Rabbi Broyde's thesis in this talk was that "War is different from individual ethics and has a different set of rules." He said outside of war, Jewish law does not permit one to kill an innocent person -- someone being used by an attacker as a human shield, for example -- even in defense of your life. But in war, given certain criteria, intentionally killing innocent people is permitted. He said even retaliation as a motive for killing innocents is allowed.
Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Bob Heberle
Evergreene Digest Editor's Note: The author has arranged a series of e-mails on this subject top to bottom chronologically, but to make it easier to follow the dialogue between two people, especially Professor Chaouat and him, he's jumbled them up a bit. Not all of the emails have been included.
Tonight (April 29) I was ashamed to call myself a Jew. I attended a talk -- "The Jewish Tradition and the Ethics of War" -- by Rabbi Michael Broyle, Professor of Law at Emory University. It was sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Minnesota, Congregation Darchei Noam -- they split off of Knesset Israel and call themselves "Modern Orthodox" -- the Cardozo Society, and Sabes JCC.
Rabbi Broyde is here as a scholar-in-residence for four talks this weekend (April 30-May 1). His thesis in this talk was that "War is different from individual ethics and has a different set of rules." He said outside of war, Jewish law does not permit one to kill an innocent person -- someone being used by an attacker as a human shield, for example -- even in defense of your life. But in war, given certain criteria, intentionally killing innocent people is permitted. He said even retaliation as a motive for killing innocents is allowed.
Then he said if our prisoners are not treated properly by our enemy, we do not have any obligation to treat theirs properly. He said the Bush administration argued the position that because the Taliban was not a party to the Geneva Conventions, we were not obligated to follow them either. He said five Supreme Court justices agreed with that argument in the Hamdan decision. Well, at this point I was fuming, because he left out the small detail that the Supreme Court did hold in that case that Common Article Three of the Geneva Conventions did apply even to the Taliban and al Qaeda. (I actually yelled at him when I asked that question later. For heaven's sakes, the man is a law professor!)
Then he went on to talk about torture. He said it works, but only if it's used systematically and if retaliatory torture is used if it turns out the prisoner lied. So, he said, you must collect from a large number of people and physically punish those who lie under torture. He gave an example of an incident in Israel where fingers were chopped off one at a time when a prisoner lied under torture. He said under Jewish law you can torture a guilty person if it's 1) to get useful information; 2) authorized by the chain of command; and 3) reasonably expected to succeed.
He said people were horrified by what happened at Abu Ghraib because it was soldiers running amuck and not authorized by the chain of command. Again I fumed. I knew this was absolutely incorrect, and when I got a chance to ask a second question, I corrected his facts. I told him the man the Pentagon selected to do the investigation of Abu Ghraib, Major General Antonio Taguba, said that he was ordered not to go above a certain level in the chain of command. (He was later drummed out of the military.) I also told the good Rabbi that Maj. Gen. Taguba wrote more generally in another context that "The Commander-in-chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture."
Rabbi Broyde also justified Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the least evil method to achieve the goals. All of his justifications, of course, depended on your being involved in a "just war," which was beyond the scope of this lecture.
He handed out a flyer with some hypotheticals on the back -- throwing a prisoner out of a plane in Vietnam in order to get others to talk, sodomy as a form of interrogation, etc. He seemed to feel the sodomy tactic was a more difficult situation than torture or murder, so in the question period, a young woman raised the issue of rape used Bosnia. The Rabbi responded that rape happens when soldiers run wild, and that it's not authorized by the chain of command and not used to achieve a legitimate military goal. My God! Has he not read any of the growing literature on the topic of rape as a war tactic?
I picked up three extras of his handouts if anyone is interested. The Rabbi is giving three more talks this weekend. First, at 8:30 Friday night he's talking about "Are Human Rights Universal?" I think that talk is at 5225 Minnetonka Blvd. at Salem after a Shabbat Dinner at 7:30. On Saturday at 11:45 a.m., he's talking "Innovation and Jewish Law" (when and how does an ancient religion change?), and then at 7:30 on "Brain Death: A Jewish Perspective." I think the Saturday talks are also at 5225 Minnetonka Blvd.
I have no idea if this fellow is an expert on Jewish law. Apparently, he has done a lot of writing and on a wide variety of topics. But I do know he twisted the truth on at least two secular facts that I am very familiar with. I won't be attending any of his talks tomorrow or Saturday, for fear that I might take off my shoe and throw it at him, but if any of you are interested, please consider it.
Charles: Make this a letter to the editor AJW and national Jewish pubs. Also "Democracy Now!" host Amy Goodman is a rebbe's daughter. You also could record a short comment for The Take-Away via its website.
JFC!!! ws [Will Shapira]
Are you shocked because you discover that Jewish law can be archaic when it comes to human rights, or because Rabbi Broyle considers that modern democracies should use Jewish law as a reference in international law and ethics? Not sure I understand...
Bruno [Bruno Chaouat, director of the U of M's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies]
Dear Professor Chaouat,
I was shocked that Rabbi Broyde (I misspelled his name in the first sentence), a legal scholar, totally distorted at least two examples as part of his argument. I was shocked at the claim -- and it may be an accurate claim, for all I know -- that an expert on what current Jewish law permits could come to these conclusions. I was shocked that even if the Rabbi believed this really is the current state of Jewish law that he would have the chutzpah to say it publicly. I was shocked that a religion that has a history of vigorous debate between opposing viewpoints, as exemplified in the Talmud, in this program had no such opposing viewpoint to what obviously is a controversial position. I was shocked that the Rabbi in his talk never mentioned that even among Orthodox rabbis, there are opposing views. I was shocked at his several references to situations in Israel and never mentioning the Israeli Supreme Court's decision on torture. I was shocked that a Jewish legal organization, the Cardozo Society, would attach its name to such a talk. I was shocked that the Center for Jewish Studies at the U of M would similarly do so. I was shocked at the lack of passion in the audience questions. I was shocked I kept my shoes on.
Dear Chuck (if I may),
I wonder if shock and outrage are the best way to voice intellectual, moral and political disagreement, be it a profound one. Centers and institutions that host speakers do not necessarily endorse their views. They invite provocative speakers in order to trigger debate rather than nurture consensus. It is up to the audience to challenge them, which, I believe, you did and you should be commended for that.
Yes, sometimes shock and outrage is the appropriate response. Frankly, there are some "intellectual, moral and political" issues that should not be treated as academic exercises, appropriate to be debated. There are lines that should not be crossed. For me, advocating torture happens to be one of those. For you, maybe not.
I do realize that academia encourages audiences to counter provocative speakers. Rarely does that lead to the best educational outcome. The speaker has all the power and carries an assumption of greater expertise by most of the listeners. I recently audited a class at the U with two professors, and I was totally frustrated that they kept agreeing with each other. What an opportunity that would have been to provide some real education by having more than one perspective coming from the experts.
Was the speaker condoning torture in the name of Jewish law, or was he arguing that according to certain interpretations of the Jewish law, torture is, in certain circumstances, legitimate? This is quite different. The latter would mean that a certain interpretation of Jewish law condones what you find morally intolerable (and it may very well be the case that a certain interpretation of Jewish law would condone such archaic and barbaric methods--why not?). The former legitimates torture (and other methods which you find morally intolerable) in the name of Jewish law. Finally, was he condoning the use of torture by the US administration because torture can be justified by Jewish law (that would be truly outlandish given that the US is not exactly a Jewish theocracy, except in the antisemitic fantasy)?
Best, and thank you for opening this debate.
Other than his comments about the Hamdan decision, Abu Ghraib, Hiroshima, and a question from the audience about Guantanamo, he didn't talk a whole lot about the United States. The person who asked the question about Guantanamo referred to torture, and the Rabbi said he doesn't think there was any torture there. You may know that Judge Susan Crawford, who headed up the Military Commissions tribunals at Guantanamo, refused to let a case go forward because she said the prisoner had been tortured. So again, we have a little fact the Rabbi felt no need to mention.
