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The Top Five Ways Jewish Law* Justifies Killing Civilians; #5: There Are No Rules in Times of War (I)

Israeli soldier posts disturbing Instagram photo of child in crosshairs of his rifle

NOTE:  As you no doubt are aware, LoonWatch just finished raising funds through an IndieGoGo campaign.  Contributors to the campaign will receive an advanced copy of my upcoming book, The J Word: Jihad, Between Hype and Reality.  The book dispels the myth that Islam is the most violent religion on earth.  In it, I not only understand the Islamic tradition and its relationship to violence, but I also look into the other various faith traditions, revealing the uncomfortable truths in them.  The intention here is not to launch an attack against these other faiths, but rather to give the reader some much needed perspective when evaluating the Islamic tradition. In other words, my intention is not to attack these other faiths, but only to prove that Islam is not uniquely violent as claimed by the Islamophobes, many of whom are ultra-Zionist Jews and extremist Christians.

In the media and on the internet, we always hear the uncomfortable truths about the Islamic tradition (and many untruths as well), without ever hearing about many of the uncomfortable truths in other faith traditions, including the dominant Judeo-Christian tradition.  How many countless “What’s wrong with Islam?” talks must we bombarded with, with hardly anyone asking similar questions like “What’s wrong with Judaism?”

In this particular article series, I take a critical look into the Jewish faith tradition.  If the Sharia is to be demonized by so many, then shouldn’t these same people be up in arms about Halakha (Jewish law)?  Naturally, I don’t think any religious tradition ought to be maligned.  Instead, the problematic nature of various religious traditions can be acknowledged, while keeping in mind that no faith has “clean hands.”  This realization ought to make us all a bit more tolerant towards The Other.  (In other article series, I look into the Christian and Buddhist traditions, so this is not meant to target Judaism in specific.)

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Please make sure to read my disclaimer Why Religious Zionism, Not Judaism, Is The Problem wherein I clarify that “Jewish law” here is not meant to be understood in a blanket way.  Certainly, there exist alternative, more compassionate understandings of Halakha.  I understand that many readers are deeply uncomfortable with characterizing “Jewish law” in such a sweeping manner as we have done in this “thought exercise”–but that’s the point of the article series: if you refuse to do it to Halakha, then why do you do it to Sharia? 

Read the Introduction: Does Jewish Law Justify Killing Civilians?

Previous: Jewish Law*: One Israeli Soldier Worth More Than 1,000 Palestinians

Islamophobes often claim that the Sharia permits almost anything to further the cause of the Islamic religion.  On p.79 of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), Robert Spencer claims that “Islam allows for lying, as well as stealing and killing” in order to advance the religion.  He concludes that “Islam’s only overarching moral principle is ‘if it’s good for Islam, it’s right.'”  Similarly, Pamela Geller–a Zionist Islamophobe–has over eighty posts dedicated to the idea that Islam allows “deception to advance Islam.”

But could the same charge be levied against her own religion?  We have already seen, for instance, that Jewish law* permits:

1)  Targeting and killing civilians

2)  Collective punishment

3)  Ethnic cleansing

4)  Terrorism

With such lax rules of war, one wonders if anything is forbidden in times of war.  In fact, in the introduction to War and Peace in the Jewish Traditiona book written by the world’s leading Orthodox Jewish minds–there is a confession that in reality Halakha* has no rules in war.  Ethics are temporarily suspended in war time.  Whatever needs to be done–to protect the interests of the Jewish religion and nation–can and must be done. In a section entitled “Jus in Bellow: The Conduct of War” (p.xvii), Prof. David Shatz of Yeshiva University admits:

If you can risk people’s lives to go to war in the first place, the argument goes, surely you can take risks with enemy lives to win the war.  In [Rabbi Michael] Broyde’s words: “[O]nce ‘killing’ becomes permitted as a matter of Jewish law, much of the hierarchical values of Jewish law seem to be suspended as well, at least to the extent that the ones who are hurt are people who also may be killed.”  In war we have a type of horaat sha’ah [emergency principle], a temporary measure which partially suspends normal halakhic rules.

Horaat Sha’ah is the “emergency principle” in Jewish law, which permits almost anything under the sun in a time of emergency.  The argument goes like this: if Israel is under attack and its existence is threatened (do Israelis ever think otherwise?) then the normal rules and ethical considerations do not apply any more.  The Jewish state is then given a free hand to do as it pleases.  Certainly, killing enemy civilians becomes permissible.

Rabbi Michael J. Broyde admits on the same page that “Jewish law has few if any rules of battles,” but even these few can become suspended in “an emergency.”  In other words, if the various allowances under Jewish law* (killing civilians who indirectly support the war, collective punishment, ethnic cleansing, and terrorism) are not enough to legitimize killing civilians, then “horaat sha’ah” can be invoked.

