Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Capital punishment in Israel?

Don’t just believe sensational negative reports about Israelis

The Torah demands trials for capital offenses. Yet, the rabbinic judges that need to judge such cases have one task only: to find subtle arguments why to acquit each accused. If the person is really culpable, the Good L^rd will know how to deal with him. If convicted, the execution is the same day and everything is done to minimalize suffering of the convicted. And he’s friendly urged to repent that he goes to Heaven innocently. But, some 2,000 years ago, the Sages ruled to stop such trials. Reasons: They were meant to deter a person from committing the worst sins. However, it did not work anymore. Life had become so cheap that death didn’t matter. Since the death penalty apparently didn’t deter anymore, a prime rational for having these cases had fallen away. And, there were so many cases that it became impossible to give each the careful attention it deserved.

In my opinion, the death penalty must also be seen in the light of the special character traits of the average Jew. Jews just don’t murder so quickly. (Yet, we are not invincible in this. When we go to a pub and drink alcohol to amounts as we see in Western countries, Jews kill too.) So, we teach our kids over and over not to kill people. Famously, Golda Meir said about our enemies: “[One day,] we can forgive them for killing our young people. [But never] can we forgive them for leaving us no choice but to kill their youths.” So, the Torah safely tell us that murderers must be executed to teach us there is a limit to what we are allowed to tolerate as a Jewish society. But, G^d knows that we won’t clamor for spilling blood by law.

How different all other nations that execute (pun intended) the death penalty. It’s often about revenge and anger, as we can see in public execution, and cruel executions or years of death row are not humane.

Judaism rejects completely a fallacy in the West that holds that there are two kinds of people, good and evil ones. (This often goes together with believing in two powers in the world: G^d and the Satan, Heaven forbid. Brother Satan is G^d’s faithful Angel giving as a chance to go against his enticements. Just like the weight in a home trainer is not our enemy but that what makes us stronger.) All humans have ethically better and worse inclinations. But if you call yourself good and others evil, yes, then it will be easier to claim (falsely) that you make the world better by executing them.

Modern Israel, a modern, democratic State with a Jewish flavor, and homeland of the Jewish People, has capital punishment on the books.

Yet, it’s only executed one, against Eichmann, designer of Hitler’s program to exterminate the Holy People. He was a proud and decent man and had done nothing wrong. He was executed and his ashes were dispersed.

So, when people want the death penalty for terrorists, the first problem is: Nothing equals what Eichmann did. And, even when you take the life of a murderer, you don’t really show that you value human life. Incarcerate the killer. Help him repent. And then, maybe after decades, let him teach the whole world to stay away from homicide and murder like the plague.

The next problem is that we don’t want to imitate the worst of Gentile Nations. We are supposed to be a Light unto them, lead the world to respect the sanctity of life. I penned before how bad the death penalty is.

The Sages are very clear that sometimes we are commended to kill. Namely, if that’s the last and only resort to prevent a murder. ‘If someone sets out to kill you, you kill him first.’ That, obviously, has nothing to do with being trigger-happy. As the laws of the IDF show. If an enemy is holding a rock to maim or kill, they are allowed to fire. Once the rock has left the terrorist’s hand, even if it will kill, you can’t shoot to kill anymore.

People who now want State murder for terrorists are wrong on three more accounts. The terrorists we’re facing want to be killed by us. They’re led to believe that what makes them holy is murdering us and then becoming a ‘martyr.’ So, what’s left to it is to revel in something so base as revenge. We don’t want to be cruel. The Talmud teaches us that Jews don’t kill for fun. There never was a Jewish hunting club. Killing captured terrorists is also off because it doesn’t deter. It’s useless. An extra reason is that we already have butchers. We don’t need executioners too. Look around in your super. Many of our butchers are not Jewish! You don’t want your kids to model themselves after Jews who’d love to be executioners.

Besides, murder and pro-execution stance are often related to anger. Anger isn’t just easy to form, it’s also among the most destructive feelings.

I think that many Israelis who opine they want the death penalty for terrorists actually are angry that many of them have been freed after some time or in a ‘prisoner exchange.’ Also, they’re having a good life, a bunch of genocidal murderers together in jail, getting some university degree, and each month their families receiving lots of money for their Jew-murders.

Yet. I would like to be on the brink of becoming law: capital punishment for men who murder women in their lives. (For rape, I would like life in jail. You ruin her life, we’ll ruin yours. That’s justice.) I don’t want the death penalty for killers of wives/girlfriends/exes/mothers/daughters/sisters, etc. Just that it’s about to become law retroactively should deter some.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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