Osama Bin Laden: Was Justice Done?

On nights like this one, we can say to those families who lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: justice has been done (President Obama, May 1, 2011)

I can’t say that.

In Jewish tradition, there are two different terms for “justice.” The first is mishpat, which is generally understood to mean “retributive justice.” In other words, we apply mishpat when we settle our disputes by right rather than by might, through due process of law rather than by resorting to revenge or vigilantism. Jewish – as well as American – values teach that law must be held in the highest regard by any community that considers itself a free society.

By this standard, justice was certainly not done when bin Laden was summarily executed by extra-judicial assassination. Many American leaders have repeated that terrorists have declared war on American values. What does it mean, then, when we fight them by betraying the very values of justice that we purport to uphold?

Louise Richardson, whose book “What Terrorists Want” is the wisest book on terrorism I’ve ever read, hits right it on the head:

Had we captured bin Laden alive and then resisted the very human urge to exact revenge and instead handed him over to an international court of impeccable rectitude and reputation for trial on charges against humanity, we would have deprived him of glory and demonstrated, even to the skeptical, the vast difference between his values and ours (p. 198)

(Though I hold tight to this moral conviction, I have no illusions that trying bin Laden in an international court would have been anywhere near the realm of political possibility. Just last month, the White House gave up on its intention to try accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in a New York civilian court. Attorney General Eric Holder now says Mohammed and four other 9/11 terror suspects will face a military trial at, you guessed it, Guantanamo Bay.)

The other word for justice is tzedek, or “distributive justice.” According to this definition, we promote justice whenever we strive to eradicate the inequities in our society, be they imbalances of wealth, power, or privilege.

By this measure, our execution of bin Laden represents the tragic failure of imagination that our government calls the “War on Terror.” We are sadly deluded if we believe we will end terror through the force of our military might. We will never fully eradicate terrorism – but we can certainly mitigate it by taking responsibility for the ways our nation may be contributing to the global injustices that create breeding grounds for terrorists around the world.

Now that we’ve killed bin Laden, are we ready to have a real national conversation about the hundreds of military bases our country maintains around the world, our ongoing wars in three Middle Eastern countries, and our unconditional military support for Israel’s occupation? For all of the billions of dollars we are pouring into our national military machine, might we be prepared to contemplate, as Richardson suggests, “the adoption of a comprehensive development agenda to address the underlying or permissive causes of terrorism?” (p. 221)

No, I do not believe justice, in any sense of the word has been achieved here. Visceral satisfaction, relief or grim pleasure, perhaps, but not justice.

44 thoughts on “Osama Bin Laden: Was Justice Done?

  1. Shirin

    The United States government murdered Bin Laden without any due process whatsoever, placing the United States government at his level, and not one whit better than he was.

    Realistically this is nothing new for United States government. Would anyone care to guess how many innocent Iraqis the United States slaughtered in their various attempts to murder Saddam Hussein, who had never posed any threat to the U.S.? Well, in just one of a number of such attempts they dropped a couple of one ton bombs on a residential neighborhood based on a rumour that Saddam might be in one of the buildings, callously snuffing out the lives of around 30 innocent Iraqi men. women, and children, including one entire Christian family of five who were buried alive while merely trying to spend a quiet evening in their home.

    The murder of bin Laden was not justice for anyone.

  2. Dave Denoon

    When I have told my parishioners in the past that it matters little to me who the President is, because not one President has ever made my work any easier, I have noticed that they look at me with a strong amount of incredulity. I’m going to point them toward this post, for the sake of clarifying my message from now on. (Thank you, Brant!) Though President Obama may look and speak like my preferred image of a President, the fact is I’m back to Square One now, helping my folks with the understanding that his definition of justice in this case lacks the qualities of justice we claim to represent.

  3. Howard Ellegant

    The characterization of the Bin Laden’s death as murder or execution does not serve either the concept of justice nor the reality of war and terrorism. The death of Bin Laden at the hands of U.S. military was not murder. Bin Laden according to reports chose to resist and was shot and killed when he did. Bin Laden masterminded and had crimes against humanity committed in his name. If we agree he should have been tried for these then we must consider how to bring him to the bar. An attempt was made to bring Bin Laden to face the world in judgement. He chose to not come along.

