Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


Milchamah - the Jewish View of War

“The Eternal is the Lord of war; the Eternal is his name.” (Shemoth or Exodus 15:3) and Exodus 15:7 “And in the greatness of your excellence you have overthrown those who have risen up aganst you….”

“Thus says the Lord, the Lord of Hosts. I remember what Amalek did to Israel, how they lay in wait for him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go on and and strike Amalek and doom to destruction all they have and spare them not; but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and lamb, camel and ass.” (1 Samuel 15:2 and 3).

Isaiah 42:13 “The Lord will go forth a mighty one, like a man of war will he achieve his vengeance; he will shout and raise a war cry and show his strength against his enemies.”

These and numerous other verses in the Torah make it plain that Jews have never failed to defend themselves against tyranny whenever we could. Even during the years of the holocaust there was Jewish resistance culminating with the Warsaw ghetto uprising. We Jews are not pacifists because pacifism is the certain road to enslavement and destruction of everything Judaism teaches. This is also true of America, because our American values are built upon the teachings of Torah.

Abraham did not accept tyranny. He fought back. “And when Abraham heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants…… three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them onto Dan…… and pursued them and beat them at Chobah which is on the left hand of Damascus”. (Genesis 14:14-16).

The Talmud, that great collection of Jewish wisdom, law and tradition, recognizes three reasons for going to war. These are: 

- Defending the people of Israel or America from attack by an aggressive neighbor, such as the attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the White House on September 11, 2001.

- Fighting offensive wars against belligerent neighbors such as Iraq. There is a good deal of discussion in the Talmud as to the meaning of belligerence.

- The protection of individuals and self defense. This occurs each day in Israel and is the first duty of every government, ours included.

There are among us so called “peaceniks”. These are sometimes people so utterly ignorant that they believe we can escape Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Arafat, and now Hussein by ignoring them. These are the French who refused to do anything about the Nazi menace in the 1930s when France had a much larger army than Germany and could have easily overthrown Hitler. The French prime minister, Leon Blum, a Jew, urged this upon his countrymen. Instead of taking his advice, his countrymen forced him to resign. The French said that there was no evidence that Hitler meant to come after them. He was only persecuting German Jews.

Of course the French saw the evidence when, on May 14, 1940, the German army marched down the Champs Elysee in Paris. Even then the French would not resist the Germans. Instead of fighting, the French sought to appease Hitler by handing over all French Jews to the Gestapo for murder in the concentration camps even as French artists entertained the German troops.

There are of course also certain so-called demonstrators for “peace” who find nothing wrong with the killing of Israelis, with the murder of 3,000 Americans on one day, with the attacks on every country from the Philippines to Nigeria by Moslem fanatics. On the contrary. These “peace” activists march under the banner of HAMAS, the notorious killing gang responsible for endless murders in Israel. Don’t be fooled. Many of the peace demonstrators don’t mean peace. They mean the peace of the grave for Jews and anyone else standing in the way of tyranny, dictatorship and cruelty. These are the people who are responsible for the war forced on our country by their friend, Saddam Hussein, and his supporters. Peace cannot come from acquiescence to every brute and bully. Peace rests on self respect and the respect of the rights of others. Until that lesson has been learned we have no choice but to defend ourselves. Our president, George W. Bush, sees this clearly. Now is the time to support him.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Grandparents:  A New Look at the Supporting Generation (with Dr. Ursula A., Falk, 2002), & Man's Ascent to Reason (2003).

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