Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Genocide justified by Jewish scripture

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-12-29

The continuing violence by Israel against others is hardly consistent with principles of proportionality, but what can we expect from those with a god that not only condones, but orders genocide?  (See Joshua quotes over the fold).

At least violence against non-combatants by islamists can be proven hypocritical and contrary to the Koran (See my 2007-07-07 discussion of work by 19th century moslem Moulavi Gerágh Ali).

While the "sword verses" of the Koran take a fair bit of stretching and taking-out-of-context to condone violence against non-believers, the "genocide verses" in the Tanakh (specifically the Nevi’im) are unequivocally in favor of genocide and the forced acquisition of land held by those who don’t descend from Israel.  Have a look at the actions of Joshua, praised in the Tanakh and by modern Zionists:

And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.

So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.

The only difference between the positions on genocide of Joshua and Hitler is that Joshua would claim he was "only following orders", which is no defence in international law.  Zionists (including de facto Zionists in the Israeli cabinet) are also following the orders of their god as written in their sacred texts.

Retired Episcopalian Bishop, John Shelby Spong (particularly in "The Sins of Scripture") points to these, and other hate verses that "inspire" many Christians, but from memory it didn’t discuss the influence on Judaists.

Indeed, almost all modern believing (and even half-believing) Jews celebrate events they claim historic that include biowarfare and the deaths of thousands of children.

There is no recognition of the New Testament by Judaism, so the "Prince of Peace" stuff cannot soften the genocide verses.  I’m not aware (yet stand to be corrected) of any Rabbinical rebuttal of the genocide-inciting verses in Joshua (and others including Judges).

As I’ve noted in numerous posts, Mohammed prohibited the killing of non-combatants, instructed followers to avoid warfare wherever possible (especially on holy days), making suicide bombers of civilians (especially on holy days) hypocritical.

As quoted in this post, from an extensive exegesis of the Koran and other less-authoritative books many Moslems mistakenly revere:

Almost all the common Mohammadan and European writers think that a religious war of aggression is one of the tenets of Islam, and prescribed by the Koran for the purpose of proselytizing or exacting tribute.  But I do not find any such doctrine enjoined in the Koran, or taught, or preached by Mohammad.  His mission was not to wage wars, or to make converts at the point of the sword, or to exact tribute or exterminate those who did not believe his religion.  His sole mission was to enlighten the Arabs to the true worship of the one God, to recommend virtue and denounce vice, which he truly fulfilled.

It’s hard not to accuse the state of Israel of a goose/gander problem with their non-proportional actions in Gaza, among other things.  What really shocks me is that many otherwise liberal believing Jews I know are happy for this non-proportionality to keep happening.

While I’m hoping that Jews and Christians reject racist parts of their sacred texts, I wish Moslems would study the Koran more closely.

But the core problem is that many of the hateful verses outlined by Spong in "The Sins of Scripture" are contrary to the laws of most civilized states (including Australia), and should therefore be expunged from those texts if they are to be distributed.

See Also:


11 Responses to “Genocide justified by Jewish scripture”

  1. Emmanuel said

    I fail to see the relevance to the current situation. The majority of cabinet members are not religious. They are not following religious scripture, nor are they conducting a genocide.

  2. Thanks for this interesting post, Dave. I happen to think it has direct relevance to a cultural mindset that has produced Jewish exceptionalism, hubris, and bloodymindedness. This cultural mindset, directly informed by the Talmud, has produced the mostly Jewish zionist neocons who have actively agitated for a war and genocide (both apply) in Gaza, Palestine as well as Iraq, in addition to successive invasions of Lebanon. While this mindset happened to fit in with American Empire’s own exceptionalism, the US has only been its enablers and apologists in the aforementioned cases: it was the Jewish zionist neocons who were most prominent in spearheading the call to invade Iraq, and Israel that is starving and murdering Palestinians with a view to, in one Israeli politician’s words, “wipe them off the map”.

    To note this, as you have done, is not to impugn all Jews, but to place the sources and religious roots of our belief systems under the spotlight. Islam and Christianity have had the same scrutiny in more mainstream fora, while Judaism arguably has not. It is telling that Emmanuel has not disputed even one of your statements or contested the religious basis.

    Two other points: one need not be religious to be influenced by one’s religious upbringing and/ or religious heritage. Religion seeps into culture in the same way as a society we observe Christian dates and mores even if we do not practise.

    Second, on a scriptural point. The Torah, in contrast to the Talmud, issues a dire warning (retribution?) for Israel’s crimes: in Deuteronomy and Leviticus it states that the grant of the land of Canaan to the Israelites was conditional. “You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark” (Deuteronomy 19:14). Failure to live lawfully and defiling the land (destruction of ancient olive groves, theft of Palestinian land, house demolitions, targeted assassinations, Wall, anyone?) would lead to one result according to Leviticus 18:28. “The land will vomit you out.”

    Again, I am not overtly religious and do not have to subscribe to these scriptures (I much prefer the Christian New Testament) but include them as an interesting addendum to the justification for genocide Dave has pointed out and which has not yet been challenged.

  3. Emmanuel said

    There’s definitely genocide in the Jewish bible – Amalek being the most famous example. There are plenty of horrible things there, like stoning people for adultery or not observing the sabbath, slavery, etc. Does this mean our government, since it is informed by Jewish tradition, is inclined to do these things?

    These days, scripture is used as part of the justification for our existence. The current actions in Gaza, however, are justified by security concerns, not by subconscious religious teachings. Israeli civilians deserve to live safely without rockets being fired at them, not because of Jewish exceptionalism but because every country wants its citizens to be safe and secure.

    I’ve argued with Ann in the past about the Jewish neocons (there are plenty of Christian neocons!) so I won’t go into that.

    Considering the fact that most non-religious Jews never read the Talmud (as opposed to the bible), I’d say it’s quite odd to put blame on the Talmud for Jewish “bloodmindedness” (is that supposed to be a PC word for “bloodthirsty”?). It is safe to assume that neither of us knows enough about the Talmud to argue about it intelligently.

  4. Certainly, there’s plenty of horrible things in the Old Testament: plagues, sacrifices, slavery, stoning and so on. Genocide–like slavery–is a collective rather than an individual act that requires a more systematic policy and pervasive cultural mindset to enact and justify. It is also a persistently modern as well as ancient phenomenon, unlike, say, ritual human sacrifices which would be horrifying and anathema to modern sensibilities (yet genocide and war strangely isn’t: what a way we still have to evolve as a species!)

    You omitted the ‘y’ in bloodymindedness, which is not my PC for bloodthirsty but rather denotes a readiness to resort to violence. In the British idiom it also means “perversely cantankerous”, which is not the intended meaning here.

    1. Ready and willing to accept bloodshed or to resort to violence

  5. Emmanuel said

    Bloodymindedness is a good description of pretty much everybody in the Middle East, not just Israel.

  6. I don’t at all agree with that, nor will an inapplicable generalisation do when descriptive precision could be achieved. The Israeli regime, on its record, is the most bloodyminded in the region, and one of the worst in the world. I don’t see Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Iran invading its neighbours, waging war by choice on relatively small pretexts, on several fronts, and continuing an illegal occupation which has only worsened. The land theft continues. The collective punishment and slow-motion genocide continues. I can let a mere difference of opinion sit, but not a generalisation like that because it is clearly not at all supported by facts.

  7. I don’t see Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Iran invading its neighbours, waging war by choice on relatively small pretexts, on several fronts, and continuing an illegal occupation which has only worsened.

    Hmm, Peoplesgeography, I would query that assertion. As soon as the State of Israel was proclaimed on 14 May 1948 by the UN, the neighboring Arab states (Transjordan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Yemen) and local Palestinian Arab paramilitaries immediately attacked Israel, and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War ensued.

    In 1967, a further Arab-Israeli War occurred, sometimes called “the Six Days War”, involving Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria. It started when Egypt expelled the UN peace keeping force from the Sinai and amassed tanks on the Israeli border. Israel then made a pre-emptive strike. By the end of the war, Israel had gained control of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. Israel continues to hold the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

    In 1973, the Yom Kippur War occurred (also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War). It was fought between Israel and a coalition of Arab nations led by Egypt and Syria . The war began on the day of Yom Kippur, with a surprise joint attack by Egypt and Syria. They invaded the Sinai and Golan Heights respectively, which had been captured by Israel in 1967. Sinai is now back with Egypt.

