Does the Torah Prescribe Genocide Against the Canaanites?

So one is often told on the basis of statements in the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua, the latter of which is said to describe an actual policy of extermination carried out by the Israelites against the non-Israelite inhabitants of Canaan. But both claims, argues Reuven Kimelman, rest on selective or inaccurate readings:

The popular reading of the [Israelites’ behavior toward the] Canaanites filters it through the prism of Deuteronomy. . . . In actuality, the biblical data are much more ambiguous [than generally assumed], making the most destructive comments the exception, not the rule. . . . With regard to the extermination of the seven nations of Canaan . . . the biblical record is . . . not of one cloth. The clarification of their status in the Bible requires a systematic treatment of all the data book by book. . . . Exodus’ position on the elimination of the Canaanites is a gradual dispossession by God, not by the Israelites.

Read more at Seforim

More about: Canaanites, Deuteronomy, Genocide, Hebrew Bible, Joshua, Religion & Holidays


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy