Let me be absolutely clear: The “savages” referred to in “Dealing with Savages” were terrorists such as those who perpetrated the horrific massacre in Har Nof last week. Indeed, Mike Huckabee began his FOX program this past week referring to the perpetrators as savages. Which they were. But I certainly did not, nor did I intend to, call all Arabs or Muslims “savages,” nor do I, obviously, believe that to be so.

I condemn those who support those savages, and I include in their number those who aid them, assist them and even – as happened last week – those who raucously celebrated the dismemberment of four rabbis and the death of the Druze police officer.

But to extrapolate from that sentiment and apply it to all Arabs or all Muslims is repugnant to me, and a complete distortion of what I wrote and intended to write. To the extent that my words could be misinterpreted, I take full responsibility and regret the lack of clarity.

    I wrote, in part: “Of course, [Arabs] who wish to stay and be peaceful, acknowledging the sovereignty of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, are welcome to stay.”

     There is much more that I can cite about my previous post, but the controversy swirling around it traces, in essence, to a JTA report that omitted that phrase – and others – and thus sought to portray me as a raving lunatic who hates all Arabs and perhaps all non-Jews, and wishes ill upon all of them. G-d forbid.

I strongly advocate the rights of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. I strongly condemn terrorists and their supporters. That, after all, was the Bush Doctrine: “you are either with us or with the terrorists.” What is remarkable is that the overwhelming majority of victims of radical Muslim terror today are not Jews or Christians – but Muslims. Good Muslims therefore have a self-interest, and not only an obligation, to denounce such terror in all its guises.

I find the murder of Jews and all innocents  intolerable, and it was with those images in mind that I wrote.

The gist of my remarks offered suggestions on how terror in Israel could be deterred. The government of Israel is wrestling with this very issue. Many people wrote in support of those suggestions. Some people took issue with one, two, several or all of the measures – while pointedly offering no suggestions of their own.

I wish there was greater outrage, among rabbis, Jews, Christians and Muslims at the loss of life. Among Jews, there is often sadness, grief and mourning – but little constructive is offered that might deter future attacks. Indeed, I wish there was greater outrage at the ongoing carnage in Syria, in the endless suicide bombings that kill Muslims weekly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Does anyone care about the loss of life – beyond the platitudes? I am certain there are many people who care, and I wish they would suggest concrete ways to change the situation.

We must always take care to protect the innocent. Israel has done an outstanding job in making its diverse, multi-ethnic society hospitable to all. Israeli Arabs who are peaceful and appreciative make important contributions to their society in all aspects. They deserve our respect and admiration. If my words did not make that clear enough, then I offer my sincere regrets. The fact that few Israeli-Arabs depart Israel to live in other Arab countries is eloquent testimony to their appreciation of their freedoms in Israel and a refutation to those who would castigate Israel for “discrimination.”

That the threat of violence hangs in the air is most troubling. It is unacceptable in a civil society to express displeasure or seek to resolve disputes through violence. That three more Jews were attacked and wounded tonight in Jerusalem is also unconscionable. More is required than mere condemnation of terror, sympathy for the victims, and life goes on. Because for some, it doesn’t. Complacency also kills.

There is already too much hatred in the world. To the extent that my remarks, even unintentionally, added to that hatred, I certainly apologize. I would like nothing more than for all Bible-believing people to recognize the rights of the Jewish people to our historic homeland and enable the Jewish people to live in peace. In the end, despite all the overcharged rhetoric, that remains my passion and the reason why I wrote what I did.

Let us remain calm, faithful and strong.


36 responses to “Clarification!

  1. I appreciate your clarification on this matter. Surely I can agree that there should be no tolerance for those who are maiming and murdering innocent people anywhere.

  2. “You may find nobility in the savage, but he is only interested in killing you.”
    SOURCE: Commander Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager

  3. This is what you wrote: “The Arab-Muslim animals that span the globe chopping, hacking and merrily decapitating – from Iraq to Jerusalem to New York to Oklahoma, and places in between and beyond – are a discredit even to the term “animal.” Most animals are not that brutal.

    The real issue confronting Israel for decades and the civilized world today is what to do about the proliferation of savages who lust for blood and derive inspiration from their religious texts?”

    That phrase “Arab-Muslim animals that span the globe…” certainly sounds like your critics are not distorting what you wrote! If it distorts what you intended to write, you could improve upon your non-apology that suggests it was the reader (or JTA’s) fault that your words were misinterpreted.

    • Well, it does distort it by implying that every Arab-Muslim across the globe is an animal. I don’t believe that. It’s not true. It is bad enough that there are so many.

      • Anyone who believes and follows the quran is by definition a Jew hating extremist. Instead of basing your beliefs on delusional wishful thinking I suggest you actually study Islam.

