upon to intercede with Netanyahu. But, as Kristof points out himself, it is not Netanyahu alone or with his coalition. It is the people of Israel who no longer can be seduced into an agreement that is fundamentally implausible. I know, moreover, that it is difficult for an egotist like Bill Clinton to accept that the terms of peace which his underlings crafted are by now not even germane. After all, Israel accepted them before. The Times columnist may console himself that, if not for Bibi, even Oslo might be resuscitated. It can’t. And it is not especially because of the settlements. I happen to think that there will be a tacit understanding without a signed agreement, and that small Jewish villages and towns in central Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) will be left empty. Gaza is an ugly precedent. But it is a precedent, nonetheless. No Israeli really wants all of Jerusalem. Parts of it will be shucked off to whatever the Palestinians can make of Palestine. Maybe you think a lot. I think it’s a phantasm. Maybe many Arab flags will fly on Al Aqsa plaza and many Israeli police will be stationed there. In the meantime, we know that more and more Palestinians want to live in an Israeli Jerusalem. Some 20,000 have already moved there within the last 18 months.

Kristof also pins responsibility on Bibi for the conflict with Turkey, “burning bridges with Israel’s most important friend in the region.” Perhaps Kristof hasn’t noticed that Erdogan has shattered ties with many countries and entered upon a pan-Islamic campaign in the Ottoman style. Even the FT, which finds it hard to chastise any Muslim country, published an at once plaintive and angry editorial, “Talking Turkey,” which is an attempt to curb the country’s sudden aggressive spirit.

As it happens, Kristof’s strategem of calling on Israel’s friends—in the Yom Kippur context, the obvious ploy for America’s Jews—to change Netanyahu’s policy is actually based on false history. The Palestinians have not yet—and I sadly believe they won’t anytime soon—confronted the reality that is staring them in the face. It is the reality of a democratic, social democratic, increasingly social democratic country with the advantages of active enterprise that knows how to defend itself. It will not empty the West Bank as long as there is the probability, even the possibility of rockets and missiles and bombs aimed at the heart of the country which, given its size, is everywhere. History has not stood still over these last more than six decades. The Arabs cannot have what they turned down as temporary armistice in 1949. They also cannot have a peace with neither of their movements (Fatah and Hamas) having provably shorn themselves of the terrorist spirit and terrorist strategy.

Here is Kristof’s panacea:

The Palestinians’ best hope would be a major grass-roots movement of nonviolent peaceful resistance aimed at illegal West Bank settlements, led by women and inspired by the work of Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A growing number of Palestinians are taking up variants of that model, although they sometimes ruin it by defining nonviolence to include stone-throwing and by giving the leading role to hotheaded young men.

From his mouth to God’s ear. And, no, I will not confess at Kol Nidre tonight and atNeilah tomorrow night and during the day of fasting in between to what Kristof sees as my sins and the sins of the people Israel in this blessed land.

Martin Peretz is editor-in-chief emeritus of The New Republic.


Fiery Address Unites Democrats, Republicans, and Tea Party Idealists Behind „Jews For Genocide”

Moses parted the Red Sea. Jesus walked on water. And now Benjamin Netanyahu has healed the partisan divide in Washington D.C., the greatest miracle of all time, according to this morning’s editorial in the New York Times.In a forty-five minute address before a Joint Session of Congress the tough-talking Israeli Prime Minister convinced a heretofore bitterly divided U.S. political class to lay aside its budget battles and concentrate on America’s transcendent purpose: to resettle Palestinian Arabs in outer Mongolia so Israel need no longer face the Arab “demographic threat” to Jewish democracy.The nuance-laden speech, entitled “They Must Go!” was interrupted 637 times by standing ovations, which left many Congress members afflicted with repetitive motion disorders. “He makes it all so clear,” gushed California Senator Barbara Boxer, rubbing an elbow dislocated by continuous applause. “Why should we be at each others’ throats over budget matters when Israel faces extinction at the hands of HAMAS (Horrible Arab Mothers Affirming Sexuality)?” 

“If they are not stopped from having babies on Jewish land,” said California’s other Senator Diane Feinstein, “Jews will soon be a minority in their own country. In other words, it will be the Holocaust all over again.”

“And that would undermine the free market,” added Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, “because God gave the land to the Jews, and no one has the right to tell a landlord what to do with his land.”

“It would also be a defeat for immigrants’ rights,” said Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) a leading spokesman for comprehensive immigration reform, “because Israel is a nation of immigrants continually made subject to terrorist attacks by Arab nativists refusing to recognize that unlimited immigration is good for everyone. They’ll find that out once we relocate them to Mongolia.”

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) agreed that violent expulsion was the best solution, but added that Fidel Castro should be included in the forced march to Mongolia. “The Arabs are radical Communists like Fidel. I mean, what’s more Communist than one person, one vote? They’re birds of a feather that should flock together.”

