Notes from Jerusalem: Blood Libels

Rochel Sylvetsky,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Rochel Sylvetsky
Rochel Sylvetsky is Senior Consultant to Arutz Sheva's English site and serves as op-ed and Judaism editor. She is a former Chairperson of Emunah Israel (1991-96), CEO/Director of Kfar Hanoar Hadati Youth Village, member of the Emek Zevulun Regional Council and the Religious Education Council of Israel's Education Ministry. She has degrees in Mathematics and Jewish Education.

Back to the Middle Ages

It is all so chillingly familiar: I don't know where the truth lies, but even after suspects have been arrested, it is still too chillingly familiar.

With perfect timing for the Passover Seder, a Christian boy's body is found, providing the excuse for a bloody pogrom which has no connection with the reality that Jews are forbidden to consume blood and that eventually, the Christian murderers are found.

With perfect timing that will change the focus of the media - even Jewish and Israeli media - from horror and grief at the kidnap/murder of our boys to accusing Jews, a Muslim boy's body is found, causing Arab riots although there is no evidence that Jews perpetrated the crime and every reason to suppose that it is another Muslim honor killing, especially since the body is burned.

There is one basic difference,

In mediev‎al times, the Jews did not believe for a moment that this could be the work of Jews. Today, some of our leaders and most of our media have internalized the legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative, taking its claims at face value.  Tzipi Livni could have kept quiet, for example. Netanyahu could have said that Arabs are murdering Arabs in cold blood all over the MIddle East and he is waiting for the results of the investigation. Bennett could have reminded people that there was no vengeance for the Fogel murders or any others of the thousands we have buried, so there is no reason to suppose this was done by Jews

The media could have brought the history, current and otherwise, of honor killings and body burnings in the Muslim world. But no. To get a time slot, one must condemn Jews, hinting at those awful price tag graffiti sprayers (has anyone noticed that the Arab rioters sprayed those words in Hebrew very professionally - as if they had done it before?)

We could just wait. If the murder was perpetrated by Jews, we would eventually find out and could say everything then. The very thought is so horrific, it boggles the mind -  and may be the reason I felt the need to write this.

But, have we forgotten Al-Dura so quickly?

I wonder - is the need to believe it is Jews who did it, to  jump on the condemnation bandwagon a result of an inner, unconscious desire to see someone mete out vengeance? Is there a subconscious hope that it is true, that Jews really did do what we all won't do, but actually wish could be done to Arab terrorists? to have them fear us once again? I hope not.

Do the police want to point a finger at "settler youth" to lower the condemnation level at their fatal incompetence upon receiving a desperate text message from the abducted boys? How many times have they jumped to arrest supposed price tag perpetrators only to have the courts order them freed, criticizing the lack of evidence? I hope not.

Is it a need to find a way to point a finger at those "settlers" after a short 18 day break? 

I don't know the answer, but one can condemn a murder and say that the jury is still out on the identity of the murderer. It is not out on who killed our boys.


The left and the Satmar Rabbi who spoke out last week are not very far apart on this, but they might do well to remember that Toulouse is not in Judea and Samaria, nor is the Sbarro pizza parlor, so that space where Jews can live without being in danger or offending the "goyim" is becoming as scarce as it used to be. HIstory seems to be repeating itself, and probably every generation that saw anti-Semitic attacks of Jews thought that they were the last, that the non-Jews would soon see reason. After all, why would Jews bring the Black Plague on anyone? Except that Jew-hatred has nothing to do with reason and everything to do with a visceral, instinctive hatred, masked as human rights, as economic usurpation, as anything that is the trend of the times. 

Herzl was wrong. A Jewish state would not end anti-Semitism, it would focus it on that state (and I might add that I wrote that in a high school essay, much criticized by the teacher who did not move to Israel as I did in order to be a part of Jewish history).

Satmar has a rationale, it can found in the sefer (book on Torah related topic) "VaYoel Moshe" by the former Satmar Rebbe of that name in the section entitled " The Three Oaths".  The Talmud states that G-d has posited three oaths regarding the Jewish people after the Temple's destruction,  connected to a three times repeated verse in the Song of Songs:"I have made you take an oath, o daughters of Jerusalem, not to awaken the love until it is willing". This is interpreted in the Gemara as meaning that the love for Jerusalem notwithstanding, there are three conditions for return: One, that it is forbidden to initiate an attack on those controlling or dwelling in the land; two, that it is forbidden to defy the nations of the world in order to return; three, that the other nations must not overdo their persecution of the Jews.