Further down the page, we read:

The basis thesis of Broyde’s essay, then, is that the conduct of war is in fact the suspension of the normative ethics of Jewish law to prevent the eradication of Jewish society.  Ethics in warfare are therefore fundamentally different from ethics in all other situations.  Broyde goes on to note that this explains what he regards as the paucity of halakhic material on the conduct of war.  Since Halakhah envisions war to entail the suspension of all violations–from the prohibition to kill downward–it permits the violation, as military need requires, of every prohibition with the single exception of avodah zorah [idolatry].  Assessing this need falls under the purview of military leaders, not rabbis or ethicists.

There is a “suspension of all violations” except idolatry, including killing and fornication/adultery (on the same page, we are told that “seducing an opposing general with the aim of discovering war plans” is permitted).  Would this be a form of Huma Abedin style “Stealth Jihad”?

Perusing Judaism’s Orthodox writings on war, I become somewhat accustomed to reading justifications of the murder of civilians (hardly anything can faze after reading that it is permissible to kill a baby in her mother’s arms).  Therefore, I was actually more surprised by the permission to fornicate in order to advance the cause of the religious state.  (One recalls the Islamophobic claim that Islam gives permission to do anything in the cause of Islam.)  On this topic, Ynet, Israel’s most popular news website, reported:

For the love of God (and country)

New halachic study says seducing enemy agents for the sake of national security is ‘going above and beyond’ and an ‘utmost mitzvah’ [religious commandment]

A new halachic study ruled that seducing an enemy agent for the sake of national security is an important mitzvah, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.

The ruling, made by Rabbi Ari Shvat, was included in the latest issue of “Tehumin,” an annual collection of articles about Jewish law and modernity, which is published by the Zomet Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to seamlessly merging Halachic Judaism with modern Israeli life.

Rabbi Shvat explores the issue of women used to seduce enemy agents in order to cajole information out of them or see them captured.

The use of “Valentine operatives” or “honey traps”, as they are called in intelligence circles, was applied in the case of atom spy assassination of senior Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, last January.

Shvat cites in his study the biblical cases of Queen Esther, who slept with Persian King Ahasuerus to save her community, and Yael wife of Heber the Kenite, who seduces and killed the Canaanite general Sisera. He notes that the subject of “sleeping with the enemy” evokes heated arguments in the Talmud, as well.

The latter, Shvat argues, ruled that sexual intercourse with a gentile for the sake of a national cause is not only sanctioned, but is a highly important mitzvah…

Rabbi Shvat concludes his article by saying that not only should such actions be sanctioned, “Our Sages of Blessed Memory elevate such acts of dedication to the top of the Halacha’s mitzvahs pyramid.”

This, even though Orthodox Judaism–like ultra-conservative Islam and fundamentalist Christianity–have been known to have an unhealthy preoccupation with stamping out societal sexuality.  The fact that the Horaat Sha’ah, or emergency principle of Jewish law, permits even this, means that virtually anything is allowed to further the cause of the Jewish nation.

Rabbi Michael J. Broyde writes:

[W]ar has, by its very nature, an element of hora’at sha’ah, in which basic elements of “regular” Jewish law are suspended–once ‘killing’ becomes permitted as a matter of Jewish law, much of the hierarchical values of Jewish law seem to be suspended as well…

We arrive at a somewhat inevitable tautology. In an emergency situation, there is a hora’at sha’ah (suspension of “regular” morality): killing of civilians becomes permitted.  All war is a type of emergency situation.  Ergo, killing of civilians is always permitted in war.

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Halakha* permits killing civilians whenever “military need requires.”  Here, an important distinction is made with regard to civilian deaths: necessary and unnecessary civilian deaths.  This is yet another adjective attached to the word “civilian” by Jewish law*: not only are civilians who “indirectly” or “passively” support the war effort allowed to be killed, but those civilians who are “necessary” to be killed should be killed: “their death, when militarily necessary, is according to Broyde unfortunate but halakhically proper” (p.xviii of War and Peace in the Jewish Tradition).

Rabbi Michael J. Broyde writes on p.4:

This view–that all conduct in war that is needed to win is permitted by Halakhah–was adopted by the late Rabbi Shaul Israeli, judge of Supreme Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem, in a famous essay. Certainly there is a deep consensus that every violation of Jewish law other than ervah and idolatry would be permitted in the course of fulfilling valid military orders.

He writes on p.5:

Rabbi Joseph Karo in his commentary to Maimonides’ Code explicitly notes that the power of a beit din (rabbinical court) includes the authority not only to kill people who are guilty of some violation of Jewish law but whose conviction otherwise lacks in technical proof, but also to kill people who are completely innocent, if in the judgment of the rabbinical court the exigencies of the times requires such.  The authority for a beit din to make such a determination stems from its leadership role over the nation (manhigei ha-kehillah).  The same ability thus applies to duly authorized governments (secular and Jewish), and can be relegated to their structures of military command.

Rabbi Broyde concludes on p.7:

Jewish law has no “real” restrictions on the conduct of the Jewish army during wartime.