    1. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author


      We’ll have to respectfully agree to disagree on this one. To my mind, the way this was handled might serve “the reality of war and terrorism,” but not justice.

      Forgive my cynicism, but I don’t believe these Navy Seals were attempting to “bring bin Laden to the bar.” We have every reason to doubt our government’s version of what transpired during this operation, especially since it’s long been confirmed that the CIA offered Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban opposition leaders a substantial bounty on Osama bin Laden’s head several years ago. Indeed, Bill Clinton has long since admitted that the CIA made secret attempts to assassinate bin Laden in 1998.

      I have no illusions how these things work in the “real world.” I can accept this but I cannot call it justice.

  4. Richard Kahn

    “In Jewish tradition, there are two different terms for ‘justice.’ The first is mishpat, which is generally understood to mean ‘retributive justice.'”

    Contrast with:
    “Great is vengeance since it has been set between two names, as it says, God of vengeance, O Lord” (BT Berachot 33a)

    Incidentally, I agree with you on this topic. Justice wasn’t really served, and the partying after a man’s death was really unseemly. That said, “Jewish tradition” does not strictly adhere to your political beliefs.

      1. Ross

        It is basic to both biblical and rabbinic theology to distinguish between those traits of God that we are intended to imitate and those traits that are reserved for God alone and for us to imitate would be idolatry.
        In the stories in Genesis, such as the garden, Noah, Babel, Sodom, etc, acting upon one of God’s exclusive traits or attempting to enter the exclusive purview of God is a definite no no. One interpretation of the story of the garden is that humans are not to presume the knowledge of using evil means to produce good ends. Abraham is called to be a blessing and to leave the cursing to God.

      2. Richard Kahn

        Your reading of Genesis is slightly forced and broad. Any claim that something is “basic to both biblical and rabbinic theology” is autonomically suspect.
        But even if I give you that, you’ll have to deal with everything written by the Deuteronomist. Good luck getting vengeance-free universalism from that.

      3. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author


        I think you are confusing matters here. Jewish tradition makes it very clear that vengeance is in the purview of God and not human beings. It is very clear that taking vengeance is not considered an appropriate form of human behavior except in the most rarified circumstances.

        The most basic proscription against taking revenge can be found in Leviticus 19:18, where we read:

        You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself: I am the Lord.

        On the other hand, it is true that God is often described as a “God of Vengeance” in the Torah – the most famous example occurs in Exodus in the Song at the Sea. As you point out, it also occurs throughout Deuteronomy, as well as in the Talmud citation you quoted. But in these cases, it is God exclusively who is associated with vengeance. Nowhere is it suggested that it is a trait that we should emulate. Quite the contrary, as the Leviticus verse makes clear. It might be suggested that calling God a “God of Vengeance,” as troubling as this term might be for some, only indicates that human beings should never resort to vengeance on their own.

        You ask: shouldn’t we emulate God? The answer is certainly yes in many celebrated instances. In a famous midrash from the Talmud we read:

        R. Hama son of R. Hanina further said: What means the text: “You shall walk after God” (Deuteronomy 13)? Is it, then, possible for a human being to walk after God; for has it not been said: “For God is a devouring fire” (Deuteronomy 4)? But [the meaning is] to walk after the attributes of the Holy One. Just as God clothes the naked, as it says, “And God made garments of skins for Adam and his wife, and clothed them” (Genesis 3), so do you also clothe the naked. The Holy One, blessed be God, visited the sick, for it is written: “And God appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre” (Genesis 18), so do you also visit the sick. The Holy One, blessed be God, comforted mourners, for it is written: “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son” (Genesis 25), so do you also comfort mourners. The Holy one, blessed be God, buried the dead, for it is written: “And God buried him in the valley” (Deuteronomy 34), so do you also bury the dead. (BT Sotah 14a)

        This list, however, is not exhaustive. Certain traits are in the purview of God alone. Nowhere in Jewish tradition do we read, for instance, that we should take revenge because God is a God of vengeance. If you can come up with such an example, I’d be very interested to see it.