    In 1982, Israel became involved in the Lebanese Civil War. This war had started in 1975 involved the conflict between various religious, ethnic and political groups in Lebanon. Israel entered the war to end the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s growing presence in Lebanon. In 1983 – 1984, Israel effectively withdrew from Lebanon, leaving a small residual force which was finally withdrawn in 1990.

    Then in 2006, Israel again invaded Lebanon on the basis that Hezbollah militants had kidnapped two of its soldiers from Israeli territory. This had disastrous consequences: the soldiers were not retrieved and there were many Lebanese casualties. It has given Hezbollah a political base in Lebanon as a result.

    The current problems with Hamas also stem from this time, when an Israeli rocket allegedly killed a Palestinian family (although Israel denied it) and Hamas commenced rocket attacks on Israeli citizens. Hamas also kidnapped an Israeli soldier (Gilad Shalit) who has still not been returned. Since then, Sderot and surrounding areas have been subject to daily rocket attacks by Hamas.

    All I’m saying is that it’s not simple here. There’s no point in painting one party as the “baddie”. All parties have attacked the others at various times. Israel is not the only aggressor, although it certainly has undertaken aggressive acts. Personally, I do not support the occupation of the West Bank, Golan Heights and Gaza Strip, and I believe Israel should retreat to its pre-1967 boundaries, as mandated by the UN. I also do not support the current military action by Israel, as I do not see how it will achieve its stated aim (preventing rocket attacks on Israeli civilians). But it’s not black and white.

    Re Dave’s point: It is certainly true that rabbinical commentary on Joshua is uncritical (see trusty Wikipedia entry here. However, I don’t regard the mainstream Israeli government as being inspired by Joshua’s annihilation of Jericho or Talmudic praise of him. It’s more about straightforward modern day retaliation and revenge, not to mention Israeli elections this year…

  8. Thanks LegalEagle, I welcome your querying and thank you for responding at length.

    I was referring to more recent events long since Jordan and Egypt signed their treaties with Israel, but even if you look back at, say, 1967, I believe my assertion still applies.

    In that war, a former UN observer in Gaza and the West Bank has said Israel was not under siege by Arab countries preceding it, and that Israel provoked most border incidents, which Muhren (the observer) surmises was part of its strategy to annex more land.

    You might be interested in The Six-Day War Deceptions, Dutch videos

    I don’t believe your Lebanese Civil War example supports your case, nor your 2006 one. It is questionable that Israel invaded Lebanon and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure in 2006 on the flimsy pretext of a couple of soldiers being captured/ kidnapped. The war was planned a year in advance with the objective of dealing Hezbollah, who succeeded in driving the Israelis out by 2000, a blow. There have been many border incidents of kidnappings and fly-overs by the Israeli side, I don’t see the Lebanese using that as a pretext to wage all-out war.

    To provide a contrasting example that involved far more combatants, in March last year the world saw a serious border incident when Colombia breached Ecuador’s border and killed twenty-four FARC fighters, including a top military commander. It seriously strained relations between the two (and Venezuela) but did not escalate due to conscious effort and political maturity. Israel’s war (its sixth, not second invasion of Lebanon, as my friend Franklin Lamb compellingly argues) was a war of choice, not necessity.

    Incidentally, half the Israeli soldiers who died in that border incident died when their tank rolled over a bomb, not by Hezbollah’s direct or offensive firepower. The Israeli soldiers were more valuable alive for the purposes of a prisoner exchange. As Haaretz reported at the time:
    “A force of tanks and armored personnel carriers was immediately sent into Lebanon in hot pursuit. It was during this pursuit, at about 11am … [a] Merkava tank drove over a powerful bomb, containing an estimated 200 to 300 kilograms of explosives, about 70 meters north of the border fence. The tank was almost completely destroyed, and all four crew members were killed instantly. Over the next several hours, IDF soldiers waged a fierce fight against Hezbollah gunmen … During the course of this battle, at about 3pm, another soldier was killed and two were lightly wounded.”

