Hachrazah 5766 Av 3
The Sanhedrin, being the authorized institution to decide in military matters, issues definitive moral guidance on this matter and addresses the current administration's defense policy.
Informal translation from Hebrew of the 3 Av, 5766 (28 July, 2006) statement:
An announcement by the [Sanhedrin's] war cabinet on behalf of the leadership council of the Sanhedrin concerning the war
Setting of principle.
The Sanhedrin, amongst the rest of its roles, is the authorized national council to deal with the laws of war and instructions to the state on war subjects. War is one of the Sanhedrin’s principle matters. (Rambam, Laws of Kings ch. 6)
1. The unity of the whole nation in a precondition to victory. Therefore, the government must establish a war council without party influence, which will include representatives of the Jewish public and its leaders, and also non-Jews who help Israel with sincerity.
The council will include representatives from all the sectors which desire victory over the enemies of Israel – which is a condition that precedes all peace – and which accept upon themselves the principle that the enemy must be subjugated until his defeat. To that end, they will accept upon themselves combat theories fitting to the entire breadth of the current battlefield, and fitting to the nation of G-d. Firstly, moral values will be adopted that come from the laws of war of Torah and its commentaries by the wise men of Israel. The best military experts who accept upon themselves the above principles will also be added to the council.
If the government refrains from this act, it will be giving a sign that it does not understand the severity of the war and its expected results, and it will be showing that it intends to return to the old agenda.
2. A war that is fought to help Israel from its enemies is an obligatory war. Israel’s goal in war is to push back the enemies, close or far, regardless of distance. Furthermore the goal is to prevent a war of destruction against the nation of Israel and its country, which is the declared desire of the enemy. The difficult reality which has been forced upon us, is, among other things, due to the adoption of twisted moral standards which we have forced upon ourselves. Therefore, from here and going forward, the officer or soldier shall not have mercy on their enemy, and certainly not on citizens who serve as shields to terrorists, and they shall not make sacrifices for the enemy at the expense of the life of a fighter in the Israeli army, or a citizen in danger. Any threat or assistance in war to the enemy should be destroyed without excessive endangering of our soldiers and citizens. Any economic means helping the enemy should be destroyed. It is forbidden to have mercy on enemy fighters that do not surrender. We should not hesitate to expel the hostile population from the area and to inherit their land. “Anyone who acts mercifully to the cruel will be made cruel to the merciful” (Midrash Tanchuma, Metzora 1).
3. Every soldier in the Israel army should know that his war against the enemy is G-d’s war against the enemies of Israel. Therefore, every soldier and officer should do his utmost to maintain the holiness of the camp so that the Divine Presence should dwell within it. “For Hashem your G-d dwells in your camp, to save you and to give your enemies before you, and your camp shall be holy, and any detestable thing should not be seen in it, lest He go back behind you.” (Deuteronomy 23:15)
4. The Knesset of Israel and the government should know that they have the immediate responsibility to legislate a law which ratifies the ownership of the nation of Israel on its land, and that every inch which is captured by the Israeli army is not “conquered territory” or “detained”, but rather it is the land of Israel within its borders which were given as an eternal heritage. “Every place that your foot treads will be your border, from the desert and the Lebanon, from the river, the Euphrates River until the last sea” (Deuteronomy 11,24, Sifrei there, Rambam Terumot 1, 2). Therefore any conquering leads to immediate annexation, even without a military declaration of authority, and attachment of a map, as was done when the Negev and the Galilee were annexed in 5709 (1949). Abstention from this legislation turns the wars of Israel to vain wars which spill the blood of Israel for naught.
5. Learning Torah and fulfilling its commandments, prayer and crying out to G-d, repentance, charity, and the purity of heart, all these are the main effective weapon of the nation of Israel. Therefore, people should refrain from going on excessive vacations, and from weakening their Torah learning in the period known as “between the times”. Anyone who is referred to as “Israel” should be drafted to the voice of Jacob to subdue the hands of Esau.
6. The Fast of Tisha B’Av this year is to be set aside as a day of crying out and prayer, introspection, regret, and request of forgiveness from every Jew who was persecuted in the last year by corrupt laws and acts of wickedness connected to the expulsion of innocent Jews from their inheritance land and the desecration of G-d’s name in front of the nations. Thus there should be regret and corrective measures taken, and the Prime Minister should demand from the American President the immediate release of our brother, the captive Jonathan Pollard. He should furthermore take responsibility for returning all the captives, new and old alike. There should also be a request of forgiveness and compensation to the Southern Lebanese Army and the Arabs and their families that have helped us, and have been abandoned to their deaths, and persecuted. We should remember to regret all the sins and actions related o the oppression of Jews by Jews, a sin which follows us in every generation – and we will not detail this, as the sin reaches unto heaven.
The authorities, their emissaries and advisors should do soul searching: They should show regret in front of their Creator and accept upon themselves to act to every Jew as if they are their own flesh and blood. They should request forgiveness from all who have been expelled, and they shall accept upon themselves to return them to their homes, and compensate all those who were harmed by not cooperating, and the law enabling this injustice should be stricken from the law books, and all processes and accompanying laws associated with its execution.