    • Trouble reading? “Arab-Muslim animals that span the globe chopping, hacking, and merrily decapitating…” This is a critique (and a valid one) of the Arab-Muslims who chop, hack, and decapitate (merrily!). Where from that sentence do you infer anything about non-hacking Arab-Muslims?

      • Yep, trouble reading… You nailed the issue. I must be missing something, or, better, said, the media mujst be willfully distorting my words, again.

    • Renan, Why Cut His sentence short? “The Arab-Muslim animals that span the globe chopping, hacking and merrily decapitating. or do you believe that ALL Muslims are chopping, hacking and merrily decapitating?

    • You have taken two paragraphs completely out of context, failing to read the rest of the Rabbi’s piece – as he has clearly stated here. In other words, you are just as guilty as the Rabbi’s other critics of misinterpreting what he wrote.

    • On the contrary. Across the globe, there are “Arab-Muslim animals” that are beheading, marauding, pillaging and plundering. All? Most? Of course not.
      MOST of their victims are fellow Muslims! So how can it be a reference to all Muslims??
      This is part of the gotcha game the corrupt media play. For example: who destroyed the Second Temple? People would answer, correctly, the Romans.
      The media today, if they did not like the utterer, would protest: “All Romans destroyed the Temple? Every single one? That is collective guilt! We abhor collective guilt!” Actually, most Romans did not destroy the Temple, and in fact, very few did.
      But normal people have a way of talking that is normal, and that not conform to the games the media play with their targets.
      Same here.

  4. Rabbi don’t back track. Anyone who believes and follows the quran is by definition a Jew hating savage.
    Qur’an (5:51) – “O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.”

    Muhammad was a genocidal murderer, rapist, slaver, thief, torturer, necrophiliac, beheader, and a filthy pedophile. The quran calls Muhammad a “perfect person” to emulate in 90+ places. Anyone (ALL Muslims) who thinks that psychotic savage barbarian is a perfect person to emulate is suspect.

    By back tracking you’re perpetuating the “it’s only a minority” myth when we know full well it’s the opposite.

    • This truth is exquisitely delineated by a brilliant Lebanese Christian, who is fluent in Arabic and the Koran. Her book is very enlightening–especially since she is neither Christian nor Jew. Read “Because They Hate” by Brigitte Gabriel. My wife’s cousin in israel first told me about her book several years ago.

  5. “Collective punishment” is a misnomer, because nobody is being “punished.” Were the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki “punished?”

    I was one of those who respectfully disagreed with the Rabbi on one or two points of the programme he laid out. But his overall theme, and a good number of the specifics he suggested, are inarguably correct. We are just too passive. As he wrote, we do a great job in crying and denunciations, but in terms of actual deterrence – we’re pitifully weak. And some of the biggest obstacles fancy themselves supporters of Israel! Their problem is their over anxiousness to display their “centrist” bona fides. Who, exactly, they need to prove this to, and why their approbation is so important, is a mystery.

    One thing we know is that Arabs are harsher to their own than we are to them. (A common phenomenon in all families or religions, though not usually expressed in actual violence.) Look at the way they deal with informers, for example. If they believe terrorists are harmful to them, they will be much more “persuasive” in eliminating the problem than anything we can do. I therefore think bombing the villages of terrorists is something to strongly consider. Sure, its sad that innocents, such as it were, get caught up in collateral damage. But as Harry Truman knew, sometimes that’s what you have to do.

  6. I don’t believe that anyone should call for collective punishment… that is far too harsh. Certainly, there needs to be a stronger response to such terror. But as you mentioned Rabbi- most of what you outlined you agree – will never actually happen. Is it possible that you were using that example of collective punishment to EMPHASIZE the strength that needs to be exerted?

  7. Please don’t back down. No need to clarify. We need more leaders to speak the truth. .

  8. Dear Rabbi Pruzansky, please put your previous post back in. a friend on facebook quoted from it, but it had been removed. you said nothing to be ashamed of. on the contrary, it exemplifies the feelings of most American Jews. the majority of murder victims in the previous days and weeks in Israel have been our own fellow American Jewish relatives, friends, and fellow citizens. we, of all people, are entitled to comment on the revolting and chronically ineffective reactions to these arab perpetrated massacres. your suggestions were exactly what is needed.

  9. I wrote, in part: “Of course, [Arabs] who wish to stay and be peaceful, acknowledging the sovereignty of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, are welcome to stay.”

    Unless, of course, two people from their village commit an act of terrorism, in which case the other Arabs in the village are “welcome to stay” in Israel, they just have to find a new village?

  10. Rabbi, I wanted to thank you for all you do for klal yisroel. We live in very troubling times, and it is all the more blatant when other religious Jews accuse YOU of being the bully because you want to save other Jews from death and terrorism. We can’t let the anti-semitism of the goyim affect us. Continue speaking the truth and standing up for what is right.

  11. We feel the same way you do here in Israel. Even those who don’t dare to speak up very likely feel this way deep inside. No one I know here in Ra’anana (except for a few very naive left wingers) actually wants a Palestinian state right here next to us or actually believes that there is ANY hope at all for a peaceful coexistence. The Arabs hate us and want to kill us all- and that is the plain truth. The whole country has increased security because we are all terrified of being murdered by our “peace partners”. I challenge any left-wing Israeli (wouldn’t waste my time with any left-wing American Jew who has never lived here- they know NOTHING about the way things are here) to introduce me to an honest, peace-loving Arab (not Druse) here in Israel who believes in the State of Israel and is happy to be living among Jews in a Jewish State. I am quite certain they cannot find one person like that. Even the Arab checkout clerks in the supermarkets in the Sharon area (NOT Jerusalem or Yehuda v’Shomron) give you dirty looks and on the rare occasions that we’ve actually spoken, took the opportunity to complain to me about how their Arab villages and cities supposedly receive no money from the government and are neglected. They are not happy living here. I have no doubt they were taught that Jews “stole their land” and they must fight to get it back. They do NOT believe in Israel.
    Kol Hakavod to you for speaking out the truth. We all know it, we just don’t really know what to do about it. We Jews are so used to always looking for the good in people and not wanting to admit that someone just hates us because of who we are. We will always think that “they don’t really hate us, they just hate what we do…”. How absurd, how sad! The Arabs – all over the world- HATE the Jews and want us DEAD. It is in the Koran that they learn and teach every day. “If you see a Jew, you must kill him”. Why can’t we listen to what they are saying? How many more Jews must die- G-d Forbid- until we hear????

  12. Your gut reaction comments were exactly what Rabbi Sholom Gold was afraid of when he gave his weekly shiur on the night of the murder of the kedoshim in Har Nof. He started his shiur by saying: “I hope I do not say something that I will later regret”. [See rabbisholom, Parshas Toldot] I know that you are under tremendous pressure from the ADL and other bleeding heart Jewish liberals to recant but someone has to tell the truth, even if it hurts. On the 24th yartzeit of Rabbi Meir Kahana, z”l, maybe we should all read his book “They Must Go”. The greatness of Rabbi Kahana is that he never cared what Foxman and his ilk said about him and told the inconvenient truth. Calling the Arabs “animals” is an insult to the animal kingdom. Animals kill to eat. Arabs kill to kill.

    • Thank you. Just to be clear, not all Arabs are animals. And the animals among them are primarily killing other Arabs. THAT is what Muslims should be angered about, not by my words taken out of context.

  13. Rabbi, you’ve created a classic straw man argument, at least from what I’ve seen. People were not furious with your remarks because they assumed you applied them to all Arabs, they were revolted by a fascist-level of collective punishment. Suggestions like, ” A second terrorist in a village results in the destruction of that village and the deportation of its residents” have no place in a civilized society. Even the idea of using “live ammunition” on rioters is a notion more fitting for China or Egypt, not a country that has the slightest concern for basic civil rights. The Likud today presented a list of 8 suggestions which are mostly reasonable, save for the fact they’d have to apply to all citizens and residents, not just Arabs. Read it and learn how civilized people behave.

  14. You write that your sentiments apply only to the terrorists themselves, not to all Arab Muslims. This is disingenuous to the point of incomprehensibility. You consistently blur the lines between the “terrorists” and the Palestinians at large. You would deport and dispossess entire villages should two terrorists reside there, a heinous inversion of the Abrahamic bargain with God over Sodom. You write that “that enemy rides our buses, shops in our malls, drives on our roads and lives just two miles from us”. Don’t tell me that you are referring to the terrorists already killed. You are clearly and obviously referring to the entire Arab Muslim population of Israel and the territories.

    Your call for unbridled offensive war is as impractical as it is unjust. Indeed, your call for war and massacre of the Palestinian population (“anyone who riots or throws a stone at a Jew should be shot – with real bullets”) would only result in fanning the flames of conflict, resulting in the death of innumerable Jewish victims as well as the shedding of Palestinian blood for which you show little regard (“Those who wish to be martyred and who celebrate death should be accommodated as often as possible.”)

    Your ideas would make Israel more similar to the dictatorial regimes surrounding it and extinguish the light of democracy from the Middle East.

  15. For most people in the West, Reality will never rear its ugly head:
    We need more voices of reality exposing the true intentions of Islam as written in the Koran.
    We must remember also, when talking about “moderate Muslims”, that all that evil needs to succeed is for “moderate” people to to nothing.

