To Be a Rodef

letter-447577_1280

The JPost reports that Atef Adwan, Hamas’ refugee minister, met with Rabbi Moishe Arye Friedman of Vienna today in Sweden. The Israelis, and most of the civilized world, criticized Sweden for letting terrorist representatives into the country. I mean the Hamas minister, not the Rabbi… but after reading this article, I’m not so sure.

Friedman said his congregation would “do everything in practical terms to help the Palestinian people,” including sending money and food to the West Bank.

“We will support them in ways that others have failed to do,” Friedman said, but declined to give details.

Now when it comes to sending food, I understand (though I question his priorities). Israel is not trying to starve the Palestinians (despite various charges to the contrary from the terrorists and those who support them). But all funds are funge-able, as the saying goes. To stand with Hamas, have a friendly discussion, and talk about sending money, implies that the money will be sent to Hamas to distribute. One can only hope this is not true, that he only means to send money directly to humanitarian aid groups not tied to terror. Give Hamas money for “humanitarian purposes,” and Hamas will suddenly have more funds available to murder more Jews.

I have no verification of this report. If someone informs me that this Rabbi Friedman is a gaon and tzaddik negotiating diplomatically, much as HaRav Weissmandl negotiated with Himmler yshv”z, then I will be delighted to know that. But, on the other hand, if he really intends to send money to Hamas, he is actively participating in the ongoing effort of Hamas to murder.

When I was studying in the Mirrer Yeshiva, I heard more than once that the head of the Niturei Karta had come to pray in the yeshiva in the past. The previous Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt”l, had informed those acting as gabbai that it was forbidden to call the Niturei Karta head for an aliyah to the Torah, because he was a rodef.

The term Rodef means “a pursuer” — it comes from the Talmud. The Talmud says that if one individual is pursuing another with intent to murder, it is permitted to act to save the intended victim, even at the cost of the pursuer’s life. One may kill a rodef to save his victim.

This term was bandied about after Yigal Amir took the life of PM Yitzchak Rabin. It was argued that various Rabbis had termed Rabin a rodef for his plan to create an armed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza (the fact that any such Rabbis were later proven entirely correct, in that Rabin thus enabled Arafat yshv”z and friends to murder more Jews via terrorism in the last 6 years than they had since the founding of the modern state of Israel, is irrelevant to the current discussion) — and that this had justified Amir’s act of murder, based upon the Talmudic passage above. This was wrong, both because Amir himself declared himself beholden to no Rabbi (he rejected all guidance, and murdered like any other thug), and because the passage does not call for killing a Rodef — it says that a Rodef must be stopped, and one is permitted to do so by the means necessary. In the case of Rabin, killing him was entirely unjustified (and even counter-productive in terms of thwarting his plan).

Nonetheless, I always thought that calling the head of Niturei Karta a Rodef was rhetorical excess — he wasn’t really trying to get Jews killed, but by foolishly giving political credibility to those who sought the destruction of Israel, he was indirectly putting Jewish lives at risk.

Friedman, if he really intends to fund Hamas, would prove me wrong. As above, that means not that he should be killed, but that we should be aware of how dangerous he and his philosophy truly are, and act to thwart him wherever possible. Again, I just hope that’s untrue, and despite his friendly talk with the terrorists, he’s only funding aid groups with clean hands.

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29 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    And this from Caroline Glick today:
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1145961373717&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter

    Although on Sunday the government did not vote to resume such financial transfers that amount to some $50m. per month, members of Congress have reported that Israeli officials were encouraging them to water down their draft legislation that will place a total ban on direct and indirect assistance to the PA. These Israeli government officials maintain that Israel is interested in the transfer of “humanitarian aid,” in the hopes of averting that much feared “humanitarian disaster.” Many members of Congress and senators who have received such entreaties from Israeli officials and been urged to support Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan to withdraw from Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem are puzzled by what they view as an Israeli attempt to finance and surrender to Hamas.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    See the following, from today’s Arutz Sheva web site:

    Report: Israel Flip-Flops, Planning to Fund PA Workers
    18:31 May 18, ’06 / 20 Iyar 5766

    (IsraelNN.com) Israel has reversed its policy 180 degrees and is preparing to release $55 million in tax receipts which will be used to pay salaries of Palestinian Authority (PA) hospital workers, Reuters News Agency reported Thursday evening.

    It quoted an unnamed official who said the money will be transferred to a new international aid process which will funnel the money directly to health workers who have not been paid for two months. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said last week, “Israel will not use this money for salaries.”

  3. Michoel says:

    Toby Katz said:
    “I consider it tremendously ironic … while the Arab-lovers on the left are respected members of the Israeli media and university faculties…”

    Gut g’zugt! As usual. The underlying issue here is that we need to love the Yidden more. We should all go back and re-read R. Avigdor Miller. What ever problems one has with his writings on science, we need chizuk in be m’lamed z’chus on klal Yisrael.

  4. frimet says:

    Nachum, you are right. Rabbi Weissmandl is totally irrelevant to this discussion. It’s baffling that his name has been mentioned here at all.

    What has that hero, who devoted himself to publicizing the atrocities of the Nazis and to brokering deals with Himmler to “buy” Jewish lives from SS clutches, got in common with Friedman? The latter has one aim in meeting with Hamas murderers – who are no less evil than Himmler – and one aim only: hastening the downfall of the State of Israel. The fact that his move strengthens Hamas’ image thereby empowering them to murder more Jews apparently doesn’t move him.

    Had Rabbi Weissmandl met with Himmler to offer financial aid for hungry German citizens we’d have a fair comparison to make.

  5. Menachem Lipkin says:

    “But it’s still not fair to blame all of them for the actions of a dozen lunatics.”

    Toby, what evidence do you have that the actions of these rodfim do not represent NK?

  6. Nachum says:

    I’m merely pointing out that if some Israel-hating leftist met with Hamas, you (rightly) wouldn’t have devoted that paragraph to wondering if he had other motives. Well, we know what these “frum” elements feel about Israel. Why agonize over motives just because the person claims to be frum? This isn’t 1944, and he isn’t R’ Weissmandel.

  7. Aaron says:

    NK video from Iran on MEMRI.

    Has NK sued to prevent others from using their name? If not, they’re partially responsible for the perception.

  8. sarah elias says:

    Ori: Neturei Karta does not want to replace the current Israeli government with a halachic one; they want it replaced by a non-Jewish government, in fulfillment of the vow that the People of Israel made not to establish a government in Israel before Moshiach comes. (I believe the vow can be found in gemara Kesuvos.)

  9. Toby Katz says:

    Just for the record, I am not Neturei Karta and do not agree with them. But it’s still not fair to blame all of them for the actions of a dozen lunatics.

    I consider it tremendously ironic that the extreme right edge of NK meets the left edge of Israeli politics, with the difference being that the Arab-lovers of the NK fringe the right are (rightly) reviled as traitors to their people, while the Arab-lovers on the left are respected members of the Israeli media and university faculties, and far far outnumber Hirsh’s pathetic little fringe group in numbers, prestige and influence.

  10. Yaakov Menken says:

    frimet, Nachum, I don’t think you are being fair. There is indeed a past history of outstanding, righteous individuals negotiating with the worst — the example I gave was Rav Weissmandl zt”l talking to Himmler yshv”z. Whomever this Adwan is, he can merely aspire to the sort of unadulterated evil that was Himmler, yet Rav Weissmandl spoke with him.

    Although “Moishe” sounds like he has a hat and beard, Nachum, I have no idea what he looks like — and I’m not from the Satmar chassidim, either.

    I was restrained in my criticism by giving possible room for doubt. At the same time I made it equally clear that if he was doing what he appeared to be doing, he’s a rodef.

    That’s called pulling punches?

  11. Bob Miller says:

    Our weekday Amidah describes a series of far-reaching judicial and political changes that we ask HaShem to implement in Israel. Presumably, we only ask for the things we want.

  12. Nachum says:

    I wonder. If the person meeting the Hamas representative was an Israeli leftist, instead of an Orthodox Jew, would Rabbi Menken be as restrained in his criticism? What if it were an Orthodox Jew without a hat and beard?

    If it walks and talks like a duck, it is. No need to wonder.

  13. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Toby Katz: If you benefit from services provided by the US Government yet despise George Bush and would like to see his administration destroyed—would you consider yourself to be an agent of irrational hatred? If so, you would have to so label the NY Times and almost the entire faculty of Harvard.

    Ori: I know plenty people who do label the NY Times and almost the entire faculty of Harvard as agents of irrational hatred – I live in Texas ;-). However, I think your analogy is faulty.

    The NY Times would like to change the top level of government and have the rest implement slightly different policies. If John Kerry had been elected in 2004, they would have been happy.

    The changes the NY Times wants in the US pale in comparison to the what Neturi Karta want in Israel. Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t they want to change the whole system of government, repel the current law book and replace it with Halacha, etc.?

  14. Yaakov Rosenblatt, Dallas says:

    Thanks Toby. I wish the NK ideology was so measured. But if it was, it would not include the support of Arafat and the aforementioned meeting with Hamas.

  15. Menachem Lipkin says:

    “In the sense that religious Jews long for the coming of Moshiach, and long to see the present government of Israel replaced by a Torah-true, G-d-fearing government, yes, we do “long for the destruction of the entity…”—although I would use the word “transformation” rather than “destruction.””

    That is not a subtle distinction and is exactly the point of contention here. Both the religious Zionists and non-Zionists can agree on the idea of a “trasnformation”. The anti-Zionists long for the destruction of the current government. The fanatic anti-Zionists, like the ones we’re discussing actively work to bring this about and it’s irrelevant to them how many Jews get destroyed in the process.

    “If you benefit from services provided by the US Government yet despise George Bush and would like to see his administration destroyed—would you consider yourself to be an agent of irrational hatred? If so, you would have to so label the NY Times and almost the entire faculty of Harvard.”

    Not a valid ananlogy. Here you’re talking about a political party, not an entire government. Even the NY Times, as irrational as they are when it comes to Bush, does not advocate the “destruction” of the Bush administration. They would like to see them voted out of office, or at worst impeached. A better analogy is to compare these NK cretons to the anarchists in the US who WOULD like to see the government destroyed, and yes, they do suffer from irrational hatred.

  16. Bob Miller says:

    I sure hope the Israeli government won’t try to slip some “humanitarian aid” to Hamas, but it’s unfortunately not out of the question. Then we’d have to ponder how the State itself could have become anti-Zionist.

  17. frimet says:

    Yaakov Menken has reservations about censuring Rabbi Friedman because he isn’t sure what exactly was discussed at his “friendly talk” with the Hamas “refugee minister”. He may have only been “negotiating diplomatically” in which case Rabbi Menken would be “delighted”.
    How about removing the kid gloves? Friedman had an amicable encounter with a terrorist. What more do you need to know? He publicly and respectfully listened to a mass murderer. Isn’t that enough? “Hamas” is an entity comprised of its members and officials, whatever their highfalutin titles may be today. They, Atef Adwan included, are the very men who funded, trained, inspired and sent the murderers who spilled the blood of over one thousand Jews, including my daughter, in the past five and a half years. Moreover, the Palestinians for whom Friedman feels such compassion, elected this terrorist government – only the second of its kind in the world – with their very own ballots. As such they are accomplices to murder. (Note: sixteen Jews have been murdered in terror attacks since voters handed Hamas its landslide victory on January 26.)
    Anyone who has encountered the Neturei Karta in action at high-profile political events knows how easily they steal the media limelight. Naive audiences around the world conclude that theirs is a reputable and significant Jewish stance.
    Come on, stop pulling your punches, Cross Currents.

  18. Sammy Finkelman says:

    Well, it may be worth something that Hamas is even willuing to meet with a Rabbi. The fact that they want some kind of rabbinical support is actually a good thing. Much better tahn someone who hated Jews who would never meet with a Jew. So I think this tends to somewhat limit the hatred. It just might possibly restrain them just a little bit, and how can that be bad? Now it would be bad if anybody took this meeting seriously or used it to whitewash things. I think though, this maybe impresses Hamas more than it impresses anybody else.

  19. HILLEL says:

    I recall that the old Satmar Rebbe, Rabbeinu Joel ZT”L, was extremely careful to avoid demonstrating against the State of Israel when Arabs were demonstrating at the same time and place. He was concerned that some people might draw the conclusion that his demostration was for the same purpose as theirs.

    He used to say about that those who were not similarly careful were hurting–not helping–the cause of anti-Zionism.

  20. Menachem Lipkin says:

    “I am not sure whether he technically is considered a rasha—an evil person—because he is mentally ill, and therefore possibly not claim diminished responsibility for his evil deeds.”

    What’s his diagnosis?

    I came up against these reshaim at Rutgers a few ago. They are not mentally ill. In a sense they are more intellectually honest than some of the other anti-Zionists. They put their money where their mouth is.

    The size of their group is irrelevent as the media coverage they generate puts them on par with all other groups. A great example is the Salute to Israel Parade in New York City. You have 1,000,000 Jews come out to support Israel and 20 of these lunatics protesting with the Palestinians and both get equal coverage. They may be small the damage they do is incalcuable.

    I don’t make the same distinction the Yaakov does. There’s no difference whether they meet with Arafat or give money to Hamas. They are rodfim. And while it wouldn’t be worth it for any decent person to act on it, we can certainly pray for Hashem to.

  21. Toby Katz says:

    “Living in Israel protected by its army, observing the modernization of the country over the last 55 years, leads one to believe that the state IS the beginning of something great or MAY be the beginning of something great.

    An ideology that longs for the destruction of the entity that protects it, is so bizarre that it can only be sustained by hatred.”

    =====
    While most charedim are grateful to Hashem for the wonderful things that have happened in Eretz Yisrael over the last six decades, and also grateful to the Israeli government and army for certain benefits they have provided, charedim and other religious Jews are also gravely dismayed at the bitter hostility towards religion (both charedi and Religious Zionist) evinced by the secular Israeli Ashkenazi elite.

    The NK go further than other charedim, but all believe in the verse in Tehillim that says, “If Hashem will not guard a city, its guardians guard it in vain.” We are grateful to the Israeli army — certainly I am — but we do not delude ourselves that it is the Israeli army that provides our real strength and protection.

    A government that is hostile to religion risks turning Divine wrath against us. It is the Torah that protects us, not the Israeli government. I agree with you that amazing and even miraculous events have occurred in Israeli in our lifetime — but the Israeli govt and army act as G-d’s agents. It is not they who ultimately provide our security. It would behoove them not to lose sight of that fact.

    In the sense that religious Jews long for the coming of Moshiach, and long to see the present government of Israel replaced by a Torah-true, G-d-fearing government, yes, we do “long for the destruction of the entity…” — although I would use the word “transformation” rather than “destruction.”

    If you benefit from services provided by the US Government yet despise George Bush and would like to see his administration destroyed — would you consider yourself to be an agent of irrational hatred? If so, you would have to so label the NY Times and almost the entire faculty of Harvard.

  22. Yaakov Rosenblatt says:

    As our sages say, both love and hate underpinnings of the irrational.

    Living in Israel protected by its army, observing the modernization of the country over the last 55 years, leads one to believe that the state IS the beginning of something great or MAY be the beginning of something great.

    An ideology that longs for the destruction of the entity that protects it, is so bizarre that it can only be sustained by hatred.

    The more milion dollar penthouse apartments are built in Yerushalayim, the more virulent – and destructive – the hatred of NK must be. It is a question, for them, of the survival of their ideology.

