Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud


Support the War…from Your Home?

The Orthodox group Agudath Israel recently released a statement expressing their strong and continued support for the Iraq war.
The statement comes after consultation with its rabbinic leadership. Excerpts of the text read as follows:

….Agudath Israel of America believes that President Bush is entitled to great deference in his ongoing efforts to stabilize the situation in Iraq. Such deference is appropriate both because of the constitutional authority that inheres in the President’s position as Commander in Chief, and also because of the moral authority the President has consistently displayed in leading the battle against international terror.
We feel compelled to express our views at this time because the Union for Reform Judaism, purporting to have arrived at its position through an application of “halachic norms” and “Jewish values,” has publicly proclaimed its opposition to the President’s policies in Iraq. This group is entitled to its own organizational position, but that position is neither a legitimate expression of halachic Judaism nor reflective of authentic Jewish values.

Agudath’s backing of the president is interesting, in light of the fact that there are barely any Orthodox Jews serving In Iraq.
To be sure, there are nearly 2,000 Jews serving in Iraq, a very respectable number. Likewise, there are Orthodox Jews like Army SPC, Joe Kashnow, whose leg was shattered in Iraq. Still, for the most part those in the Agudath camp talk a big game but when push comes to shove they are as scared as anyone to pick up a rifle and patrol the lawless Baghdad streets.
Agudath’s statements are not the first time American Jewish groups have supported military action from their living rooms. I always found it astonishing how many pulpit rabbis have no problem encouraging the Israeli army to ramp up its attacks on Arab nations and Palestinian terror cells never once thinking about what that might mean to the parents and siblings of those who have to go into Gaza at two in morning to raid a specific terrorist base. It’s easy to support a war, its much harder to actually fight one.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(33)
post a comment
Dave

posted July 3, 2007 at 8:31 pm


1/ Regardless of your opinions on the Iraq war one of the ennervating things the Reform bodies do is to constantly refer to Halacha when they themselves violate it constantly (exmaples of which would take up all the allotted words one post is allowed)
2/ Among Jews going to Israel from the US, temporarily or making aliyah, there are far more Orthodox than Reform so the Orthodox pulpit rabbis are speaking to those who are putting themselves in some danger.
After all, who are those ‘Jews from Brooklyn’ that anti-Israel speakers are always talking about. Not members of the URJ that’s for sure.



report abuse
 

Scott R.

posted July 3, 2007 at 9:31 pm


1) Reform Jews define what halacha is on their own. They do not look to the Orthodox to make decisions for them. We actually have our own minds.
2) How are the Orthodox putting themselves in danger by going to Israel – besides being there? Most of them don’t serve in the armed forces.
3) Non-Orthodox Jews send most of the funds that help Israel. The Orthodox benefit from this – and then basically shaft the non-O by not treating them as Jews. But they’ll take our money no problem.



report abuse
 

Kathy

posted July 4, 2007 at 9:33 am


The muslim nations want Israel destroyed and the land returned to the Palestine. Most Americans don’t look at the complexity of this war and need to be educated. In NJ most of the jews vote democratic which if things continue with our congress and senate Israel will be destroyed for the democrats don’t support the war. We must wake up the sleeping Americans who feel we are safe and don’t want to sacrifice to the fact the terrorist will hit again. I am afraid of what will happen when President Bush is finished his term and if any of the democrats get in. Most Americans don’t realize the attacks on our soldiers are political for the terrorist want us out of Iraq so they can take over. WAKE UP AMERICA



report abuse
 

Scott R.

posted July 4, 2007 at 11:56 am


Kathy,
Not supporting the war will not put America in danger. If anything, the war has made America a more dangerous place. It doesn’t matter who is in office, the terrorist will try to strike.
Fear-mongering against the Democrats – and half of your fellow Americans – is a very inpatriotic thing to do – especially on July 4th.
Our real enemies are Iran and Syria (and Saudia Arabia, for that matter – the personal friends of the Bush’s)/ Unfortunately, we can’t do anything to protect ourselves against them now that Bush/Cheney have completely overextended our military in Iraq and spent all the goodwill we had among the nations after 9/11.
In short – we are screwed because of those two and the rest of the Republican leadership.
God help us if we don’t get rid of them completely next year. I don’t even know if we’ll survive W’s term. The Braintrust is likely to lead us into a nuclear war with Russia before he’s done.



report abuse
 

Chezzie

posted July 4, 2007 at 12:07 pm


We shouldn’t specifically condemn Agudas Israel for being for the war – the burdens of this war, like Vietnam before it, do not fall on the political and economic upper classes.
Nor should we condemn Reform groups for saying that there is no halachic justification for this war. Simply because the movement rejects halacha out of hand does not mean that they are completely ignorant of it. No, they won’t be able to make the intellectual leaps required to justify the war, but even the Reform movement knows the Eighth Commandment :-)



report abuse
 

Scott R.

posted July 4, 2007 at 12:20 pm


I think you need to go back and read up on how Reform views halacha.
We don’t need halacha to justify this war because nothing could justfy it in the first place. It’s built on a house of lies. It has harmed Ameica. Vietnam had more justification.
As a nation, we’ve learned nothing.



report abuse
 

Michael

posted July 4, 2007 at 12:27 pm


Support the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in harm ways. We are a democratic country, that means we have the right to say what is wrong with the government and vote those people who promised to represent us but represent higher interests out of office.
The number of Jews in the military is almost equal to the percentage of Jews in the American population. But they are clearly outnumbered.
It gets pretty lonely when you are the only Jew amoung a thousand. I served in the Air Force during Vietnam and after. I was there because I was told to go there. I wish there were more Jews to daven with at times. I am proud of my service and may go again if asked but I do not support Bush.



report abuse
 

Bill

posted July 4, 2007 at 2:15 pm


Should we support the war effort Yes Should we support the war No
Sadaam was a true bad guy-Bush did not lie there
Sadaam did not cooperate with the U.N. inspectors-Bush did not lie there
There were WMDs in Iraq-true Sadaam gassed the Kurds years ago
There were WMD’s in Iraq-Bush either lied or deliberately skewed intellegence to his views
The war was going well in 2002-Bush lied
The war was going well in 2003-2006-Bush lied
We are safer now than before-Bush lied and is lying
But perhaps justice requires us to try to clean up the mess we have made. Is he trying to do so No. Perhaps the next president and prime minister can come up with something-or perhaps the whole area will simply become a bloodbath-I think justice requires the effort



report abuse
 

catherine

posted July 4, 2007 at 2:39 pm


BECAUSE YOU ARE A PART OF THIS WORLD THE WORLD IS FOND OF WHAT IS ITS OWN BUT BECAUSE YOU ARE NO PART OF THIS WORLD THE WORLD HATES YOU.



report abuse
 

Shelley Squires

posted July 4, 2007 at 3:39 pm


I am a Jew, married to a Jew, who is a retired Marine (21 years) who served two tours in Vietnam, has two bronze stars, a silver star, and a purple heart. He proudly served this country and would do it again in Iraq or anywhere else to preserve the freedoms of our country. But nothing bothers him more than his fellow Jews avoiding military service and believing that they are too smart to serve their country, and that those that do, are stupid or don’t have other options. He believes that if the U.S.A. ever had to send troops into Israel to help defend it, it would be young Christian men who would be willing to die to protect our Jewish state. This is not right. Jews are American citizens and should serve in our military in the same proportion as non-Jews. And if we believe that fighting the axis of evil is good for the U.S.A., it certainly is good for Israel. It shouldn’t matter whether one is orthodox, conservative, or reformed, Republican or Democrat. Service to our country should be looked upon as an honor and duty.



