Rabbi Manis Friedman is a senior Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi and a former simultaneous translator of the Rebbe's televised talks.
Chabad rabbi to Moment: “Destroy [Muslim] holy sites”
May 21st, 2009 by Josh Nathan-Kazis, New Voices
In the latest issue of Moment magazine (which features a cover story by New Voices contributor Jeremy Gillick), a group of American rabbis respond to the question, “How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors?” Most of the responses emphasize equality, morality, and restraint. Then a Chabad rabbi wheels out the crazy:
I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral.
The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle). [Emphasis mine.]
The first Israeli prime minister who declares that he will follow the Old Testament will finally bring peace to the Middle East. First, the Arabs will stop using children as shields. Second, they will stop taking hostages knowing that we will not be intimidated. Third, with their holy sites destroyed, they will stop believing that G-d is on their side. Result: no civilian casualties, no children in the line of fire, no false sense of righteousness, in fact, no war.
Zero tolerance for stone throwing, for rockets, for kidnapping will mean that the state has achieved sovereignty. Living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations who suffer defeat because of a disastrous morality of human invention.
Rabbi Manis Friedman
Bais Chana Institute of Jewish Studies
St. Paul, MN
When we published Jeremy’s piece on Lubavitch rabbis on the radical fringe of the settler movement, we were accused of exaggerating their importance. We were told that they were marginal figures, outside of the influence of Lubavitch HQ in Crown Heights, and that few American Lubavitchers shared their extremism. Rabbi Friedman’s wacky-if-it-weren’t-scary comment in Moment should defuse some of that criticism. Friedman seems to be a fully integrated into the mainstream American Chabad movement. He was the Rebbe’s translator until 1990, he has almost 200 articles and videos up at chabad.org, the movement’s official propaganda arm, and his Minnesota women’s yeshiva is listed in the official online directory of Chabad outposts. His website is fancy and looks well-funded.
When I come across this sort of thing, I wonder at Chabad’s popularity among secular Jewish students. These aren’t just bad politics, they’re insane politics. At what point does the Chabad rabbi tell the prospective Ba’al Teshuva that he thinks that Israel should “destroy their holy sites”? Probably not at the first Shabbat dinner, right? Maybe after two Shabbat dinners, a “lunch and learn,” and a Birthright trip through Mayanot?…