    It is also worth noting that Hezbollah, as on previous and similar occasions, took these soldiers in order to secure hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinians unlawfully taken and detained by Israel, who would regularly squelch out of prisoner exchange agreements as my friend Franklin Lamb describes:

    Often exchanges failed because Israel suspended talks over prisoners, changed their minds and insisted on renegotiating established criteria for their release, or unilaterally ’switched the rules’. When negotiations did result in an agreement, Israel typically ignored deadlines set for the releases, released nonpolitical prisoners and claimed it had fulfilled its obligations, or simply dismissed or ignored agreements. … On 34 occasions Israel has released prisoners to get what it wanted but subsequently assassinated them. The most famous example was the revered cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

    Crooke and Perry also note that “Nasrallah had himself long signaled Hezbollah’s intent to kidnap Israeli soldiers, after former prime minister Ariel Sharon reneged on fulfilling his agreement to release all Hezbollah prisoners … during the last Hezbollah-Israeli prisoner exchange.”

    I would also bring into question your statement that the 2006 war “has given Hezbollah a political base in Lebanon as a result.” Hezbollah had a strong political wing well before Israel’s July-August invasion and destruction of so much of the civilian infrastructure. Hezbollah is a political party with MP’s in Lebanon’s Parliament as you may know, it is not simply its military wing.

    And I would query your causality in the current troubles. There has not been a single, identifiable rocket attack that allegedly killed a Palestinian family due to Israeli error, there have been several incidents. You also do not mention the ceasefire which Hamas kept to in which Israel did not stick to its side of the bargain that it would re-open border crossings.

    As well as this, Israel deceptively called for a 48 hour lull after failing to adhere to the six month ceasefire (which Hamas understandably saw no reason to renew) when it turned around and started its devastating airstrikes on Saturday, in the midst of children going to school there.

    As reported in the Israeli Ha’aretz once again, this is UNRWA chief Karen Abu Zayd:

    “What we understood here (was) that there was a 48-hour lull to be called, and this was called by the Israelis,” Abu Zayd said. “They said they would wait 48 hours. That was on Friday morning, I believe, until Sunday morning, and that they were going to evaluate.”

    “There was only one rocket that went out on Friday, so it was obvious that Hamas was trying, again, to observe that truce to get this back under control,” she said.

    “Then, everything got loose on Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. We were all at work and very much surprised by this,” Abu Zayd said.

    […]”I don’t think they think the truce was violated first by Hamas,” she said.

    “I think they saw that Hamas had observed the truce quite strictly for almost six months, certainly for four of the six months, and that they got nothing in turn – because there was to be kind of a deal,” Abu Zayd said.

    “If there were no rockets, the crossings would be opened,” she said. “The crossings were not opened at all.”

    Instead, Israel continued its inhumane siege of the Gaza Ghetto and then brought further unspeakable catastrophe to these long-suffering people in holds captive in contravention of international law.

    Reality is always more complex and messy than we can depict it in our verbiage and in our exchanges, I accept that. But this does not take away from the fact that Israel remains the biggest aggressor and most bloodyminded regime in the region. Perhaps this is the internal logic of its origins, but as a former son and scion who has since turned his back on Israel has subtitled his book (Avraham Burg): ‘The Holocaust is over. We must rise from its ashes.’

    Zaid Khan, in a letter to the SMH last year, summed it best:

    Nearly 70 years ago, in a small eastern European city, an oppressed and occupied people were under siege, living under atrocious and brutal conditions, lacking food, medicine, electricity, water, and slowly being strangled in the hope they would just disappear.
    Warsaw Ghetto 1941 – Gaza 2008. Israel, you are a disgrace.

  9. Regarding the reality of mostly Israeli provocation and the myth of Arab aggression in the lead-up to the Six Day War, it is not only does veteran journo and author Robert Fisk (you too acknowledge Israel’s attack of Egypt was a “preemptive strike”) who corroborates this but Moshe Dayan. If you watch the second clip in the Six Day war post, it is Moshe Dayan’s testament, released after his death, that the majority of 6 Day War incidents were provoked by Israel. How many exactly? 80%, he tells an Israeli journalist, interviewed.

    And lest we forget that it is also on record how much the Israeli establishment wanted a Lebanese Civil War. Though proving false flag operations is next to impossible to do definitively until well after the event, any student and educaator in geopolitics, as I am, knows they are a persistent feature of wars and covert operations. I have no doubt Israel conducted such operations and helped ignite the Civil War in Lebanon. I do not pretend this is a statement of fact, but one of opinion. What is on the record and irrefutable is this:

    In 1954 then Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan stated, “Above all let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire space” .

