Religions and Spirituality

Dilemma: Justice and The War On Terror


CLINTON, NJ - In the weeks and months following 9/11, the U.S. administration launched what it named the “War on Terror.” With the realization that twe were doing battle not with a particular nation-state, but a worldwide terror network, many conventional methods of warfare suddenly became obsolete, as did the traditional definition of war.

Almost immediately controversy erupted surrounding the advanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA to elicit information from suspected terrorists. Today, some contend that those interrogation techniques were actually torture, and thus illegal, and that they were ineffective as well. At the same time, there has been significant pushback from the intelligence community, much of which continues to maintain that the techniques did, in fact, save lives.

How can the inherent conflict between maintaining national security and protecting civil liberties be resolved? With the recent destabilization of much of the Middle East and the dawn of ISIS, this question has never been more relevant.

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Beginning Jan. 21, Chabad of Hunterdon will present Justice and the War on Terror, a special Continuing Legal Education-accredited two-part winter series, which shines light on this modern dilemma.

Rabbi Eli Kornfeld of Chabad of Hunterdon County will conduct the two-part course at 7:30 p.m. on two Thursdays, Jan. 21 and Jan. 28.

“The questions being asked in this series are unfortunately very pertinent today,” says Kornfeld. “We will be discussing the legal issues involved from the perspective of U.S. law and contemporary Israeli law, and compare them with concepts laid out in Talmudic law.”

The second part of the course will focus on negotiating with terrorists for hostages. From Israel’s exchange of 1,027 prisoners for one captured IDF soldier, to the United States government’s insistence that ransom payments made by family of those kidnapped by ISIS were illegal, these life and death situations have real world bearing. 

 “The Jewish people have experienced similar situations throughout our arduous history,” explains Kornfeld “When Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg was imprisoned for ransom in the Middle Ages, he ruled on his own abduction in light of Talmudic law.”

The rabbi refused to allow his students to pay his ransom, and he died in prison after seven years, where his body remained for a further 14 years until it was redeemed.

“His was a devastating, but principled course of action,” said Kornfeld.

For more information, call 908-238-9002, or visit to register or for other course-related information.

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