Sunday, July 3, 2011

The King's Torah - Racism, Hatred, and Incitement to Kill in the Guise of Religion

The focus of the book, The King's Torah, written by the 'Rabbi' Yitzhak Shapira, is extremely clear: its purpose is to lay out under what circumstances a Jew can kill a non-Jew - babies, childrens and adults.
[Hold on a minute - I am Jewish, but have no interest in killing babies, children and adults, Jewish or non-Jewish...]

As the author tells us, the commandment 'Thou Shalt Not Murder' applies only "to a Jew who kills a Jew." The thinking behind this statement, and others in the book, tells us much about the author, nothing about individuals who do not belong to the Jewish people: non-Jews are "uncompassionate by nature" and by attacking them, Jews can "curb their evil inclination." Shapira goes on to further advocate the killing of babies and children of Israel's enemies - since: " is clear that they will grow to harm us."

Now being an academic, a writer, and a reader, I ask: Was it REALLY important for such a book to be published? Is THIS the 'religious' literature that our world was lacking? How has this book made our world a better place in any way, contributed to religious or philosophical thought, brought us closer to deeper understandings (other than of racism and hatred)?

If this book weren't bad enough (and it is worse than that), what is worse is that this 'Rabbi' has thousands and thousands of followers, including other 'rabbis' who not only defend Shapira's and others' right to write such 'religious' texts, but also find it abhorrent and unthinkable that the these 'spiritual leaders' are being called in by the Israeli police for investigation for incitement to commit violence.

To quote my father: "Oy vey..."

Shapira's book is a book of racist hatred.
It is not different from the messages spread by the Klu Klux Klan
It does not differ from the propaganda espoused by the Nazis and their collaborators.
It does not differ from anti-Semitic publications and statements made in the world.

Shapira's book should be treated for what it is:
Not worthy of reading
Not worthy of endorsement
Not worthy of justification
Not worthy

For those looking for good Jewish-Israeli reads, that focus on humanity, on deepening understandings, on ways to be with one another in the world, regardless of religion, nationality, ethnicity, etc. etc., here is a short list of alternatives:

The Writings of Martin Buber  ( )

The late Prof. Dan Bar-On's writings - such as The Other's Within Us and Tell Your Story: Creating Dialogue between Jews and Germans, Palestinians and Israelis

 Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal's writings (see his home page for his books and articles - )

For those who want to begin by gaining some additional insight into how Shapira's book has made it as far as it has (soon to be in its third edition!), and has helped turn the streets of Jerusalem into streets of hate-filled demonstrations by his followers, below follows Phillip Zimbardo's lecture on why ordinary people do evil or good.

It may be trite, but I believe it to be true: We can do better. We must do better. If we allow 'religious' leaders such as Shapira to dictate who we are, then we will be racists, filled with hate. If we say "Not in my name" then we all can become the kinds of heroes noted by Zimbardo. It is in our hands.

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