It is ironical, given that fundamentalist Christians are those who are most supportive of Israel and the Zionists. Ironical because within Orthodox Judaism there is a virulent anti-Christian strain.
Of course some of this was understandable, given the existence of Christian anti-Semitism you might think, but in fact Talmudic anti-Christian sentiments were a product of the Jews’ historic social roles as traders. The contempt for Christianity was on a par with the contempt that the rich have for the poor, in other words a distorted form of class hatred at a time when Jews were, in Abram Leon’s words [The Jewish Question, A Marxist Interpretation] a People-Class.
As chance would have it, I was having a debate over this very topic. As is well known the Talmud holds that there is a difference between saving a Jewish life or killing a Jew and saving or not saving a non-Jew or killing them. We have seen that with the recent controversy over Torat Hamelech in Israel – a book which justifies the mass murder of non-Jews.
It’s author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, whose arrest was attacked across the religious Zionist spectrum, wrote e.g. this under “Conclusions – Chapter Five: The Killing of Gentiles in War”:

“There is a reason to kill babies [on the enemy side] even if they have not transgressed the seven Noahide Laws [to believe in God, not to commit idolatry, murder, theft or adultery, to set up a legal system, and not to tear a limb from a live animal] because of the future danger they may present, since it is assumed that they will grow up to be evil like their parents….”

Is there anyone who can honestly say these are not Nazi-like principles? Babies and children can be killed because of the ‘future danger they may represent.’ Wasn’t this exactly the justification for killing Jewish children and babies by the Nazis?
But these view have a long pedigree, albeit in a very different context from today, i.e. it was never possible to carry them out and they therefore fell into disuse like much religious schmatter. The Talmudic principle in general is that Gentiles’ lives must not be saved although it is forbidden to murder them outright. Tractate Avodah Zarah p. 26b expresses this in the saying ‘Gentiles are neither to be lifted [out of a well] nor hauled down [into it]’.
Maimonides [Mishneh Torah, ‘Laws on Murderers’ 4,11 Talmudic Encyclopaedia, ‘Goy’] explained:

‘As for Gentiles with whom we are not at war… their death must not be caused, but it is forbidden to save them if they are at the point of death; if, for example, one of them is seen falling into the sea, he should not be rescued, for it is written: ‘neither shalt thou stand against the blood of they fellow – but [a Gentile] is not thy fellow.’
[for more such, see Israel Shahak Jewish History, Jewish Fundamentalism]

But of course this fell into disuse and it was disallowed if such behaviour were to cause Jews to come under threat, as it certainly would. It is under Zionism in Israel, that these long fallen into disuse religious commandments have taken on a new life as Jews have power again over non-Jews (Palestinians). These are the religious views that are exterminatory, because those holding these views have power already of life and death over the inhabitants of Gaza. Hamas has no power.
Although this article is over 2 years old it is an important one. How hundreds of New Testaments were burned by Orthodox Jews with the encouragement of Or Yehuda’s Mayor. Imagine the uproar if this had been Sifrei Torah.
And note how Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, head of the Har Etzion Yeshiva who came out against the letter of the Chief Rabbi of Safed that Jews shouldn’t rent properties to non-Jews admitted that:

“There is no doubt the arguments in the letter are based on sources from the sages of blessed memory, and generations of halakhic tradition, but the document in general leaves one with the impression that it builds its conclusions on assumptions that reflect a particular, but not the only possible, halakhic approach.”

His views owed, of course, more to pragmatism, which has always guided the operative principles of Talmudic wisdom rather than any point of principle per se.
And also note how the ‘moderate’ Rabbi Haim Druckman is against discrimination against ‘loyal’ Arabs. In other words they face a political purity test of adherence to Zionism. But it was Zionism that led to the discrimination they faced in the first place. Zionism is, after all, about achieving a pure Jewish state. So there aren’t too many Zionist Arabs around! Druckmann’s is a nice compromise. You keep the discrimination and ban on renting to Arabs but the excuse changes – a bit!!

Tony Greenstein

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *