Menu JTA Search

Orthodox Rabbi Says Draft Law Should Recognize Selective Conscientious Objection

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

A leading Orthodox rabbi and educator has called for an amendment to the draft law to allow for selective conscientious objection because he considers the United States participation in the Viet Nam war immoral, a stand in contradiction with that of major American Orthodox groups. Rabbi Aaron Soloveitchik, dean of the Hebrew Theological College of Skokie, III., told the national convention of Yavneh, the Orthodox Jewish students association, that “it is immoral that the United States Government will recognize objections only if expressed as unqualified opposition to all wars.” He told the 300 college students that while traditional Judaism teaches that participation in “just wars” — such as wars of self-defense — is a religious obligation, it also considers participation in “unjust wars” as “immoral and barbarous.” Rabbi Soloveitchik’s address was a highlight of a five-day study seminar on the Jewish position on war The rabbinical scholar also told the students that statements of national Orthodox groups notwithstanding, American participation in the Viet Nam war was immoral.

Rabbi Soloveitchik condemned draft evasion and affirmed the right of any soldier to defend himself on the field of battle but he declared that no soldier in Viet Nam may participate in missions likely to result in injury or death to civilians, such as indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas.

NEXT STORY