SWC Condemns Recent Statement by Rabbi Manis Friedman

June 15, 2009

SWC Condemns Recent Statement by Rabbi Manis Friedman

The Simon Wiesenthal Center condemns the recent statement by Rabbi Manis Friedman which implied that the Bible countenances the random killing of civilians in wartime. The rabbi has since denied that this was his intention, and the organization with which he is affiliated has repudiated his remarks. Mark Weitzman, Director of the Wiesenthal Center’s Task Force against Hate and Terrorism said that the rabbi’s statement “is a terrible distortion of the laws and morality of Judaism, which places the value and sanctity of human life on an unusually high pedestal, even while unambiguously demanding vigorous self-defense.The rabbi's statement is a gross misreading of a single Biblical source and the wholesale ignoring of a host of others. It stands at odds with what is taught by the vast majority of rabbis, of all stripes and denominations. The extraordinary efforts taken by the Israel’s Defense Forces to insure the safety of civilians, even at the expense of the lives of its own soldiers, demonstrates Judaism’s commitment to the value of human life, even in the midst of warfare.”

“Jewish law,” added Weitzman, “went so far as demanding that civilians who wished to escape a siege be given a route to do so. It prohibited commencing hostilities without first offering peace. It protected the non-combatant, while allowing for legitimate proactive self-defense. Thus it would find those who hide behind human shields entirely responsible for their own deaths and it would allow for decisively eliminating terrorists themselves. At the same time, every unnecessary casualty is regarded by Jewish law as an act of murder. The original statement by Rabbi Friedman is without basis and without merit.”