Yakov Ariel, rabbi of Ramat Gan, issued a religious decision in which he says that Palestinians are like Midian, an ancient kingdom exterminated by the Jews. He made this public in his weekly speech in Settler Channel 7. On July 17, 2017, his article was entitled “The People of Israel are Demanded to Avenge.”
The Annihilation of Midian
Every Saturday, Jews read in the synagogue a different text from the Pentateuch, the Bible’s first five books. The text has been divided so that the reading is completed in one year. Every portion is called “parasha” (literally “event,” also related to “slice”) and is identified by the words opening it.
The read of this week is called Matot, starting in Numbers 30:2 and ending in 32:42. Its central reading is the Midian War.
The Midians lived in what nowadays is Saudi Arabia northwestern corner, near the Red Sea and northwards up to the Dead Sea, in areas later steeled by Moab, ‘Amon and Edom. They were divided into at least five kingdoms.
Five Kings of Midian Slain by Israel
Midians appear several times in the Pentateuch. Joseph was taken to Egypt by people of Median. Moses spent there some time after he escaped Egypt for having killed an Egyptian, and there he married Zipporah (Tzipora), the daughter of Jethro (Itro), a Median priest. There are other instances, but the relevant to the reading of this week happened forty years after Israel left Egypt, just before they entered the Promised Land.
Midianite women were accused of seducing the Israelites and of causing idolatry.
Moses commanded one thousand men from each of Israel’s twelve tribes to destroy the cities and the warriors of Midian. The false prophet Balaam was killed, together with five Midianite kings. Virgins and children were spared.
The ritual purification described afterwards is the source of Jewish practices for cleansing of cooking tools before Passover. Another topic of this section is how to break oaths.
The extermination of Midian took place in a given area. Midians living elsewhere were not killed; they are mentioned later in 1 Kings and Isaiah. The latter prophesied the wise men gifts to the newborn Jesus. Isiah 60:6 “The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.”
Operation Strong Cliff and Midian
This year, the reading of Matot coincided with Operation Strong Cliff.* Relating the two events in the sermons was expected.
Less expected was the violent ruling of a municipal rabbi in one of the cities in Gush Dan, Tel Aviv’s metropolitan area. Ramat Gan has a few religious neighborhoods, but it is mainly secular. It means that his rabbi is not very important and that he is close to the Zionist establishment. His salary is paid by the state.
He centered his sermon on revenge, Midian and Operation Strong Cliff.
After refuting a claim he found in a pamphlet “You should not avenge. Revenge is prohibited, it belongs to the Lord,” he explains that the People of Israel were ordered to take revenge on Midian.
At the center of his disturbing interpretation is: “What was the reason for the war on Midian? They did not fight us. They did not throw at us even one arrow. However, they tried to annihilate the People of Israel through their daughters. It was a spiritual and physical annihilation. Assimilation is war.
“Also today, the People of Israel is amid a massive annihilation war. Also in Israel the problem exists, but in lower numbers. Abroad the problem is critic. The children are not Jews anymore, not only according to the Halakha, but also due to their identity.
“Hamas represents radical Islam, that claims that there is no room here for non-Muslims, who must convert. Thus, this war is for God.” The last short sentence justifies an annihilation war against Palestinians in Gaza.
Related: Operation Strong Cliff
Jewish Fatwa Hits Palestine
Outsiders may consider his words irrelevant. A second-rate rabbi speaking in an almost banned outlet of religious settlers in the West Bank. Why does he matter?
Since the Romans destructed the Temple, Jews lack a central leadership. Instead, the Halakha was developed.
Halakha is the Jewish religious law, a body of legislation parallel to Muslim Shar’ia, that summarizes the Talmud, the rabbinical interpretation of the Pentateuch, the Bible first five books. Its most comprehensive text is the “Shulchan Aruch ” published by Yosef Karo in 1563. The name means “Set Table” and is the most extensive Code of Jewish Law. It generally follows Sephardi traditions.
Shortly afterwards, Rabbi Moses Isserles published his notes to the “set table,” usually known as “mappah” (tablecloth). The combination is an acceptable way of solving liturgical discrepancies among the bulk of Jews, namely Sephardic and Ashkenazi.
Things not covered directly by the Halakha are subject to interpretations. “Psak Halakha” (s), or “Piskei Halakha” (p), are “Rulings of the Jewish Law,” which are parallel to the Muslim Shari’a. Followers of a rabbi are bound to his rulings. Other groups are not.
Yigal Amir, a former Yeshiva student studying at the religious Bar Ilan University, killed Prime Minister Rabin with the blessing of his rabbi. He moved from one rabbi to another until he found one who agreed that the killing would save many Jewish lives; and thus it was justified according to the Halakha. The assassination was based on “din rodef,” law of the pursuer, which rabbis interpret as allowing the killing of another Jew to prevent him from handing Jewish land over to non-Jews.
The ruling of Yaakov Ariel will not be accepted by everybody. Following his call for the assassination of innocents (“They did not fight us. They did not throw at us even one arrow. However, they tried to annihilate the People of Israel through their daughters.”), other rabbis will for sure issue contradicting rulings. It does not matter, his ruling may be cited as the justification for a ground invasion of Gaza by the IDF and a following massacre.
Neither the UN nor the USA will care about that. Europe, Russia, China and even India will laugh to tears. It does not matter. The ruling will be a religious justification for the massacre and will be accepted by Jewish communities abroad as legitimate.
Afterwards, they will bend local politicians backwards. In Westphalian states, what is usually known as Western Democracies and their allies, only money rules.
This is serious. Hiding beneath a plethora of reports on Israeli bombings and Palestinian answers, a rabbi related to the Zionist regime issued a fatwa allowing the annihilation of Palestinians in Gaza.
Only yesterday, in Hitchcock and Hitler Reach Headlines in Israel’s Newest Holocaust Reports, I commented on the official words of Member of the Knesset Shaked to kill the mothers of Palestinians daring to answers Zion’s violence. She made waves in the UK and Turkey. It is a different phrasing for the same mass murder.
Americans, Russians and Chinese may laugh. Palestinians do not have such luxury. An annihilation war was declared on them; further announcements will not be done.
Mr. Roi Tov is one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.