Posted by: Tobias | March 25, 2009

Jewish religious extremism

Christohper Hitchens in Slate on the increasing religious extremism in Israel and the IDF:

Peering over the horrible pile of Palestinian civilian casualties that has immediately resulted, it's fairly easy to see where this is going in the medium-to-longer term. The zealot settlers and their clerical accomplices are establishing an army within the army so that one day, if it is ever decided to disband or evacuate the colonial settlements, there will be enough officers and soldiers, stiffened by enough rabbis and enough extremist sermons, to refuse to obey the order. Torah verses will also be found that make it permissible to murder secular Jews as well as Arabs. The dress rehearsals for this have already taken place, with the religious excuses given for Baruch Goldstein's rampage and the Talmudic evasions concerning the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Once considered highly extreme, such biblical exegeses are moving ever closer to the mainstream. It's high time the United States cut off any financial support for Israel that can be used even indirectly for settler activity, not just because such colonization constitutes a theft of another people's land but also because our Constitution absolutely forbids us to spend public money on the establishment of any religion.


  1. Interesting quote. But do you think this is realistic? Would this mean that there will we civil war in Israel?

    Concerning the last last point made: how can you make sure that financial support for Israel is not gonna be used (indirectly) for settlement activities?

  2. I’m not merely expert enough on Israeli political dynamics to opine on this with any authority, but it seems to me Hitchens is hitting the nail on the head as regards the increasing tendencies of the settlers and those sympathetic to them to create a state within a state and not feeling dutibound to abide by any decisions carried by a democratic majority if it runs counter to their ideology. Whether this will eventually lead to civil war I don’t know. I doubt it – my intuition would be that it won’t – but even if it doesn’t, it certainly puts some very harsh limits on what sort of peace deal if any can be negotiated with the Palestineans.

    Of course you cannot make sure to which purposes financial support is used once it’s been paid. Money is fungible after all. But I don’t see why US financial support shouldn’t come with a lot more conditionality attached to it.

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