Magazine article The Human Life Review

Israel's Holocaust

Magazine article The Human Life Review

Israel's Holocaust

Article excerpt


[Rabbi Jacob Neusner is a prolific author and professor of religion at the University of South Florida in Tampa and at Bard College, New York. This article first appeared in Christianity Today (Oct. 26, 1998), and is reprinted here with Rabbi Neusner's permission.]

Israel's Holocaust

A Jewish rabbi asks: Why shouldn't abortion in Israel be compared to the mass murder of Jewish children in Hitler's Europe

Jacob Neusner

My heart is broken. Just now, my wife's brother called from Jerusalem. He reported that his son's estranged wife the day before had aborted the baby they conceived two months earlier, on the very eve of the couple's final separation leading to divorce.

No law stood in the way of this act, no argument from morality. The Torah did not intervene. Lacking all legal rights-the child was not murdered, it was deemed a mere protoplasm to which my nephew had contributed-"it" had merely been "removed." The father was not consulted. Had he been, he would have confirmed that he wanted and would take paternal responsibility to raise the child. The grandparents had no say. They would gladly have welcomed the baby and, if asked, would have undertaken to nurture him or her.

Ah! phone calls from Jerusalem! That was not the first time the phone rang with news of fam.ily death in Jerusalem. More than 25 years ago, my brother-in-law called to tell us that my father-in-law had died in Jerusalem. As a tourist, he went swimming in the pool at the King David Hotel and, exhausted after a day of touring, drowned. The only difference was no one pulled him under and held him down. My brother-in-law's voice now, as then, was rich in sadness and pathos.

And why not? this perfectly healthy and normal infant in its mother's womb enjoyed every possibility of life, until the collusion of the mother and her physician took away any chance to live. It was an act of deliberation, with full knowledge of the consequence. I wish I could explain to myself why it is not comparable to an act of murder: deliberate, fully intentional annihilation of the life of another.

We Jews are experienced in suffering murder, and we preserve the memory of the victims and their murderers. …

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