      4. Richard Kahn

        See Numbers 31:2:
        1. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
        2. Avenge the people of Israel of the Midianites; afterwards shall you be gathered to your people.
        3. And Moses spoke to the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves for the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and do the Lord’s vengeance in Midian.

        Note the “do the Lord’s vengeance.” This is clearly a situation in which God tells the people to act vengefully.

        Also see Jeremiah 46:10, Psalm 149.

        You’re right that I can’t find specific instances of a Jewish text saying that because God is vengeful, so, too, should we be vengeful. And of course, Ross is right that there are ample powers reserved to God. But isn’t it a bit theologically inconsistent to hold that God holds a trait that is contrary to “Jewish values”?

        Also note that the pshat of your pasuk from Leviticus is that it refers exclusively to Jews. That’s not to say that it hasn’t been fairly consistently interpreted in a universalistic way, but the original context was probably particularistic.

        And just a postscript, lest I come off as a Kahanist.

        Why don’t we just all admit that “Jewish tradition” takes no position on almost anything? My point is not that Judaism endorses vengeance. We have texts that very clearly decry vengeance, as that Pardes article brings. We have texts that very clearly argue for vengeance. This is true of almost anything. “Jewish values” is such an ambiguous term, that I’m not even sure it should ever be used.

    1. Aaron M.

      There is a legitimate debate within the Jewish sources, both biblical, rabbinic and medieval about the permissibility of rejoicing at the downfall of our enemy. Within the book of Proverbs there is an internal contradition about whether or not a Jew can sing shira when their enemy perishes. The Gemara attempts to reconcile that apparent contradiction in Megillah 16a which asks how it was possible for Mordechai to kick Haman when he mounted his horse. The gemara says there that this concept of not rejoicing only applies for a Jew. Also, the discussion of the angels not being able to sing shira at the yam suf almost must factor in here. The important factor in this discussion is exactly what Richard is stating; the Jewish tradition is multi-vocal, multi-faceted and much too complex to make clean, neat dichotomies as you do.

      1. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author


        I agree that Jewish tradition is multi-vocal and multi-faceted. But at the end of the day, after all the academic arguments are over, we are faced with a choice: which voice in Jewish tradition will I heed? The voice that tells me to rejoice at the downfall of my enemy or the voice that asks me to refrain, lest I lose my own humanity? The voice that commands me to take vengeance against my enemies, or the voice that commands me to pursue justice and create societies that respect the rule of law?

        As for me, I’ve made it clear here which voice I have chosen to heed – and I make no apologies for it.

    2. Eric Selinger


      At the risk of making Jewish tradition sound like the Apple Store (“there’s a pasuk for that”), your follow-up comment here about choosing which voice in the tradition to heed strikes me as pretty determinative.

      “Jewish tradition” is a way of saying things. It gives a vocabulary, a set of proof texts, and a shared conversation to join. It does very little to determine the content of one’s decisions or values; rather, it gives a shape and idiom to those decisions and values.

      (In this, it’s probably not all that different from other religious traditions, which people use to justify and articulate all sorts of contrasting, mutually-contradictory things.)

      As for “emulating God,” since everything that we humans say about God is a human construction, what we’re really talking about here is projecting an ideal or set of ideals onto the divine screen, and then emulating that. Stands to reason that we’d find contrasting ideals to choose among; these statements tell us a lot about ourselves, and nothing about God as such.

      “I form the light, and create darkness; I create peace and make evil; I the LORD do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7)

      1. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author


        Well put. But even if what we call “God” is a human projection of a wide spectrum of ideas, ideals, aspirations, fears, etc, those of us who ascribe to religious tradition will ultimately make choices about where they stand in this continuum. “Determinative” perhaps, but at the end of the day, you gotta stand for somethin’…

  5. Nancy Bruski

    Right again…however, I must admit I can’t help but feel somewhat pleased that this will help Obama burnish his “strong president” and “tough on terrorism” credentials for the 2012 election. This is such a tough, complex situation. Allegedly, IF Bin Laden had “given up and surrendered,” the Navy Seals would have captured him…but of course that wasn’t likely. So practically speaking, how could they have captured him alive and gotten him to trial?

    But your points are, as always, very well taken. I found my relief and pleasure in this mixed with guilt…

    1. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author


      Practically speaking, I’m sure the Seals could have captured bin Laden alive. If he resisted violently, of course they’d be justified in defending themselves.

      As I replied to Howard above, I simply don’t believe the administration’s narrative about what went down in this operation. The White House has already changed its story – admitting that he wasn’t armed, as they had reported earlier.

      My point is, if their goal was to execute him all along, then just admit it – but don’t try and claim that this was somehow “justice.”

  6. Dave

    In a war soldiers kill soldiers without ‘arresting’ them. Bin Laden considered himself a soldier.

    During WWII the US deliberately targeted and killed Admiral Yamamoto, the planner of the attack on Pearl Harbour. Nobody, rabbi or otherwise objected then. I see no reason to object now.

    1. Eric Greenberg

      Dave, it’s not about Bin Laden or Yamamoto. It’s about us. Justice is never about the crime or the criminal. It’s about the society that seeks to show it’s values are better than the perpetrators. While no one should cry for Bin Laden, it’s sad that we again miss an opportunity to show our system is superior to his fanaticism. Trials were given to Goering and a variety of the Nazi leadership.

      Rabbi Brant is correct that it has sadly become politically “unrealistic” to have a trial in NYC. Though, such an event would have been a statement of true justice and respect for our own system.

  7. Howard Ellegant

    New details came to light. Now it is reported Bin Laden was unarmed. Could he have been captured? Was an unarmed combatant summarily executed? Have to wait and see when (if) more details are made public. Justice in anyone’s definition was not served. On tonite’s PBS The News Hour I the Rev. Janet Vincent captured my sentiment best when she said the death of Bin Laden was “… an important day (for America)…” bringing some sense of closure to 9/11.

  8. Thomas Bauer

    this last act turns things upside down, turns the death of a terrorist almost into a victory of terrorism: the West, the “Enlightened World”, who has written the Code of Human Rights into their Constitution, has abandoned all the principles, and fights terrorists (not even terrorism in this case!) with measures which contradict these principles.
    Can America – and the other countries (among them my country) who applaud this “kill” – ever convince anybody in this world that Human Rights cannot be negotiated, but that they are the foundation of Enlightenment? Can they convince me that the Human Rights Charta is the basis of our society?
    This commando action is a blow to all mankind, not only to terrorism. You are right, Rabbi: this was not justice, but vengeance. And there is no reason to be happy.

  9. Anne Ryan

    Bless you and your wise words that I wish could be heard and understood all over the world!!!

  10. Avrohom

    When Haman was determined to destroy the Jewish people, under the leadership of Mordechai and Esther the Jews repented, prayed to HaShem and the miracle of Purim ensued. When the Jews were able to kill their enemies on the 13th day of Adar, Mordechai asked the King permission that in Shushan another day be allowed to kill more of their enemies. When wicked and evil people are bent on destroying you it is clearly permissable and obligatory to kill them first. The Talmud says that if one comes to kill you, get up and kill him first. There is no question that a madman like Bin Laden fit into that category.

    1. Eric Greenberg

      You do no that never actually happened, right? And that the Rabbis had a lot of moral issues with Purim.

  11. Luca S.

    Just stumbled into this discussion while on a Google search. My question is – why, why, oh why in the world people now keeps the name of admiral Yamamoto in the same sentences as Osama bin Laden? Osama was a religious nut and a criminal – adm. Yamamoto was an honourable and brave man who admired the US, opposed the war as long as possible, and “masterminded” the Pearl Harbour attack out of duty for his country (and, to be honest – “masterminded” it using the same blueprint set by the Brits in their sneak attack to the Italian navy base in Taranto in 1940)

  12. Israel Gershon

    I think Justice is not really the issue here, and there is no need to raise it. When at war the issue is not justice but defense. Soldiers fight, follow orders, and kill, all in the name of defending their country or countrymen. It is only after the war has ended that the issue of how to justly deal with prisoners and those who lead them becomes an issue. After Germany surrendered, there was no mass killing of nazis, but there were trials and the world sought justice. During a war, the generals, the dictators, the leaders, are all fair target. After the war is over, such killings would be wrong and it would be necessary to seek justice for any crimes that they may have committed through courts and legal proceedings.