The Rabbi was clearly an advocate for the position that torture should be permissible. His comments made it clear this wasn't just an academic, law school Socratic dialogue. In my mind, it's very problematic when you combine an academic and a rabbi in the same person. The former might well say, "Such and such has been the predominant position in Jewish law historically and still is today." When a rabbi says that, though, and doesn't add any "but" phrase, I believe he or she is inevitably putting the stamp of moral approval on it. A rabbi, among other things, is a gude for ethical conduct. When a rabbi -- especially an Orthodox one -- says that the legal tradition of what many regard as the oldest of the monotheistic religions has long permitted torture in certain circumstances, and it still does today, that is quite a different thing than an academic describing the history of Jewish law and its applicability to torture.
So there is no confusion about Rabbi Broyde's motivations in his explaining Jewish law on torture, here is the introduction to an article he wrote about five years ago:
"About ten years ago I wrote an article on the halakhic issues raised by starting wars, fighting wars, and ending wars. Over the past five years, as I have spoken about the topic on various occasions, the article has been updated, modified, and expanded, and it forms the basis of some sections of this article.
"Also over the last five years, I have been privileged to serve as the rosh kollel (academic head) of the Atlanta Torah MiTzion Kollel, where I give a daily shiur (lecture) to its members. I have had numerous opportunities to speak with the Atlanta Torah MiTzion members about many different halakhic issues, and halaknot related to war is a regular topic of interest and discussion, as they are in Atlanta having only recently completed five years of combined army service and serious Torah study in the course of their hesder yeshiva experience.
"Yet year after year, presentations of my article never interested any of these young men very much -- they would listen politely (as such is kavod ha-Torah), but display no real enthusiasm for the theoretical topics put forward. What was of interest to these recent Israeli soldiers in halakhot of war? The answer is simple. As soldiers, they wanted more concrete guidance for dealing with practical issues of battlefield ethics; actually fighting a war as a private, sergeant, or captain confronted them with complex moral ambiguities of combat for which they felt inadequately prepared. In fact, upon examination, I found that many of these halakhic issues are poorly addressed. The standard works that deal with Jewish law in the army omit many of the overarching discussions about halakhah and war and provide no guidance at all to basic, practical issues related to fighting a war!"
I apologize for all the emails, but I should have included this closing section of the previously-linked article in my last email:
"Admittedly, these conclusions are terribly disquieting; they head in a direction that is deeply uncomfortable to me. In my estimation, the battlefield ethics of Jewish law, as a matter of concrete practical policy, place no 'real' restrictions on the conduct of the Jewish army during wartime, so long as the actions being performed are all authorized by the command structure of the military in order to fulfill a valid and authorized goal and do not violate international treaties. Sadly enough, it might turn out that most of these unpleasant activities we have considered might have to become tools in this quite gruesome danse macabre to which the long-term consequences of defeat are too great to ponder. This is true both in the Jewish homeland and our beloved America.
"We all pray for a time where the world will be different -- but until that time, Jewish law directs the Jewish State and the American nation to do what it takes (no more, but no less, either) to survive and prosper ethically in the crazy world in which we live."
This is a shame on the local Jewish organizations who sponsored Rabbi Broyde and on Jewish community leaders who do not speak up, as they most vociferously did <http://www.ajwnews.com/archives/2410> when Rabbi Manis Friedman made some outrageous comments a couple of years ago.
Oy. I can understand why you would want to throw something. I suspect I would have found it hard to be restrained.
So, Michael Broyde is indeed an authority in Jewish law, but not one I agree with. His initial article on torture and the ticking time bomb, in which he defends its use, came out a number of years ago. We of course disagree--and Jewish law actually prohibits the intentional killing of innocents during war. He has been the major Jewish voice speaking FOR the use of torture (thankfully, one of the few) but because of his stature in the Orthodox community, he gets a lot of press. I hadn't realized he was still speaking about torture.
