We are being confronted more and more each day with the subject of genocide. Lately, comparisons are being drawn between possibly refusing Syrian Muslim refugees, or Muslims in general, entry into the United States with the genocide that was committed upon the Jewish people during World War II by the Nazis.
This term, 'genocide', actually originated in 1944 during United Nations discussions about what happened to the Jewish people during the Holocaust.
It means the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group. Genocide is considered a crime against all of humanity. There is no justification or defense for committing genocide.
In the case of the Syrian refugees, at least some of them are fleeing ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). ISIS is, in fact, committing genocide against then Yazidi people. Similarly, the Turkish Muslims committed genocide against the Armenian people in 1915 and the Khmer Rouge committed genocide against the Cambodian people in the killing fields during the mid 1970's.
We are commanded to erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Like it says in Devarim 25:17-19, "Remember what Amalek did to you, on the road in your departure from Egypt.That your apathetic ones (קרך) and all the underprivileged (כל-הנחשלים) amongst you trailed behind you. And you were weary (from thirst) and tired. And he didn't fear G-d. And when it will be, when the L-rd, your G-d will give you rest from all your local troubles in the land that the L-rd, your G-d gives to you as an inheritance to possess, you will erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Do not forget."
And this commandment is based upon Shemot, chapter 17, which recounts the test of Massah and Merivah, when the Jewish people had no water to drink in the desert. And they quarreled with Moshe and doubted whether G-d was with them and whether Moshe had misled them.
With G-d's help, Moshe was able to provide them with water to drink. And on the heels of this, Amalek attacked the weak and sick who were straggling behind the main camp, outside of the protective clouds of glory.
The Torah relates the coming of Moshiach with, among other things, winning the war with Amalek. (Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Melachim, 5:5, 11:4, Aruch HaShulchan HaAtid, Halachot Shonot, Siman 71, Tzeida l'Derech, Ma'amar 5, K'lal Shelishi, Chapter 4, Semag (Sefer Mitzvot Gadolot), Mitzvot Lo Ta'aseh 226, Mitzvot Aseh 116)
This is generally considered to be part of the wars that Moshiach must fight and win (Shemot 17:16).
But at the same time we are told that we are to choose life and not the opposite of life. (Devarim 30:15-20)
Additionally, we are commanded not to take vengeance (Semag, Lo Ta'aseh 11, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De'ot, 7:7). The Semag, in particular says this trait of seeking vengeance is exceedingly bad.
Does erasing the memory of Amalek mean we are commanded to commit genocide?
If not, what does it mean that we are supposed to do?
Please keep in mind that the halachic aspect of this discussion requires that this must be understood according to the plain meaning of this subject.
In dealing with this question, it is important to keep a few points in mind.
1) The commandment itself doesn't say simply, 'Amalek attacked us and we are to wipe them out'. It makes a point of bringing the whole story of how we were dieing of thirst. (In the best of conditions, a human being cannot survive without water more than about 3 days.) And the weakest among us were straggling behind the group in a very vulnerable position. Only then did Amalek attack the weak and vulnerable people. They didn't go after the strong.
2) The mitzvah does not say wipe out Amalek. It says wipe out the 'memory of Amalek'.
3) Even in the example of Moshe and Yehoshuah, it emphasizes that they did not wipe out everyone from Amalek. Yehoshuah only killed those necessary to stop the action. And in the commentaries it emphasizes that this was done at the specific command of G-d.
4) This exact same behavior is detailed in regard to David HaMelech's war with Amalek through his General Yoav ben Tzaruyia as found in Sefer Yalkut HaMakiri on Tehillim, Chapter 18, sief 61. This means that David HaMelech, at least on the face of it, did exactly the same thing that Shaul HaMelech did. Clearly, something else must have happened that was different.
A link to this can be seen here: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=32636&st=&pgnum=132
5) The Meiri on Sotah gives an explanation for this type of action. He says that for non-Jews, when a woman marries out to a different nation, both she and the offspring are no longer associated with her fathers nation. So in order to fall into the category of Amalek, the lineage would have to be preserved father to son in a continuous chain. The Meiri takes that idea a step further in the context of the mixing of the generations by Sennacherib and suggests that by his time (the time of the Meiri) the nation of Amalek had ceased to exist altogether. The citation begins with the words: "שבעה עממין"
A link can be seen at: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=40767&st=&pgnum=115
6) We are told explicitly that whatever this 'war with Amalek' is for G-d, it exists in each and every generation. (מדור דור)
This is generally considered to be part of the wars that Moshiach must fight and winconsidered by whom?