    1. Shirin

      I think Justice is not really the issue here, and there is no need to raise it.

      Given that President Obama DID raise the issue of justice by pronouncing that justice has been done, there IS a need for this kind of conversation, whether it be in a religious or any other context.

      I find it quite telling that you, among others here and elsewhere, are not even attempting to argue whether justice was or was not done, but taking the position that justice is not the issue. That suggests that you do not, in fact, accept President Obama’s pronouncement of justice.

  13. Harry Goldin

    Nice try you all to justify your stance on whether or not Bin Laden should or should not have been killed using sources from the Torah. You can be a “holy” Monday morning quarterback and make pronouncements of what should have been done, but you were not there making split second decisions. Even if the decision was made ahead of time to kill him, we do not know all the factors involved in the calculus of the decision. As for Torah, no one mentioned the command to kill Amalek.

    1. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author


      I wasn’t trying to determine whether or not bin Laden should have been killed according to the Torah. I was asking whether or not this killing constituted justice, as Obama had claimed.

      I don’t disagree that those who carried out this operation had to make “split second decisions,” but I don’t think we should delude ourselves into thinking that “to kill or not to kill?” was one of those decisions. Our government has long placed a bounty on bin Ladens’s head and has admitted openly that it has sought to assassinate him.

      And I don’t believe it’s “Monday morning quarterbacking” to ask questions that hold our government accountable for actions it takes in our name.

  14. Stewart Mills (Sydney)

    Brant I thought you would like Uri Avnery’s response:

    ““REJOICE NOT when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth, / Lest the Lord see [it], and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.”.

    This is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible (Proverbs 24:17-18), and indeed in the Hebrew language. It is beautiful in other languages , too, though no translation comes close to the beauty of the original.

    Of course, it is natural to be glad when one’s enemy is defeated, and the thirst for revenge is a human trait. But gloating – schadenfreude – is something different altogether. An ugly thing.

    Ancient Hebrew legend has it that God got very angry when the Children of Israel rejoiced as their Egyptian pursuers drowned in the Red Sea. “My creatures are drowning in the sea,” God admonished them, “And you are singing?”

    These thoughts crossed my mind when I saw the TV shots of jubilant crowds of young Americans shouting and dancing in the street. Natural, but unseemly. The contorted faces and the aggressive body language were no different from those of crowds in Sudan or Somalia. The ugly sides of human nature seem to be the same everywhere.”

    1. Shirin

      …TV shots of jubilant crowds of young Americans shouting and dancing in the street…The contorted faces and the aggressive body language were no different from those of crowds in Sudan or Somalia. The ugly sides of human nature seem to be the same everywhere.

      Important observation, Stewart Mills. When it comes down to it Americans are no different in that respect than the “uncivilized, hate-filled Ayrabs” they so love to look down on, except that Americans have the capacity to wreak orders of magnitude more death, devastation, and destruction than their “uncivilized” counterparts.

      1. Steve

        I respectfully differ with your assessment of the nature of Americans.

        What you see in this case is jubilation in knowing that the guy responsible for minimally killing 3000 people and destroying major buildings in New York and causing major damage to the pentagon is dead.  I think this is OK because it is actually not a celebration of death rather a celebration of success.

        The celebrators probably have friends, family or maybe even themselves who are serving  or recently served in the U.S. military.

        These shouts of USA is celebrating the success of the military operation that was superbly done with no U.S. casualties.   This would have occurred if Osama Bin Laden was captured alive.

        They weren’t shouting death to anyone or burning any flags or religious symbols or burning anything else in effigy which is typically done in the other countries which you are using for comparison.

        I personally don’t care if he was taken dead or alive.  He deserved what he got.  I also feel great pride for this military victory.  Maybe the U.S. can do attitude of the WWII generation will come back as a result.

        My only concern is that this is not used as a distraction for not fixing the economy, creating jobs, and improving the lives of Americans who are in financial despair.

        May all of us Americans always celebrate who we are in all of our different ways.

