Wednesday, December 7

"Thou Shalt Not Steal"

English: In this 1768 parchment, Jekuthiel Sof...
English: In this 1768 parchment, Jekuthiel Sofer emulated decalogue at the Esnoga Size: 612 x 502 mm Source: at Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, Amsterdam HS.ROS.PL.a-33 Español: Decálogo de Jekuthiel Sofer, 1768, que imita la distribución en dos tablas. Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, Amsterdam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“Thou Shalt Not Steal” is the 8th Commandment of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), which Judaism had given to the world as well as the basis of the Abrahamic Faiths or the three monotheistic faiths - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is very important to remember this as today we are witnessing the legalization of theft of Palestinian owned land under Israeli Occupation.

The Netanyahu Government Coalition is trying all kinds of devious ways to render stealing Palestinian lands in the occupied territories legal. The new revised Regulation Bill received support. The legislation passed in the Knesset in a preliminary reading by a vote of 60 to 49. It must pass three more readings before becoming law.

Apart from being illegal internationally, the stealing of privately owned Palestinian land is indefensible morally. It even goes against the basic precepts of Judaism. What kind of Judaism do the political rabbis (supporters of the right wing Jewish Home Party and the Settler Movement) preach if they support the stealing of privately owned land for establishing illegal settlements?

These rabbis always manage to justify illegal acts, even if it goes against the Torah and in this case, the 8th Commandment all because their ideology is colonization of the
Occupied West Bank.  Even Likud MK, Benny Begin, refers to this Regulation Bill as legalizing theft and refuses to support it. Benny Begin is no leftist, but a Revisionist of the Ze’ev Jabotinsky mould. He is a man of principle. His attitude on this issue is correct. He is one of the few Members of the Knesset, who still has the high ground on morality in the Knesset. MK Benny Begin is paying the price for his brave stand against his Likud Party decision.

The Ten Commandments, In SVG
The Ten Commandments, In SVG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Coalition Chairman David Bitan (Likud) suspended fellow party member MK Benny Begin for three weeks from the Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee on Tuesday for voting twice against a preliminary reading of the Regulation Bill.

From the religious aspect, one would expect establishment rabbis to protest the stealing of Palestinian property for building homes for illegal settlers. Those who received a Jewish education were taught the basics of morality and the 10 Commandments formed that base. There is really nothing open to interpretation here. The Torah is open to interpretation and brilliant scholars such as Rashi and Avraham ibn Ezra were the greatest commentators of Torah. The 10 Commandments was so crystal clear to all. Despite this, commentators enlarged on what the 10 Commandments meant in everyday life rather than giving contradictory interpretations as is common in Torah interpretation of many laws that were difficult to comprehend. Categories of stealing were also mentioned in order to dismiss any doubt as to what is considered stealing.

Today the Government Coalition is trying to legitimize stealing Palestinian owned land, even when Palestinian landowners have written proof of their ownership.

The rabbis should be protesting on the grounds that it breaks the 8th Commandment
By not doing so, they must be viewed as accomplices to the crime of theft.

The act of stealing and legitimizing it is a political act and the rabbinical gurus of the settler movement are encouraging it. Behind every illegal settlement is a right wing, self-righteous, racist rabbi. These charismatic, rabble-rousing rabbis goad and manipulate their followers to break the law and even attack soldiers in the IDF in carrying out their duty to evacuate settlements built on stolen land.

The occupation is a very complex problem.  I have written many posts about the serious complexities of ending it, especially as Israel has no serious partners with whom to negotiate peace and ending the occupation. The Palestinian Leadership (Hamas) has made its position clear on not negotiating with Israel - let alone arriving at a two-state solution. The Palestinian Authority will never negotiate or sign a peace treaty with Israel without Hamas approval.

Having said this, this does not give the Coalition Government the right to pass legislation to legalize stealing Palestinian-owned land for building illegal settlements. According to Attorney-General, Avichai Mandelblit, the bill breaches both local and international law, and indicated that the High Court was likely to strike it down.

The attempts of the Coalition Government to make political capital by enticing the right wing extremists into their camp by undermining Israeli High Court rulings is a threat to democracy as well as the rule of law.

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