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Settler rabbi authors guidelines on killing gentiles

Nov. 9, 2009 3:23 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 12, 2009 1:18 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Jews have the right to kill non-Jews in just about any circumstance, said Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, the head of a religious school in the illegal settlement of Yitzhar, near Nablus.

"If we kill a gentile who has sinned or has violated one of the seven commandments... there is nothing wrong with the murder," Shapira wrote, according to Hebrew-language Israeli newspaper Maariv.

In his new book, The King's Torah, Shapira, who heads the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, justifies the slaying of "non-Jews who demand the land for themselves," and for, among other transgressions, "hostile blasphemy."

"Those who, by speech, weaken our sovereignty" – deserve to die, the book explains. "It is permissible... even if they are not responsible for the threatening situation."

According to Maariv, the book is a manifesto, "230 pages, no less, on the laws of the killing of gentiles, a guide to deciding whether and when it is permissible to take the life of non-Jews."

Shapira and his followers began selling the guide at Saturday's memorial in Jerusalem for Rabbi Meir Kahane, the Israeli Knesset member who urged the mass expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and the territories.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Shapira based the majority of his teachings on passages quoted from the Bible, to which he added his opinions and beliefs. Several prominent rabbis have recommended the book to their students and followers, the newspaper reported on Monday.

Shapira's book includes a chapter entitled, "Intentional Harm to Innocent People." The book explains it is permissible to kill civilians in other nations if the population "helps a murderer of Jews... Any case in which the life of the civilian endangers Israel - it is allowed to kill a gentile."

"The permit also applies when the persecutor is threatening to kill indirectly rather than directly," Shapira ruled. "If the civilian is aiding fighters it is permissible to kill. Anyone who helps the army and the wicked in any way strengthens pursuers."

He added, "Citizens [of the enemy nation] contribute to the war... So any citizen who supports the war or the fighters or expresses satisfaction with their deeds - the killing is permitted."

Even babies and children are fair targets, "if it is clear they will grow up to harm us," the rabbi wrote. "If hurting an evil leader's children will pressure him to stop acting maliciously - you can hurt them," the newspaper reported, quoting Shapira.

However, the book does not mention Palestinians or Arabs even by implication, Maariv pointed out, explaining that the author meant to discuss the killing of gentiles as a theoretical concept rather than in the context of the region's politics. The newspaper noted that he was "careful not to explicitly encourage private individuals to take the law into their own hands."

The report also quoted responses from settlers, including one who explained, "We respect the rabbis, but they do not represent the settlements nor the outposts."

In any case, the book's publication comes just two weeks after a gag order was lifted revealing that Israeli police had arrested a West Bank settler for a string of killings and murder plots, including the slaying of two Palestinians. An immigrant from the US, Yaakov Teitel allegedly confessed to shooting to death a shepherd south of Hebron in 1997 and killing an East Jerusalem taxi driver the same year. Teitel is also suspected to have carried out a series of bomb attacks, including a blast that damaged a police car during a gay pride parade.

After the March 1997 shooting of Palestinian Issa Jibril, Teitel told authorities that he had come to the country with the specific aim of shooting Palestinians in revenge for suicide bombings.

Shapira's book touched on the topic of revenge, as well.

"To defeat the wicked one should be vengeful, tit for tat," he wrote. "Revenge is a necessity... and sometimes doing savage things intended to create a true balance of terror."

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