Here are links to some pieces that deal with what he talks about, either directly or indirectly:
You also might find this an interesting read:
All the best,
Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster
Director of Education and Outreach
Rabbis for Human Rights North Americarkahntroster@rhr-na.org
917-747-9487 <tel:917-747-9487> (phone)
866-496-0973 <tel:866-496-0973> (fax)www.rhr-na.org
All who can protest against [something wrong that] one of their family [is doing] and does not protest, is held accountable for their family. [All who can protest against something wrong that] a citizen of their city [is doing and does not protest], is held accountable for all citizens of the city. [All who can protest against something wrong that is being done] in the whole world, is accountable together with all citizens of the world.---B Shabbat 54b
Thanks for sharing this. It seems his other talks are not as on-topic and I have conflicts anyway but this dangerous idea need public refutal and debunking. How many people attended?
This guy is mimicking Dershowitz and maybe even taking the Dershowitz “legalization” framework a couple steps farther, revealing his personal sadistic nature. (Sadism exists, by the way, and is not uncommon at all in the criminal world. It’s actually really common, and is the driving force in a high percentage of crimes involving cruelty and use of sexual violence.)
Actually Dershowitz’s three op-eds that began in November 2001 established this exact legal framework of “authorized and controlled, systematic” torture that holds that as long as torture is “well-intentioned” and motivated for a good purpose (to save lives in the quintessential “ticking time bomb” hypothetical which Dershowitz and Jack Bauer series so effectively re-introduced) opened the door to torture. When DOJ lawyers and prosecutors saw that the famous criminal defense (and self-styled “liberal”) lawyer was able to justify the use of torture, it was what tipped them to open Pandora’s Box. This rabbi is just spouting all the same tenets of Dershowitz and of Israeli Mossad and IDF theorists who quickly became involved in training U.S. military and counter-intelligence forces. Obviously the “Jewish Law’s allowance for use of torture” fit perfectly with John Yoo’s and other federalists (authoritarians) seeking to strengthen the powers of the President as justified temporarily during time of war.
The utilitarian notion of “just war” making torture permissible as long (as it’s systemic and controlled) is actually nothing but a different way of stating the Nuremberg principle, that wars of aggression are the supreme crime because they make possible all other lesser crimes. I hate to say it but these notions of controlled and systemic permission for unethical and illegal actions seem to also flow from Nazi Germany’s systemic use of violence. The neo-cons behind so much of this are all act utilitarian which means they literally worship Machiavellian principles of power and believe that the “good purpose” end justifies the means. They feel they are in a special group of smarter and more worthy elites which, as Nixon phrased it who are above the normal law that applies to others. Secrecy from the masses is what allows the neo-con to carry out their utilitarian missions.
It’s easy to debate act utilitarians by understanding that they concoct their desired end with little or no evidence or data, i.e. OK to kill million civilians to bring democracy or regime change to Iraq, it will be a “cake walk” etc. The naïveté is breathtaking of making up the “end” of the “ends justify the means” formula, then sliding over 3 or 4 false premises that are built in to make permissible the unlawful means. As William Sloan Coffin once said, “the fundamental sin is arrogance because it invites you to play God”. And now we’ve come right back to the lesson of those who open Pandora’s Box in a vain quest to “play God”.
It simply ain’t that easy to play God! As Hitler and many, many others throughout history have found out. If nothing else, there is always blowback, the law of unintended consequences.
Was the audience composed of war-hawks? Was it more the AIPAC crowd? Was there anyone besides yourself in the audience who challenged him? Anyway to respond publicly through op-ed or calling for a public debate with this guy after the fact? Could we demand equal time of the University? There are some wonderful academics who have studied the use of torture (i.e. Darius Rejali) who could quickly debunk the Rabbi’s false premises about “torture working”. Also I’d like to share your comments with a few others who have written and worked on torture issues if it’s OK.
The academics and religionists like Dershowitz and this guy are the most important top-of-the-chain who open the door to unethical, illegal horrors. Lyndie England is way down the chain but she’s simply the one who gets in trouble afterward. The unethical and illegal are not divorced from the pragmatic as the act utilitarians base their dogma on. Ethics, law and pragmatism are not trade-offs but are inextricably joined.
