Hachrazah 5766 Av 21
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 21 Av, 5766 (15 August, 2006) statement:
An announcement by the leadership council of the Sanhedrin concerning the war in Lebanon
The regime acted according to the ethics of the “foolish Christian” (which never reigned anywhere in the world). These are perverted ethics in war against murderers, when more weight is given to the blood of our enemies than the blood of our brothers, and not according to the Jewish rule of “One that comes to kill you, rise up and kill him”. Thus, the regime has endangered our soldiers and citizens and paid with excessive valuable Israeli blood. The regime has refrained from bombing Shi’ite population centers as a response to missile fire on our communities. Bombing like this would immediately stop the attack on our citizens’ lives, property, and ability to work.
Likewise also, the shameful incident in which a division commander reprimanded his thirsty soldiers and censured them for looting a store for the purpose of obtaining drinks to prevent dehydration. Nine soldiers became dehydrated, and a helicopter had to endanger itself in order to evacuate them. This is a worrying display of leadership.
This the golden language of the Rambam (Laws of Kings and their Wars, chapter 7) which expresses concern for our soldiers – pioneers of the army, when they will enter the borders of the nations and conquer them and take captives, it is permitted for them to eat carcasses or improperly slaughtered animals, or pig mean or likewise if they are hungry and cannot find what to eat…. The civil and military outlook of the war was in effect trying to fulfill the commandment of helping Israel from the hand of its enemy and “do not stand on the blood of your fellow”. The actual reality turned out to be far more limited and foolish – an expensive, hesitant war of offense, lacking proper preparation, against an armed group, prepared and well trained, without properly attempting to achieve decisive victory, its cost great and its achievements few. That stands opposite the clear need to manage it also as an obligatory war of conquering the Land of Israel, and expelling its murderous inhabitants.
These are the words of the Holy One, blessed be He in our Torah “and it will be that if you do not inherit the inhabitants of the land before you, then it will be that those that you leave behind from them will be as thorns in your eyes and pricks in your sides, and they will trouble you upon the land in which you dwell, and it will be as I thought to do to them, I will do to you.” (Numbers 33:55-56).
The war was not utilized for final expulsion of its population and the returning of the historical border of the land in the modern era – the Litani River. That was the border before the arbitrary agreement of the powers in the region at the end of the First World War. That is a border which is easy to preserve and saves us at least part of the waters of the Litani, which are dear to us, which have been stolen from us by the residents of the area. Such behavior damaged the mobilization of the soldiers and their lives, and the military and political achievements were small if not damaging altogether to the state’s image of military strength, and the strategic situation in practice. Now and going forward, foreign and hostile soldiers will “protect” us from Shi’ite violations of the quiet.
The government was obligated, at the very least, to officially declare war (what was not done to its end), something that would regularize, at least in a minimal way, the situation of the suffering residents of the north. It is incumbent upon the government, for the sake of unity of the nation and army, to request forgiveness from all those injured by our enemies and the security forces during the last five years, and to return them to steadfastness in material and spirit.