  23. Toby Katz says:

    Moshe Hirsch is not the “head” of Neturei Karta and never was. Neither is this Aryeh Friedman. Friedman doesn’t have a group with anything like a thousand people – I think that Friedman and Hirsch are members of a group numbering maybe a dozen or maybe 20 people. They have nothing to do with the real Neturei Karta in Jerusalem, they have merely appropriated the name. When they walk into shul in Meah She’arim people spit at them.

    Moshe Hirsch travels around the world getting himself photographed at pro-Palestinian demonstrations and so on, he issues press releases and I think he even has a website. Real NK don’t issue press releases, they don’t even READ newspapers, and they for sure don’t do internet. It’s questionable how much they even know about what Hirsch and Friedman are doing and saying in their name.

    The real Neturei Karta are anti-Zionist to an extreme degree, but they still would never throw in their lot with the murderers of Jews.

    But ANYONE with long payos and a beard could claim to be “the head of Neturei Karta” and the press would believe him.

    I am certain that Hirsch and Friedman get money FROM the Palestinians to fund their travels. They don’t give money TO the Palestinians. But this is one of those cases where they must be considered equally criminal either way.

    The real NK are a small Jerusalem community. Hirsch is not from Jerusalem, he’s an American. I am not sure whether he technically is considered a rasha — an evil person — because he is mentally ill, and therefore possibly not claim diminished responsibility for his evil deeds.

  24. Shira Schmidt says:

    motzai Shabbat I don’t know anything about Rabbi Moishe Arye Friedman, except what I just gleaned from an internet search. “Moishe Arye Friedman, an orthodox, anti-Zionist who for years has been fighting to no avail for the approval of another religious community, turned his back on the Chabad and the IKG. He declared to be the Chief Rabbi. The IKG contest, however, Friedman’s claims of having an appropriate degree in religious teachings and accreditation as a Rabbi.” I also found a picture of him with the caption “Rabbi Moshe Arye Friedman of Vienna holding a candle in front of the hospital south of Paris, where Arafat is being treated ( 11/6/04)

    Nevertheless, I am surprised that there isn’t a more serious discussion on CC about what is labeled the “anti-Zionist” position. Even if you disagree with that position, and even if you feel it endangers Jews, this stance does have a long and complex history and should not be flippantly dismissed. There are those who try to show that the Zionist position had endangered Jews. Professor Yakov Rabkin of Montreal has published recently a study of the history of the anti-Zionist weltanschuung, “A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism” which treats the history and current status of Jewish religious reservations about Zionism.

  25. Aaron says:

    There is evidence that NK’s Rabbi Hirsch took money from Arafat. Another NK rabbi in the UK came to the defense of Abu Hamza.

    Could anyone deny that Arafat was a rodef? Nobody ever saw Hitler kill anyone. Yet nobody would argue that Hitler didn’t fulfill the qualifications of being a rodef.

    What is the halacha concerning taking money from a rodef? For sedition and providing comfort to an enemy whose constitution calls for your annihilation? For membership in such an organization? Do you have to catch an officer of the SS in the act of being a rodef?

  26. mb says:

    You could help stop the British agudah giving money to NK.

  27. Evallace says:

    Actually Rav Chaim zt”l forbade MA Hirsch to ENTER the Beis HaMedrash. Unfortunately few are willing to carry out his prohibition and thus occassionaly MA Hirsch sits there on a Shabbos afternoon.

  28. Ori Pomerantz says:

    If I run after a person with a knife and shout: “I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you!” then I am a rodef. If I run after a car in the highway with a knife, I’m just being silly. There is no way I could outrun the car to kill anyone.

    Rabbi Moishe Arye Friedman seems to be the head of a tiny group, with less than a thousand people following him. The financial resources he has to help Hamas are probably irrelevant compared to the help Hamas gets from Iran, Saudi Arabia, and so on. In other words, even if he wishes to be a rodef, he is probably not competent to cause real damage.

  29. Steve Brizel says:

    Two words-excellent column.