report abuse
 

Lucy

posted July 4, 2007 at 5:45 pm


Shelly:
Thank you for your comments. Your husband is a brave and honorable man; I admire him, and you, too. My father served in three wars; he is not Jewish but my mother is. Her brother was in the military (WWII)as was her father. He sailed with the Great White Fleet and was quite proud of it. Jews have, and should continue, to serve.



report abuse
 

Scott R.

posted July 4, 2007 at 5:55 pm


Catherine,
That Xian-lingo. Doesn’t apply to us. Thanks!
The only Jews who generally do not serve are the ultra-Orthodox. Same in Israel.
The only problem with serving in the U.S. is that, at least in the army and air fore, we are regularly evangelized, and the superiors don’t seem to care.



report abuse
 

Yechiel

posted July 4, 2007 at 7:22 pm


Sorry, Catherine, but Scott is correct.
A little bit of explanation: Whether an individual Jew likes what Jesus of Nazareth (allegedly) said or not, his words can, strictly speaking, carry no weight within Jewish religious tradition.
The reason for this is pretty simple. Jews, by definition, do not accept what Christians call the New Testament as part of scripture.
Take Care.



report abuse
 

Robert

posted July 4, 2007 at 9:04 pm


This is a topic that I have thought about a lot.
Jews, as a whole, do not serve in the military for a number of reasons:
1) NO ECONOMIC PRESSURE. They generally are in the middle and upper classes and, as a result, do not feel economically driven to serve–much like other middle and upper class people.
2) THE MORE RELIGIOUS JEWS ARE, THE LESS PATRIOTIC. I know this sounds harsh. But after years in the Orthodox community, I have observed more conversations about Israeli politics than American, more Israeli flags flying than American ones, and more talk about Israel being our homeland than America. Is it any wonder why Orthodox American Jews do not serve in our armed forces?
3) ABHORENCE OF VIOLENCE. Jews, as a whole, do not gravitate toward violence and would rather use their minds to improve the world than take up arms to harm others. This is ingrained in Jewish culture and tradition.
4) THE DUAL LOYALTY PROBLEM. This is similar to number 2 above, but is exemplified in the following story I heard from an eminent Yeshiva University rabbi. (COntact me if you want the name.) He had a teacher who served in World War I. One day, his teacher, a devout Jew, was in his tent when another observant Jew came in from the field, despondent. He asked what was the matter. The Jew said that, as an American soldier, he had just shot a German soldier in the field. As the German lay dying, the American came closer to him, and heard the German utter with his last breath, “Shma Yisroel, Adonai Elohainu, Adonai Echad…” The American Jew’s heart sank as he realized he had just killed another Jew. The American was inconsolable, and, later that day, killed himself.
Even for Jews who claim to have undivided loyalty to America, how many would willingly go to war to Israel, if it came down to it?
Jews DO have divided loyalty, whether they admit it or not. And it is this divided allegience that prevents full participation in the military.
*OF course, Jews since the Revolutionary War have served our country valliantly, such as Shelley’s husband, mentioned above. I have deep respect for those who served and continue to serve, and we, as Jews, should hold them up as models of bravery and valor in our synagogues and communities.



report abuse
 

laura t mushkat

posted July 4, 2007 at 11:03 pm


I agree!
Laura



report abuse
 

laura t mushkat

posted July 4, 2007 at 11:19 pm


Ooops-Iam agreeing that the article says a lot about the way rabbis’ often speak from the pulpit.
Went to a Reform temple till 15 for religous school because it was nearby-yes they do have their own interputations of halikah.
I disagree about the loyalty of Jews to the US from some of the posters here. We are loyal and when called up fought valiantly for our country.
Today our armed forces are voluntary. We need the draft back so all can serve and we can stop being so few fighting for so many. The justness of the war is not an issue, there are so many reasons to be here and there with the armed forces plus take care of the home front.
Laura



report abuse
 

Julie

posted July 4, 2007 at 11:56 pm


If you live in America, you are an American (hopefully anyway). No matter where you came from or what your religous beliefs are, all Americans should have loyalty to our country or find a country to be loyal to and move there. But one does not have to join the military to show loyalty. I agree with Micheal, I support the troops but not the president, right now. And if need be, my husband and I would fight for our country, cause this is where we want to live, right now.