In other words, anything goes.  This is especially true during Obligatory wars (a special class of war under Jewish law)–which all of Israel’s modern-day wars are considered (more on this later).  During Obligatory wars, the few “restrictions” and ethical considerations are abandoned.  Writes Broyde on p.12:

[M]any of the restrictions placed by Jewish law on the type of conduct permitted by war is frequently limited to Authorized rather than Obligatory wars.

Rabbi Broyde argues that “the Jewish tradition has within it a moral license that permits war (and killing) that differs from the usual rules of self-defense for individuals” (p.7) and “permits even killing of otherwise innocent civilians” (p.5).

On pp.4-5, Rabbi Broyde writes:

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, for example, permits the sacrifice of oneself as a form of hora’at sha’ah [temporary edict/suspension of law] that is allowed by Jewish law to save the community.  While the voluntary act of heroic self-sacrifice and the killing of an unwilling victim are not parallel, I think that one who would permit a Jewish soldier to kill himself to save the community, would permit the killing of “less innocent” enemy soldiers or even civilians in such situations as well.  In grave times of national war, every battle and every encounter raises to such a level, I suspect.

In “every battle and every encounter,” it is permitted to kill “even civilians.”  Broyde goes on to say: “War is the collective battle of societies, R. [Ya’akov] Ariel posits, and thus there are no innocent civilians, even babes in their mother’s arms are to be killed, harsh as that sounds” (pp.23-24).  This is a statement Broyde agrees with in the footnote, saying:

I would apply this rule in modern combat situations to all civilians who remain voluntarily in the locale of the war in a way which facilitates combat.

To translate that into a familiar context: non-Israeli  (i.e. Palestinian) civilians “facilitate combat” (simply by virtue of “remain[ing] voluntarily” in the area being attacked by the Israeli army) and thus ought to be killed.  This is of course another justification for ethnic cleansing.

“The idea of refraining from harming civilian non-combatants,” concedes Rabbi Norman Lamm on p.228, “has no explicit origin in Torah.”  And yet, Rabbi Lamm somehow has the gall to say:

One might say that only the most radical pacifist is entitled to complain about the classical Jewish views of warfare.

Indeed.

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If Halakha* itself does not prohibit killing civilians, wouldn’t Israel’s commitment to international laws and treaties compel it to refrain from doing so?  Rabbi Michael J. Broyde acknowledges that in general a Jewish state should abide by such conventions, but notes that the commitment to do so is “voluntary” and therefore “optional.”  Such treaties and conventions certainly do not apply in Israel’s current conflict with the Palestinians.  Broyde writes on p.11:

Of course, this approach R. Berlin recognizes that treaties restrict the rights of combatants, but that exercise in self-restraint stems from a voluntary decision to agree to such rules and is thus beyond the scope of this paper and of limited applicability to the modern wars against terrorism fought by both America and Israel.

Broyde concludes:

Thus, conventions do not govern many of the unconventional techniques increasingly employed even by national entities, let alone terrorist armies (such as Hezbollah or the Iraqi resistance).

In the introduction to War and Peace in the Jewish Tradition, Prof. David Shatz writes:

As Broyde notes, this position [of following international law and treaties] is of limited relevance to Israel in its conflict with an enemy who does not consent to restraining rules.

Rabbi Jeremy Wieder of Yeshiva University writes on p.245 that “Halakhah would not recognize the international community’s authority to impose any restrictions on unwilling nations.”  In other words, the Jewish nation is above international law.

As I stated previously:

To be fair, [it is not only Orthodox Jews who hold such troubling views.] Israeli apologists from “liberal, secular” Judaism voice similar ideas.  Case in point: Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who is one of Israel’s greatest defenders from the “liberal, secular” spectrum of the Jewish faith.  Dershowitz is credited as being “Israel’s single most visible defender” and “the Jewish state’s lead attorney in the court of public opinion.”

Dr. Norman Finkelstein documents on p.46 of Beyond Chutzpah:

Dershowitz goes on to proclaim that “[t]he time has come for the United States to insist that international law of war be changed” and that for the united States to lead the fight to revise ‘archaic’ international laws and conventions”–in particular, “the Geneva Convention.”  Indeed, in a shocking pronouncement at an Israeli conference, he asserted that Israel isn’t at all bound by international law: “Israelis are obliged to follow the rule of law that exists in the democracy called Israel the way I am obliged to follow the rule of law in the democracy called the United States . . . Your moral obligation to comply with the letter of the rule of international law is voluntary; it is a matter of choice and a matter of tactic, not a matter of moral obligation or democratic theory.”

Dershowitz’s original quote can be found in the article Defending Against Terrorism Within the Rule of Law.  Dershowitz defended himself from Finkelstein’s attack by arguing that he wasn’t asking for Israel to violate international law, but rather to change international law altogether.  As we shall see in the next article, Israel is leading the push to change international law in an attempt to eliminate the pesky principle of distinction.

Note:  The next article in the series will be published shortly.

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Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

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  • Just_Stopping_By

    FickleFatCat: It was actually Danios who started this series stating that he was attempting to reach other faith groups. (“It is hoped that this exercise will encourage people of Judeo-Christian background to be more hesitant in vilifying and targeting Islam.” http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/10/why-religious-zionism-not-judaism-is-the-problem/ )

    You are right to point out that there various ways to fight Islamophobia. One is to reach out to Muslims with encouragement, ideas, and, when necessary, legal, financial, or other help. Loonwatch does provide encouragement or ideas to Muslims by making those available on the site. I think that other specific help is beyond what Loonwatch wants to get involved in, though I would find a list of respected relevant charities to be useful should anyone wish to provide that.

    A second way to fight Islamophobia is to talk to groups of which some members might display anti-Muslim bigotry, to challenge those members and to provide ammunition for other members to respond to their co-religionists.

    I don’t think that Loonwatch has to limit itself to only one of the two ways to fight Islamophobia. It is just that this particular series falls into the second category.

  • Rights

    Aah,“..to point out things that don’t sound right to a Jewish ear,…”

    Your statement just prodded out of my mind a little story. Back in the early 1980s, I wrote a letter to a local newspaper in Texas. It was in response to rev. Jerry Falwell’s visit, during which he gave speeches copiously praising
    the state of Israel and its policies, and uninhibitedly attacking the Palestinians. But that was not new, not for him to say, and not for me to hear. What infuriated me the most was a map of the Middle East that the local newspaper printed based on what rev. Falwell said was prime minister Menachem Begin’s vision of Greater Israel. The good reverend said prime minister Begin thinks Israel does not have all the land that it is going to have. The land vision included not only all the land that Israel occupied in 1967, but also much more, including parts of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Sinai, and Saudi Arabia. Hence the letter I wrote.

    I was angry. So I wrote that Israel should stop its “Hitlerite” plans. Some of my friends read the letter before I sent it off, and among them were some civil rights lawyers. One of them was a newly minted lawyer from Boston. He was Jewish, but not a Zionist. He was more critical of Israel than I was. But when he saw the word “Hitlerite” in my letter, he stopped. He became serious. Then he told me that he understood what I was trying to say, but that the word “Hitlerite” would not go well at all with anyone who is Jewish. My mind immediately went
    back to the Holocaust, about which I had read only after coming to the US. I then understood why the word “Hitlerite” would offend Jews, but had no forethought about it when I wrote the letter. I struck the word out and asked him to suggest a few words that would do the trick without attenuating my points. He did. The newspaper then published the letter unedited.

    Yes, the Jewish ear did matter. The word I thought was perfectly good to use to make my points sounded deeply offensive to a Jewish ear. For me that was a reason enough to strike it out. But I still got my points across.

    Welcome back.

  • Jekyll

    Very well said. “Islam is like everything else, evil..tsskkk”

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Danios:

    All is forgiven, my friend!

    Let me reiterate that I am highly supportive of material that can refute those who attempt to vilify Islam, whether as uniquely evil or for any reason. I think that when it comes to raw intellectual firepower in such efforts, you are the best I have seen. This means that I want you in particular to lead the charge, because if you go in the right direction, you have one of the best chances to succeed in that endeavor!

    My complaint was that I thought that your articles were not headed in the right direction for your audience. I am glad, per your link, that your book has a softer tone.

    That said, there are probably areas where I might pick up something that you wrote without realizing how it may sound to Jews. After all, we all have different backgrounds and don’t hear things the same way. Don’t answer now, because you should reflect, but if you ever want me to review a draft to point out things that don’t sound right to a Jewish ear, I would be thrilled to be your assistant in this endeavor.

    JSB

  • Danios_of_LoonWatch

    JSB:

    Please excuse my previous comment. I posted while angry.

    I started feeling bad about my comment to you, and then decided to reflect on the issue. After some soul-searching, I realize that I was wrong. Please see:

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2013/09/you-were-right-i-was-wrong-danioss-mea-culpa/

    I owe you specifically an apology. Forgive me.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Danios:

    First, I think you make a valid point about Islamophobes saying that Islam is uniquely violent whereas Loonwatch does not say that about any religion. I will agree with you that that is a distinction worth noting.

    However, I never said that Loonwatch is the same as Islamophobes in all regards. I think there are some similarities and some differences. You point out a valid difference and I agree with you, and I should have noted that in my own comment. However, I believe I have also pointed out some valid similarities.

    Second, I never said anything like “you quoted Norman Finkelstein, and therefore you are anti-Semitic.” I spoke of relying on him “in a series of articles meant as an exercise to convince Jews.” Whatever you personally think of Norman Finkelstein, it is a poor strategy in an series that you say is aimed at members of other religions to quote people that they find problematic. The same is true for the Carlos Latuff cartoons: using cartoons by the second-place winner of the Iranian “International Holocaust Cartoon Contest” does not mean that the cartoon used was improper, but it would turn off any Jews who recognized the artist. With regard to Finkelstein, I further noted the irony of relying on someone you admit wouldn’t condemn attacks on certain civilians in a series criticizing interpretations of Jewish law that some claim allow for attacks on certain civilians.

    Most of what you discuss above relates to the cluelessness of not even trying to actually “know your audience.” Would we expect an article aimed at Muslims that relied on quotes from Spencer, Geller, and Hirsi Ali to be as convincing to Muslims as one that quoted less inflammatory sources? Relying on Finkelstein and Latuff does not make one anti-Semitic; but it does make one much less persuasive to the Jewish community that you state you want to reach.

    Danios, I really meant my comment to be centered on constructive criticism, and I asked at the end “are we really pushing forward in our goal of combating Islamophobia by publishing them with this tone and structure?” I did not ask whether Loonwatch was being anti-Semitic, and your suggestion that I did is quite unfair.

    Let me end with pretty much the same point as I made above: if you think my reactions to the series were overly negative, do you really think that the series as currently structured will elicit a positive response in Jews who did not reach out to participate in an anti-Islamophobia site?

  • Danios_of_LoonWatch

    Shirin:

    There will eventually be an article in the series about violence in the Hindu tradition. As I have said before, all religious traditions have violent aspects to them.

    However, I fear that it is conspiratorial to claim that there is some conspiracy between extremist Jews and extremist Hindus to destroy Islam. Rather, I think this claim is often made by extremist Muslims themselves, just as extremist Christians convince themselves that there is a conspiracy between leftists and Muslims to destroy Christianity.

    Additionally, to say that the “Mahabharata is nothing but killing and war” is disturbingly similar to those who claim that the “Koran is nothing but killing and war.”

    It is important to understand my objective here, which is to disprove the Islamophobic claim that Islam is uniquely violent. It is not to prove that some other religion is uniquely violent.

  • HeGG

    That was a fantastic entry. I just want to comment on a small part of it:

    “I like the “pro-Islam” parts of the site and feel that they are useful and would like to see them continue.”

    I’ve said before that that was the primary reason I started visiting Loonwatch. There aren’t many Muslims where I live, and while I’ve met and befriended several online, it would’ve been incredible rude if I had started interrogating them about their religion. I wanted to learn about the faith, see if what others said about it were true or not.

    And in that respect, I think Loonwatch has done a pretty good job. All the articles and essays putting Qu’ran quotes in their proper context, criticizing the Islamophobes’ often treacherous arguments and exposing prejudice, that’s what, in my opinion, makes this site worth reading. I like to think that this site has make me a little bit less ignorant about Islam.

    But articles like this? Well, I learned as much about Judaism from this as I can learn about Islam reading Jihadwatch.

    I don’t see the point. No, wait, I do see the point. I just think the point is mostly meaningless. The point, as it has been said over and over again, is a refutation of “Islam is an uniquely evil religion”. The problem with that is twofold: first, there is the acknowledgement that there is evil in Islam, and the second is that in trying to find the “evil” in other religions, there is the possibility of offending members of said religion.

    “Islam is an uniquely evil religion” is also not worth refuting like this because it’s not even an Islamophobe’s most powerful argument. An Islamophobe’s most powerful argument is when some monster kills innocent people and then they say: “Look, it’s in the Qu’ran”. That’s when Loonwatch can come and say “No, it’s not in the Qu’ran”, as well as examining the socioeconomic and geopolitical reasons of terrorism.

    Fire can indeed be fought with fire. But I think Loonwatch’s value is in being the water.

  • Danios_of_LoonWatch

    I may come back later to give a more detailed reply, but I do want to address the unfair comparison you make, in which you compare us to the Islamophobes.

    You said:

    Danios and others argue that there is a distinction because Loonwatch shows “nuance” in distinguishing between different members of other religions. Yet, we see the same claim by many who argue that they are distinguishing between those who they refer to as the radicals, extremists, fundamentalists, or Islamists on the one hand and the moderate Muslims on the other. I say this not to defend or any who may hide behind such distinctions. However, from my reading, Loonwatch does much of the same, but does not seem to recognize its own flaws in this regard.

    If the Islamophobes claimed that they are critical of only one segment of the Muslim population (i.e. radicals, fundamentalists, what have you) AND at the same time stated that Islam is no different than other religions in this respect (and that ALL religions have a similar segment of the population, which was just as troubling), then in that case I wouldn’t consider them to be Islamophobic. It is precisely because Islamophobes claim that Islam is uniquely violent compared to other religions that I consider them to be Islamophobic. If they claimed that the Islamic tradition, like all religions, has violent aspects to it, how could I possibly criticize that?

    I have never claimed that Judaism is the most violent religion on earth, or even that it is more violent than Islam or any other religion. Rather, I simply stated that Islam is no more violent than any other religion, including Judaism (and Christianity, Buddhism, etc.), and here’s why.

  • 1DrM

    Wrong. I did correct you in the past but being the cowardly munafiq that you are, you ignored the refutations and reposted the same preposterous Hadith rejecting Quran-only nonsense. Adding pictures won’t help you either.
    Let me ask you again, where did you learn Islam from? And where in the Qur’an are you taught the mechanics of Salah?

  • El Cid

    You need to do more than that, go the ad hominem route, to prove your point. Deny the Noble Qur’an with the Hadith if you can…your personal opinion matters not. Your tone and personal opinion, calling names and labeling others only exposes your lack of knowledge and study. Cite primary references if you can, have knowledge and scholarship.

    The Noble Qur’an does describe folk such as you…those who make up their own scripture, their own words, and say that: “This is from Allah”.
    .
    Even Muhammad was cautioned about this, in the light of alternationsdamage done to previous scriptures.
    .
    Even the Bible, OT and NT, has admonished and warned against such corruption; finally its last scribe in its last book ‘Revelations’ put a curse on those who practiced this falsehood, fraud, fallacy, hypocrisy, and corruption.
    .
    As for who is a “fraudster” or a “munafiq”, that is for Allah to Judge. Allah is indeed the Best of Judges.

  • 1DrM

    The Quran-only fraudster again…Where did you learn Islam from again, munafiq?

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Danios and others:

    Thank you for your replies, which were much more positive than I expected. Let me start by saying that I fully accept that the timing of this article was the result of, as Danios put it, “cluelessness and coincidence.” As such, I bear no one any ill will for the timing, but I do think it helps illustrate what I believe to be the clueless and therefore ineffectual way that Loonwatch proceeds in this area. So, if you forgive a long comment, I will try to explain that as I address many of the comments on this thread.

    Shirin Ali and Sam Seed ask that I recognize that Muslims “feel the same way when [their] religion is maligned.” (Sam’s quote.) Actually, if I did not recognize that, I wouldn’t have been on Loonwatch for two years. (Roberto, I hope that I would have responded similarly to the article about Jesus published on Easter weekend, but that was before I was participating on Loonwatch.) I would find it a waste of time to participate in a site fighting Islamophobia if I did not believe it was a real and pernicious phenomenon. Why else do you think I have been participating here? I too am upset by the anti-Muslim bigotry I see online and even more when it comes from someone I thought I knew as a friend. Perhaps the negative commentary from the online Islamophobic community does not upset me as much because I already consider them loons whose opinions I deem worthless; perhaps the negative commentary from Loonwatch upsets me as much as it did because I thought I knew it as a friend.

    Danios and others argue that there is a distinction because Loonwatch shows “nuance” in distinguishing between different members of other religions. Yet, we see the same claim by many who argue that they are distinguishing between those who they refer to as the radicals, extremists, fundamentalists, or Islamists on the one hand and the moderate Muslims on the other. I say this not to defend or any who may hide behind such distinctions. However, from my reading, Loonwatch does much of the same, but does not seem to recognize its own flaws in this regard.

    Since I have not delved into this article, I will rely heavily on the most recent article in the Jewish Law series that Danios links to above. In his comment here, Danios says that he finds no fault in Israel releasing 1,000 Palestinians for a single Israeli, yet that was exactly the starting point for his attack on Jewish Law in that article. Apparently even when Israel does something acceptable, there is a way to use that to malign Jewish Law. In that article, Danios says that the reasoning behind the unequal exchange “does not apply to Gentiles. Had the prisoner been Christian or Muslim (ha!), Israel would never have made such a trade.” As I noted in a comment on that article (with link), Danios was simply wrong, and anyone with a passing knowledge of the topic should have known that about Azzam Azzam, a Druze who was exchanged for six Egyptians, a smaller ratio because the exchange was after the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and Israel held few Egyptians in its jails. (ha!) indeed.

    That Loonwatch article also calls Israel Shahak “an Israeli human rights activist.” This would be the Israel Shahak who has written that “before and after a meal, a pious Jew ritually washes his hands, uttering a special blessing. On one of those two occasions he is worshipping God, by promoting the divine union of Son and Daughter; but on the other he is worshipping Satan.” (http://books.google.com/books?id=avh6dkSop0EC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Jewish+History,+Jewish+Religion:+The+Weight+of+Three+Thousand+Years&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KyQrUvXuI6bF2QXb84Fo&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Jewish%20History%2C%20Jewish%20Religion%3A%20The%20Weight%20of%20Three%20Thousand%20Years&f=false, p. 34)

    Perhaps we should give Loonwatch the benefit of the doubt here and assume no knowledge of exactly what this so-called “human rights activist” argues. That, however, would not be the case with Norman Finkelstein, of whom Danios wrote in the Disclaimer to this series, “The other issue is my reliance on Dr. Norman Finkelstein’s work. He is one of the world’s leading experts of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and it thus seems obvious why I would draw on his writings. Despite my deep respect for his scholarship and his person, I must however issue a clear disclaimer distancing myself from his equivocation in response to a question about Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians.” http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/10/why-religious-zionism-not-judaism-is-the-problem/. You see, in a series of articles meant as an exercise to convince Jews to recognize how Jewish Law is supposed to allow for targeting civilians, it is okay to rely on and show deep respect for the scholarship and person of someone who refused to condemn targeting mostly Jewish civilians. Now, that’s nuance!

    We are also now at a point where LoonWatch will publish an article calling people’s deeply held religious beliefs “absolutely absurd.” http://www.loonwatch.com/2013/08/when-a-jewish-extremist-talks-like-a-nazi/. I understand that those religious beliefs may conflict with Danios’ and Loonwatch’s political views, but I don’t think that should be an issue, because as I said in the comments there, “One cannot expect those of other religions to rely on the same religious texts or interpretations to deal with today’s political problems.” Denigrating sincerely held religious beliefs as “absolutely absurd” just because they do not fit in with one’s own religious or political views is what I expect from JihadWatch or Atlas Shrugs, not Loonwatch.

    There is more I could say on this series and other articles, but suffice it to say that the parallels between Loonwatch and some of the sites we oppose are much stronger than many whose views are so closely aligned with Loonwatch’s recognize. Just putting up an initial disclaimer does no more to make the posts here accurate than does a claim that one is attacking only “Islamists.” Disclaimers do not excuse citations of material out of context, and in at least one occasion I have previously noted the editing was so bad as to completely reverse the meaning of the author. And a site that relies on the beliefs of an individual who says that Jews pray to Satan at each meal or on one who cannot bring himself to condemn targeting certain civilians but can call sincerely held Jewish beliefs “absolutely absurd” because they don’t match the site’s political bent shows no “nuance” that distinguishes it from a JihadWatch or an AtlasShrugs.

    I want to be clear that I do not defend what I consider to be appalling interpretations of Judaism cited in the series. But, I believe that the arguments that there are such extremists within Judaism as in all religions would be much stronger if they were not overplayed as I discussed above. I think the main effect of such devices is to allow those whose extremist co-religionists’ views are exposed to dismiss everything in the series as inherently biased, thereby allowing them to dismiss the legitimate points made.

    Let me finish an already overly long comment with more positive responses to two of our youngest commenters. Tighe says, “I have no Jewish friends (online or in real life).” We may not reach the level of a personal friendship like people who share events in their lives, but you certainly have my respect and to the extent it makes sense in this context, my friendship as well. You also were, I believe, the only person to ask what I meant by calling Loonwatch counterproductive, though perhaps others saw your comment and felt that one person asking was sufficient. You stood out for addressing the intellectual component of my concern. While I am flattered that many commenters requested that I stay, you showed the strongest desire to understand what it is that I felt was the problem, so that it could be addressed. Much of the answer is above. Danios’ original Disclaimer stated, “It is hoped that this exercise will encourage people of Judeo-Christian background to be more hesitant in vilifying and targeting Islam.” While I would not vilify or target Islam, I know many who might and some who sadly do. Articles that fairly point out how all religions contain problematic texts and horrid interpretations may aid in combating their tendencies; calling Jewish beliefs “absolutely absurd,” citing those who say that Jews pray to Satan or that targeting Israeli civilians is reasonable, and displaying a lack of knowledge about relevant history (only some of which I have mentioned above), if anything, tend to do the opposite. On a more specific note, I have often argued with Jews that others can be critical of Israel without being anti-Jewish. However, if Loonwatch’s position is that any attacks (in this case military, but the principle still applies in my view to verbal or other attacks) is a sign of The Greater Islamophobia (http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/12/the-greater-islamophobia-bombing-invading-and-occupying-muslim-lands-i/), then how can Loonwatch repudiate those who say that attacks on Israel represent the Greater Judeophobia/Anti-Semitism? And this time, the issue cannot explained away with an asterisk or a disclaimer.

    And to Tanveer, who decided to use “a proper, full greeting” for Rosh Hashanah: you have addressed the emotional component of my concern; though again others have also provided greetings that I truly appreciated, you did go the extra cubit (and the greeting was nearly perfect: the words were all correct, but somehow Wikipedia switched the order of the last two). And the emotional basis is often the foundation that anchors the rest. On the rare occasions when I have critiqued an aspect of certain interpretations of Islam or of Palestinian nationalism on Loonwatch, I hope I remembered to temper those critiques with similar critiques of interpretations of Judaism or Jewish nationalism, not just for fairness’ sake or to be effective, but because I hope that from my studies and friendships I do indeed feel at least some of the pain when issues dear to my real-life or on-line friends are singled out for criticism. For all the intellectual arguments I made above, I think that the “(ha!)” did more to shatter any illusion of fairness, objectivity, or the “absolute reluctance to go down this path” cited in the Disclaimer than any other five characters in it.

