The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
Imagine, just for a moment, that a leftist prime minister of Israel (say, Ehud Barak) had
presided over a government that oversaw the greatest decline in personal security in Israel’s
history, with the terrorist murders of more than 1,000 Israelis. We would be up in arms, taking to the streets to call for his resignation.
Imagine further that this leftist prime minister (say, Chaim Ramon) had presided over a
government that oversaw the worst recession in Israel’s history – one that stifled the economy,
produced records rates of unemployment, and drastically reduce support payments for the
indigent. We would be demanding the replacement of such an incompetent.
Imagine then that this leftist prime minister (say, Shimon Peres) concocted a scheme to
unilaterally and forcibly transfer Jews from their homes, without even a pretense that this would
somehow improve the security of Israelis – the very scheme, it should be added, that he
ridiculed and castigated when his election opponent had proposed it several months earlier. We would be insisting on the need to remove such a fraud from office.
Now imagine that this leftist prime minister (say, Yossi Beilin) had presided over a government that allowed (or encouraged) the closure of the voice of religious, nationalist Jews in Israel (Arutz-7, for example) permitting no broadcast outlet for the natural base of opposition to
his political and military machinations. We would be screaming that such a despot had no choice but to step down.
Imagine even more that this leftist prime minister severely slashed funding to yeshivot and religious institutions, closed down the Religious Affairs Ministry, stopped salary payments to
religious functionaries (kashrut supervisors, mikvah attendants, chevra kadisha members, etc.)
for months on end. We would be insisting that such a hater of Torah, trying to bankrupt Torah
life, is unfit to serve as prime minister of Israel.
And what would happen if such a leftist prime minister fired cabinet ministers at will in order to stifle discussion, intimidate dissidents, and create an artificial majority for his views; then held a referendum of his party members on his plans, lost the referendum, and announced he was ignoring their voices; and then sought support in his party’s Central Committee for his corrupt policies, lost that vote too, and announced that he could not be bound by the decisions of
We would say that such a leftist prime minister had such dictatorial, anti-democratic tendencies that it would be dangerous to have him serve even a moment longer.
Fortunately, such a scenario is impossible to imagine with regard to a leftist prime minister, for it would be intolerable and unacceptable.
Yet, such a state of affairs is precisely what has unfolded in the Israel over which the “rightist” prime minister, Ariel Sharon, presides: an Israel with a fatalistic sense of individual vulnerability, an Israel of recession, high unemployment, and chronic poverty, an Israel in which Torah is under siege and the religious infrastructure is collapsing, an Israel whose vision of its future consists of expelling Jews ? men, women and children ? from their homes that will be turned over to their murderers, and then cowering behind a big wall in hopes that the enemy – gives up? Goes away? Loses interest? Can’t figure out how to dig under the fence or shoot
mortars and rockets over it?
What am I missing? Is there one thing Sharon has done as prime minister that, had anyone else attempted to do the same, would not have caused the streets of Israel to erupt in protest? Why have we surrendered to this man, who has grievously – perhaps irrevocably –
harmed the right-wing political movement in Israel, and exposed the sheer emptiness of its values and the vacuities of its policies?
Surely others have recognized that Likud in power often implements the Labor platform.
So why is there a need for a Likud? For how long can Israel endure a process of “Labor suggests and Likud divests”?
Remember, it was Likud – and Sharon – that surrendered Sinai and expelled its Jews, and Likud that surrendered Hebron. Do Israelis unthinkingly support a political party as if it were
a football team – “my team, right or wrong”? Why is there is a fear of toppling this man, having
new elections with an honest airing of two views – strength vs. appeasement, Zionism vs.
surrender? Are we still honoring his military service of 30 and 40 years ago? What am I missing?
Perhaps the unspoken fear is – who will lead? Who today in Israel can articulate a vision of strength, hope, confidence, love of Torah and love of land? The party system is bankrupt, but
the prevailing sentiment is that a strong leader with true Jewish values could never get elected in Israel. But that same sentiment once prevailed with another strong leader of definite opinions
named Ariel Sharon, who was also deemed unelectable, until a few months before his election.
Sharon has been a masterful tactician and, as always, a poor strategist. He has made
everyone indebted to him, fearing for his or her political existence. He knows how to suppress
Arutz-7, control the religious parties, and even toss a few bones to the anti-religious Shinui party. He holds the Arutz-7 card, the “payoffs to the religious parties” card, and the “playing one party off another party” card. Each party is afraid it will be left out and be unable to drink from the public trough. But they can all get together and say “Enough is enough.”
The time has come to lawfully topple the Sharon government. No self-respecting Jew can
afford to remain in this cabinet or government even a moment longer, or vote in the Knesset to
prop it up. There is no justification of “fighting from within” against a leader who makes no
pretense of his contempt for democratic norms. We are already sliding down the slippery slope – first Gaza, then Shomron, then Yehuda, then Yerushalayim, because “if not, the world will apply so much pressure.”
It is time to end the tragic comedy of “Labor proposes and Likud disposes.” It is time to
end this pathetic retreat from sanity before the Army of Israel turns against the People of Israel, with devastating consequences for Israel’s future. It is time to elect a government of proud Jews whose voice is not suffocated by politics or money or fear.
It is time to democratically bring down the government of Ariel Sharon. Let history be the
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck,
About the Author: Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey, and author, most recently, of “Tzadka Mimeni: The Jewish Ethic of Personal Responsibility” (Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem, 2014). His writings and lectures can be found at www.Rabbipruzansky.com.
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As for the president’s new, softer tone vis-à-vis Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel, this is most likely being driven by the results of the recent Israeli election.
What especially appeals to us is his grand – some critics would say extravagant –view of what the borders of Israel should look like.
There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.
The establishment of Hebrew University was a cause much beloved to Einstein who in 1923, during what would be his only trip to Eretz Yisrael, delivered the university’s inaugural lecture on Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus) and, discussing the theory of relativity, spoke the first few sentences of his address in Hebrew.
The Golden Square wanted Germany to destroy the British and Jewish presence in their country. The Third Reich craved what was beneath the ground – oil.
Ida Nudel’s account of how the Soviets persecuted and punished her was far worse than imagined.
Swim4Sadna is an annual event benefiting Sadna, an integrative special-ed community in Gush Etzion
Prof. Wistrich, was THE foremost historian of anti-Semitism; committed spokesman & advocate of Jewry
Jewish Voices for Peace’s 2015 Haggadah is a blatant anti-Israel screed crying, “L’chayim to BDS!”
On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor
After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel on peace process
Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria
Netanyahu so disdains Shaked’s appointment he completely ignored her after the swearing-in ceremony
Pesach is a Torah-based holiday whose fundamental observances are rooted in Torah law; Purim is a rabbinic holiday whose laws and customs are grounded in the rabbinic tradition.
The brilliance of Yaakov’s approach – and by extension, any type of individual or group effort – is that it appealed to three different modes of salvation.
There is a certain unwordliness to the pope’s call for a two-state solution, an obliviousness to the reality on the ground.
One can’t only take; one must give as well. Giving – not taking – is the essence of the righteous person.
Much of what we know about 19th century Orthodoxy is false, including the provenance of the term Orthodox.
A president who today used the language of FDR or JFK would be derided. If he were a candidate, the media elites would bury his chances of winning the election. He would be a laughing stock to the aimless young people whose uninformed opinions on public affairs seem to matter more than they should.
With the constant drumbeat of articles about “Orthodox” female rabbis appearing in the media almost weekly – essentially the same articles making the same points to the same eager audience, all to make the phenomenon of such “rabbis” seem commonplace – it is important to take a step back and examine how we arrived at this destination.
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