web analytics
July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » InDepth » Columns »

Israel’s Culture Wars

   Anyone who thought Israel was immune to the kind of divisive “culture wars” that have beset America in recent years was in for a rude awakening this past week.
 
   After Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman dared to suggest that Jewish law should play a more active role in the judicial system of the Jewish state, he quickly came under rhetorical fire from the left, the likes of which has neither been seen nor heard here in recent memory.
 
   Neeman, who was speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, said that, “step by step, Torah law will become the binding law in the State of Israel. We have to reinstate the traditions of our forefathers, the teaching of the rabbis of the ages, because these offer a solution to all the issues we are dealing with today.”
 
   It was a straightforward, and noble, attempt on Neeman’s part to reinforce the status – and stature – of Jewish law in Israel’s court system, where it is often overlooked or completely ignored by the esteemed judges whose task it is to dispense justice.
 
   Nowhere in his remarks did Neeman suggest that Jewish law should replace Israel’s current legal system, nor did he call for the creation of a “halachic state.” He simply stated that Jewish law should no longer be shunted aside.
 
   As a matter of fact, his comments were neither revolutionary in nature nor radical in perspective. They merely embodied a healthy desire to restore Jewish law to its rightful place as part of our national life.
 
   But that of course didn’t stop Israel’s left from launching a campaign bordering on hysteria, which included calls for Neeman’s resignation. The reaction of the left was fast, fierce and furious, but most of all it was sadly revealing.
 
   Among the more forceful responses was that of Knesset Member Haim Oron, the leader of the Meretz Party and a veteran parliamentarian.
 
   Oron said that, “it is unfortunate that the justice minister has detached himself from the State of Israel’s basic values,” as though Judaism itself is not one of them. He then thundered that Neeman’s remarks “reflect a disturbing process of Talibanization occurring in Israeli society”.
 
   Since when does suggesting that Jewish law play a role in the judicial system constitute “Talibanization”? Oron’s insinuation that the beauty of Judaism has anything in common with the shadowy movement that sheltered Osama Bin-Laden in Afghanistan is nothing less than morally obscene and theologically obtuse.
 
   But Oron was not the only one who was foaming at the mouth in response to Neeman’s statements.
 
   Not content with comparisons to the Taliban, former minister Yossi Sarid went a step further, bemoaning that, “we have become like Iran of the ayatollahs, like Afghanistan of the Taliban, and Sodom is no longer so bad.”
 
   Sarid further denounced what he termed Neeman’s “fundamentalist impulses and Judeo-evangelist sensibilities” – whatever that means – before launching an assault on the Torah itself, terming it “a crown of thorns and thistles and prohibitions and sufferings and cruelties that are not from the world of justice.”
 
   Reading such words, it is hard not to feel sorry for such people, who neither appreciate nor understand the precious heritage our forefathers bequeathed to us.
 
   For all their proclaimed adherence to progressive values and their ostensible tolerance of others, they seem unable to show even a modicum of respect for their own people’s most cherished beliefs. How pitiful.
 

   Even more worrisome, however, was the fact that such expressions of hate were not limited to a coterie of publicity-seeking politicians, but included others in the public sphere as well.

   Take, for example, Dr. Orit Kamir, an academic who heads an outfit ironically called the Israel Center for Human Dignity.
 
   In an opinion piece, the learned lecturer declared that, “Jewish laws are neither democratic nor liberal or Zionistic.” Applying it as the state’s law, she warned, “would turn us into the Jewish version of Iran.”
 
   Coming just days before the onset of Chanukah, when we commemorate the stalwart stance of the Maccabees on behalf of Torah, such words were a telling reminder of the extent to which certain elements of Israel’s extreme left have strayed.
 
   Their growing malice toward Judaism, and their readiness to compare its tenets with those of our worst enemies, boggles the mind. And it reveals a growing chasm within Israeli society, one that is likely to worsen still further if steps are not taken to mend it.
 
   But as hurtful as such statements might be, we cannot and must not allow ourselves to be dragged into an internecine conflict that pits Jew against Jew. The best response to the Orons, Sarids and Kamirs of the world is not to stoop to their level but to redouble our efforts to reach out to our fellow Israelis and Jews.
 
   Indeed, as we kindle the Chanukah lights, and watch them sway before us, we are reminded of the well-known adage that the best way to dispel the darkness is by adding additional light.
 
   There is no struggle, no battle that takes place between the luminosity of the candles and the dark that envelops the room. Once the light emerges, the darkness naturally and logically gives way.
 
   In other words, if we do our part, and behave as we are supposed to in our relations with one another and with our Creator, then everything else will fall into place.
 
   As Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook prophetically foretold, “Out of the profane, holiness will also come forth.”
 
   As hard as it may be to conceive when we hear the vitriol that often emerges from the left, we can rest assured that this bright vision of the future will ultimately come to pass.
 

   Michael Freund, whose Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the third week of each month, served as deputy director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu from 1996 to 1999. He is founder and chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Israel’s Culture Wars”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
JFK Airport, NY
FAA Lifts Ban on Flights to Israel
Latest Indepth Stories
Rabbi Meir Kahane at the National Press Club ~ 1985

Rabbi Kahane spoke of transfer, because it was what the Torah spoke of.

Hamas terrorists in Gaza have been using human shields to protect them from the IDF as they launch rocket attacks against Israel.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Jews inside Paris synagogue surrounded by protesters throwing rocks, holding bats and chairs.

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

Map_of_the_Continent_of_Europe

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

The anti-Israel camp does not need to win America fully to its side. Merely to neutralize it would radically alter the balance of power and put Israel in great jeopardy.

We mourn the dead, wish a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pray that God guides the government.

Charges from the court of world public opinion and their refutations.

It is up to our government to ensure that their sacrifices were not made for short-term gains.

Supporting Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, has become dangerous in Malmo.

Proportionality Doctrine:The greater the military gain the greater the justifiable collateral damage

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Presidential-Seal-062014

These are not necessarily the best all-around biographies or studies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but the strongest in terms of exploring presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

Clinton-051614

The Clintonan “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.

As someone who for the past fifteen years has been writing a column that largely focuses on the news media, I’ve read what is no doubt an altogether unhealthy number of books on the subject. Most of them were instantly forgettable while some created a brief buzz but failed to pass the test of time. And then there were those select few that merited a permanent spot on the bookshelf.

George W. Bush has been getting some positive media coverage lately, with recent polls showing him at least as popular as his successor, Barack Obama, and a big new book about the Bush presidency by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker (Days of Fire, Doubleday) portraying Bush as a much more hands-on chief executive than his detractors ever imagined.

Readers who’ve stuck with the Monitor over the years will forgive this rerun of sorts, but as we approach the fortieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War – and with the stench of presidential indecisiveness hanging so heavily over Washington these days – it seemed only appropriate to revisit Richard Nixon’s role in enabling Israel to recover from the staggering setbacks it suffered in the first week of fighting.

Shakespeare had it right. The evil that men do indeed lives after them. Case in point: Nahum Goldmann, who served in a variety of Jewish and Zionist organizational leadership posts from the 1920s through the 1970s.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/israels-culture-wars-3/2009/12/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: