Killing Innocents in the Name of God

Former Deputy Director of the CIA, Michael Morell, was  asked by CBS news on Monday to respond to the latest terrorist attack by an extremist Muslim in Australia. What he said was scary, but not surprising. He said that an event like this will without a doubt happen in the US. It’s just a matter of time.

The reason it will is because extremist Islamic groups like ISIS are inspiring people to act like this in the name of God. ISIS is not an international organization. Its ‘soldiers’ are limited to the Middle East. But their threats of bringing the war to the US are not empty ones. Their religious fervor has been transferred to countless people around the globe and inspired them to act in the name of Islam. They consider it a duty to God to bring Islam to the entire world.

While it is true that the terrorist in Australia was a known criminal with a record, his motives were clear. He was ‘doing it for God’. Yestreday we saw yet another terrorist attack in Pakistan where a group of 8 Taliban terrorists massacred 140 people and injuried 114 people before themselves being killed. Most of them teenagers.

It is important to understand what all these attacks have in common. They are all being done in the name of God. I say this not to God forbid disparage religious beliefs. I say this to point out the futility of trying to stop people motivated to kill in His name.

I believe this is what underlies Muslim hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. It seems like the more devout a Muslim is, the greater the hatred of the Jew. While it is true that there are many exceptions to this among Muslims – even some of its leaders (especially the non Arabic Muslims) I tend to believe that in the Middle East, they are in the minority.

This is not to say that most Muslims want to kill Jews. Nor is to say that the vast majority would ever do so. They would not. But the hatred is the same.  All lovers of peace like me can ever really hope for is that radical Muslim’s are defeated to the point where they will no longer be able to cause any harm. Then we can make peace with Palestinians despite their hatred of us in varying degrees.

I am at a loss to see any solution to the current phenomenon of terror by Muslim extremists. Which include Hamas,Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, ISIS, the Taliban, Al Qaida, and a whole host of smaller groups and even individuals.

These Islamic extremists have one goal: the Islamization of the entire world. They believe that this is what God wnats of them. And to accomplish that by any means necessary. Even if it means killing fellow Muslims and themselves in suicide missions. Their eyes are solely on the ‘prize’. Target number one in that mission is Israel and the Jewish people.

That they haven’t gotten to us in recent years as much as they’d like to is due to the fact that God has given us – the Jewish people – the means to protect ourselves via our intelligence, our defensive systems (Iron Dome), our military might, and our close relationship with the United States who helps us out in those goals. But make no mistake about it. If they could get to us, they would kill us all. While there are different tactics used among these groups in the extent of their violence, it is hardly relevant to the fact that they want to destroy us.

You cannot reason with these people.  The entire civilized world can condemn them 1000 times over and they could not care less. That’s because they do not value the entire civilized world. We are all infidels to them.

So how do we deal with this situation? Like I said, I don’t know. Do we fight fire with fire? Tempting as that may be, it is the wrong solution. We cannot go into Arab neighborhoods and blowup Muslim schools or mosques. Or damage them in any way. Randomly killing innocent people is about as immoral an act any human being can do.  It is immoral to hurt innocent people in any way, whether it is inflicting physical pain or property damage.

Those who counter and say they all hate us anyway and we ought to do to them what they do to us, could not be more wrong. Not only is it immoral it is a Chilul HaShem.  Which is why I am glad that a group of people who think along those lines and act accordingly – were arrested today. Form the Jerusalem Post:

The head of a far right extremist group Lehava was arrested on Tuesday for allegations of incitement and calls to carry out violence and terror activity based on nationalistic motives, Israel Police reported…
Lehava chairman Bentzi Gupstein, along with nine other activists from the group,were each taken into custody from their individual homes, following ten months of both open and undercover police investigation…
Three of the group’s members were accused of carrying out arson and racist vandalism last month at Max Rayne Hand in Hand School, a joint Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem. Hebrew graffiti was found on the school’s walls, with slogans such as “You can’t coexist with a cancer,” “Kahane was right,” “Enough with assimilation” and “Death to Arabs.”
The group follows the racist teachings of the late Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane…

It is so sad that Rabbi Kahane, who had such a fine mind and who was a keen observer of the Arab Israeli conflict had such radical ideas. Ideas that inspired the kind of immoral behavior that this group practiced.  He could have been a great leader had he used his clear view of the realities of the Middle east in better ways. Instead his rhetoric brought out the worst in his followers. One of whom became a mass murderer an Maaras HaMachpela.

To a far lesser degree Rabbi Pruzansky is of a similar mindset.  A mindset which roundlycondemned by mainstream Orthodox organizations – as I did. Even though I understood the emotions that brought about such thinking. Both in Rabbi Kahane and in Rabbi Pruzansky.

Now I’m sure that Rabbi Pruzansky condemns this group too.  But his ideas to can inspire such behavior. It should be a lesson, not only to him, but to any of us who allow our emotions to get the better of us – and instead to think clearly about the ultimate consequences of such thinking. Consequences that are ultimately immoral and a Chilul HaShem. Despite the immoral depravity (albeit moral to them) of those Islamist extremists whose acts match that of the Third Reich, we do not have the moral right to react to them in kind.

What the answer is to this growing threat to the civilized world – is perhaps the most difficult question facing us today. As I indicated, the unrelenting terror being perpetrated by radical Islam on the world is beyond horrific. It makes Kahanism seem mild by comparison. But one thing I am certain of.  Kahanism is not the answer.

About the Author
My worldview is based on the philosophy of my teacher, Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik , and the writings of Rabbis Joseph B. Soloveitcihk , Norman Lamm, and Dr. Eliezer Berkovits from whom I developed an appreciation for philosophy. I attended Telshe Yeshiva and the Hebrew Theological College where I was ordained. I also attended Roosevelt University where I received my degree in Psychology.