War is War, Even When Cowardly, Murderous Foes Hide Behind Civilians …

Morality Requires: Hurt Hostile Population, by Rabbi Yisrael Rosen


In face of intellectuals stabbing nation in back, Jewish tradition and law require us to respond to enemy fire in like kind.

The Qassams are blasting away at Sderot, and a group of well-meaning professors and authors are shouting about the defense establishment about shooting at the terrorists and signing declarations entitled “Would you kill the righteous with the sinner?”, a reference to the biblical Abraham’s plea with God not to destroy the city of Sodom.

The terrorist state of Hamas has declared war on us and the deadly bombs are raining down on our civilians, fired from amongst a supportive and encouraging civilian population.

Is it really out-of-bounds for us to use a similar weapon?

What is the source of such morals? Is there any country in the world that wouldn’t respond with non-focused artillery fire? Does anyone really think the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany or Belgium would resign itself to such a never-ending barrage and not respond sharply and unilaterally?

Jewish lessons

From a Jewish perspective, if not a democratic (the right of self defense) or humanitarian (yes, even the people of Sderot deserve some humanitarian consideration) perspective – the IDF call openly for residents of northern Gaza to leave the area immediately, and that Israel will bear no responsibility for their safety if they fail to do so.

The lying international media will defend the Palestinians regardless of what Israel does, as will the Israeli left. At least we would gain back Sderot and other cities and town in the area by such a move.

Jewish ethics are saturated with the ethical message “if someone comes to kill you, kill him first.” The Torah and the prophets, Jewish law, rabbinic tales and Jewish thought all treat war as a struggle between two peoples, not between two individuals who happen to have guns.

Bring the enemy to its knees

And in war as in war. Civilians get hurt in war – including women, children and the elderly. Only a population that forcibly vomits out terrorists from its midst, … that expresses strong protest against being dragged into violent conflict – only such a population will be protected, according to any measure of Jewish morality.

More than that, one of the most meaningful sayings in the Jewish ethical lexicon, in direct contrast to “Christian ethics,” is to be found in the Book of Samuel: “And plucked the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and slew him with his own spear (Sam. II 23:21). In other words: We must use the weapons of the enemy.

This is exactly what David did in his legendary battle with Goliath: And David ran, and stood over the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw that their mighty man was dead, they fled. (Sam. I 17:51)

Our sages used these verses to teach a lesson for the ages: Don’t be afraid to use the enemy’s weapons against them. It is legitimate, and therefore moral.

Artillery vs. Qassams

Anyone who feels a bit of humanity for his brothers, anyone who has been freed from hatred for his people and the tendency to beat ourselves over the head, anyone who gains his moral teachings from Jewish sources, anyone who is prepared to learn from the general history of warfare and anti-Israel warfare in particular, anyone with open eyes and who looks to the future, anyone who loves life and wants to do good by his people and his land – all these should send a clear message to the IDF: Artillery vs. Qassams.

Of course, we must warn people and allow them to escape, in accordance with halacha (Jewish law), derived from verses in the Torah. As Maimonides wrote nearly 1000 years ago: “When we lay siege to a city in order to capture it, do not encircle it on all sides. Rather, you must allow the enemy room to flee, in order to save their lives.”

Rabbi Yisrael Rosen is the head of the Tzomet Institute in Alon Shvut