Cross-posted from Mondoweiss
There was a pro-Israel rally of 10,000 people in New York yesterday, a half block from the United Nations, and Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner, the president of the NY Board of Rabbis, suggested that Palestinians who voted for Hamas are combatants who deserve to be targeted by Israel. He said:
"When you are part of an election process that asks for a terrorist organization which proclaims in word and in deed that their primary objective is to destroy their neighboring country and not to build schools or commerce or jobs, you are complicit and you are not a civilian casualty."
The crowd cheered. Kirshner went on to say that the Israeli army is "the most moral army in the history of civilization." He ended his remarks with the word, Amen.
The rabbi did not make it clear how he would sort out Palestinians who voted for Hamas. In the last election in Palestine, in 2006, Hamas -- the "terrorist organization" to which Kirshner was obviously referring -- got 440,000 votes, 44 percent of the electorate, according to Wikipedia. Fatah won 410,000, the PFLP 42,000.
Senator Chuck Schumer and many Democratic congresspeople also spoke at the rally, on 47th Street. None were on the stage when Kirshner offered his spiritual counsel near the end of the gathering.
Below is the context for Kirshner's remarks, beginning at about 3:00 in the video above. Kirshner (who was introduced as president but identified with three different titles, 1, 2, 3 of the New York Board of Rabbis) began by saying that the United Nations was condemning the killing of civilians in Gaza.
"Ladies and gentlemen let me make something very, very, very clear to all of you gathered. If you are wearing jeans and a t-shirt and you are carrying an AK-47, you are not a civilian, you are a combatant.
"When you welcome Hamas into your living room and allow them to launch rockets next to your sofa, you are not a civilian you are a combatant.
"When you are part of an election process that asks for a terrorist organization which proclaims in word and in deed that their primary objective is to destroy their neighboring country and not to build schools or commerce or jobs, you are complicit and you are not a civilian casualty.
"And lastly when you fail to heed the pamphlets, the phone calls, the text messages and the warning shots telling you to evacuate a building, and instead use yourself as a shield and use innocent children as a shield, you are not collateral damage. When you ignore those very moral warnings and align yourself with Hamas, you are a combatant."
As Adam notes, the statement could apply to anyone who voted in that election in 2006; I'm interpreting it to apply to Hamas supporters.
Elsewhere in the speech, the rabbi identified himself wholly with the Israeli government, saying that "we gave them freedom nine years ago," referring to the end of the settlement program in Gaza.