Religious Zionists saw the Holocaust as neutralizing the third condition, making the entire Talmudic three-oath contract null and void. However, the late Rav Shaul Yisraeli, the great religious Zionist sage at  Merkaz Harav yeshiva,  wrote that the UN vote and San Remo Conference made the first two conditions null and void as well, authorizing the establishment of the state.

Satmar does not accept that and quotes the continuation of the Talmudic passage which says that there will be a high cost in blood for not keeping the oaths. Hence, the stringent hassidim's avoidance of holy sites that were freed by the sacrifice of IDF soldiers, such as the Western Wall and Rachel's Tomb - not because they do not feel for the loss, but quite the opposite. It is because they opine that there should not have been a state and an IDF where young Jewish blood is spilled in the first place.

There is great love for Jews in Satmar, but none for Zionism. There is also much chagrin at the statement blaming the boys' parents for letting them be in dangerous territory of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, leader of one of the groups that arose after the schism following the demise of the nephew of the above-mentioned undisputed Satmar Rebbe, Rav Yoel's passing.  Hassidim told me ruefully that he is known for saying the wrong thing at every possible opportunity.

The question of how Redemption occurs is in dispute in the religious world - does the Messiah arrive in a blaze of glory or is the Redemption a process. Rabbi Kook and Religious Zionists see it as a process, citing as proofs the fulfillment of the clearly stated Talmudic signs of its coming. They are that the land become fruitful again and that there is an ingathering of the exiles, both irrefutably true in modern day Israel. The opposing camp awaits a one-phased miraculous Redemption.

For the Record (the entire entry below was sent to Arutz Sheva by a professor, with the request that he not be identified)

Burning a corpse is strictly forbidden by Jewish law.

In stark contrast, burning someone alive is one form of the traditional ritual of Muslim honor killings. ,

Three weeks ago, in Tunisian news, A Father Burned His 13-Year-Old Daughter to Death for Walking Home With a Boy. Tunisian

Last week a news wire reports: A 17-year-old girl and her husband were killed by her family for marrying without its consent, and another young woman was burned alive by a man for refusing his proposal in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province, police said Sunday.

In Yemen, a 15-year-old Yemeni girl was burned to death by her father for getting in touch with her fiancé before their wedding

In old news:

Horror in Nigeria: pupils burn to death in boarding school attack by Boko Haram

400 women burned in Iraq

Rarely does a victim of attempted honor killing by being burnt alive survive but one did and bravely told her story in her paperback book, Burned Alive: A Survivor of an "Honor Killing" Speaks Out. When Souad was seventeen she fell in love. In her West Bank village, as in so many others, sex before marriage is considered a grave dishonor to one's family and is punishable by death. This was her crime. Her brother-in-law was given the task of meting out her punishment. One morning while Souad was washing the family's clothes, he poured gasoline over her and set her on fire. Miraculously, she survived, rescued by women of her village, who put out the flames and took her to a local hospital. Horribly burned over seventy percent of her body and still denounced by her family, Souad was able to receive the care she needed only after the intervention of a European aid worker. Now in permanent exile from her homeland, she has decided to tell her story and reveal the barbarity of a practice that continues to this day. Burned Alive is the first true account ever published by a victim of an "honor crime." Souad's inspiring testimony is a shocking, moving, and harrowing story of cruelty and incomparable courage.and an inspiring call to action to end a heinous practice.

In a study on Honor killings about half are not killed but tortured to death which includes being burned to death. This appears to be an age old method which is found in the Qur'an (48:29) - "Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. ... Muhammad orders his men to burn alive those who do not present themselves at the mosque for ...

In some perverse sense bringing alive is one way that the sinner can still get into heaven as a martyr. A family who is shamed by the adulterer or homosexual and is charged with the obligation of executing the honor killing finds in this a method so that their wayward relative is not forever damned.

The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, "The martyrs are seven, other than the one who is killed in the Way of Allah, Ta'aalaa:
- one who dies of plague,
- one who drowns,
- one who dies of pleurisy,
- one who dies of stomachache,
- one who dies due to burning
- one who dies under a demolition (by accident)
- a woman who dies with a baby in her womb."
(Maalik, Aboo Dawood, An-Nasaaee, Ibn Maajah, Ibn Hibban, Haakim, Ahmad. Authenticated by al-Albaane