There have been and will continue to be Jewish terrorists who use their religion to justify murder, but the difference between Jewish jihad and Islamic jihad is that only in Islam is jihad a legitimate expression of the faith.
It is true that there have been religious Jews like Baruch Goldstein, who gunned down 29 Muslim worshipers and wounded more than 125 others before being beaten to death in 1994. And it is true that his epitaph reads, “He gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land.”
And it is true that in 2009, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi wrote a book in Hebrew entitled “The King’s Torah,” in which he made outrageous statements like, “Hurting small children makes sense if it's clear that they'll grow up to harm us, and in such a situation – the injury will be directed at them of all people.” And he did this in the name of Jewish law.
And it is true that Jewish extremists in Israel have chanted “Death to the Arabs,” especially in the aftermath of atrocities committed against their own people – especially children – by Muslim terrorists.
And it is true that Yitkhak Ginzburg, an ultra-Orthodox Israeli rabbi, responded to the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers with calls for revenge, stating, “Revenge is a natural, spontaneous reaction, and it is led by a feeling that until I find the power to hurt whoever has hurt me I will not experience revival.”
The difference, however, between orthodox expressions of Judaism and orthodox expressions of Islam is that these murderous sentiments and actions represent the rarest exception in Judaism while they represent a common theme in Islam, both in ideology and in practice.
How many organizations are found in Judaism that parallel substantial Muslim groups like Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, or ISIS?
How many religious Jews studying in yeshivas are trained in the art of blowing themselves up with bombs?
How many rabbinic texts (in comparison with Koranic texts) can legitimately be used to justify the murder of innocent people in the name of holy war?
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.