How do you respond to the arguments of Zionist rabbis that the army should show no mercy?

02/20/09

I saw the following article.

Is what this rabbi said consistent with Torah law?

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gXdwVESlckDMc0B9t2MiX...

Rabbi told Israeli troops 'to show no mercy' in Gaza
1 day ago
JERUSALEM (AFP) An Israeli human rights group on Monday called for the immediate dismissal of the chief military rabbi, claiming he gave soldiers fighting in Gaza pamphlets urging them to show no mercy.
Yesh Din said it had written to both Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, urging them to "take this incitement seriously and fire Chief Military Rabbi" Brigadier General Avi Ronzki.
It said a pamphlet distributed to soldiers taking part in Operation Cast Lead stressed that the troops should show no mercy to their enemies, and that the pamphlet borders "on incitement and racism against the Palestinian people."
"When you show mercy to a cruel enemy you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers. These are not games at the amusement park where sportsmanship teaches one to make concessions. This is a war on murderers," Yesh Din quoted the pamphlet as saying.
It said the pamphlet quotes at length statements by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a spiritual leader of the Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank who opposes any compromise with Palestinians.
"The Palestinians claim they deserve a state here, when in reality there was never a Palestinian or Arab state within the borders of our country," the pamphlet quoted Aviner as saying.
The rights group said the pamphlet contains "degrading and belittling messages that border on incitement and racism against the Palestinian people. These messages can be interpreted as a call to act outside of the confines of international laws of war."
The Haaretz newspaper reported on Monday that far right-wing groups also gave out pamphlets bearing racist messages on military bases.
It said one urged soldiers to "spare your lives and the lives of your friends and not to show concern for a population that surrounds us and harms us..."
"Kill the one who comes to kill you. As for the population, it is not innocent," the daily quoted the pamphlet as saying.

No, this is not consistent with the Torah, because in our time the Jewish people has no right to rule the Land of Israel or to fight wars against any nations.

"Kill the one who comes to kill you" is a law written in Exodus 22:1. These settlers feel they have the right to kill Arabs because they suspect every Arab of wanting to kill them. This is, of course, ridiculous, but you have to remember that this is an ingrained hatred and mistrust with which these settlers were raised and indoctrinated.

Furthermore, the settlers are wrong to apply self-defense to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which the Palestinians, even those who do kill Jews, are not interested in killing Jews for its own sake; what they want is their legitimate rights to Palestine restored. The settlers settle Palestine, often stealing land, and making it harder for the Palestinians to regain their land. Is a Jew allowed to steal and then, when the victims come after him, kill them in self-defense? Clearly this is not defense of Jewish life, but rather defense of their own criminal acts. If they were really interested in preserving their own lives, the settlers would not be living there in the first place.

The settlers will argue that they are not stealing land because the Torah says the land belongs to the Jews. But again this is a misreading of the Torah. The Torah says the land was given to the Jews in the time of Moses and Joshua. But the Torah also says that because of our sins, G-d will take it away from us and send us into exile. Jews have currently been in exile for about 2000 years, and the exile can only end when G-d sends us the messiah; until then, we have no inherent rights to Palestine at all.

The statement that when you show mercy to a cruel enemy you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers is taken from a Talmudic passage about the killing of Amalek. It is a misquotation; the real text reads: whoever shows mercy to the cruel will eventually come to show cruelty to the merciful. It means that once a person begins to second-guess G-d and make his own decision about killing Amalek, his own morality will lead him to kill those who are truly innocent. The case in point is King Saul, who had mercy on Agag king of Amalek, and eventually ordered the slaughter of the kohanim of Nov.

His statement that the population is not innocent does not apply to today's circumstances. There is no absolute law in the Talmud for what to do during a battle (at times of history when warfare was permitted). You cannot bring quotations from the Torah like you shall smite all its males by the sword because in those days, every man of the enemy population was a soldier; there was no such thing as a civilian.