The Hebrew Bible (known to Jews as the “Torah”) is comprised of the five books of Moses. It is the basis of Judaism. The Torah contains the broad elements of the commandments (“mitzvot”) to which Jews are subject. The Talmud contains the discussions and conclusions based upon the Torah in which the great sages of the third through sixth centuries C.E. codified the Torah’s commandments into law, pursuant to which observant Jews live their lives.
It is undeniably clear that the Torah sets out a right of the individual to defend himself. Self-defense is mandatory pursuant to Mosaic Law. This requirement is summed up in the phrase: “If a man comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” This also extends to the requirement that, if another is in danger, you must defend him. There is a misconception among those who read poor translations of the sixth commandment. It does not mean “thou shalt not kill.” It means “thou shalt not murder.” Thus, a killing in defense of oneself or of another is not only not forbidden — it is required. And if someone is in mortal danger, it is required that the person who presents that danger must be neutralized — they must be killed, if necessary.
The Talmud extends the Torah’s mandate of self-defense to encompass the requirement that a nation, like an individual, must defend itself — must rise up and kill those who would destroy it, preemptively if necessary.
Since the second century C.E., when the Romans defeated the Bar Kochba rebellion, the application of the doctrine of self defense to a Jewish nation was nothing more than academic. Until the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948, there was no Jewish state to defend. However, this discussion is no longer moot. It is revived each time Israel bombs Gaza. It is revived with every entry of the Israeli army into an Arab village in search of terrorists. It is revived with every elimination of a would-be bomber before he or she can kill an Israeli. Jews are no longer in the diaspora. Jews are no longer victims. The Jewish nation is strong and, as such, it is constantly harried by those who look for excuses to “blame the Jews.”
A perfect example of the doctrine of preemptive self-defense occurred in 1967 when Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol attacked the Egyptians in response to the mobilization of Egyptian forces on the Israeli border. Within a few hours, Israel completely neutralized the Egyptian air force. At the same time, Israeli forces launched a surprise attack against Egyptian ground forces in Gaza and the Sinai. In the end, Egyptian casualties exceeded 20,000, while Israel sustained fewer than 1,000 losses. If Israel had not defended itself by attacking first, the Arabs might have succeeded in driving the Israelis into the sea (an Arab objective that remains primary to this day). Israel was at that time — and is still — subjected to harsh criticism for its surprise attack upon the Egyptians. Israel’s justification was and is that Egypt was coming to kill them, so they rose up to destroy Egypt first.
As a nation whose roots are embedded in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the United States would do well to observe this Talmudic doctrine — if a man comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first. When our enemies know that if we become convinced that they intend to do us harm we will destroy them first, they will have second thoughts about taking action against us. Ronald Reagan was able to destroy the Soviet Union without firing a shot because the Soviets understood that Reagan was ready, willing and able to utilize the then-vast capacity of the U.S. against it. They were convinced that Reagan would have no compunction in rising up and killing them first.
No one was afraid of Jimmy Carter because no one believed that Carter had the strength or conviction to strike first. The same applies to Barack Hussein Obama, whom the world correctly views as a marshmallow who will fold at the first sign of resistance. When Obama actually followed the Talmudic stricture, he eliminated Bin Laden and actually did something worthwhile for America. But his weakness, prevarication and capitulation in the face of Iranian and other provocation have laid the U.S. open to serious danger.
For reasons that have already been stated in previous columns, Israel is vital to the security of the U.S. Unfortunately, Obama either does not recognize that fact, or actively disagrees with that fact (or, perhaps, Obama simply does not wish to preserve American security). He has deliberately and repeatedly taken actions to weaken Israeli security and thus, as a result, he has diminished American security. He takes advantage of every opportunity to sap Israel’s strength when a strong Israel is vital to the future of the U.S. His latest effort is to damage Israel in the new aid package that is currently being finalized. In the guise of producing a generous aid package, Obama has attached conditions that are of considerable detriment to the maintenance of Israeli defenses.
It is not my purpose at this point to get into the arcana of the U.S. aid package. Rather, it is my purpose to reiterate something that I have been saying without acceptance for more than a decade, but that now appears to be gaining momentum. It is my strong belief that the government of Israel should not engage in any further discussions with the Obama administration about an aid package. Instead, Prime Minister Netanyahu should say to Obama, in these words: “Thank you, but no thank you. The Israeli economy is strong. You (the U.S.) need the money more than Israel. Furthermore, Israel cannot allow anyone, be it the president of the U.S. or the Hockmir of Chinik, to dictate to it how it should (or should not) defend its sovereignty, its land, its people and its future.”
The impact of such a declaration would be profound and immediate. The lies and fabrications surrounding American aid to Israel would be exposed as fraudulent. Those in the U.S. who use American aid to Israel as an excuse for their Jew hatred will be cut off at the knees. The American people will no longer be subjected to the false claims that American dollars are being used for Israeli, not American purposes. And the state of Israel would be free to do that which it has always chosen to do: defend itself as it sees fit.
One spectacular benefit would be that Israel would be free to rise up and kill those who would come to kill Israelis without the constant harping of those of its enemies (and false friends) who use money as a method of sapping her strength.
Stuart Kaufman is a retired lawyer, investment banker and businessman. He relocated from New York to Mount Pleasant in 2012. A friend recently told him that he has been a South Carolinian all of his life ... but he just didn’t know it.