With two headline-grabbing acts of violence in recent days allegedly involving religious Jews – and with the secular media “on the warpath” against rabbis whom they accuse of “inciting the public” to acts of violence – dozens of Religious Zionist rabbis have issued a proclamation against the use of violence, in any context.
Titled “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” the rabbis write that “early in our history, our nation was given the ten Commandments, with its clear prohibition on murder. This commandment was an extension of a commandment given to earlier generations, when G-d told Noah and his sons that 'murderers shall be punished.'”
Jews have historically been known to be “very sensitive to the value of human life. Any veering away from this principle was immediately and sharply criticized by the prophets. The First Temple was destroyed because of murder, among other things, and hatred leading to murder destroyed the Second Temple.
“Here, too, in our modern state of Israel, this principle is a very important one,” the rabbis wrote. “Even thought we are forced to fight for the defense of our cities, but this is only when the authorized bodies instruct us to do so, based on the proper methods of morally waging war, and not in an undisciplined manner.”
While the letter did not specifically mention the attack on the Arab village of Duma, which authorities believe was committed by Jewish extremists, the rabbis said that “the complicated reality of our lives requires us to review clearly what our Torah teaches us – that we may not murder. No one may dare to mar our lives and values with acts that are unacceptable, and any attempt to attribute such actions to 'acting in the name of Heaven' is an insult to G-d, who is the Master of Peace.”
On Sunday, 16-year-old Shira Banki died in hospital after being stabbed in the back by haredi extremist Yishai Schlissel, who attacked marchers at the annual Jerusalem gay parade last Thursday. Five other people were also injured in the attack, one of them seriously, before Schlissel was wrestled to the floor and disarmed by police.
Meanwhile, the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) are frantically investigating the firebomb attack at the village of Duma early Friday, in which 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha was burned to death. Officials said that they suspect Jewish extremists from nearby communities, reports in the Israeli media said Sunday.
On Friday, Channel One hosted a symposium to discuss both acts of violence, with numerous public figures weighing in. The fault, according to most of them, was with “the rabbis,” who “incite” religious Jews – both hareidi and Religious-Zionist – to attack those with whom they disagree politically and religiously.