Monday, March 28, 2016


Don't trust
The headlines


A HEADLINE ON THE ISRAEL HAYOM teaser page reads Don't let non-Jews live in Israel.

The person cited for the statement, R. Yitzhak Yosef, the Sefardi chief rabbi of Israel, has some political power in the Israeli parliament (Knesset) so his statement deserves attention.


     What was written BENEATH the inflammatory headline belied the headline writer's words.

ONCE PAST THE HEADLINE we learn that Yitzhak Yosef said:

    "According to Jewish religious law, gentiles are forbidden from living in the Land of Israel, unless they have accepted the Seven Noahide Laws," Yosef said. "If they refuse, they are sent to Saudi Arabia."

The article continued: According to the Talmud, the Noahide Laws are precepts that must be obeyed even by non-Jews. They include prohibitions on blasphemy, murder, illicit relations, and eating from live animals.

Just what ARE those seven laws? From The Seven Laws of Noah the laws are:

  1. Sexual transgression
  2. Murder
  3. Theft
  4. Idolatry
  5. Cursing the Name
  6. Eating the limb of a living animal
  7. System of justice

The cited site (ibid.) provides an explanation for each of the seven laws.

As far as sending non-believers to Saudi Arabia, I'm not certain where the rabbi got his information, but to the best of my limited knowledge, the kingdom didn't exist until 1932 (see The Founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia published o0n the kingdom's Tokyo embassy web site).

In other words, the rabbi didn't pull his "send them to Saudia" from a Biblical or Talmudic source. In any event, given the kingdom's religious stance, it is unlikely a person who rejected the seven laws would live for long there.

The so-called Noahide Laws mostly are laws of civilized society. Well, mostly. There are a great many people who devour live animals (mostly fish and crustaceans) and jails are full of thieves and murderers, but the IDEA of the seven laws seems sound. At least non-Jews were exempt from the 613 laws Jews - in Israel and elsewhere - are obligated, at least in part. (No Jew, no matter how pious, can fulfill all 613 laws.)

I worked for many years as a newspaper reporter and editor; I wrote more than a few headlines, but I cannot recall even one that was so inflammatory that it stretched the truth quite as far as the headline writer's effort on this article.

We expect as much from the supermarket tabloids and the network (and local) talking heads (news writers and "anchors" - news readers). It's unfortunate when a publication that gives the impression of being all about "real" news gives its head writers license to inflame.

Bottom line: Don't stop reading (listening) at the headline; get the whole story before making a decision or taking an action.

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