report abuse
 

John Lightfoote

posted July 5, 2007 at 12:17 am


Laura M., Shelly S., and Lucy: Thank you for the only postings that really make sense. You all clearly care for the people of Israel and the US (and Iraq). The argument that “if you support the war, you should go fight” is a weak one as it is non-realistic. Thank G-d that we presently have a brave volunteer fighting force so “that other may sleep peacably in their beds at night.” Most of the non-war supporters never see the big picture, and if Israel were to burn, they would just throw money at the problem, protest, and then quietly turn their backs. I, for one, will be on a plane to Tel-Aviv, ready to defend the Holy Land.



report abuse
 

Shpend Salihu

posted July 5, 2007 at 9:53 am


Du eto this very large impact which have result since september 11 2001 at USA, I trully think that is not just a matter of USA retaliation process at midd East as a sign of economical disturbance since this occurence at USA, but also as a factor of maintaining the primarely role USA government on this ongoing process, against the insurgencies at midd east. There is no other options according to me, except to fully protect this military intervention from USA and coalition forces, if we trully want establish the everlasting peace at middle east, and size down those terroristic attacks over USA and coalition countries. The USA cannot remain the only super power, without reaction over all those instable countries, that are threatening not only the USA National security system as well the global security. Therefore the Bush administration need to gain a full support from they’r opposals at USA congress at this ongoing process. Othervise we may except the world colapse, and instability at world security system. Whoever wants to se the security world area shall fully support those military engagements at middle east. Othervise we may just encourage those terroristic groups as well those harbors countries to overextend they’re activities much harder, as a sign of possible withdrawal of those coalitions troops. Time will probably show that those intervetions had been fully justified and are those which shall sooner or later discourage anyone that wants to continue with such an action. Othervise we may only except the world security colapse and the failure of NATO treaty over those terroristic groups.



report abuse
 

Jewish mother of a Jewish soldier

posted July 5, 2007 at 11:53 am


My son, chose to serve this country of his own free will. He went to Iraq and came back, thankfully. He did not have to do this, he was far from stupid (he was actually in college at the time of his enlistment) and he did it because he wanted to. No one forced him. We are very proud of him and of his service to this wonderful country of ours. It is true that there are not many Jews in the military, and that is sad. He was thrilled when a Rabbi came to Iraq to conduct Friday Night services and conduct High Holy Day services. His Commanding Officer knew he was a Jew and gave him the leeway and time off he needed while in Iraq. He was respected by his fellow soldiers and commanding officers as well. My son is by no means religious, but while serving in the Army in Iraq, he needed to have something to hold onto, and all he could hold on to was religion.
And, yes, if called to service again, my son would gladly go, because he believes it is his duty as an American.
We are also Democrats, and take offense that Republicans believe that the Democrats would destroy Israel and not come to her defense. Historically it has always been the Democrats who are the chief supporters of Israel. I for one will be glad to see Bush go, and hopefully a Democrat take office.



report abuse
 

Larry Lennhoff

posted July 5, 2007 at 12:22 pm


Does Rabbi Stern agree with those who say American Jews may not criticize Israel because they do not live there? If not I don’t see how the fact that Orthodox Jews are not present in the army in large numbers prevents them from taking a stand on the issue of the war in Iraq.
O Jews are still at risk for terrorist attacks in the US, their taxes are affected by the costs of the war, etc., etc., etc. To take this to its logical conclusion, neither Congress nor President Bush should express their opinions on the war, because they also don’t tend to have families at risk.



