Thou shalt not murder. Remember?

Op-ed: Those who assert a Jewish religious legitimacy for murder know nothing. With their wickedness, they shame the name of Judaism. This should not need saying. The Duma killings underline that it does

David Horovitz

David Horovitz is the founding editor of The Times of Israel. He is the author of "Still Life with Bombers" (2004) and "A Little Too Close to God" (2000), and co-author of "Shalom Friend: The Life and Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin" (1996). He previously edited The Jerusalem Post (2004-2011) and The Jerusalem Report (1998-2004).

Moses Breaking the Tables of the Law (1659) by Rembrandt. (Wikipedia)
Moses Breaking the Tables of the Law (1659) by Rembrandt. (Wikipedia)

The killings of Ali, Riham and Saad Dawabshe, allegedly firebombed by 21-year-old Jewish terrorist Amiram Ben-Uliel, “go against everything we believe in,” Sarah Rosenfeld said Sunday, hours after Ben-Uliel had been charged with murder.

According to the Shin Bet security agency, Ben-Uliel said that he set the Dawabsha home alight on the night of July 30-31, as the family slept inside, in order to avenge the murder of Sarah’s son Malachy, who was shot dead by a Hamas terrorist one month earlier.

“Needless to say,” Sarah Rosenfeld added, the Rosenfelds were horrified by the killings. This was not Judaism as she knows it, she said. “It disgusts me that Jews did this, if that’s true,” she told Channel 10 TV, calling Ben-Uliel’s alleged act of ostensible vengeance “a slap in the face of the memory of my son and his way of life.”

Needless to say. Needless to say.

Except, all too evidently, it does need saying.

It needs saying that Judaism’s very essence is respect for the divine gift of human life.

Not land. Life.

It apparently needs saying, recalling, repeating, that “Thou shalt not murder” is right up on that list of foundational Commandments.

You’d have thought that rabbis, steeped in Jewish teachings, would know better than to seek to second-guess the Ten Commandments. But it is the bitterly unfortunate case there is more than one spiritual leader, respected in certain circles, who for years has been agonizing, purportedly learnedly, about the circumstances in which, for Jews, that prohibition may not apply.

You’d have thought that spiritual leaders would be sufficiently aware that not all disciples understand the nuances of their learned theoretical expositions. You’d have thought lessons would have been learned after Baruch Goldstein’s massacre in the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

Needless to say, you don’t trifle with “Thou shalt not murder.” Except, we now see again, it does need saying.

Even after the Duma killings five months ago, when the Shin Bet took to warning about a Jewish “rebellion” that seeks to destroy everything Zionism has built here and replace it with a racist Kingdom, there were many doubters. Seriously? A bunch of barely bearded, scraggly youths living rough in the West Bank constituted a threat to the mighty State of Israel?

But then we watched the parade of arrogant zealots being taken into custody. We read the extremists’ manifesto. We saw the vicious threats posted on social media. And we witnessed that horrific wedding dance.

The Shin Bet had warned that the hard core of this new Jewish terror underground had now become more deluded and dangerous, more certain in their skewed ideology, than even the most radical of the rabbis who may once have inspired them. The hate criminals, who torch churches and mosques and schools, the security service warned, were eminently capable of murder.

That wedding, the sight of dozens of self-styled Orthodox Jews, wearing the skullcaps and sidelocks of the reverent, despicably celebrating the murder of an innocent family and clamoring for more such blood, indicated that the hard core does not thrive in a vacuum.

The notion that people who consider themselves to be part of the Jewish nation would use the celebration of life that is a wedding to revel in death was unfamiliar to most of us, and nauseating. But it turns out that the “hate wedding” scenes — where machine guns and Molotov cocktails were brandished with bloodthirsty zeal, and a photograph of baby Ali Dawabsha, who had been burned alive in his innocent sleep, was symbolically stabbed and set alight in the frenzied revelries — were not entirely unfamiliar to a certain swath of the populace. The depraved celebration of death had merely crossed a few more red lines from the more routine wedding norm in certain fringe communities of songs of revenge and the brandishing of table knives.

“Needless to say,” said a bereaved mother upon whom the killing of the Dawabsha family has poured yet more grief… Needless to say.

But clearly it does need saying, over and over and over again: Human life is sacred. Those who claim to know the will of God, and assert a Jewish religious legitimacy for murder, know nothing. With their wickedness, they shame the name of Judaism. They betray the God they purport to sanctify. They are the kind of people because of whom the First Temple was destroyed and a Jewish kingdom ended.

The text has been updated to reflect a better translation of the original Hebrew: Thou shalt not murder, rather than Thou shalt not kill.

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