Top Menu

Yossi Gurvitz: IDF Colonel-Rabbi Implies Rape is Permitted in War

Rabbi_Colonel_Eyal_Karim

Rabbi Colonel Eyal Karim

Israeli journalist Yossi Gurvitz describes himself as a former Orthodox Jew who claims to have seen the “light” and turned atheist at the age of 17. We are unfamiliar with his work but received this tip from a reader regarding one of his recent articles.

It is titled, IDF Colonel-rabbi implies: Rape is permitted in war. Colonel Eyal Qarim was questioned, (seemingly while not in uniform) about whether rape is permitted in war, and his answer implied that it was allowed.

Now I am unfamiliar with halacha or Jewish law, but my guess is it is a system as varied and expansive as Sharia’. Most likely you can find any opinion under the sun within halacha and so I am sure many will insist that the opinion proffered by the IDF Rabbi is not the only one, and is not the position of the IDF.

However, looking at the question and answer it exposes a troubling indication that an IDF Colonel Rabbi who was once being considered for the position of Chief Rabbi held the view that “rape is permitted in war.” More over it is not the first time that extremely problematic views have been expressed by influential IDF Rabbis.

It also brings us back to the question, “what if they were Muslim?”  If a prominent Muslim scholar had offered such an opinion one can be assured that it would be all over MEMRI.

Gurvitz omitted the whole question from the reader to the Rabbi, but we provide an approximate translation via. Google for context:

There have been various wars between nations, such as the First World War, for example, different nations fought each other, and no one was particularly good for the Jews or bad for the Jews…

But if they had captured a village and there were Jews and Jewish girls were raped, it is considered, rightly, a disaster and tragedy to the girl and family.

If yes, rape in war is considered a shocker. How, then was I told that a long, beautiful woman is allowed, according to some authorities, even before the process described in the Torah, I mean, surrender and lay with it created, and only then take her home, etc.?

This seems contradictory. After all, if rape is considered a civil war and not something shocking, why, apparently, Jews allowed?

Is it allowed in our days [sic] for an IDF soldier, for example, to rape girls during a fight, or is such a thing forbidden?

Now it’s very clear that the questioner is asking whether or not rape is allowed in war time. This is the answer that Rabbi Qarim gave (translation via. Gorvitz):

“The wars of Israel […] are mitzvah wars, in which they differ from the rest of the wars the nations wage among themselves. Since, essentially, a war is not an individual matter, but rather nations wage war as a whole, there are cases in which the personality of the individual is “erased” for the benefit of the whole. And vice versa: sometimes you risk a large unit for the saving of an individual, when it is essential for purposes of morale. One of the important and critical values during war is maintaining the army’s fighting ability […]

As in war the prohibition against risking your life is broken for the benefit of others, so are the prohibitions against immorality and of kashrut. Wine touched by gentiles, consumption of which is prohibited in peacetime, is allowed at war, to maintain the good spirit of the warriors. Consumption of prohibited foods is permitted at war (and some say, even when kosher food is available), to maintain the fitness of the warriors, even though they are prohibited during peacetime. Just so, war removes some of the prohibitions on sexual relations (gilui arayot in the original – YZG), and even though fraternizing with a gentile woman is a very serious matter, it was permitted during wartime (under the specific terms) out of understanding for the hardship endured by the warriors. And since the success of the whole at war is our goal, the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge (yetzer ha’ra in the original  -YZG), under the conditions mentioned, for the purpose of the success of the whole.”

Gorvitz comments on this:

Wow. Herein lies a hornet’s nest. The first is that according to Qarim, the rape of female prisoners is not just permitted, it is also essential to war; the success of the whole at war relies on it.

….

Another problem is that Qarim invokes here the usual apologetics of those who speak of “Jewish morality”: he claims war is a conflict between nations, not individuals, and that the individual has no importance at war. The raped woman is not a woman, is not a person, has no feelings and if she feels pain it is unimportant: she is not a woman or a person, just an individual of an enemy tribe whose misfortune was to be captured. Furthermore, Qarim says that rape during wartime is immoral if carried out by a rival tribe – but all Jewish wars are, by definition, mitzvah wars. If the rape of the defenseless is part and parcel of “Jewish morality,” it’s not hard to reach the conclusion it is inferior to all modern morality systems. It is also worth noting (Hebrew) that “Jewish morality” is a by-product of German blood and iron romanticism.

Yet a third problem is that, essentially, Qarim says there is nothing which may be prohibited in war, if it is done “for the success of the whole.” We know that the killing of armed combatants is permitted (this is, after all, the essence of war), and we now learn that, for His Blessed Name, the rape of women is also permitted. Then we must ask ourselves whether it is also permitted, for the sake of victory, to also kill unarmed people. Children, for instance, who we have good reason to think may seek one day vengeance for the death of their fathers and brothers and the torturing of their mothers and sisters. The notorious book “Torat Ha’Melekh” answered in the affirmative; it would be interesting to know what Qarim thinks, and whether there is anything he thinks a Jewish soldier ought not to do for victory.

But the real problem here is that Eyal Qarim is an IDF colonel (Aluf Mishneh), and is a senior officer in the Military Rabbinate, i.e. is in a senior position in the IDF religious edicts apparatus. I’ve sent the following questions to the IDF Spokesman:

  1. Is the rape of women during wartime agreeable to the IDF Ethics Code?
  2. If not, why does a prominent military rabbi promote it?
  3. If not, does the IDF intend to end the service of Col. Qarim, or bring charges against him?
  4. How does the IDF Spokesman intend to deal with the anticipated damage to its image in the international arena, resulting from Col. Qarim’s ruling?

Frankly, I did not expect an answer, but surprisingly enough an enraged officer from IDF Spokesman New Media Unit called me. His official response was that Qarim was not an officer in active service when he wrote that ruling, and furthermore that my question “disrespects the IDF, the State of Israel and the Jewish religion,” and hence his unit will no longer answer my questions.

I told him that, as an Israeli citizen, I considered Col. Qarim to be a ticking time bomb, which will blow up in the IDF’s face should a soldier rape an enemy woman: it would automatically be seen as official policy. I told him this happened in the past. He vehemently denied it, and wouldn’t listen.

I think that the fact that Qarim was on hiatus at the time – earlier he was the religious officer of a crack unit, Sayeret Matkal (commando unit) – is unimportant. What is important is that the Military Rabbinate chose to re-call an officer who wrote such a ruling to active service. Qarim was briefly considered a candidate for the position of the Chief Military Rabbi. This is the face of the IDF in 2012, and this is the face of the rabbis it chooses to employ. There are certainly more humane rabbis than Qarim; yet somehow these are not the rabbis who are promoted.

, , , , , , , , , ,

  • syed ali

    This is disgusting.

  • Jean J. Stuart
  • Believing Atheist

    One more thing I wish to say is that this Rabbi has a messed up view of halakah.

    Rabbi S. Yisraeli stated that international conventions on what is permitted and forbidden in war are halakhically valid. Rape is forbidden by Geneva Convention. Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly prohibits wartime rape and enforced prostitution. These prohibitions were reinforced by the 1977 Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions

    @A&A,

    Btw, I think you misunderstand my views. I do not justify all of Israel’s actions. I for instance, oppose the occupation, oppose the blockade, oppose settlements, etc

    However, I just wanted to make it clear that the IDF seldom rapes Palestinians as the report states and this Rabbi is just a loon/extremist for implying what he implied.

  • Believing Atheist
  • Aspie and Atheist

    Words matter: A new language for peace
    Israel’s propaganda machine carefully chooses its words to assert illegal ownership over Jerusalem and Palestine.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/01/201212991046211479.html

    Israel maintains only “administrative control” over Jerusalem – illustrated by the fact that embassies, even the US embassy, are in Tel Aviv – although the government assert they “possess” the city [GALLO/GETTY]
    The words which people use, often unconsciously, can have a critical impact upon the thoughts and attitudes of those who speak and write, as well as those who listen and read. Dangerously misleading terminology remains a major obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace.

    It is normal practice for parties to a dispute to use terminology which favours them. In this regard, Israel has been spectacularly successful in imposing its terminology not simply on Israeli consciousness and American usage but even on many Arab parties and commentators. It has done so not simply in obvious ways like use of the terms “terrorism”, “security”, “Eretz Israel” or “Judea and Samaria” but also in more subtle ways which have had and continue to have a profound negative impact on perceptions of legal realities and other matters of substance.

    The current initiative by Palestine to upgrade its status at the United Nations from “observer entity” to member state or, temporarily failing that, “observer state” is commonly referred to, by both supporters and opponents of this initiative, as an effort to “achieve statehood” or “recognition of statehood” through the United Nations. It is nothing of the sort.

    The State of Palestine already exists in accordance with the relevant principles of international law. It meets all the conditions for sovereign statehood set forth in the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, and more than two-thirds of the 193 member states of the United Nations, including 16 of the world’s 20 most populous states, now recognise the State of Palestine as a sovereign state.

    The State of Palestine has simply been under the occupation of another state for more than 44 years, as Kuwait was, without ceasing to exist, for seven months two decades ago.

    ‘Ending the occupation’

    Palestine’s UN initiative seeks to level the legal and diplomatic playing field and, thereby, to enhance the chances of finally negotiating an end to the occupation. The issue and objective are not “achieving statehood” or recognition thereof, which can only be accorded individually by other states, but “ending the occupation”. With the expiration on January 26 of a three-month diplomatic “freeze” consented at the request of the Quartet, this last-chance effort to save a “two-state solution”, if it can be saved, should resume soon.

    In this context, journalists who refer to all or parts of occupied Palestine as “lands which the Palestinians want for their future state” are, consciously or unconsciously, siding with the mostly Western minority which views Palestine as an aspiration rather than as a state under occupation. More shockingly, even some high Palestinian officials still refer thoughtlessly to “our future state”. Both under international law and in the eyes of most of the world’s other states, Palestine is not a “future state” but an existing state under occupation by another state.

    “Israel can no more ‘cede’ title to occupied Palestinian lands than a squatter can cede title to an apartment which he has illegally occupied.”

    Commentators on all sides speak of Israel’s “ceding” territory occupied in 1967 to the Palestinians. The word suggests a transfer of land by its legitimate owner. Unless there are reciprocal exchanges of territory in a final peace agreement, the issue of Israel’s “ceding” territory to Palestine does not arise. Israel can withdraw from occupied Palestinian territory, but to “cede” property one must first possess legal title to it.

    Israel can no more cede title to occupied Palestinian lands than a squatter can cede title to an apartment which he has illegally occupied. In reality, it is Israel which continues to insist that Palestine cede to Israel indisputably Palestinian lands forming part of the meager 22 per cent remnant of historical Palestine which Israel did not conquer until 1967.

    There is also much talk of “concessions” – “painful”, “far-reaching” or otherwise – being demanded from Israel. The word suggests the surrender of some legitimate right or position. In fact, while Israel demands numerous concessions from Palestine, Palestine is not seeking any concessions from Israel. What it has long insisted upon is “compliance” – compliance with agreements already signed, compliance with international law and compliance with relevant United Nations resolutions – nothing more and nothing less.

    No “concessions”, only “compliance”

    Compliance is not a concession. It is an obligation, both legally and morally, and it is essential if peace is ever to be achieved.

    The Palestinian territories conquered by Israel in 1967 are still frequently referred to as “disputed”. They are not. They are “occupied” – and illegally so, since the status of “perpetual belligerent occupation” which Israel has been seeking to impose since 1967 does not exist in international law. While sovereignty over expanded East Jerusalem, which Israel has formally annexed, is explicitly contested, no other state has recognised Israel’s sovereignty claim and Palestinian sovereignty over the Gaza Strip and the rest of the West Bank is, in both literal and legal senses, uncontested.

    Israel has never even purported to annex these territories, knowing that doing so would raise awkward questions about the rights (or lack of them) of the indigenous population living there. Jordan renounced all claims to the West Bank in favour of the Palestinians in July 1988. While Egypt administered the Gaza Strip for 19 years, it never asserted sovereignty over it.

    “Israelis have come to believe that Israel currently possesses sovereignty over Jerusalem. It does not. It possesses only administrative control.”

    Since November 15, 1988, when Palestinian independence and statehood were formally proclaimed, the only state asserting sovereignty over those portions of historical Palestine which Israel occupied in 1967 (aside from expanded East Jerusalem) has been the State of Palestine.

    Misleading language has been particularly destructive with respect to Jerusalem. For years, Israeli politicians have repeated like a mantra that “Jerusalem must remain united under Israeli sovereignty”. Understandably, Israelis have come to believe that Israel currently possesses sovereignty over Jerusalem. It does not. It possesses only administrative control. While a country can acquire administrative control by force of arms, it can acquire sovereignty (the state-level equivalent of title or ownership) only with the consent of the international community.

    Israel does not “possess” Jerusalem

    The position of the international community regarding Jerusalem, which the 1947 UN partition plan envisioned as an internationally administered city legally separate from the two contemplated states, is clear and categorical: Israel is in belligerent occupation of East Jerusalem and has only de facto authority over West Jerusalem.

    The refusal of the international community (even including the United States) to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, evidenced by the maintenance of all embassies accredited to Israel in Tel Aviv, vividly demonstrates the refusal of the international community, pending an agreed solution to the status of Jerusalem, to concede that any part of the city is Israel’s sovereign territory.

    There can be no question of Israel relinquishing or transferring sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem for the simple reason that Israel currently possesses no such sovereignty. Indeed, the only ways that Israel might ever acquire sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem are by agreeing with Palestine on a fair basis for either sharing or dividing sovereignty over the city (or doing a bit of both) which is recognised as fair and accepted by the international community or by agreeing with the Palestinians to transform all of historical Palestine into a single, fully democratic state with equal rights for all who live there, in which case the Jerusalem conundrum, as well as most of the other perennial roadblocks to peace intrinsic to any potential “two-state solution”, would cease to pose any problem.

    This legal reality is of fundamental intellectual and psychological importance for Israeli public opinion. There is a world of difference for an Israeli leader between being perceived as the person who achieved Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem for the first time in 2,000 years and being perceived as the person who relinquished some measure of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem. It could be a life-or-death distinction.

    “Justice” in the peace process

    One word which has been too rarely used in connection with the “peace process” (and which should be invoked more often) is “justice”. For obvious reasons, it is never used by Israeli or American politicians as a component of the “peace” which they envision. Yet a true and lasting “peace”, as opposed to a mere temporary cessation of hostilities, is inconceivable unless some measure of justice is both achieved and perceived, by both sides, to have been achieved.

    It is high time for all involved to recognise and speak clearly about these fundamental realities. The clarity of thought necessary to achieve either a decent two-state solution or a democratic one-state solution would be greatly enhanced by clarity of language, by taking care to use terminology which both reflects reality and facilitates, rather than hinders, the achievement of both peace and some measure of justice.

    Source: Aljazeera English News

  • Aspie and Atheist

    @Geji,

    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • Aspie and Atheist

    @Believing Atheist,

    How are jews being dehumanized. And sorry to tell you, but it is a fact that Israeli soldiers and settlers murder Palestinians almost on a daily basis.

    I’d like to ask a question- who are you? Why do you keep defending and justifying Israeli policies?

Powered by Loon Watchers