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A Jewish View on War and Morality
Shlomo M. Brody
What does it mean to fight an ethical war? This has become an essential question as Israel defends itself on the battlefield and in the court of public opinion.After centuries of military powerlessness, Jews in the 20th century began to ask themselves fundamental questions of military ethics. Wars – including current conflicts in Israel – are inherently brutal. How, then, should Jews respond to the great Arab revolt? What does Judaism say about the bombing of Dresden, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, or how to push the British out of the land of Israel? Is “land for peace” a moral option? What about preemptive attacks in 1967 or after 9/11? Can we fight terrorists in urban settings while protecting our soldiers, avoiding non-combatants, and preserving our public image?Ethics of Our Fighters tells the story of these political dilemmas and moral debates. It draws from the pivotal historical moments of the last one hundred years to weave together the most important ideas of contemporary ethicists with the insights of the greatest rabbinic scholars. This book systemically presents, for the first time, a holistic Jewish perspective on military ethics. Jews and non-Jews alike, from the halls of Congress and West Point to batei midrash and IDF bases, can draw from Jewish wisdom on these life-and-death matters. This worldview that is at once distinctly Jewish and more broadly insightful can help all civilized nations fight wisely and act nobly.