Michele Bachmann (D-Minn.) offered to switch her party affiliation to Likud ” if that would help God win in 2012.” President Obama praised her spirit of conciliation and said he would consider her as a running mate if she didn’t get the GOP nomination.

“She’s on my short list,” said Obama. “It’s either her or Palin or Joe Lieberman,” he added.” “Bibi has promised to let me know soon.”

The president pooh-poohed talk of Bachmann lacking qualifications to serve as president. “She loves God and Israel, and what other qualifications are there?”

Michael K. Smith is the author of The Madness of King George from Common Courage Press. He co-blogs with Frank Scott at

www.legalienate.blogspot.comRead other articles by Michael.


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | While diplomatically inconvenient for the Western powers, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s attempt to get the United Nations to unilaterally declare aPalestinian state has elicited widespread sympathy. After all, what choice did he have? According to the accepted narrative, Middle East peace is made impossible by a hard-line Likud-led Israel that refuses to accept a Palestinian state and continues to build settlements.

It is remarkable how this gross inversion of the truth has become conventional wisdom. In fact, Benjamin Netanyahu brought his Likud-led coalition to open recognition of a Palestinian state, thereby creating Israel’s first national consensus for a two-state solution. He is also the only prime minister to agree to a settlement freeze — 10 months — something no Labor or Kadima government has ever done.

To which Abbas responded by boycotting the talks for nine months, showing up in the 10th, then walking out when the freeze expired. Last week he reiterated that he will continue to boycott peace talks unless Israel gives up — in advance — claim to any territory beyond the 1967 lines. Meaning, for example, that the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem is Palestinian territory. This is not just absurd. It violates every prior peace agreement. They all stipulate that such demands are to be thesubject of negotiations, not their precondition.

Abbas unwaveringly insists on the so-called “right of return,” which would demographically destroy Israel by swamping it with millions of Arabs, thereby turning the world’s only Jewish state into the world’s 23rd Arab state. And he has repeatedly declared, as recently as last week in New York: “We shall not recognize a Jewish state.”

Nor is this new.

It is perfectly consistent with the long history of Palestinian rejectionism. Consider:

 Camp David, 2000. At a U.S.-sponsored summit, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offers Yasser Arafat a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza — and, astonishingly, the previously inconceivable division of Jerusalem. Arafat refuses. And makes no counteroffer, thereby demonstrating his unseriousness about making any deal. Instead, within two months, he launches a savage terror war that kills a thousand Israelis.

 Taba, 2001. An even sweeter deal — the Clinton Parameters — is offered. Arafat walks away again.

 Israel, 2008. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert makes the ultimate capitulation to Palestinian demands — 100 percent of the West Bank (with land swaps), Palestinian statehood, the division of Jerusalem with the Muslim parts becoming the capital of the new Palestine. And incredibly, he offers to turn over the city’s holy places, including the Western Wall — Judaism’s most sacred site, its Kaaba — to an international body on which sit Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Did Abbas accept? Of course not. If he had, the conflict would be over and Palestine would already be a member of the United Nations.

This is not ancient history. All three peace talks occurred over the past decade. And every one completely contradicts the current mindless narrative of Israeli “intransigence” as the obstacle to peace.

Settlements? Every settlement remaining within the new Palestine would be destroyed and emptied, precisely as happened in Gaza.

So why did the Palestinians say no? Because saying yes would have required them to sign a final peace agreement that accepted a Jewish state on what they consider the Muslim patrimony.

The key word here is “final.” The Palestinians are quite prepared to sign interim agreements, like Oslo. Framework agreements, like Annapolis. Cease-fires, like the 1949 armistice. Anything but a final deal. Anything but a final peace. Anything but a treaty that ends the conflict once and for all — while leaving a Jewish state still standing.

After all, why did Abbas go to the United Nations last week? For nearly half a century, the United States has pursued a Middle East settlement on the basis of the formula of land for peace. Land for peace produced the Israel-Egypt peace of 1979 and the Israel-Jordan peace of 1994. Israel has offered the Palestinians land for peace three times since. And been refused every time.

Why? For exactly the same reason Abbas went to the United Nations last week: to get land without peace. Sovereignty with no reciprocal recognition of a Jewish state. Statehood without negotiations. An independent Palestine in a continued state of war with Israel.

Israel gave up land without peace in south Lebanon in 2000 and, in return, received war (the Lebanon war of 2006) and 50,000 Hezbollah missiles now targeted on the Israeli homeland. In 2005, Israel gave up land without peace in Gaza, and again was rewarded with war — and constant rocket attack from an openly genocidal Palestinian mini-state.

Israel is prepared to give up land, but never again without peace. A final peace. Which is exactly what every Palestinian leader from Haj Amin al-Husseini to Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas has refused to accept. Which is why, regardless of who is governing Israel, there has never been peace. Territorial disputes are solvable; existential conflicts are not.

Land for peace, yes. Land without peace is nothing but an invitation to national suicide.