In an apparent response to a blog post by a New Jersey modern Orthodox rabbi that called for collective punishment against Israel’s Arab residents and the Palestinians, the Orthodox Union on Wednesday condemned the “incendiary rhetoric” that emerged in the aftermath of the Har Nof killings last week.
The statement from the Orthodox body appeared to push back against racist statements made by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky last Friday, arguing that they ran contrary to Jewish tradition.
The Orthodox Union “cannot countenance a response to terror that resorts to wholesale demonization, advocates for the collective punishment of Israeli Arabs, or calls for the destruction or dismantling of Muslim holy places,” the OU said in a statement.
“Such rhetoric is anathema to the Jewish religious tradition and has no place in civil society. Such rhetoric is wrong and must be repudiated, whether it is voiced by lay leaders, community leaders or rabbis,” it said.
The rabbinic body denounced the “heinous murders” in Har Nof last week — four rabbis and a policeman were killed in the brutal attack — and urged the Jewish community to condemn terrorism, adding that “this must be done in a responsible fashion.”
In his controversial post, written Friday and titled “Dealing with Savages,” Pruzansky of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck offered suggestions that ranged from destroying whole Palestinian towns to uprooting the Dome of the Rock.
“There is a war for the land of Israel that is being waged, and the Arabs who dwell in the land of Israel are the enemy in that war and must be vanquished,” he wrote.
Though Pruzansky removed the post, titled “Dealing with Savages,” by Sunday, he told JTA it was because of threats that he would not specify — not because he had any regrets about the content.
“I don’t think I’m saying anything outlandish,” Pruzansky told JTA in an interview.
In the post, which is cached here, Pruzansky referred to “the Arab-Muslim animals that span the globe chopping, hacking and merrily decapitating,” and then wrote, “At a certain point, the unrestrained behavior of unruly animals becomes the fault of the zookeeper, not the animals.”
So what should Israel do? According to Pruzansky, essentially end civil and human rights for many Arab Israelis and Palestinians. Beyond killing all terrorists and demolishing their extended families’ homes, Pruzansky said Israel should destroy entire Arab villages if more than one terrorist comes from them. All the residents of those villages, he writes, should be expelled.
He also wrote that rioters and stone-throwers should be shot with live ammunition, and that reporters should be barred from these scenes and have their cameras confiscated.
Pruzansky said Arabs should be barred from the Temple Mount for at least six months, and mused that “perhaps the day will come in the near future when the mosque and the dome can be uplifted intact and reset in Saudi Arabia, Syria or wherever it is wanted.”
He also wrote that Palestinians and Arab Israelis as a whole are Israel’s enemy — “and that enemy rides our buses, shops in our malls, drives on our roads and lives just two miles from us.”
Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a former congregant of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, was among those who denounced Pruzansky’s post.
“This is outright racism and bigotry,” Foxman told JTA. “We all feel the anguish and pain of the tragic loss, but our response isn’t death and destruction. Coming from a rabbinic authority, it’s just hideous.”
JTA contributed to this report.