  16. Don’t back down. The vast majority of so called Israeli Arabs or Arab Israelis support the terrorism, support the murder and injury (and not to forget to mention sexual harassment) of not only Israelis, but of Jews everywhere. And so do the leftists.

    It is time to end the occupation by getting the eirev rav out of the government and the dangerous Arabs out of Israel.

    We do not hear the world complaining that a Jordanian or someone living in the the areas controlled by the PA or Hamas (or even in the rest of Israel) is subject to a death penalty for selling property to a Jew. If that is acceptable, then the reverse should be acceptable.

    We do not hear the world complaining about Egypt carving out a buffer zone in southern Gaza, so why is everyone complaining about Israel destroying terrorist infrastructure in northern Gaza?

    We do not hear the world complaining that over 90% of those killed by American drones are non-combatants. Why do they complain when Israel tries very hard not to harm non-combatants, but doesn’t have 100% success in this because the terrorists are entrenched in the civilian population?

  17. And, this article makes me look moderate, from famed constitutional lawyer Nathan Lewin:

  18. Rabbi,
    Please Read

    In 2002, Nathan Lewin, the renowned constitutional lawyer, recommended that the families of suicide bombers be killed in retaliation – parents and siblings.

    This is how Foxman’s response was recorded: “Dershowitz and Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, rejected the notion that Lewin should be elbowed out of communal life. They argued that his proposal represented a legitimate attempt to forge a policy for stopping terrorism. Foxman declined to take a stand on the actual proposal, citing his policy of deferring to Jerusalem on Israeli security issues.”

    That’s right – the great moralist refused to take a stand on the issue of mass executions of the innocent or on collective punishment. (Dershowitz said that the proposal was “legitimate but flawed.”)

    Rabbi – his phoniness is breathtaking and appalling! He wants to elbow you out of communal life! And here’s the kicker: you, Rabbi, were interviewed in that same Forward piece. You were AGAINST the Lewin plan as too harsh, and favored deportation of the families of suicide bombers instead of execution!

    You were the most reasonable of all of them. Still are.

  19. With all due respect, I am not sure I understand why this is a conversation about Dershowitz or Lewin. As you might imagine, there are plenty of people against all 3 proposals, theirs and yours. That a liberal icon spoke the same position and you did is for many of us irrelevant. In fact, it only becomes relevant if this discussion, like so many others, is reduced to a liberal-conservative dichotomy, or even sillier, if this discussion is reduced to a media bashing, liberal-conservative dichotomy.

    Really, I fail to see how repeatedly pointing out that Dershowitz offered the same point of view as you did redeems the point of view. If I disagree, if I find the leveling of villages too harsh, it might be because I actually think it’s too harsh. Referring repeatedly to the Dershowitz article is at best a distraction, at worst an evasion of the genuine ethical questions on the table here. Maybe Foxman is a hypocrite. Maybe he isn’t. Maybe Dershowitz agrees with you. It all seems silly when compared to the question of whether the suggestions you offer reflect Torah values. Why must we belittle this discussion by trying to turn it into another left vs right joke? It really isn’t funny.

  20. The most basic, simplest, step we can take, including the present blogger, is to shift the discussion. Most people don’t realize that the term “terrorist” is a badge of honor for them. Why give them that? Ever? Call them what they are – murderers. Terror is permitted by Islam (against your enemies) but murder never is. Let there be a grassroots movement to change the rhetoric in this small way. Because we must recognize that the battle will never be won with mere weapons. It’s also an ideological battle. By calling it “murder” and only murder, you will slowly but surely challenge them at the very core of their beliefs, and certainly avoid giving them honor.

  21. Phillip Slepian

    Collective punishment? Islamic terror is not spontaneous. It is preached as an Islamic duty in the mosques, celebrated by the families of the terrorists, praised by the Muslim leaders (naming streets and squares after the murderers). So, how exactly is this punishing people for things they had nothing to do with? Most Muslims have everything to do with terror, even if they are not the ones throwing the rocks or wielding the knives. If the Arabs in Israel were more like the Jews, they would be embarrassed by the terrorists, arresting them, and punishing them to the full extent of the law. The Imams would be sermonizing against such behavior, the leaders would be offering compensation to the victims’ families (as opposed to the murderers’ families). So, no, leveling, or better yet, transferring ownership to the victim’s family, of terrorist and terror-supporting property is not collective punishment at all. It sends the signal that even non-violent support of terror is a punishable crime, and will not be tolerated, and certainly not allowed to occur without punishment. These signals will not alter Islam or its rabid Jew-hatred, but it will make terrorism against Jews counter-productive for the Muslims. History has shown that doing so is the only reliable method of reducing Islamic terror. Appeasement, and limiting punishment to the few Muslims who actually carry out the violent acts that most of them are taught to aspire to only makes them into martyrs for the cause of Jihad. It breeds more and more Islamic terror.