I agree wholeheartedly with Rabbi Danny Landes. I sent this to several Israeli friends for their opinion and all of them, each a significant figure in Israel’s Progressive Reform movement, in the Israeli military command structure and at the top level of Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael (JNF), confided to me that they agree as well with Rabbi Landes’ views below published in Haaretz (July 4).
Right-wing Jewish extremists, called “Jewish Price Gang”, have become terrorists and may represent the greatest threat to the state of Israel, even more so than Palestinian terrorists. They began with spraying “Price Tag” graffiti on Arab homes, Jewish human rights organizations and Israeli Christian churches to intimidate, and they have now kidnapped a 16 year-old innocent Palestinian Arab boy, Muhammed Abu Khdeir, from outside his family home and taken him to a Jerusalem forest where they set him on fire to burn alive until dead.
These Jewish terrorists must be punished in the same way that Palestinian terrorists are punished with arrest, imprisonment for life and the bulldozing of their family homes. Rabbi Gordis justifies this not only on the basis of simple justice and fairness, but on Jewish principles. His Haaretz piece is printed here in full. http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.603044
Bulldoze the Jewish Terrorists’ Homes
The tragedy of the innocent boys murdered by terrorists will haunt us for a long time, but it will not destroy us. Jewish revenge killings will.
By Rabbi Daniel Landes | Jul. 4, 2014
There is only one sane and truly halakhic way to tackle our current situation: Take the well-known members of the Orthodox Price Tag gang and lock ‘em up, for a long time and in an inaccessible prison. Don’t let them go home for chagim and deny them visitors. Do the best to break and separate them. Freeze monies that go to their families. And when and if we have proven guilty perpetrators, bulldoze their parents’ homes. The last will stop them.
Am I overreaching? Might not Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Arab teen murdered and his body desecrated, have been the victim of a different Jewish group or of some criminal group, perhaps Arab? Maybe, although I doubt it. [Note: This was written before the arrest of the alleged Jewish perpetrators of this crime] But what is not doubtful is that the PTG – the Price Tag Gang – is headed in the direction of creating real havoc with us and with our Arab citizens and with neighboring populations. Since the PTG could care less about Western values, let us refer them to Jewish Law and values and utilize some rules from that body of wisdom.
The PTG is an imminent sakanat nefashot, a danger to life. They are a fire burning on the Sabbath that will destroy not only property, but the lives of soldiers, police and civilians. Indeed, the PTG seemingly wants to cause tension and havoc, leading possibly to war. In their apocalyptic vision, they are confident that Israel will finally “do what it has always needed to do” and act with outstanding force to destroy not only Hamas but the PA and probably all other Muslims.
This is a fiery threat that needs a cold water cannon to extinguish it. When we don’t counter the PTG we destroy a fundamental principle of Torah equality – “One Torah and one Justice should be for you and for the stranger that resides in your midst,” (Numbers 15:16.)
We incarcerate suspected Hamas members and we deal harshly with their infrastructure, because they are a danger to us. The PTG are an equal danger. If you don’t think so ask the twenty soldiers and police outside my house guarding our Abu Tor neighborhood, who have spent the day dodging ricks delivered by slingshot and worrying about worse, courtesy of our cowardly ‘boys’.
There is a great danger that copycat revenge activities, including murder, can spew forth from such an event. The Halakhic principle to be invoked is lifnei evar lo teetain michshol, “before the blind do not put a stumbling block,” (Leviticus 19:14.) Rabbinically, the verse is interpreted to refer to someone who is blind to the consequences of his or her act – a perfect definition of the members of the PTG. Harsh prison time, punishment to parents who have not exerted responsibility in reigning in their children and isolation from their peers should convince Jewish terrorists and wannabes from their disastrous road.
Finally, rabbis who have been inculcating and preaching the virus of racist revenge need to spend their Daf Yomi [daily Talmud study] time in jail. Ah, but do we not actually owe them our cherished respect? My teacher, the great moral leader Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, often quoted the Talmudic phrase, bimkom hillul HaShem ein mechalkin kavod lerav, “in the place of profanation of God’s name, we do not give honor to a Rav.”
There is no greater Hillul HaShem [desecration of God’s Name] than a charred corpse of an innocent, murdered by Torah inspiration. The tragedy of the innocent boys murdered by terrorists will haunt us for a long time. But it will not destroy us. Jewish revenge killings will.
Rabbi Landes is Director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, where he teaches the Senior Kollel Talmud class and Theology. The views expressed here are his own.