    Dayan proposed to the Israeli cabinet that they “find a Maronite officer, bribe him to set up a Christian state along Israel’s northern border, and then let Lebanon break up into a lot of mini-states, some of which Israel could use as allies against the other Arab countries”. In Israel’s Sacred Terrorism by Livia Rokach, it is reported that “Ben Gurion himself said it would be worthwhile to pay an Arab a million pounds to start a war.”

    Two decades later, Israel pitted one Lebanese denomination against another, much as it is doing with Fatah and Hamas in recent years and creating the quisling Abbas. In the 1970s, Israel started funding the two Maronite militias run by the Gemayel and Chamoun families and trained, funded and equipped a private army for Major Saad Haddad and his successor Colonel Antoine Lahad, who ran the Israeli-proxy South Lebanon Army in the Lebanese territory along Israel’s northern border until Hezbollah expelled them.

    Israel’s instrumental part in the Lebanese Civil war is clear and undeniable.

  10. Dave Bath said

    PeoplesGeography was correct about my point of the myth, and the underlying assumptions of the myth, seeping into a culture and affecting non-believers.

    In countries with a long Christian tradition, even atheists tend to wax sentimental and change behaviour to others around Xmastime. Here in Australia, the myth of national sporting prowess (despite the reality of obesity rates) and sportsmanship (despite the reality of being world-champion sledgers) influences unwarranted spending by politicians on elite sportspeople rather than grass-root activities that might actually make the country healthier.

    It is worth considering an analogy with the Paulean verses that are so easily used to label homosexuals as evil, and how this has colored the mainstream view in some countries, even among non-believers, and certainly influencing political dog-whistling. If there were hundreds of gays killed a day in countries that held too closely to what is best termed Pauleanity rather than Christianity, I’d be concentrating my anger at the Acts and the Epistles of the Christian New Testament rather than Joshua. Eisegetes!

    But while the Paulean hate verses can be dismissed using even more central Christian texts in the Gospels, there is no such authority for anything that rebuts the acceptability of the inhumane activities of Joshua as far as Judaism is concerned.

    I’ll admit that the exclusively tribal nature and ethnocentric nature of the Judaic deity was moderated somewhat under the influence of Zoroastrianism (a much more inclusive monotheist school) during the time of the Babylonian "exile", but unfortunately, the older verses contrary to inter-racial tolerance remain more highly valued than the more philosophical and less canonical texts written after Cyrus the Great sent the troublemakersdevout back to Palestine.

    Personally, if the much less hateful "verses" from Enid Blyton’s "Noddy" can be expurgated, I cannot see why much more influential and poisonous sections of so-called sacred texts should not be similarly redacted and made consistent with the tenets of modern civilized and inclusive society.

    I’m forced to wonder if the middle east of today might be much more tolerable if the Romans had been as thorough with Jerusalem in 69 CE as they were with Carthage in 146 BCE.

  11. Peoplesgeography, I wasn’t clear enough. I’d definitely agree that Israel has been the aggressor at certain times.

    I was just trying to canvas the whole history to show that different nations have been the aggressor at different times. Certainly, I think the 1982 Israeli involvement in the Lebanese civil war was an aggressive one. I don’t deny that it supported Maronite factions in the civil war, and encouraged the excesses of the Phalangists, for example. And the 2006 Israeli incursion into Lebanon was also aggressive (and disastrous).

    Actually, I think it’s very difficult for modern armies to try to combat guerrilla warfare effectively – think of the US in Vietnam and Iraq, or Israel in Lebanon in 2006. The fighters just blend back into the civilians. If you want to kill the fighters, then you have to kill a lot of innocent civilians too. Military strength doesn’t help you one bit in this situation. You lose the ground war and the PR war in a big way. This is why I think Israel’s entry into Gaza is a mistake, even if you accept that it had a legitimate reason for doing so.

    The Six Day War is a difficult one. It’s very hard to identify who the aggressor is. Would Egypt have attacked Israel if Israel hadn’t preemptively struck them first? Or was it all just posturing by the Egyptians which the Israelis used as an excuse to attack? We can’t really say without some kind of alternate reality machine. I think everyone was raring for a chance to have a go at each other, to be honest.

    All of the countries involved have done some really bad things, and killed many innocent people. There’s arguments either way as to who started it – but in the end, does that matter to the people who are killed?

    Sometimes I despair and think it’s never going to be resolved…after all, as Dave has pointed out, it’s been going on since the time of Joshua, if not before.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: