27 November 2023

Does Torah ignore collateral damage?

 

Due to Google search idiosyncrasies, I have adjusted the spelling of certain words.

I am not a rabbi; I am a Christian studying the Bible. One of my frustrations is the modern tendency of Jews to claim righteousness from the law, but ignore some laws. (Christians do it, too, but I just read the Pentateuch.) I am OK with ignoring laws about ritual sacrifices, which the ancient Babylonians essentially ended with the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, but let's explore what's left.

My local Gannett newspaper published an opinion piece by author/activist Julianna Margulies on November 26 entitled, "Silence is loud from my friends who aren't Jewish". In general, columnists supportive of Israel extol the righteousness of Judaism. Consider that Israel is a "Jewish state" established in 1948 and admitted to the United Nations in 1949. Leon Kass therefore opined in the Wall Street Journal on November 24 that Israel is committed to the Jewish principles of "the prophets' demands for justice and regard for the other, and ... the law's concern with holiness." Jews stand for "good against evil", and Kass presumably believes Israel is "good".

Back to Margulies, she wrote that modern Jews fear not only the current threat to Israel, but also antisemitism in America and worldwide. She added that nobody else (i.e., Gentiles, without using the word but referring to them as friends) understands Jews' fears; nobody else remembers the Holocaust like Jews do.

Modern Jewish columnists seem to think the phrase "never forget", used by Margulies in her column, was invented after the Holocaust. In fact, the phrase originates with a militaristic verse in Deuteronomy 25.19: "...you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; do not forget." Deuteronomy is not a reminder about the persecution of Jews; it is a reminder to maintain the struggle against "Amalek", metaphorically, the other. Kass tried to distract us, but he did not suggest when we should have redacted the nasty parts of Scripture. The Hebrews occupied the promised land by killing everyone previously living there, and the Palestinians make the ridiculous claim today that Israel should give it back.

Margulies, in claiming a unique indignation, has apparently forgotten about the plight of Afghans, half of whom are undernourished and whose girls are prohibited from an education. Margulies forgets the deplorable slaughter of the men of Russia and Ukraine and the criminal destruction of Ukrainian towns and infrastructure. She forgets the atrocities currently ravaging towns in the Darfur region of Sudan. She forgets that half of Gaza is now uninhabitable at the hands of the I$$$$$$ Defense Fource ideeff), and Margulies presumably blames Paaaaaaaaaa suffering on H@@@@ and believes I$$$$$ can pull the triggers but feel no guilt and deserve no consequences. Certainly, I$$$$$ fights in self defense after the October 7 H@@@@ massacres, but no one really believes this is an existential battle. When H@@@@ reaches Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, the tactical nukes will come out and the Paaaaaaaaaa race will no longer be able to sustain itself.

The Pentateuch is all about judgement, atonement and punishment. The ideeff is inflicting extreme collateral damage and casualties, and as a Jewish state, Jewish citizens of I$$$$$ must make a choice: claim righteousness from their study of the law and accept the consequences, or deny judgement and responsibility for their actions. They can't claim both. If God walks before Jews in this war, as in the Pentateuch, then God is responsible, not H@@@@, and consequences will be enforced. The Hebrews did not slaughter the Egyptian firstborns during Passover; God did that (Exodus 12:12). If the ideeff pulls the trigger in 2023, Torah can't ignore it.

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