Birthright Israel: 100,000 Gentile Lives Worth Less Than a Single Jewish Life
MAIMONIDES, supposedly the greatest Jewish sage of all time, extracted all the behavioural rules from the Talmud and put them into more digestible form in his Mishneh Torah.
Some of these rules are quite astonishing in the cold contempt they express for non-Jewish life. Here, for example, is one of the Laws of Murder:
As for Gentiles with whom we are not at war…their death must not be caused, but it is forbidden to save them if they are at the point of death; if, for example, one of them is seen falling into the sea, he should not be rescued, for it is written: ‘neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy fellow’ — but [a Gentile] is not thy fellow (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Murder 4:11).
A relic of ancient days, you might think. Only a crazed bigot could believe that a Jew might think that way in the modern world?
An article from today’s Haaretz suggests otherwise. Here, Jew Sam Sussman describes his experience of the Birthright program, in which diaspora Jews are invited to tour Israel so they can bond emotionally with their fellow Jews and then feel motivated to lobby like mad for Zion once they get back to their “own” country. This emotional bonding process hasn’t been working too well, however.
The first time I asked about the conflict, my guide voiced the old cliche, “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Later questions about the conflict, no matter their specifics, received the same answer. When several of our group asked whether we were driving through the West Bank, the trip leader told us, “It doesn’t matter.” When I asked an IDF soldier if she had ever talked to a Palestinian, she asked why I was on “the Arab side.”
The most disturbing moment of the trip came at the top of Masada. Our trip leader began to describe fond memories of an Italian-American neighbor from Staten Island. “But if I had to choose,” he said, suddenly earnest, “between her life and the life of a Jew I have never met, I would choose the Jew. If I had to choose between the lives of my 10 best non-Jewish friends and one Jew I’ve never met, I would choose the Jew.”
At this, even the more conservative participants seemed uncomfortable. But the guide upped the ante further. “If I had to choose between 10,000 non-Jews and one Jewish life, I would choose the Jewish life.”
Our trip leader’s eyes narrowed and he leaned closer to us, like an overzealous football coach delivering a pep talk. “Do you remember the tsunami in Asia a few years ago? It killed 100,000. If I had to choose between all those people or one Jewish life, I would choose the Jewish life.”
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Source: Diversity Macht Frei