Judaism:Peace and conflict


Jewish attitudes towards peace


  • Shalom = peace in Hebrew = absence of conflict
  • Shalom refers to health and well-being
  • Shalom also means correct relationship with god
  • Main teachings come from the Tanakh
  • Close relationship between Shalom and justice
  • SOWA “Righteousness and peace kiss each other” Psalm 85

Why peace is important for Jewish people:

  • Because…..
  • Basis of Judaism is the mosaic covenant based on the Torah and Talmud. Which says peace is the most important thing.
  • Peace ideal for all Jews. As they are waiting the messianic age which is when there is an absence of war – complete peace
  • SOWA “ messiah is the prince of peace” Isaiah 9:6
  • All believe peace is a priority in life
  • They believe peace can be obtained if the world is just.
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The role of Jews in Peacemaking

Jewish teachings

  • Religion of peace and should be peacemakers
  • SOWA " turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it" Psalm
  • Amidah is the central prayer of Judaism it says:
  • " he who makes peace in his height may, he make peace for us"


  • Justice is an important part of peace making because if laws are unjust then people will disobey it. For example the fighting against Syria
  • Forgiveness and reconciliation is important part in peace making because….
  • 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur meant to seek out what they've done wrong and ask forgiveness.
  • Tenakh encourages people to forgive those who wronged them and try to forgive those who wronged them . Should obey it.
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Work of Jews working for people peace today

Conflict between Israel and Palestinian state and Israel has the "occupied territory"

There are Jewish organisations dedicated to working for the peace between us state. For example Jewish peace Fellowship.

They work for peace by ….

  • supporting conscientious objectors who refused to be recruited into Israel military

Jewish Voice for Peace another organisation working for peace. They work for Peace by...

  •  ending Israelite occupation of West Bank.
  • Their aim is for Israelis and Palestinians to be at peace
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Attitudes to conflict


War and Conflict causes problems because casualties and homes are damaged

Casualties = death and injury of civilian population

For example, World War II there were 60 million deaths

Displacement = conflict can create a large number of refugees fleeing war zones

Expense = costs money for weapons of soldiers. This reduces money spent on education and Healthcare

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Causes of conflict

Religion – differences

A country may be one religion but have many different religions inside.

Two religious groups and each want to be dominant. For example, Christians and Muslims in Central Africa.

Politics history and Culture

Nationalists believe that each ethnic group should have its own country because it has a different culture.

Resources - Country wants/needs

Golf wars occurred because the west wanted to have the oil in the Middle East

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Jewish responses to causes of War

  • If a war is just then you must fight in it
  • The Torah says that Jews must fight if they are attacked
  • Talmud says war must be fought if they are milchemet mitzvah. That means that the war has been commanded by god.

For the war to be a milchemet mitzvah...

  • attacked by an enemy
  • Stop a pre-emptive attack
  • Aid a country who's been attacked.
  • However only fought if there is a clear reason about the cause of War.

Jews are not allowed to fight if...

  • War is to make resources from someone else
  • Forcing a country to become Jewish or changing the culture.
  • SOWA" Torah given to establish peace".
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Atheist and humanist responses to causes of War


You can end War by getting rid of religion because they believe that religion is false. They have no scientific evidence so not real.

Make peace by getting religious leaders to see religion as wrong. For example, the Torah can't be proven it came from God.

Also believe in making United nation stronger so it can end Wars with peacekeeping force.


They have the same ideas but also like Jews believe you can fight unjust wars.

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  • Pacifism = opposition to war.
  • Pacifist are probably from Christianity i.e. Sermon on the Mount said that the Christians should turn the other cheek to violence
  • Pacifism also in humanist Society.
  • Many pacifists become conscientious objectors during both Wars.
  • Judaism and pacifism
  • Peace is ideal for all Jews
  • Peaceful Society called messianic age.
  • SOWA" nation will not take up sword"
  • Jews seek peace however no concept of pacifism in Judaism. The Tanakh is full of Wars.
  • Jews believe that they should have an army to protect themselves from anti-Semitism because of what happened in the Holocaust.
  • Humanism and pacifism
  • Humanist are opposed to war.
  • They believe human life is more valuable than dying as no afterlife
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Just war theory

  • Cause of the war is just i.e. Genocide
  • fought by United Nations and to restore peace.
  • war should be the last resort and have a reasonable chance of success.
  • To avoid killing civilians
  • Have proportional methods i.e. gun to gun.

Judaism and just war theory

  • Acceptable for Jews to fight in just war if...
  • Fought in self-defence
  • Pre-emptive strike
  • Help a country under attack
  • Non-violent solutions tried first
  • Wars for self-defence or to aid another country is called Milchemet mitzvah.
  • They have these views because...
  • to take part in a milchemet mitzvah is part of the Mitzvot.
  • Tenack has many accounts about war
  • Holocaust had 6 million deaths, the Jews need an army to defend themselves.
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Holy War

The nature of holy War

war only holy if has these features:

Authorised by religious leaders

Achieve religious goal

Spiritual reward for soldiers

For example, first crusade was to free Jerusalem and holy land from Muslims. This resulted in 3 million killed.

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Jewish teachings about war and Peace

Jews must fight in a holy war as it is said in the milchemet Mitzvah because such wars a mitzvah.

Conditions for a milchemet mitzvah are:

  • Commanded by god
  • Jews are attacked
  • Pre-emptive strike on Jews
  • Help another country
  • Some Jews are cautious about fighting this kind of War as hard to know whether it was commanded by God.
  • They also need to fit in with just war theory
  • Jews believe King David bought a holy war to establish the kingdom of Israel.

SOWA" it is God who Arms me with strength and keeps my way secure" Samuel 22

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Atheist and humanist attitudes to Holy War

Atheist and humanist attitudes to Holy War

Religion is misguided and no god so no such thing as a holy War. There is no excuse for war it is always wrong

Accept just war theory as based on reason and moral values

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Weapons of Mass destruction

Types of Weapons

  • Nuclear weapons=first developed in 1945 in the Cold War. Extremely powerful and can destroy the world.
  • Chemical weapons=Weapons that uses chemicals. For example, nerve and blood agent to disable enemies
  • Biological weapons=Bacteria or viruses can cause War.

Benefits of weapons of mass destruction

  • Nuclear weapons work as a deterrent as have been no wars from them. They cause mutually assured destruction.
  • Biological and chemical weapons don't destroy infrastructure. This makes them efficient way of killing enemies

Problems of weapons of mass destruction

  • Goes against just war theory as targets the innocence.
  • Nuclear weapons are so powerful it threatens the world.
  • Chemical and biological weapons are not an exact attack and could become uncontrollable killing many people.
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Jewish attitudes to weapons of mass destruction

Jewish attitudes to weapons of mass destruction

Most Jews are against using weapons of mass destruction as Talmud prohibits war that causes most population to die.

However, under Jewish law it's possible to threaten with nuclear weapons as an act of deterrence. Therefore, they believe in mutually assured destruction. 

SOWA" do not destroy it's trees by putting an axe to them because you can eat their fruit" against WMD Deuteronomy 20:19

The IDF developed a "code of purity of arms" which derives from the halakha. This States the ban of using weapons.

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Humanist and atheist attitudes to WMD

Humanists view

No humanists support the use of weapons of mass destruction

Some however believe with the view of using them as a deterrent.

Atheist view

They have split views.

Against = could destroy the whole world and as no afterlife that is the end.

For= they work as a deterrent. They don't believe in God so prepared to use them.

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Issues surrounding violence


Conflict up and results and violence for example domestic violence gun violence in the USA

Crime and violence involve for example **** Burglary


War obviously involves violence

Terrorism = criminal acts intended to provoke a state of terror in public for Political or religious purposes

United Nations bad terrorism they called it "unjustifiable"

The 9/11 attacks of the Twin Towers hit by two planes many were killed.

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Jewish views on violence

Jewish views on violence

Violence except under legal authority because....

  • Judaism is based on a rule of law and mutual respect between others violent if you complete opposite.
  • Judaism regards violence without cause sinful
  • Violence mistreats God's creations are humans made in gods image

Jews are against terrorism because....

  • They suffered a lot from anti-Semitic and don't want others to feel the way they do
  • Religious text teaches about compassion and Peace. Not violence and hatred.

SOWA" Judaism reject violence" Columbus platform of reform Judaism

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How Jews have worked to overcome these issues

How Jews have worked to overcome these issues

Little terrorism against Jews, mainly violence

There are extremist Jews Jewish Israelis who are against Palestinians. However, they are Condemned by leading Rebels in Israel because that's not what Judaism is about.

Atheist and humanist attitudes to conflict

Humanists as atheist equally feel it is wrong as civilians shouldn't be targeted by violence for religion or political gain. There is no justification for it.

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