report abuse
 

linoscript

posted July 5, 2007 at 2:34 pm


I identify as a Jew although my upbringing was secular. I oppose the war in Iraq, and feel afraid that Israel and Palestine will never find peace. It’s unfortunate that in the public mind, all Jews support the war, all Jews support Israel’s actions against the Palestinians. While I recognize it is a complex situation, and believe strongly in the concept of a Jewish homeland, I feel there must be some better way. However, for me this is largely a political, rather than religious issue, and as a U.S. citizen I don’t think it is my place to decide.



report abuse
 

Marian Neudel

posted July 5, 2007 at 2:49 pm


Of course good Jews have divided loyalties! Good people, of any faith or ethnicity, have divided loyalties. That’s the essence of moral competency–balancing what we owe G-d, our families, our friends, our co-religionists, and our fellow citizens of our nation, our city,our neighborhood, and our planet.



report abuse
 

Shelley Squires

posted July 5, 2007 at 5:16 pm


To the Jewish mother of a Jewish soldier. Please pass on my thanks and appreciation to your son for his service to our country. I’m very glad that he came home safely.
Shelley Squires



report abuse
 

Dave

posted July 5, 2007 at 8:54 pm


1/ The reform define what they want to do on their own. One day it means its okay to eat pork, the next day no. One day its having 1 day for Rosh Hashanah, the next day not. One day its matrilineal only the next day not. One day its wrong to have same-sex whatever ceremonies, the next day not. One day its having very little Hebrew, the next day not. I could go on. That’s Halacha for the reform just in the past 50 years. Yes the reform have their own minds, but not always in the same place for very long.
2/ The fact that the Haredim are exempt from conscription does not mean they are exempt from the IDF. Anybody who hasn’t seen picture of soldiers who are clearly Orthodox hasn’t been looking.
3/ Yes, isn’t it interesting, very interesting, that so many non-Orthodox give to the Orhodox when its rare to see the reverse. Shows you that virtually the whole Jewish people have respect for Orthodoxy whereas the whole Jewish people have less respect for reform. Follow the money.



report abuse
 

Scott R.

posted July 5, 2007 at 11:26 pm


1) Dave, you never miss a chance to throw venom at your fellow Jews.
2) Charedi don’t fight. So they don’t contribute at all.
3) It shows the Orthodox have no use for the rest of the Jewish people. (a) We should remember that when they really need us and (b) God will remember who it was that treated Jews like crap.
Two peoples. Maybe not such a bad thing.



report abuse
 

Tina

posted July 7, 2007 at 3:48 pm


I believe that we are in Iraq to keep our petroDollars strong and to keep the Middle East somewhat stable.
****If you have a problem with that, please send me your (somewhat devalued) dollars and stop eating food, stop wearing shoes, stop watching a tv, stop typing on a keyboard, etc. which came to you by way of boat, truck, car, UPS van, or mail carrier which used petroleum products/derivatives while getting itself to you. You should also realize that you must stop riding in all buses, cars, trains, elevators, planes, ferries, etc. or you risk being considered an ungrateful American who lives off the spoils of war, but will not see the spoils for what they are.
*****If you are not wearing a burka tomorrow, you should look in your closet and ask yourself why you still get to wear your tank tops. I was a gal who was once tear-gassed during a Viet Nam protest, so you had better believe that I am not a war-mongerer. (The older you get, the greater perspective you have. I hate Bush. I just don’t hate him as much as Kerry or Clinton…who would have called a Nato summit after 9-11,)
*****I think Bush is doing the right thing with the War, in general. I think we have to push some countries around to maintain our dominance and your blessed way of life. I think that most Jews are brainwashed into loving Dems and hating Republicans. (I’m a libertarian, so I hate them both.) I wish we weren’t having to fight Muslim countries (France, Londonistan, Iraq, etc), and I wish all Muslim people were able to think for themselves, but life is what it is. If we want peace, we have to fight. It sounds counterintuitive, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.



report abuse
 

Dave

posted July 8, 2007 at 10:40 am


1/ Check Nahal Charedi in Wikipedia
2/ ‘Throwing venom’? Is there a fact I mentioned that isn’t true?
3/ It is true that the Ultra-O’s have no use for other branches of Judaism. But then with their high birthrate, combined with the collapsing birthrate and numbers of non-O Jews, maybe its because they can add.



report abuse
 

Scott R.

posted July 8, 2007 at 6:52 pm


Does it matter if it’s true or not? It’s the hatred with which you say it.
It’s not just that the ultra-O’s have no use for non-O Judaism – it’s that they have a strong and abiding hate for non-O Jews – whom they consider lower than gentiles.
Witnessed here.



report abuse
 

Scott R.

posted July 8, 2007 at 6:55 pm


And that’s saying a lot, considering that the charedi don’t think too much of non-Jews either.
(I’ve heard them tak, because they don’t know I understand Yiddish)



report abuse
 

Dave

posted July 10, 2007 at 7:44 pm


1/ The Ultra-O’s don’t have a hatred for non-Jews, witness the Mitzvah-mobiles going around to help them.
2/ 2+2=4 Its true but oooh, feel the hatred.



report abuse
 

Scott R.

posted July 10, 2007 at 8:51 pm


You only see thinks from your own viewpoint.
Face it Dave, you have nevert said a decent thing about any Jew who wasn’t Orthodox.



report abuse
 

Dave

posted July 11, 2007 at 9:11 pm


1/ I like the young Woody Allen.
2/ I liked the Seinfeld show.
3/ Mark Spitz made me feel proud even though I hate swimming.
4/ Adam Sandler was good in the Wedding Singer
5/ Einstein was smart. (Boy this is starting to get hard)
6/ It was good that Salk and Sabin created polio vaccines.
7/ A lot of the writers on the Simpsons show make me laugh.
8/ Did you know that the mother of Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage is/was Jewish? but not Miss Elizabeth. That makes both he and his brother ‘Leaping Lanny Poffo’ Jewish.
9/ That guy, that character actor who died, what’s his name, a cousin of Mickey Kaus of Slate.com. In ‘Its a Wonderful Life’ he played Mr Potter’s assistant. Turns out he was Jewish. He was good.
10/ “With great power comes great responsibility” -Stan Lee. Plus Spiderman’s other co-creator who did ’300′. Both are Jewish.
11/ Most of my dentists have been good.
That’s 11 + . Can anyone say nice things about 11 Orthodox Jews who live today?



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

The Task Is Never Finished
It has been heartwarming to read the warm responses to Rabbi Waxman's post asking Beliefnet to reconsider its decision to cancel Virtual Talmud. Virtual Talmud offered an alternative model for internet communications: civil discourse pursued in postings over a time frame of days (rather than moments

posted 12:31:46pm Apr. 03, 2008 | read full post »

Some Parting Reflections
Well, loyal readers, all good things must come to an end and we’ve been informed that this particular experiment in blogging as a forum for creating wide-ranging discussion on topics of interest to contemporary Jews has run its course. Maybe it’s that blogging doesn’t lend itself so well to t

posted 1:00:29pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

Obama's Lesson and The Jewish Community
There are few times in this blog’s history when I have felt that Rabbi Grossman was one hundred percent correct in her criticisms of my ideas. However, a few weeks ago she called me out for citing a few crack websites on Barak Obama’s advisors. She was right. I never should have cited those web

posted 12:09:08pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

The Future of Race Relations
As a post-baby boomer, it is interesting to me to see how much of today’s conversation about racial relations is still rooted in the 1960s experience and rhetoric of the civil rights struggle, and the disenchantment that followed. Many in the black and Jewish communities look to this period either

posted 4:04:41pm Mar. 25, 2008 | read full post »

Wright and Wrong of Race and Jews
Years ago, as a rabbinical student, I was one of a group of rabbinical students who visited an African American seminary in Atlanta. My fellow rabbinical students and I expected an uplifting weekend of interfaith sharing like we had experienced in visits to other (largely white) seminaries. We were

posted 12:50:11pm Mar. 24, 2008 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.