06 June 2007

Israeli rabbi calls for massive bombing of Gaza

In a letter he sent to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in late May, the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Mordechai Eliyahu, has declared all the resident of Gaza collectively guilty for the firing of rockets at Israel by some of their number. The letter was later distributed in synagogues across Israel. Eliyahu used texts from the Bible, and from Moses Maimonides's Biblical commentary, as proof for his statement.

Commenting on Eliyahu's statement, his son Shmuel Eliyahu, who is the chief rabbi of the Israeli city of Sefed, said that Mordechai Eliyahu advocated bombing the area from which the rockets were fired, no matter how many Palestinian lives were lost as a result.

According to Shmuel Eliyahu, "If they don't stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand. And if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop" (Jerusalem Post).

I should mention that Qassam rockets fired by Palestinian militants have killed 12 Israelis since 2001. Just so that we are clear about the enormity of what the Eliyahus are saying, it seems that they would not mind seeing a million Palestinians killed to avenge these 12 people.

These statements demonstrate in a rather chilling fashion that extremism and the perversion of religious teachings are not the sole preserve of any one group.

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