A senior Jordanian Salafi sheikh who stirred controversy in the Muslim world recently by issuing a fatwa against the killing of Jews, walked back his comments in a video released Tuesday.
Sheikh Ali Halabi had said in a video from February, which went viral in recent days, that Jews can be killed during war only, and that killing them at other times is a betrayal. When asked by a student if it is permissible to kill Jews in Palestine, the sheikh answered: "Someone who protects you, gives you electricity and water, transfers you money and you work for him and take his money - would you betray him, even if he was a Jew?"
According to the sheikh's original fatwa, killing is allowed during clashes or declared war, "But if you trust him and he trusts you, then it is forbidden to betray him. And therefore you are forbidden to murder him." When the sheikh was asked by a student about armed Israeli soldiers in the streets, he responded: "The same answer. Does a soldier holding a weapon in the street kill every Muslim he sees?" The student answered "No."
After facing a backlash for the comments from the Muslim Brotherhood and other political rivals, Halabi released two videos, translated by MEMRI, in which he rebutted the criticism.
In his rebuttal, the sheikh called Jews "occupiers and plunderers," who are prone to "betrayal, fraud, cunning and deceit."
Halabi said that jihad against the Jews is a "mandatory jihad...upon any Muslim who accepts Allah as the Lord and Islam as his religion."
Clarifying his earlier fatwa, however, the sheikh said that the jihad could not be carried out by an "emotional thrust and with such excitement that only serves to harm us."
"How can we think that this leads to victory?" he asked. "The nation must prepare and unite in order to uproot his enemy," Halabi charged.
"By Allah, if your brother, the son of your mother and father, were to attack you in your own home, and you have no way to fend him off other than killing him, then we say that he was the aggressor and you were the defender - all the more so when the aggressor is an evil Jew, from among the brothers of apes and pigs," he said.
Halabi said that "unfortunately tens of thousands of Palestinians work with the Jews, and accept money from the Jews. They need the Jews. Sadly this is the reality of an occupied people. I am not saying this as some people mistakenly understood it, as praise for the Jews, who deserve nothing but more and more curses. I am talking about the reality."
Halabi said that an asymmetrical war by the Palestinians against the Jews could only end in "total defeat."
"Yes, we are happy when the Jews are humiliated and defeated, when they fall, but there is a way of doing things."
Halabi said that Jihad against the Jews is a duty, but is dependent on capabilities. "Everybody knows America has Israel's back. Are today's fragmented Muslims up for the task?" He said that Muslims must not "fool themselves."