About 70-75 people were there. I think the audience was probably mostly people from this orthodox congregation that sponsored it, but there were some academics from the U of M too. He was introduced by a professor in the Political Science Department named Krebs. There were challenging questions, but most of them were pretty mild. No one yelled at him liked I did. There was a Vietnam Vet there who said he could have arrested soldiers who followed illegal orders. On questioner made the distinction between targeting civilians and "collateral damage." A couple or people said, "Well, doesn't Hamas believe there war is also just, and does that justify their employing any tactics too."
As for torture working, the Rabbi clearly stated that torture notoriously gets bad information, because people will say anything to get it to stop. That's why, he said, you have to systematically punish those who give bad information, with more torture. Then it works.
Will suggested I write a letter to the editor of the American Jewish World, a local Jewish bi-weekly. This Broyde fellow apparaently wrote a well-publicized article in a Jewish magazine a couple years ago in supporting his positions on battlefield ethics.
Feel free to forward my email, in which I left out words, misspelled Broyde's name the first time, had incoherent sentences, etc. [my sister]
I love your response to Prof Chouat and would agree with Will Shapira for you to write a letter to American Jewish World (and maybe also to some other academic and religious) outlets. Maybe you can weave your response to Chaouat in and say that it’s been recommended that a better way of refuting Broyde than throwing your shoe at him would be for their organization to now help organize an actual public debate of what Broyde was allowed to lecture on unilaterally in a one-sided way. Only through transparency and debate, can these issues be ferreted out (and hopefully the dangerous ideas effectively exposed and extinguished) and while Broyde should be allowed to give his views as example of proponent for use of torture, so should other “authorities” and experts be allowed to give their views about how wrong, illegal and counter-productive it is. Challenge the institutions who have had this “authority” come speak and maybe even wider religious and academic institutions to engage in fuller debate.
Don’t know if you remember but a top-level Professor-Administrator at St. Thomas wrote that paper years ago that legitimized torture as ethical and legal to save lives utilizing the ticking time bomb theory of Broyde and his ilk. I think his title was even something like “Is torture ever ethical?” or like that. I could dig it out.
I often noticed that there is a liberal tendency to want to ignore these worst of the worst guys, the theorists who open Pandora’s Box. Instead of openly challenging and debating these horrible ideas, many liberals stay in denial and just tend to dismiss them as unimportant extremists. So many liberals have no idea what the Rush Limbaughs were and are saying because they just refuse to even listen and so they are unaware of the impact the extremist is having. The inability to counter such speakers is one of the reasons we’re in the mess we are now. One only need review history to see what happens when good people put their heads in the sand when dangerous ideas and powerful propaganda is introduced into polite society, under polite cover of being an “expert” or authority.
As background, if I remember right, I once went to a lecture sponsored by this Center for Jewish Studies, about a year or two ago. They had brought this neo-con “think tank” guy—but a real crackpot when I looked up his bio, involved in all kinds of deception and basically like so many of the neo-con think tankers—focused on shilling for pre-emptive bombing of Iran. He used an extremely false and propagandistic, fear-based power point and his talk was really nothing but pure propaganda to start new war on Iran. There were only about 20 to 30 people max in attendance, however and I thought to myself, how dumb to be spending all that money to fly this guy to Minnesota to give a powerpoint to 20 people. But that Jewish Studies Center must be well-funded if they can do this for 20 students on a regular basis.
I wonder if some of the academics you have corresponded with about Broyde would co-author or sign onto the call for wider debate? Instead of just hope they can take (Obama’s) “look forward” approach and ignore the Broydes and his Jack Bauer model which opened the door that never got closed. To be very honest, because I’ve debated “ticking time bomb” theorists and act utilitarians in a couple of public venues, the whole entire concocted framework IS powerful and that’s why we got a high proportion of people believing torture is good and it works. An even higher proportion of young people (I think something like 60 some percent) believe torture is good and useful and the right thing to do so this stuff is powerful. Even locally there’s Profs Radsan, Delahunty, that St. Thomas administrator and probably many others who might debate on Broyde side while there should be many on human rights (and law enforcement) side. Dr. Miles might like to participate.