    So, the question that perhaps a few (and more than I would have expected) have actually been waiting to have answered: will JSB stay at Loonwatch? The answer is that at least for a little time to see what develops. I like the “pro-Islam” parts of the site and feel that they are useful and would like to see them continue. (Yes, I think they could be even more effective with some changes, but I can’t expect the site to use my views as the sole guide.) As for the other parts, if they continue in a manner that I view as counterproductive then I will probably just fade away. Obviously, Loonwatch has the right to publish whatever it wants. And I want to repeat that I see no problem with fair comparisons across religions or critiques of religious interpretations, but I do not feel that these reflect the “absolute reluctance” that would manifest itself in articles that do not repel the reader but rather force them to reconsider their views. Instead, the tone of these articles more likely puts readers not already aligned with Loonwatch on the defensive and causes them to actually be potentially more willing to strike back at Islam. It is often said that the first rule of effective writing is to know your reader. I think that the tone in general, and the timing of this current article, show that not nearly enough effort has been put into considering this fundamental rule.

    I do not expect Loonwatch to change its positions so that I stay; I am glad that some people value my contributions, but I don’t think they are that important. I understand that some here essentially enjoy turning the tables, fighting fire with fire, stooping to the level of the Islamophobes, or whatever phrase you like. I would hope, however, that Loonwatch and Loonwatchers consider the following question: if these articles are structured in a way that makes JSB find them problematic personally as well as likely counterproductive for people he knows who do harbor anti-Muslim views, are we really pushing forward in our goal of combating Islamophobia by publishing them with this tone and structure?

  • pensword

    JSB: “The renewal of this series on Rosh Hashanah is either a sign of a particular nastiness, cluelessness, bigotry, or ignorance, …”

    It is nothing of the kind and this particular kind of reaction has now become so commonplace, it’s cliché.

    You take offense to the timing of his publication, but why? If the Rabbis quoted above misrepresent Judaism and you’re well aware that they do, there is no cause for such offense. Rather, make this an occasion to show us *how* they misrepresent it should you be so inclined.

    If, however, they don’t misrepresent Judaism, then your indignation is just an attempt to run interference for them.

    So which is it?

  • Wanderer

    One does not simply leave a response from Danios unanswered.

    As Javed has pointed out, sir, I was being sarcastic. Channelling the overwrought, hyperbolic, irrational response one has to deal with from “intellectual” islamophobes. Of course your article is nuanced and direct. And quite frankly, it’s exactly what we need, since apologists are generally overly tactful and defensive.

    Perhaps I should have linked to a clip from The Big Bang Theory. May have put some context to “Bazinga”.

  • AG

    @Danios_of_LoonWatch:disqus

    Now that the campaign ended. Is there still a way for me to get the advanced copy of your book?

  • JD

    I think leave it where it is . We are not here to attack each and every religion . The point has been made that every religion has its nut balls. Leave it and lets move on.

  • Javed Asghar

    I think he was being sarcastic
    Ie we Muslims do have to put up with this stuff and in fact often on religious days
    In fact when haters do this against Muslims on their holy days and people raise jsb type objections they get he whole freedom of speech crap that Dawkins and now Stephen fry (rowan Atkinson previously) use

  • Tanveer Khan

    The Muslamic Empire would be lost without Emir JSB and his direction.

  • Sam Seed

    Dear JSB,

    I realise how you feel, but please understand that we Muslims also
    feel the same way when our religion is maligned. I have enjoyed your input and
    you have been a credit to Loonwatch.
    Besides, how else are we going to keep
    the Muzlamic empire alive without your help! Here’s wishing you a very happy
    Rosh Hashanah

  • Tanveer Khan

    Im afraid I dont understand what you’re talking about.

  • From_Syria_With_Love

    Yep. Shias have the same version of narratives.

  • Tanveer Khan

    I was thinking about just saying happy new year but then I decided nah! I shall use a proper, full greeting. xD

  • Tanveer Khan

    And your request could not be fulfilled because the story comes from the hadith collections not the Quran. Just pointing that out.

  • Tighe McCandless

    Just Stopping By is aware of all of that; he (she? I actually don’t know) has been with LoonWatch for a while now. I’m sure he/she is well-versed in polemical drivel against Islam and Muslims that frequently is considered acceptable discourse in parts of the media. If he/she did not care, then JSB wouldn’t make the pronouncement of wishing LoonWatch the best of luck in its endeavors. Nor has JSB prior to this excused any of that.

    It’s just that JSB has felt, with this article being released, as well as other incidents as well apparently, that LoonWatch has gone beyond the bounds of what should be considered acceptable but doesn’t want it to be that way. It’s an extremely ugly (and sensitive, as Danios noted) issue because criticism of Judaism is oftentimes wrapped in an anti-Semitic blanket.

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