Rabbi Manis Friedman’s response

Ben Harris has a story about the controversy over Rabbi Manis Friedman’s statements in Moment magazine. Here’s the rabbi’s full clarification (distributed by Chabad) [UPDATE: The statement has been revised by Rabbi Friedman to make clear that he was not blaming Moment for the misunderstanding]:

I would like to clarify the answer published in my name in last month’s issue of Moment Magazine.

First of all, the opinions published in my name are solely my own, and do not represent the official policy of any Jewish movement or organization.

Additionally, my answer, as written, is misleading.

It is obvious, I thought, that any neighbor of the Jewish people should be treated, as the Torah commands us, with respect and compassion. Fundamental to the Jewish faith is the concept that every human being was created in the image of G-d, and our sages instruct us to support the non-Jewish poor along with the poor of our own brethren.

The sub-question I chose to address instead is: how should we act in time of war, when our neighbors attack us, using their women, children and religious holy places as shields. I attempted to briefly address some of the ethical issues related to forcing the military to withhold fire from certain people and places, at the unbearable cost of widespread bloodshed (on both sides!) — when one’s own family and nation is mercilessly targeted from those very people and places.

Furthermore, some of the words I used in my brief comment were irresponsible, and I look forward to further clarifying them in a future issue.

I apologize for any misunderstanding my words created.

– Rabbi Manis Friedman

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