When you read stories like the one I’m about to tell, it makes you wonder about the editorial judgment of the staff of some American Jewish newspapers. The Five Towns Jewish Times published yesterday, The Appropriate Response To Islamic Terror (the newspaper doesn’t have the courage of its publishing convictions and has removed the original article–I’ve linked to a cached version) by Lawrence Kulak. It’s a long, rambling discourse on Islamism and Muslim terror that advocates killing Muslim civilians in retaliation for Islamists killing western civilians.
Apparently, some Arab American activists picked up on the article and noticed a few glaring statements that simply boggle the mind:
…The only way to deal with Islamic terrorists is the same way in which they deal with their victims. Muslims believe in the literal interpretation of the Biblical doctrine of an eye for an eye, and they do not have respect for anything perceived as a lesser standard of justice. They killed our innocents, and unless we kill theirs, they will go on killing ours. The Torah, however, preaches a doctrine which, if implemented by the West, could finally put an end to all Islamic terror: If somebody is coming to kill you, rise up and kill him first.
Hard to believe the newspaper’s editor didn’t stop when he saw the italicized phrase. Unfortunately for him, CAIR noticed it and the paper is going to be in a considerable amount of hot water.
In addition, the problem with Kulak’s understanding of the Talmud’s (not the Torah as Kulak claims) dictum, which he apparently believes is the equivalent of the Bush Doctrine’s justification of pre-emption–is that he is wrong. The Talmud speaks of rising up to kill someone who is coming to kill you in the most literal sense. It does not mean for you to take the statement figuratively (though many on the Jewish far-right do). In other words, it would never justify murdering Islamists (even moreso innocent Muslim civilians) because they have expressed hostility to Jews or even, God forbid, attacked Jews in the past. Halacha would demand that you know that specific Muslims are coming to kill you before it would be permitted for you to kill those specific individuals (and certainly not other Islamists). And the statement is certainly not meant as justification for religious war against Islam or even Islamists.
The Arab-American community has rightfully called on New York’s Jewish community to denounce both the column and the editors who endorsed the sentiments in allowing them to see the light of day. Let’s see whether Abe Foxman and David Harris understand the impact that such Jewish racism has on the public discourse.
Of course, the rest of Kulak’s articles is full of specious generalizations about Islam which he probably gleaned from Jewish “experts” on Islam like Daniel Pipes and Frontpagemagazine. Here he claims that the Pakistani state targeted India in the Mumbai terror attack:
Muslim countries are routinely targeting innocent civilians via their terrorist proxies and leaving the standing armies of nations alone. This is more or less what recently occurred in Mumbai, India.
Kulak conveniently drops any reference to Lashkar e Taibe, the Pakistani terror group generally believed responsible for Mumbai. Why bother to differentiate? It’s all Al Qaeda to Kulak:
The Mumbai attack signifies a change of course for Al Qaeda…
Here Kulak, the anti-terror expert, proffers advice India never asked for:
…The Mumbai attack [was]…an attack on India’s sovereignty…As such, it cries out for some type of retaliatory attack by the Indian government.
India’s foreign minister pointedly rejected the author’s advice saying there would be not attack against Pakistan. Thank God, there are cooler heads in India policymaking circles than in the suburban Long Island Jewish community.
Here, Kulak urges the western nations whose citizens were murdered in Mumbai to launch an invasion of Pakistan to destroy Lashkar and any Pakistanis who stand in their way:
…The attack on the foreign nationals of Israel, the United States, and Great Britain…constitutes an act of war against these countries and therefore legitimizes the infiltration of Pakistani territory for the purpose of pursuing the aggressors. While a generalized war with Pakistan should not be contemplated or pursued, it may be unavoidable…
The retaliation that is undertaken should strike hard at the…properly identified terrorist commanders and fellow terrorists of those identified in the attack, in a series of sustained surprise attacks over a period of time that is aimed at total eradication of the entire network that coordinated this attack. Any and all collateral damage in the form of casualties to friends, relatives, or anyone connected to the lives of these terrorists should be swiftly ignored. Public opinion and what is written in the newspapers should also be ignored by nations seeking to avenge the death of its innocent civilians.
When terrorists undertake to hide behind a sovereign government and to attempt to hide within its borders, it becomes the responsibility of that government to take swift action to flush them out and to neutralize them. Pakistan has obviously not done this…It must now step aside and let the foreign governments whose citizens have been mercilessly attacked take the proper course of action.
Spoken like the true armchair warrior Kulak undoubtedly is. He won’t have to be flying the sorties or infiltrating the terror bases or spilling his guts when he’s attacked by Pakistanis defending their homeland from such attack. He won’t be defending himself from the inhabitants outraged that western nations have trampled over Pakistani sovereignty. Though if a Pakistani succeeds in infiltrating New York to get revenge, he might get caught in a terror attack. Then he’d be yet another statistic in the holy war between Islam and the west. And he’d be playing into the Al Qaeda plan and playbook.
The Jewish author clearly favors all out war against Islam. Even George Bush comes in for criticism for being too “soft” on the religion:
President Bush also delivered a setback to his own war on terror when, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, he labeled Islam a peaceful religion…
In the following twisted passage, Kulak argues that Barack Obama is committed to killing Osama bin Laden because the president-elect knows this will create a Muslim martyr and thereby further the goals of “Muslim radicals:”
…If…Barack Obama is really sympathetic to the Muslims radicals, it might also explain why his main promise in continuing Bush’s war on terror was to pursue this archterrorist through the hills of Pakistan. If Bin Laden is killed and hence martyred, it will only bring honor to himself and his family, who will be very much intact and alive. That will only give rise to more militant imams and more terrorist leaders.
This is how Kulak justifies collateral damage when the U.S. attacks and kills innocent Afghans in the pursuit of terror suspects. In the process he commits a travesty in mischaracterizing the hilchot milchama:
In terms of Jewish law…a nation may defend itself with whatever means necessary, even if it includes causing death to civilians.
Jewish law states that a nation should defend itself with weaponry commensurate to the danger it faces and an army must do its absolute utmost to avoid killing civilians. So much for the niceties of actual Jewish halacha. Don’t let them get in your way, Mr. Kulak.
The reason why it’s important for the Jewish community to speak out about garbage like this is because lately the world has become a tinder box of religious hate: Hebron, Mumbai, etc. While Kulak’s views may be in the minority in our community, he is by no means alone. In fact, many national Jewish leaders probably aren’t quite as outspoken or radical in their views. But they would find much to sympathize with here. That’s why we need to let the world know that Jews don’t hate Muslims. They don’t want a holy war against Islam. They don’t want to invade Muslim countries. If we remain silent then the Islamists will fill in the picture for us and we won’t like the image one bit.
The reader who provided this story tip also discovered through online research that a Lawrence Kulak was involuntarily hospitalized in New York State under a 1991 disagnosis of bipolar disorder. Research indicates that both the Lawrence Kulak who was hospitalized and the one who wrote this article are (or were) lawyers. If I were a newspaper editor and knew this information, I think I would’ve exercised due care and deliberation before publishing. The ideas expressed here (and possibly the author himself) are in extremis. But then again, I think we can say that the state of Muslim-Jewish and Israeli-Arab relations are also in extremis and I wouldn’t denigrate or diminish Kulak’s views by attributing them to a mental condition. They are dangerous precisely because they are shared by so many other Jews.