Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Saturday, May 14, 2016

RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH IN FAVOR OF THE DEATH PENALTY: “WE MUST HATE EVIL.”



No, I do not believe in revenge. I believe in justice. But only a true hatred of evil compels us to fight wickedness with every legitimate means at our disposal.
[The Petit murders: we must hate evil November 10, 2010]

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

            Let us read 2 articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in favor of capital punishment:

The Petit murders: we must hate evil

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach 

  
(William A. Petit Jr., center, surrounded by members of the the Petit and Hawke family, reacts to the sentence given to Steven Hayes, not pictured, following jury deliberations Monday in New Haven, Conn.- AP)
We all owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. William Petit who, in his extreme hour of grief, taught us a valuable lesson about the nature of evil, forgiveness, and the problem of suffering.

No, not what you would expect. In speaking of the man convicted of killing his wife and two daughters, Petit did not deliver an amoral, slobbering speech about forgiving his wife and daughters' murderer and how all suffering teaches us some valuable lesson, enriching us in the process. On the contrary, he said that the murderer deserved his sentence of death and that the loss of his family would leave a gaping hole in his heart that would never close.

What a relief. Finally someone who does not excuse gross evil, who refuses to forgive monstrous acts of human cruelty, and who says that suffering is not only not redeeming but leaves a permanent wound that never heals.

The facts of the case are by now well known. On Nov. 8, 2010, Steven Hayes was convicted of murdering Petit's wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit and received the death penalty. The jury found him guilty for his crimes in a horrific home invasion in Cheshire, Connecticut in 2007 that killed Hawke-Petit and her two daughters. Hayes reportedly raped and choked Hawke-Petit to death while his accomplice Joshua Komisarjevsky is accused of sexually assaulting 11-year-old Michaela and her older sister Hayley who were tied to their beds and raped. Gasoline was then poured on all three victims and the house was set on fire. The verdict was unanimous and came on day four of deliberations. 

Tuesday, on the courthouse steps Dr. William Petit, who was savagely beaten in the attack but survived, said this: "We thank the jury for their diligence and consideration. We feel that it was an appropriate verdict. There is some relief, but my family is still gone. It doesn't bring them back. It doesn't bring back the home that we had."

He spoke eloquently of how, although some of the jagged edges of his heart would smooth over slightly with time, the essential hole in his heart and soul would never close. "It's helpful that justice has been served with an appropriate verdict," he said. "I don't think there's ever closure. I think whoever came up with that concept is an imbecile... And I think many of you know it who have lost a parent or a child or a friend, there's never closure. There's a hole, you know. The way I've imagined it straight through, it's a hole with jagged edges and over time the edges may smooth out a little bit, but the hole in your heart and the hole in your soul is still there. So there's never closure. I was very much insulted when people asked me last year that if the death penalty were rendered would that somehow give me closure. Absolutely not. You know, this is not about revenge."

Over the past few years many of us have lost our moral bearings on the subject of evil and human suffering. Many of my Christian brothers and sisters take Jesus' teachings about forgiving our enemies completely out of context. Jesus said to forgive your enemies. Your enemy is the guy who steals your parking space. But God's enemies are men who can rape and slaughter two young women and their mother and torture them before doing so. In Ecclesiastes King Solomon famously says "there is a time to love and a time to hate." This is that time. We must love the Petit family and hate their murderers. Yes, hatred is a valid emotion when directed at the truly evil.

No, I do not believe in revenge. I believe in justice. But only a true hatred of evil compels us to fight wickedness with every legitimate means at our disposal.

When I lived in England during some of the worst years of the Northern Ireland troubles I once heard a man whose father was killed by the IRA for no reason other than he was a Protestant immediately say that as a Christian he is compelled to love his father's murderers. He said he forgave them for killing his father. But no human being, even the man's son, can confer such forgiveness. The act of taking a human life is a crime against God who created life and endowed it with infinite worth. And such acts of misguided magnanimity and forgiveness make a mockery of human love and a shambles of human justice. Murder in cold blood dare not be forgiven. Murderers who have erased the image of God from their countenance through savage acts of brutality have removed themselves from the human family. They are not our brothers and we are under no obligation to love them. Indeed, any love we have in our hearts must be directed at the victims of violence rather than at their culprits.

Yes, Jesus said 'turn the other cheek.' But is anyone so morally lost as to suggest that he meant if someone rapes your wife, give him your daughter to rape as well? Of course, what Jesus meant was to forgive the petty slights that people enact against you. If a friend pretends not to notice you at a party, forgive them. If your husband loses his temper and yells, yes he must apologize. But be quick to forgive. But Jesus never meant that we should not dedicate ourselves to fighting evil.

Psalm 97 makes it clear. "Let those who love the Lord hate evil." It's repeated again in Proverbs Chap 8: "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." Yes, hatred has its place, but only under a single condition that was met in the terrible Petit murders: the human confrontation with extreme evil.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach heads This World: The Values Network, an organization dedicated to promoting universal Jewish values to heal America. He has just published a book on Jewish spirituality for non-Jews called Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach |  November 10, 2010; 11:50 AM ET


October 18, 2011

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Israel must have a death penalty for terrorists

 
A vehicle carrying Gilad Shalit arrives at the northern village of Mitzpe Hila on Oct. 18. Photo by REUTERS/Nir Elias
No Jew, and indeed no decent person in whom there beats a human heart, could fail to be moved to tears by the reunion of Gilad Shalit and his family in Israel. Looking pale from years of being held in a cell and deprived of sunlight, and extremely shy due to years of being denied virtually all human contact, Israel welcomed home a hero for whom they had traded one thousand murderers, terrorists, and criminals committed to its destruction to keep true to its promise, that no soldier is ever forgotten or left behind.

As Hamas and the Palestinians ululated and celebrated the return to their society of killers who had taken the lives of so many innocent men, women and children guilty of no other sin than going about their daily business, Israel cheered at the restoration of one of its sons who was kidnapped while trying to protect these innocent lives. The conflicting values systems of the two opposing camps – one dedicated to the life and the other, tragically, having been overtaken for decades by a culture of death – could not have been draw in more stark terms than watching our Palestinian brothers and sisters welcoming terrorists home with parades while Israel reembraced a soldier whose first words to the world media, after having been treated like a caged animal for five years, were his hopes for lasting peace. It also goes without saying that when Israel is prepared to trade a thousand predators for one lonely soldier it is because of Israel’s commitment to the infinite value of human life.

Still, the question remains whether the deal was worth it. Much comment has been made both pro and con, so I will here limit myself to a different angle of the story entirely, one that would obviate the need to trade killers for captured soldiers in the future. It is high time that Israel finally instituted a death penalty for terrorists. In the United States Timothy McVeigh, who murdered 160 people in Oklahoma in April, 1995, was dispatched after a fair trial and an appeal with no public outcry whatsoever. No man who takes that many lives may be permitted to live. So why would Israel lock up the most rancid, heartless, and cold-blooded mass murderers in its jails just so that they can serve as a lure for Israelis to be kidnapped in order that these killers be paroled?

A very partial of terrorists now released by Israel, and who were previously fed three warm meals a day in an Israeli prison for years, includes Ibrahim Jundiya, who was serving multiple life sentences for carrying out an attack that killed 12 people and wounded 50. There is Amina Mona, an accomplice to the murder of 16-year-old Ofir Rachum. She lured him over the internet to a meeting where terrorists were waiting to kill him. Jihad Yaghmur and Yehia Sanwar were involved in the abduction and murder of Nachshon Wachsman which also led to the murder of Matkal Unit member, Nir Poraz, head of the rescue mission sent to save him. I am an acquaintance of Nachson’s mother and can only imagine her pain at seeing her son’s killers celebrated as returning conquerors.

Also released are Ahlam Tamimi, the 20-year-old student accomplice to the Sbarros restaurant bombing in 2001 that left fifteen dead and 130 wounded, Aziz Salha who was famously photographed displaying his bloodied hands for the mob crowd below after beating an Israeli soldier to death, and Nasser Yataima who planned the 2002 Passover massacre that killed 30 and wounded 140.

The question this despicable list of the murderers being released begs is this: why were they still alive in the first place? Why were they not given fair and impartial trials and the right to appeal, and if found guilty of murder and especially mass murder, executed by the State?

Some will argue that this will only invite the Arab terror organizations to execute the Israeli prisoners they hold. It is therefore worth recalling that this is what the Palestinian terror organizations do overwhelmingly anyway and that Gilad Shalit is the first living soldier to be returned to Israel in more than a quarter century. In July, 2008, Israel arranged another prisoner exchange in order to obtain the release of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, captured two years earlier, sparking Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, only to tragically discover they had been dead all along.

Others, especially Europeans, will argue that the death penalty is cruel and Israel is more humane for banning it. I disagree. While there is a robust debate here in the United States related to the death penalty over individual acts of murder, there should be no such debate whatsoever when it comes to premeditated mass murder and terrorism. The Europeans powers like Britain and France participated in the execution of Nazi leaders in the Nuremberg trials of 1945-1946, with no compunction whatsoever in mandating state-sponsored executions of mass murderers. Indeed, I argue that it is cruel and unusual punishment against the families of Israel’s terror victims to leave these terrorists alive in Israeli prisons with the families not knowing day to day if they will even serve out their sentences should another Israeli soldier fall into captive hands. The families deserve closure.

For those who argue that if Israel puts its terrorists to death there will be nothing left to bargain with should an Israeli soldier or citizen become captive, I respond that other deals can always be made, be it with money, international pressure, or the exchange of Arab prisoners who are not guilty of terrorism.

And it’s not as if Israel has no precedent in taking the life of a mass murderer, having put to death one abominable soul, the architect of the holocaust itself, Adolph Eichmann, at midnight in a Ramla prison on May 31, 1962. Eichmann’s body was then cremated and his ashes polluting the Mediterranean a day later beyond Israel’s territorial waters. And the last words of one of the most wicked monsters of all time? “I die believing in God.” Let’s make sure that others like him whose crimes make a mockery of G-d meet the same end.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has just published “Ten Conversations You Need to Have with Yourself” (Wiley) and in December will publish “Kosher Jesus” (Gefen). He is in the midst of creating the Global Institute for Values Education (GIVE). Follow him on his website www.shmuley.com and on Twitter @RabbiShmuley. 

© Copyright 2011 Tribe Media Corp.

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