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January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
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Bad Boy

"My engagement in medicine has taught me that in order to heal one must come in contact with the most repulsive things you can imagine."
Power for Israel leader Aryeh Eldad.

Power for Israel leader Aryeh Eldad.
Photo Credit: Yori Yanover / JewishPress.com

Eldad continues with a new medical metaphor: “When I left the post of head of plastic surgery at Hadassah, a very respectable position—I can’t say that it paid a lot, because I never dealt with aesthetic plastic surgery, only burn victims, I never took money from my patients, not one cent, on principle—but when I gave up that prestigious post, it was because I realized that the most efficient kind of medicine is preventive medicine. If you have a hundred shekels, spend it on inoculations, not on antibiotics.

“I knew that I had to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state; that was the mission I gave myself when I ran for the Knesset. It’s my way of preventing burn injuries where they would happen. And they happen in that tough place called the Knesset, where the rules of the game are repulsive, especially during election season.”


Many of Eldad’s voters are National Religious or traditional Jews, but he doesn’t wear a yarmulke.

“It’s true that I don’t wear a yarmulke,” he says. “But I observe Shabbat and our home is kosher. My children studied in a national religious school. I live in Kfar Adumim (Judea), and that’s the school we have there. I live in a village with a mix of religious and secular Israelis living together. Had I lived in the U.S. I would have been considered a traditional Jew, not a secular one, or, God forbid, Reform, or Orthodox. But I’m certainly not secular.

“On issues of religion and state, I’ve been enamoured with the Kineret Declaration, which attempted to shape the relationship between state and religion through broad agreements. Ruth Gabison, who was among the founders and the chair of the Civil Rights movement in Israel, has signed that document which included statements regarding Shabbat, for instance, that raised the ire of dedicated secularists.”

The Kineret Declaration of October, 2001, includes 10 items defining the fundamental principles for the state of Israel, the first of which is: “The state of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people.” Item number 9 defines the relationship between the state of Israel and the religion of Israel (subtly avoiding the more common “Jewish religion”):

“…We believe that the Jewish tradition has an important role in public and in the public aspects of civil life, but the state must not impose religious norms on individuals… We are children of the same nation. Our past and our destiny are the same…”

Eldad says he was glad to see Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich endorse the same ideals, when she said, for instance, that she’d be happy to see the absence of work on Shabbat. Not so much from a religious, but from a socialist point of view, decrying how we’ve become slaves without choice who are forced to work seven days a week.

My colleague Stephen Leavitt was still in his year of mourning for his father, and we gathered a group for a Mincha minyan. Eldad took a yarmulke out of his pocket and joined us in prayer. No one in his office appeared surprised.


“Besides keeping Illegals from entering Israel and preventing the creation of a Palestinian state, do you any other agenda?” I ask him.

“Preventing the illegal entry is important, and to our delight, after four years of pressure, Netanyahu has given in and erected the security fence,” Eldad responds. “When I proposed a law to build such a fence in the south, the government killed it, telling us, more or less, you’re not going to tell us what to do. Then, a year and a half later, they went about building it, not before some 100 thousand infiltrators had entered our country. But we’re talking not only about building a fence to keep them from entering, we’re also talking about expelling the 100 thousand infiltrators back to their homelands.

“As to preventing the creation of a Palestinian state – that’s an essential component of our platform, but we’re also suggesting an alternative: we’re saying there’s no need to create a Palestinian state, because there already exists a Palestinian state in Jordan, where 80 percent of the residents are Palestinian, by their own definition. And when the Arab Spring reaches Jordan—as it has done in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen, and is taking place now in Syria—and the Hashamite regime will also collapse, then Jordan will become a national Palestinian state not only de facto but also de jure. That will create a new opening out of the current dead end of two states for two peoples west of the Jordan River, in which we’ve been stuck since the Oslo accords.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

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10 Responses to “Bad Boy”

  1. Alexis Worlock says:

    Great article. One edit: you meant to write "teetering", not "tittering".

  2. Alexis Worlock says:

    You've been in Israel long enough that you now hear English in your head in an Israeli accent. :)

  3. Liad Bar-el says:

    Informative and inspiring article Yori. For such a good article, the title does not do it justice for it is misleading and of poor choice. Even though they may be in humor, there are far too many people reading the Jewish Press with weak English that they will take your words seriously; then, the sin is on your head. Not worth it, IMO. Aryeh Eldad is one of the very few in the Israeli government who is very straight forward and that speaks the truth without a forked tongue. He has never minced words and nobody should mince words with him. The more I learn about Aryeh Eldad, the more I like. Thank you for this article.

  4. Hadar Israel says:

    In Hebrew Arieh Eldad can be called, among the rest of politicians and Knesset Members, without fear of being wrong or excessive, צדיק בסדם, that is a "righteous in Sodom".

  5. Elisheva Barre says:

    This Arab "loyalty" is a double edged sword that could easily turn against Israel.
    So they WILL serve in the army and pay duties and get all the privileges of Jewish citizens including being appointed chief judges and PM – that is if they keep Palestine (as it is to them) democratic and not turn it into an Islamabad…
    Because Ben Ari and Eldad will not stir the pot too much – let alone BREAK IT.
    The change will come from elsewhere.

  6. Felecia Rosenberg says:

    Eldad says: “There’s this ancient Jewish yearning to redeem humanity. I don’t share it. " Who else sees this as problematic? This isn't a cat we want to let out of the bag.

  7. This is a problem. I certainly don't mean in terms of some simplistic liberal idea of a large dissipation of limited national financial resources on a world where there are a lot of larger, wealthier, more secure countries, well able to do so. But in terms of caring, of wanting to see the world better, and wanting to be a role model, a true Jewish and Israeli unity — not just for mutual self-protection, but in mutual concern and responsibility even were there no external threat — this is our entire national raison d'etre from time immemorial!

    Our calling is to be a Light onto the nations, not merely "a nation." And when we insist that we are "just another nation" is all we are, then even as fallacious a national entity as "Palestine" — whose name can't even be pronounced in its national language (no P-sound in Arabic) — is brought into existence and granted the Chutzpah to call Israel illegitimate.

    Devorim 32:21 — "They provoked Me with a non-god, angered Me with their vanities; so I shall provoke them with a non-people, with a vile nation shall I anger them." There is no greater provocation of the G-d who is One, than with the no-god of disunity. If we do not rise above, we will be pushed under. "Normal" has never been, and never will be, an option for Jews or Israel.

  8. Felecia Rosenberg says:

    WOW! consider the implications Israel ——
    Mr. Ponderer writes: "Our calling is to be a Light onto the nations, not merely "a nation." And when we insist that we are "just another nation" is all we are . . .

  9. RabbiRachamim Pauli says:

    My wife was the Yaffo Arab Mr. Taya as in Tayadent who was going for his PhD in Biology-Medicine. He loves Eretz Yisrael on the Muslim Bro grill.

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