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"The King's Torah": oy, it's hateful

Every religion's got 'em. Christianity has its Fred Phelps (of "God Hates Fags" fame) and its racist Christian Identity groups; Muslim extremists are in the news so much it takes effort to remember that they're a small band of nutcases; Hindus have been implicated in Indian nationalist attacks against Muslims; Pagans have the occasional racist nutjob who thinks Asatru or Druidism is about ethnicity and "White power"; and even Zen Buddhism had, during World War Two, leaders who supported slaughter in the name of Japanese nationalism.

And yep, Judaism's got them too. Haaretz reports on "The King's Torah", a collection of Halacha (Jewish religious law) put together by nutcase rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur. It claims that "Thou shalt not murder" applies only "to a Jew who kills a Jew", that it's fine to kill children of Israel's enemies because "it is clear that they will grow to harm us", and that non-Jews are "uncompassionate by nature", and should be dealth with harshly to "curb their evil inclination". An expose in the Israeli tabloid Ma'ariv called the book "Jewish terror".

One of the book's authors, Shapira, was suspected in 2008 of involvement in a rocket attack on a Palestinian village; no arrests were made. The other author, Elitzur, penned article in a religious bulletin saying that "the Jews will win with violence against the Arabs."

Most Jewish leaders have renounced these guys as grade-A doofuses, with one religious group calling for the government to confiscate the book and arrest its authors. But they have found support from a handful of extremists. mostly notably among West Bank "settlers" -- a group more properly described as "invaders and thieves", who are of course happy for any religious authority to justify their actions.

The book is published by a yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar; in January, Israeli security officers raided the yeshiva and arrested ten settlers, several of whom were suspected of involvement with the arson and vandalism of a Palestinian mosque.

"The King's Torah" reflects a fringe viewpoint held by a minority of rabbis in the West Bank, said Avinoam Rosenak, a Hebrew University professor specializing in settler theology. Asher Cohen, a Bar Ilan University political science professor, thought its influence would be "zero" because it appeals only to extreme ideologues.


At the entrance to Moriah, a large Jewish bookstore steps from the Western Wall, copies of "The King's Torah" were displayed with children's books and other halachic commentaries. The store manager, who identified himself only as Motti, said the tome has sold "excellently."


The yeshiva declined to comment on publication statistics. But Itzik, a Tel Aviv-area book distributor hired by the yeshiva who declined to give his last name because of the book's nature, said the yeshiva had sold 1,000 copies to individuals and bookstores countrywide. He said an additional 1,000 copies were now being printed.

Mendy Feldheim, owner of Feldheim Publishers, Israel's largest Judaica publishing house, said he considered this a "nice" sales figure for a tome of rabbinic Halacha in Israel.

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