It’s amazing how otherwise good people find ways to euphemize the worst forms of unjustified violence and cruelty. Once the Pandora’s Box has been opened, allowing a verifiable evil (recognized under jus cogens as never to be tolerated and accepted or excused) to escape, then it must be exposed to sunlight and fully debated in order to be weakened enough to be put back into the prohibited box of evils. By not fully and fairly debating the practice of torture (similar to the prohibited practice of slavery, also barred by jus cogens) but instead allowing a powerful “authority” to legitimize or legalize that unethical practice is complicity with the evil. Just my opinion.
Such wrongs as slavery and torture transcend mere political or religious, or academic differences we do need to respectfully tolerate.
In his talk the Rabbi put a lot of stress on bi-lateral or multi-lateral treaties that both sides of the war had accepted. I approached his afterwards and asked if he believed in jus cogens norms that were applicable even beyond treaty law. And he said he did if the norms were universally accepted. (I don't know if the Nuremberg Trials/Principles came up then, but he did mention them at one point in responding to someone's question.)
I’m glad you’re not attending any more of his talks. They might not be good for your blood pressure!
I think I would also have been mortified had I heard this talk. But, of course, every vast religious
tradition speaks with multiple voices and we can't really expect to agree with all of those voices.
You might want to check out Rabbi Melissa Weintraub's paper on torture at the Rabbis for Human Rights
website - - it is a brilliant and serious piece of legal analysis which I'm sure you'll like.
amy [Rabbi Amy Eilberg]
Of course there are multiple voices. It wasn't so much whether I agreed with him, but I knew he was twisting secular facts, so who knows whether his arguments concerning Jewish law are accurate. And, far be it from me to call someone an anti-Semite, but this kind of lecture only fosters anti-Semitism in the wider community. So I will speak up when I hear even rabbinic comments that serve to fan the flames of anti-Semitism.
P.S. Dear Chuck,
You might want to go to hear Ruth Messinger, the president of American Jewish World
Service. She's in town this weekend, speaking tonight at Temple Israel (at 6) and at
Adath tomorrow morning (around 11). She is a brilliant and inspiring example of
the very best of Jewish voices.
It is sad when Rabbis, Pastors, Imams use God to justify evil. Maybe that should be 'god.' Torture is on the table and people are just pushing it around on their plate - wondering if it is edible. While some with initials behind their names are gobbling it up with no idea how that is going to effect society. Fear makes people want to act decisively in the moment, and fear is a great ally of torture, along with silence. And it is sad that the gobblers of righteous-power has pushed torture on the table so that it must be debated again - and maybe that is what is good. Maybe society has become so focused on the self that self absorption determines how to act without thinking. Being forced to defend anti-torture stances is a good thing - it gets us off our comfortable life and into the grips of good-hard living!
It appears that the pro-torture people appear alone on the stage and not when invited to a true debate. And they sure do know where to hide.
[sent to the group I sent the original email to]
I forgot to mention that before the program began, a fellow got up -- it may have been the congregation's rabbi -- and said before each of their programs, they like to learn a new song or a new tune to an old song. And, he said, since the topic today was on issues related to war, it would be appropriate to sing a song on peace. And he led us in a version of "Oseh shalom." Of course, I think he and probably everyone else in the audience did not appreciate the irony that it ends with "aleinu v'al kol yisrael," i.e., peace for Israel instead of "kol ha olam," the entire world.
You know so much about this, Charles, I would like to suggest you consider writing an article for a major magazine or newspaper, maybe NYT, on the implications to Jews of accepting/approving o/even advocting torture.There is far more here than would fit in a letter to the editor; maybe an op ed but again, not enough space.
