For years, I struggled with the evil deeds committed by Israeli settlers and their supporters, who act in the name of Judaism. How could I as a Jew have anything to do with them? How can we share the same religion? How does it implicate me in their chilul ha’shem if I do share a religion with them? I was, and am uncomfortable with merely denouncing their acts and saying “not in my name.” Saying they don’t represent Judaism is not enough; because for a significant number of Israeli, and some Diaspora Jews, they do represent Judaism.
I determined that I cannot call them Jews. They violate every precept of Judaism I know. They are murderous, racist, genocidal thieves. They have made their bed with white Christo-supremacists and even neo-Nazis. They have made a travesty of Jewish suffering during the Holocaust by co-opting it as a defense for mass murder.
In short, these are not Jews. They are pagan idolaters. Worshippers of stones and bones. That is, the stones of the ancient Temple, which they seek to rebuild after destroying the Al Aqsa mosque, third holiest site in Islam; and the ancient lands of the Israelites, long since settled for centuries by Palestinian Arabs and a small remnant of indigenous Jews, now coveted by these false Jews. They worship the bones of these Israelite ancestors fetishized in places like Joseph’s Tomb and the Ibrahimi mosque.
Jews do not worship physical space or even territory for its own sake. They do not believe if they steal every inch of ancient Judea and make it theirs (whatever that means), that this will bring the messiah. Similarly, Jews do not worship human beings. They worship ideas and values as espoused by the Biblical prophets: justice, mercy, righteousness, freedom. And the religious among us worship the divine that is in all of them. This doesn’t remotely represent what settlers are.
No claim from an ancient book–written who knows when, where and by whom–gives a Jew, two thousand years later, the right to usurp, ethnically cleanse, and mass murder another people who has lived in this land for generations. A book is not a property deed. A claim of divine sovereignty is not a deed of sale. You can’t steal someone’s property with the claim that God approved your theft. There is no halachic edit that says: “Thou shalt not steal…unless God says it’s OK.”
Just as the Bible railed against pagan temples and rites co-existing amidst or alongside Israelite religion, so these Judeo-pagans have taken up residence among us. But we must extirpate them from our religion just as the Bible demanded the expulsion of the ancient pagans.
There is precedent for what I advocate. In the past, when a Jewish movement endangered the existence of the larger Jewish community, rabbinic authorities excommunicated it and its followers. Jews were no longer permitted to associate with them. They were ostracized from all communal institutions. That was the fate of the messianic Sabbateans, followers of Shabtai Tzvi, who converted to Islam and became a member of the Ottoman caliph’s household. Similarly, the followers of Jacob Frank, known as Frankists, declared that their leader was the messiah, come to redeem the Jews. He went so far that he went in the opposite direction and converted to Christianity. The leaders of the Jewish community determined that this too posed a threat to its coherence and existence. So they too were excommunicated.
Obviously, most of us no longer live in communities which adhere to halacha. A rabbinic edit does not carry the weight of the days of Shabbtai Tzvi and Jacob Frank. But rabbis and communal leaders lead by example. They set a moral standard. They define ethics for us.
When the community and its leaders refuse to clearly define what is acceptable and what is not, then the world will come to think of this horrific theology-ideology as the proper standard of Judaism. If terrorists attack Jews, thinking erroneously that all Jews believe what these monsters believe, why are they wrong? Of course, they are objectively, because we know that we are not them. But why should any terrorist understand this distinction when we don’t make it clearly?
We will have only ourselves to blame for this. We could take a stand. We could label them apikorsim (heretics). We could separate ourselves from them and say they are not us. They are not Jews. They defile our religion and we will not permit this.
If you are a rabbi, do something. Say something. If you belong to a synagogue ask your rabbi to denounce this explicitly and publicly in a High Holiday sermon, preferably. Rabbis should tell congregants they must not visit settlements. Their Israel missions must not, either. No meet-and-greets with settlers. Put them in cherem. If you belong to a Jewish communal group, urge action. Not just words, but actions.
The Judeo-genocidaires among us
A Haaretz news report inspired this post. Among the miscreants and lunatics inhabiting the Knesset is one Limor Son Har-Melech, a true “woman of valor” in Israel. She is a member of the genocidal Jewish Power party. A settler crony of her chief of staff posted a series of messages in a journalists’ WhatsApp group. They included:
“Of course it’s allowed to wipe out Hawara. It’s a village full of terrorists who support terrorism and march with joy after attacks.”
Ben Shahar charges that the Palestinian residents of the West Bank town of Hawara “incite [terrorism] in mosques on Friday, and in their schools they raise [children] to be martyrs” adding that “All the houses in the village should be destroyed. It’s allowed, it’s ethical, it’s legitimate… That’s how the work’s done.”
Muslim houses of worship too were hotbeds of “hatred” which must be eliminated:
Ben Shahar also justifies the destruction of the holy places in the Palestinian town, such as mosques and prayer venues. “A mosque isn’t a holy place if its teachings are to kill Jews,” explains Ben Shahar. “We need to go through all the mosques in Israel quickly before Ramadan and shut down every single one that incites terrorism and the murder of Jews.”
Of course, there are no Palestinian mosques which teach killing Jews. But all of the settler yeshivot teach the tenets of genocide. They are the hotbeds of hate. And they should be extirpated.
Ben Shahar emphasized that “Every street, every alley, every village and every neighborhood that decides to be an enemy of the people of Israel will bear the consequences and [then] there’ll be silence.”
Of course, there will not be silence if Israel ever tried this strategy. Not only would Palestinians mount armed resistance, but their allies in the Muslim world would also join in the fight. And if anyone argues that the Abraham Accords have destroyed any bonds of solidarity with the Palestinian people, you wait till these Judeo-thugs begin this genocidal campaign. It will unite the Muslim-Arab as they have not been united for decades, if ever.
Then these genociders will have a true war of Gog and Magog between Jews and Muslims. A final battle to the death. One which none can win because all will be destroyed. It will mean the weaponization of religion leading to the death of humanity in the Middle East, if not the entire planet.
The WhatsApp messages above are more than words of incitement. They are words leading directly to deeds. Rwanda’s state radio station broadcast such blood-curdling incitement in the months leading up to the genocidal slaughter of 800,000 Tutsi. It happened there. It can happen here. It can and will happen in Israel. Unless we do something decisive as Jews to stop it.