And Hate the Sinner Too

April 22, 2013 2:15 am 4 comments

The first explosion that rocked the Boston Marathon near the finish line on Monday. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Let me surprise you for a moment. The reason that tragedies, like the outrageous terrorist bombing in Boston this week, continue to take place is not because the world lacks love but rather because it doesn’t have enough hate. Living in a Christian world that teaches us to ‘love the sinner’, we find excuses for evil and refuse to dedicated ourselves fully to its destruction.

North Korea is a case in point. As the young, brutal, dictator Kim Jong Un threatens the world with nuclear Armageddon, we continue to make him the but of late-night jokes. As the world stood by and watched, North Korea launched a satellite into space in December of last year and conducted another nuclear test this past February. It has vocalized its plans to attack the United States with nuclear weapons and is building missiles to achieve that end.

Still, we refuse to hate the man, depicting him rather as a moron who watches movies with Dennis Rodman. Visiting North Korea in February, the NBA space alien called Un “a friend for life” and announced plans to “have some fun” with Un again in August, saying he “just wants to be loved”. Through all this one of the world’s deadliest dictators inspires laughter rather than loathing, engendering entertainment rather than contempt. Forget the fact that his father starved 3 million people to death in order to feed his million-man army, a policy that the young monster continues, or that he terrorizes South Korea and the rest of the region. It’s an amazing thing. To be part of a regime that has slaughtered millions of people and to remain a fun curiosity to the rest of the world rather than an object of the deepest revulsion.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also regularly portrayed as, at worst, a clown and is given podiums at America’s leading Universities. Iran adds to this comedy with its foreign ministry recently scolding both America and North Korea to use restraint and not promote “provocative behavior.” As foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, “We think that the event that is intensifying between North Korea, South Korea and the United states should be controlled as soon as possible. Both parties should not move toward a corner in which there is a threatening climate.” Our reaction to such absurdity is to look upon the evil and lethal regime of Iran as a collection of buffoons. But make no mistake. They are deadly serious.

Sadly, the refusal to hate evil has become de regeur in world diplomacy. Speaking of the arch-murderer Hafez Al Assad at the time of his death, President Clinton said, “I have met him many times and gotten to know him very well. We had our difference, but I always respected him.” Respected the man who mowed down thousands of his own people with tanks in Hama? And was your refusal to abhor the man perhaps responsible for why his son thinks he can get away with the same thing?

Forgetting how to hate can be just as damaging as forgetting how to love. Immersed as we are in a Christian culture that exhorts us to “turn the other cheek,” this can sound quite absurd. Yet exhortations to hate all manner of evil abound in our Bible. God Himself hates every form of wickedness as harmful to mankind. Thus the book of Proverbs declares, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” Likewise, King David declares regarding the cruel: “I have hated them with a deep loathing. They are as enemies to me.”

Hatred is a valid emotion, an appropriate response, when directed at the truly evil. Contrary to Christianity, which advocates turning the other cheek to belligerence and loving the wicked, Judaism obligates us to despise and resist evil at every turn. In my book “Kosher Jesus” I explain that Jesus said to “love your enemies,” not God’s enemies. The former are those who steal your parking space. The latter are those engaged in genocide. Likewise, when Jesus said “turn the other cheek,” he meant to petty slights and insults, not to mass murder.

When I served as Rabbi at Oxford the BBC had me discussing the tragic bombing of a gay pub that killed three people. I referred to the bomber as a wicked abomination. On the line was President Clinton’s spiritual advisor at the time, Pastor Tony Campolo, who cautioned that we had to love the bomber in the spirit of compassion and forgiveness. In England I remember so vividly as victims of IRA terrorist attacks, who lost fathers or husbands, often immediately announced their forgiveness and love for the murderers.

This is insane.

The individual who, motivated by irrational hatred, chooses to murder innocent victims is irretrievably wicked, has cast off the image of God from his countenance, has irreversibly compromised his humanity, and has forfeited his place in the global human community. Of the terrorists who bombed innocent runners in Boston I say we have an obligation to destroy them before they destroy us.

Amid my deep respect for the Christian faith, I state unequivocally that to love the terrorist who bombs a marathon or the white supremacist who drags a black man three miles behind a car, is not just stupid, it is deeply sinful. To love evil is itself evil and constitutes a passive form of complicity.

The Talmud certainly teaches that the object of hatred should be the sin, not the sinner, whose life must be respected and whose repentance effected. The Bible teaches that it is forbidden to rejoice at the downfall of even those sinners whom it is proper to hate: “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth.”

However, this attitude does not apply to impenitent and inveterate monsters who pay no heed to correction. For us to extend forgiveness and compassion to them in the name of religion is not just insidious, it is a mockery of God who has mercy for all yet demands justice for the innocent. To show kindness to the murderer is to violate the victim yet again.

I am waiting for an American political leader of either party, in the wake of a tragedy like Boston, to stand up and say, “America hates terrorists and will pursue them to the corners of the globe to purge them from the earth.” President Obama’s comments, by contrast, that “We will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable,” could have been said about someone who painted graffiti on a subway. It just isn’t strong enough.

Yes, I know the old Bob Dylan song, that if we take an eye for an eye we’ll just end up blind. But hating evil is not revenge but rather about upholding the infinite value of life and preserving justice.

The immorality and stupidity of pacifism is something that even brilliant men can get wrong, most notably Albert Einstein. “I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist.” He believed that the moral nations of the world should disarm, that is until Hitler started putting children in gas chambers. It was then that he alerted President Roosevelt, in August of 1939, to the imperative of the United States getting an atomic bomb before Germany.

Let us never forget the immortal words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books and the winner of the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary. He was the London Times Preacher of the Year at the Millennium and has just published “The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering”. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

4 Comments

  • America has ahd trouble in calling a spade a spade.
    Prior to the Civil War this was by far not such a prevalent attitude.
    After that War and the attempt to reintegrate a nation writing and rhetoric morphed into the gray from which it has never emerged.
    In the late 20th century the language of racism too was reconstructed ala David Duke into more ‘politically digestable’ euphemisms.
    Whether from the political right or left..the language of gray is reemerging..It is still hate.
    The All-inclusiveness that says ‘we are all the same’ ties us all to the terrorists and haters-This in an attempt to whitewash reality…and paint us all with the same amoral immoral brush.

  • “Amid my deep respect for the Christian faith”

    Rabbi, you have deep respect for the christian faith? did you carefully choose the words “christian faith’? Last I checked, Christians wantonly murdered thousands of Jews.

    So are you contradicting yourself? Or is respecting a murder okay if it happened a long time ago ?

  • Bathsheva Gladstone

    Great Article! Thank you Rabbi Shmuley. And I absolutely agree with you 150%. When they caught the terrorist in Boston, I was greatly relieved and happy, yet sickened by all the over the top glee and celebrating in the streets. It seemed a bit like a lynch mob lining the streets playing with its caught prey.

  • Great article Shmuley!

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.