I know 0 about the Israeli media but I bet you do or could find out. There must be one that would publish such an article. What a coup that would be for you and you could call it to the attention of the U.S. and other international media for possible reprint. You would have to give them plenty of credentials and experience to gain their trust and confidence. For an Israeli pub, is your Hebrew their Hebrew and good enough to use in article along with the English version? What about also al-Jazeera? ws [Will Shapira again]
Will, you credit me with far more knowledge about this than I have. I had never heard of Rabbi Broyde before. In fact, when I went to hear him speak, I had no idea what he was going to say about Judaism and the ethics of war. I had intended to possibly raise a question about the Book of Joshua, a particularly brutal conquest, where it was claimed that God ordered the killing of every man, woman, child and beast in some of the cities attacked. But he was so enraging in his comments that Joshua was the least of my concerns. The first article of Broyde's that I read was the one I linked in the previous email. His writings about issues of war and torture have been out for several years now -- in fact, that seems to be how he became publicly known, and probably what led to becoming an invited "scholar-in-residence" here this weekend -- and groups like Rabbis for Human Rights have been aware of him for some time. So I am less than minimally qualified to write such an article about this. I know nothing about Israeli media, but I am sure the issue of torture has been covered there lots more than in American Jewish publications. And my Hebrew? I only went to the Talmud Torah for ten years, and I'd be totally lost in any attempt to understand conversational Hebrew or even read a newspaper.
I think that even though the Israeli Supreme Court issued an opinion outlawing it, the American Jewish establishment has been reluctant to speak out on torture because of Israel. What really upsets me is the local Jewish community. Broyde's first talk was given in the chapel at Beth El Synogogue. I don't know if Darchei Noam rented that space, but any cursory computer search would have revealed Broyde's positions on battlefield ethics, torture, and whatever. And Beth El, of course, was the synagogue that faced a demonstration of about 125-150 people when they invited Condoleezza Rice to speak at one of their big fundraising events in November 2009. They haven't learned. And the Cardozo Society -- a Federation group of lawyers and law students -- the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Minnesota, and the JCC all should have been aware of what this fellow's views on ethics of war were. What Chauoat, the professor who heads up the U's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, says about groups not necessarily holding the views of speakers they invite or sponsor is a hill of beans. These groups wouldn't sponsor some Holocaust denier, now, would they?
I might write a letter to the editor of the AJW and also maybe to some Beth El officials we met with after the Rice appearance. Mordecai reminded me of the response of Jewish community leaders, even of Chabad, when Manis Friedman made some ridiculous comments in Moment magazine a couple of years ago. Even Rabbi Amy Eilberg, who seems much more conciliatory about this situation, spoke out. Of course, with Rabbi Friedman, there was something in writing, but any quick google search will turn up writings of Broyde too. Here's the link to the AJW article Mordecai sent me.
It seems to me that the crux of the problem is that the survivors of the Holocaust, worried that it could occur again, and it could, have treated the Palestinians and other so cruelly and inhumanely out of this fear of recurrence as the Nazis treated the Jews that for those of us to whom the Holocaust can only be an abstraction have the luxury of taking the moral high ground and declaring that while we understand "Never Again," the zealots have a crossed a line that forces us to no longer subscribe to "My Israel, Right or Wrong." ws
I forwarded the string (as far as it had gone by Friday morning) to Rabbi Davis at Beth El, who replied that he had attended the lecture. He didn’t indicate what his response had been.
PF [Phil Freshman, the Beth El congregant whose op-ed in the Strib had alerted us to the Condi Rice appearance]
I thought Rabbi Davis was there. In fact, he might have been the one who led us in the song at the beginning. If that was Rabbi Davis, he didn't ask any questions. Nor did he say anything to me afterwards.
And Coleen, I don't know if you realized it from previous emails, but while Rabbi Broyde was a scholar-in-residence for the Darchei Noam congregation, this first talk was given at Beth El Synagogue. You're familiar with that synagogue from the Condi Rice appearance and the demonstration that eventually resulted after Phil Freshman unsuccessfully raised the issue with Beth El's officials.
Dear Coleen, et al:
It’s mighty late in the academic calendar to get an audience to any new event.
But there would be plenty of time next fall, and I’d be happy to invite Rabbi Chaouat and Chuck to debate the topic, with maybe your buddy Mr. Paulson from UST Law and Barb Frei from UM Law to have an actual, classical debate.
If Rabbi Broyde wanted to attend on his own nickel that might be fine, but I wouldn’t be paying anyone anything. Weeds out the mercenaries and careerists, I learned long ago.
Best Wishes Always,
Justice and Peace Studies program
University of St. Thomas
2115 Summit Ave. (ARC-100)
St. Paul, MN 55116