I found myself extremely frustrated and emotionally moved when someone told me that for some groups in certain countries there was discomfort to news reports and briefings describing the bombs falling on Gaza as “Israeli bombs”. As incredible as this may sound, this was mentioned in a very respected and august company by a media specialist.
Dr. Bernard Sabella
I asked my interlocutor how to best describe these bombs: bombs from up there or bombs manufactured in the USA or any other country of origin? He thought I was not serious but in reality I was desperate to understand the logic behind raising such an apparently senseless and to me immoral question. Possibly the objection of these groups to the use of “Israeli bombs” had to deal with its possible undertone of anti-semitism for certainly the Israeli pilots were only an instrument to deliver these bombs to innocent children and other civilians as they did not manufacture the bombs themselves. Another reason for the objection of these groups could be that their back donors, honest citizens in civilized and cultured countries, would have a problem with describing bombs as being Israeli. To ease the conscience of leaders of these groups and their back donors, I am asking them to please stick to their conscience, keep their money and go spend it in a way that would not pose a moral and ethical dilemma to them. We, Palestinians, are absolutely opposed to anyone of them not being able to sleep soundly overnight because of the wrong description of the bombs that fell down on our people in Gaza.
In order to determine how best to describe the bombs that fell down on Gaza, I searched the internet for stories from Jerusalem Post and Reuters, among other media outlets, to see how some religious Jewish leaders could enlighten us on this. The chief rabbi of the city of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu in Northern Israel was emphatic about the need to kill as many Palestinians in order to get them to stop launching rockets: “if they don’t stop after we kill 100 then we must kill a thousand and if they do not stop after 1000 then we must kill 10,000. if they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.” Rabbi Eliyahu quoted from the Psalms: “I will pursue my enemies and apprehend them and I will not desist until I have eradicated them.” (Israel.Jpost.Com, January 25, 2009 at 22:14.) Would this position be a point against referring to the bombs as “Israeli bombs” and instead refer to them as bombs from up there?
Rabbi Eliyahu’s father is former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Mordechai Eliyahu who was quoted himself as saying in a letter sent to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that there was absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings. According to Jewish war ethics, wrote Eliyahu, an entire city holds collective responsibility for the immoral behavior of individuals. The former Chief Rabbi opposed a ground troop incursion, according to his Rabbi son, because it would endanger IDF soldiers. Rather, he advocated carpet bombing the general area from which the Kassams were launched, regardless of the price in Palestinian life. (Israel.Jpost.Com, January 25, 2009 at 22:14.) Would this be an additional arguing point for not calling the bombs “Israeli bombs” and calling them bombs from up there?
An Israeli rights group, Yesh Din, called on Monday for the dismissal of the chief military rabbi, Brigadier-General Avichai Rontzki, saying he had authorized a booklet, written by a civilian rabbi who advocates Jewish settlement in the West Bank that told soldiers to show no mercy because they were fighting a “cruel enemy” and “murderers”. (Reuters, January 28, 2009.) Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger, citing Maimonides (1135-1204), the Jewish philosopher and legalist, urged soldiers to “trust in God and know that war is being waged for the sanctification of His name… and not to fear. [The soldier] should not think at this time of his wife or of his children or of his mother and father.” Meanwhile, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar called the military campaign in Gaza “a holy mission that is being waged in the name of the entire Jewish people.” Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu, quoted above, has recorded a message to soldiers on MP3s distributed freely to Israeli soldiers as compliment of a donor or group of donors by the Jewish Consciousness Field (JCF) which is a division of the Israeli army Rabbinate. “Our intention is to uplift soldiers’ spirits,” said Eliyahu, who likened Hamas to Haman in the biblical story of Ester and to the Nazis. In addition to the MP3s, the JCF also distributed to IDF rabbis in the field in Gaza a pamphlet entitled “Jewish Consciousness Emphases for Cast Lead.” In the pamphlet, the IDF rabbis are addressed as “Anointed Priests of War.” In the introduction, Shmuel Yurman, an officer in the JCF, defines the purpose of the pamphlet: “This is the hour to strengthen our fighters in this heavenly commanded war [milchemet mitzva] that they have the merit to wage. Each of you [rabbis] has the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to the IDF battle spirit.” (Israel. Jpost.Com, January 8, 2009 at 11:14.)
Would all these religious enlightenments further reinforce the position of these groups that are calling for not using the term “Israeli bombs?” Or should these groups engage in an intense morally and ethically driven effort to help explain the position of these Jewish religious leaders as they search for a new descriptive term for the bombs that fell on Gaza and its population during the 22-day war?