      2. Shirin

        They weren’t shouting death to anyone…

        Are you sure about that? Maybe they weren’t shouting death to anyone because they were celebrating the death of someone, but it sure seems to me under the circumstances that shouting and writing things like “rot in hell Usama” on their bodies is the equivalent of shouting death to someone. And are you telling me that in the years since 9/11 you have not heard plenty of shouts of “death to someone”, or seen signs saying “death to someone”? I have seen and heard these things up close and personal in the United States, including in the very liberal/progressive area in which I live. I even have photographs of a few such signs.

        …burning any flags or religious symbols or burning anything else in effigy which is typically done in the other countries which you are using for comparison.

        Steve, I respectfully suggest that you really don’t know what is “typically done” in the countries I am using for comparison because all you really know about it is the very limited and biased information you receive from the media and government sources.

        Maybe they didn’t burn flags because Usama bin Laden was not a representative of a country with a flag, but a non-state criminal.

        How do you know no religious symbols were desecrated in word or deed?

        You’ve never seen flags or religious symbols or effigies desecrated in the United States? Really? I have. You’ve never heard or seen hate-speech against Arabs and Muslims or Arab and Muslim countries in the United States? I have. You’ve never seen Arabs or Muslims subjected to hateful behavior by United States citizens and officials? I have, and I’ve seen it all in person.

        Americans collectively are no better than any other group of people when it comes to this type of behavior except that they have the ability – and the will – to wreak orders of magnitude more death and devastation when they decide some group or individual “needs killin'”. They also invent enemies, in order to serve purposes other than national security (Iraqi WMD’s anyone, Iran as nuclear threat, Syria as the personification of evil, anyone?), and destroy entire countries (Iraq, anyone?) that have never posed a threat.

      3. Richard Kahn

        Your comment is also very hateful. “Americans have the capacity to wreak orders . . .” is a generalization of a nationality, and should not be acceptable rhetoric.

      4. Shirin

        My only concern is that this is not used as a distraction for not fixing the economy, creating jobs, and improving the lives of Americans who are in financial despair.

        That is by a long shot not my only concern, but it is most certainly a concern we share.

        American foreign and military policy is badly, badly broken, has been for a long time, and is the root cause of most of the problems facing “ordinary Americans” today, not to mention most of the rest of the world. Sadly, and predictably for those of us who were paying attention during the campaign, Obama is not, and never was the person to repair the situation. For the record, neither was any of the other viable candidates.

        As long as America pursues its military, economic, and political imperial ambitions it will justifiably remain a target of worldwide antipathy, and American people will suffer economically, intellectually, and morally/ethically.

    2. Shirin

      So, Steve, are you saying that painting things like “burn in hell Usama” on their bodies, and shouting a variety of crud slogans are merely Americans’ way of celebrating success and congratulating their military for killing efficiently enough to avoid U.S. casualties? And are you saying that the very grim expression on the face of the fellow in the photo at the top of this page is one of jubilation, and not hatred?

      OK. I guess I just really do not understand American culture very well.

      1. Steve


        I dunno, if the worst that one of these celebrators painted on their chest was something as benign as “Rot in hell Usama” I’d give him a pass.  Usama murdered at least 3000 innocent people in less then a few hours.  I maintain the position that the celebrators were celebrating the success of a great military operation without any casualties.

        Shirin, I don’t know where you have been or what you read or where you get your information.  Please don’t presume you know these things about me.

        Although the U.S. Government isn’t near perfect, I generally find more reason to trust than not to trust.   

        I have seen flags of the United States and Israel burned during demonstrations between Damascus University and Tekkiye Mosque in Damascus.  I also saw there, Israeli flags with swastikas on them.  I was informed that these were regime directed demonstrations.

        I was in Syria when Bashir’s dad Hafez was running the show.  The regime made my colleagues and I feel quite uneasy.

        You mentioned Iran.  I believe the current regime is one of the greatest threat to world peace.  Hopefully, something similar to the “Arab Spring” will happen there.

        “And are you saying that the very grim expression on the face of the fellow in the photo at the top of this page is one of jubilation, and not hatred?”
        I don’t know what he’s thinking.  I am assuming he is a little miffed at what Usama did.  I just think the vast majority of Americans are happy that we got the mass murderer.  We aren’t celebrators of death. 

