Baby-killing: Ideological underpinnings of the settler movement

by Yaniv Reich on November 9, 2009

When Yaakov “Jack” Teitel was arrested a couple weeks ago, we heard endless preaching from the settler community about how he was an isolated and extreme case, as if the ethnic cleansing they perpetrate in the West Bank is not criminally suspect enough.

Today, we are provided with a 230-page guide from Rabbi Yitzhak Shapiro, from the Yitzhar settlement near Nablus, on the religious-ethical guidelines for killing non-Jews:

“In any situation in which a non-Jew’s presence endangers Jewish lives, the non-Jew may be killed even if he is a righteous Gentile and not at all guilty for the situation that has been created,” the authors state. “When a non-Jew assists a murderer of Jews and causes the death of one, he may be killed, and in any case where a non-Jew’s presence causes danger to Jews, the non-Jew may be killed.” One of the dispensations for killing non-Jews, according to religious law, applies in a case of din rodef (the law of the “pursuer,” according to which one who is pursuing another with murderous intent may be killed extrajudicially) even when the pursuer is a civilian. “The dispensation applies even when the pursuer is not threatening to kill directly, but only indirectly,” the book states. “Even a civilian who assists combat fighters is considered a pursuer and may be killed. Anyone who assists the army of the wicked in any way is strengthening murderers and is considered a pursuer. A civilian who encourages the war gives the king and his soldiers the strength to continue. Therefore, any citizen of the state that opposes us who encourages the combat soldiers or expresses satisfaction over their actions is considered a pursuer and may be killed. Also, anyone who weakens our own state by word or similar action is considered a pursuer.”

Then they go on to discuss the ethics of baby-killing (seriously):

“Hindrances—babies are found many times in this situation. They block the way to rescue by their presence and do so completely by force. Nevertheless, they may be killed because their presence aids murder. There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.”

In addition, the children of the leader may be harmed in order to apply pressure to him. If attacking the children of a wicked ruler will influence him not to behave wickedly, they may be harmed. “It is better to kill the pursuers than to kill others,” the authors state.

Yep, there really was a section on the legitimacy of baby killing. Then they move on to a discussion of killing innocent people:

In a chapter entitled “Deliberate harm to innocents,” the book explains that war is directed mainly against the pursuers, but those who belong to the enemy nation are also considered the enemy because they are assisting murderers.

Retaliation also has a place and purpose in this book by Rabbis Shapira and Elitzur. “In order to defeat the enemy, we must behave toward them in a spirit of retaliation and measure for measure,” they state. “Retaliation is absolutely necessary in order to render such wickedness not worthwhile. Therefore, sometimes we do cruel deeds in order to create the proper balance of terror.”

In one of the footnotes, the two rabbis write in such a way that appears to permit individuals to act on their own, outside of any decision by the government or the army.

“A decision by the nation is not necessary to permit shedding the blood of the evil kingdom,” the rabbis write. “Even individuals from the nation being attacked may harm them.”

Unlike books of religious law that are published by yeshivas, this time the rabbis added a chapter containing the book’s conclusions. Each of the six chapters is summarized into main points of several lines, which state, among other things: “In religious law, we have found that non-Jews are generally suspected of shedding Jewish blood, and in war, this suspicion becomes a great deal stronger. One must consider killing even babies, who have not violated the seven Noahide laws, because of the future danger that will be caused if they are allowed to grow up to be as wicked as their parents.”

It must be made clear that this rabbi is clearly an extremist of the most vile sort. But he is certainly not alone. This book was immediately recommended by other influential rabbis, including Rabbi Yithak Ginzburg and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, to their followers. This is, unfortunately, all-too-characteristic of national-religious ideology.

From Maariv, another Israeli daily:

One student of the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in Yitzhar explained, from his point of view, where Rabbis Shapira and Elitzur got the courage to speak so freely on a subject such as the killing of non-Jews. “The rabbis aren’t afraid of prosecution because in that case, Maimonides (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, 1135–1204) and Nahmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Nahman, 1194–1270) would have to stand trial too, and anyway, this is research on religious law,” the yeshiva student said. “In a Jewish state, nobody sits in jail for studying Torah.”

Don’t mind those cute little bible nerds, they are just “studying”.

Jack Teitel was a member of a larger terrorist movement, which includes people like these rabbis, whose job it is to provide the ideological justification for the behavior of Teitel, Amir, Goldstein, Natan-Zada, Amshalem, and the thousands of settlers who harass, attack, and dispossess Palestinians on a daily basis.

The question is this:

When will Israel start investigating and disrupting this terrorist network with genuine vigor? Or at the very minimum, when will Israel stop supporting these criminals with financial, military, judicial, and political resources?

Given the 42 year history of Israeli governmental support for these psychopaths, I think the answer will be: Not soon enough.

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