Rabbis Ask Bush to Oppose Olmert

Once again, WorldNetDaily‘s Aaron Klein acts as messenger boy for the Israeli religious right:

KIBBUTZ NAHAL OZ, Israel – A group of prominent rabbis is calling on President Bush to refuse political and financial support for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan to evacuate most of Judea and Samaria, stating the withdrawal is against U.S. interests, and that it violates basic tenets of Jewish law.

…”There is a clear definitive ruling in the Jewish Code of Law ‘Orach Chaim’ Chapter 329 which rules that it is strictly forbidden to give up even one inch of a Jewish border town to foreigners because it will lead to bloodshed. How much more so regarding retreating from holy land that enemies bent on your destruction have already stated will be used to launch attacks against Jews,” states the letter to Bush.

The grouping is known as the “Rabbinical Congress for Peace”, and Klein tells us that

…Congress members include some of the most esteemed Orthodox rabbis in the Jewish world.

Curiously, however, he doesn’t provide any of the “esteemed” names – despite having quoted the “congress” before (square brackets in original):

“Katrina is a consequence of the destruction of [Gaza’s] Gush Katif [slate of Jewish communities] with America’s urging and encouragement,” Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Lewin, executive director of the Rabbinic Congress for Peace, told WND. “The U.S. should have discouraged Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from implementing the Gaza evacuation rather than pushing for it and pressuring Israel into concessions.”

I blogged on this theological trend, and the people behind the RCP, here. In particular, I noted the claim by the RCP’s deputy chairman, an illegal settler named Rabbi David Drukman, that Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza “should recognize their place”.

But what of the “Orach Chaim”? Here’s the relevant passage (square brackets in source):

When a city close to the border [is approached by a foreign power], then, even if [they state that] they come only for the purpose of [taking] straw and stubble, we desecrate the Shabbat [and wage battle against] them. For [if we do not prevent their coming] they may conquer the city, and from there the [rest of the] land will be easy for them to conquer.

However, not all Jewish interpreters are convinced that this is a “clear definitive ruling” on why Israel must continue its military occupation of the West Bank:

The “ruling” is based on the words of the Shulkhan Arukh Orach Chaim 329,6, which are themselves based on the Talmudic passage in Tr. Eruvin 45a. The passage deals with a case of Gentiles who are attacking Jewish towns. The Talmud determines that in the case of a border town, it is permitted to desecrate the Sabbath in order to defend it, even if they are coming merely to steal “hay and straw;” for we fear that otherwise they will capture the town, from where it will be easy for them to then capture the rest of the Land…This passage does not deal with the return of territories, but rather with a dispensation to violate the Sabbath even in the face of doubtful future endangement [sic] to life…The above has nothing whatsoever to do with the return of territories for the sake of peace.

This reading appears on the website of a “religious Zionist peace organization” opposed to “fundamentalist and extremist political arguments”. It’s based in Jerusalem, but is apparently not the kind of outfit to interest WorldNetDaily‘s “Jerusalem correspondent”.

(Klein’s continued puffing of the Israeli religious right has been covered by me several times in the past – see here, here, and here. Terry Krepel has also written a general survey of Klein’s journalism at ConWebWatch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.