        President Obama said the following on 60 minutes: “As nervous as I was about this whole process, the one thing I didn’t lose sleep over was the possibility of taking bin Laden out. Justice was done. And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined.”  

        If we examine the head of the guy in the picture you are referring to we’d find beer and maybe some tequila gadolah as well.  Hopefully he poured a couple of drops off each glass before he imbibed.

    3. Shirin

      On the contrary, Richard Kahn. My comment is factual, not hateful. The Americans have the capacity, and have wreaked far more death, destruction, havoc, and devastation in their so-called “war on terror” than bin Laden himself could have dreamt of had he lived ten lifetimes. It is a simple, demonstrable fact.

      1. Richard Kahn

        Fair enough. Sorry for misreading you.
        Although, if you really don’t see a distinction between the two. . .

  15. Steve

    Shirin, I forgot one thing. I apologize for any anti Muslim bigotry you have experienced. There is no excuse for that. My father of blessed memory had experienced the zenith of religious bigotry during his life. It is a shame my daughter experienced this during Israel Apartheid Week.

  16. Steve


    In response to your war on Terrorism.  I am making the assumption you are including Iraq.  Iraq is a case of history repeating itself.  Saddam Hussein was in a similar position as Josip Tito of Yugoslavia.  They both held down various ethnic populations that had histories of enmity with each other.

    Saddam Hussein was a violent mad man when compared to Tito.  Tito was no saint, Saddam was much more violent.  I believe it was justified to go in and topple Saddam Hussein.

    The hatred among the different ethnicities was the cause of the fighting and killing that led up and included the Bosnian War which ended in 1995.  It is clear that the Serbs were the provocateurs.  Tito died in 1980 and within 10 years all hell broke loose.  Things are starting to get better.

    In Iraq Saddam Hussein was toppled by the U.S.  Outside elements such as Iran encouraged Shi’a clerics to establish forces to murderously attempt to thwart the U.S. attempt of setting up a peaceful indigenous government.  They tried to kill as many Sunnis as possible as well as Christians.

    The Sunni Clerics did the exact same thing but weren’t as successful.  I believe this is what caused so many deaths.  This was a Yugoslavia situation on steroids once the strong man was gone.

    Hopefully, things in Iraq will start to get better as it has in Yugoslavia, but it will take a long time.

    The capturing of the vast amount of data that was found in computers, hard drives and flash drives in Bin Laden’s compound will serve to shorten the war on terrorism or at least significantly reduce the blood shed.

    Iran must be thwarted from attempting to take advantage of the “Arab Spring”.  Hopefully those countries where this is taking place will not fall under the influence of the Iranian regime.

  17. Clif Brown

    Good thoughts Rabbi Brant

    We have to remember that Obama is one man and Osama is one man. Should any one man be given the right to have another one killed? I believe the decision has been made recently that Obama has the right to order a killing, perhaps this was done to justify the bin Laden hit.

    The talk is of how much this has elevated Obama politically, that he is now invigorated. How often in the past have we heard of Presidents worried about their legacy. The dithering about withdrawing from Afghanistan goes on and on while American soldiers die.

    So it appears human life, when high politics are involved, is of little account. Far more important is how things will look, what others will think about the U.S. as a reliable friend etc. etc.

    When talk is of bin Laden, I like to quote the B’Tselem figure of 2965 unarmed Palestinians (about a third 18 or younger) killed by Israel in non-military encounters between 2000 and 2009. Strangely near the number killed on 9/11, I doubt that most Americans know or care about the Palestinian deaths, though U.S. arms and money made those deaths possible, Israel does not feel obligated to investigate them nor does the U.S. expect it to. There is officially no accountability required for U.S. foreign aid going to Israel, a unique exemption.

    So when it comes to killing, it is this kind of hypocrisy that has really destroyed the image of the United States before the world, and something any President should consider as part of his legacy – but Washington acts as if Palestinian deaths is a non-issue and the motivations of bin Laden don’t merit mention. 9/11 stands as a unique horror that literally came out of the blue upon an innocent country. Those cheering bin Laden’s assassination likely share this view. The offense towers above all else, standing alone outside of history. This is total blindness produced from all-consuming self-regard.


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