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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘National Religious’

Rabbis Remain Silent as ‘Price Tag’ Vandalism Worsens

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

“Price tag” vandals struck the small Arab neighborhood of Sharafat between Gilo and the Malcha Mall and Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem Tuesday night, slashed tires of approximately 30 cars and scribbled graffiti on walls.

They sprayed slogans of “No co-existence” and “Arabs=thieves” in the neighborhood.

Yediot Acharonot reported that a security camera showed three masked men carrying backpacks and entering the area around 3 a.m.

Sharafat residents were enraged at the vandalism, which prevented many of them from leaving driving to work because of slashed tires.

Police are investigating, but they have not been able to win a conviction and barely an indictment in hundreds of previous incidents.

The term “price tag’ refers to Jews who take out their anger against Arab terror and more frequently against government anti-nationalist policies by attacking Arab property.

When the fad of crime started, nationalist leaders and rabbis blamed it on undercover agents working for the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and trying to incite hatred of Jews living on outposts in Judea and Samaria.

Many of the attacks have been carried out at churches and monasteries, and when it became overwhelmingly clear that nationalists were involved, their leaders often dismissed the vandals as a tiny minority whose actions may be illegal but pale in comparison with Arab terror.

Be that as it may, on what Talmudic passage do the rabbis base their dismissal of indiscriminate violence as minor pranks and remain silent?

One leading nationalist rabbi, a peaceful Torah scholar who never would encourage violence, told The Jewish Press several months ago he doesn’t believe that Jewish settlers would do such a thing. Sure, there may be a few hotheads, but all of the reports are false or the incidents are instigated by the Shin Bet, in his view.

Last month, several leading national religious rabbis circulated a petition condemning the price tag attacks, but that was the beginning and end of the “campaign” against violence.

But the petition left open huge room for understanding the frustration of attackers.

“There is a wonderful community of thousands of Jews in Judea and Samaria who are loyal to the State of Israel,” the petition said. “This community is often subject to attack by Arab thieves, vandals, and terrorists.

“We truly empathize with the plight of this community. However, we ask the youth and young adults not to allow them to become sucked into acts of revenge and criminal activities as a result,” the petition said.

“The so-called ‘price tag’ attacks are against Jewish law and ethics. They are illegal and cause a desecration of G-d’s Name. Beyond this, the attacks damage the standing of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and stain the names of a large number of law-abiding people.”

“We ask?” That is the best the rabbis can do? “Oh, poor victimized hothead, please be a bit nice because your acts in the name of God may give us a bad image.”

The kind of soft-glove language in the petition is not the way to communicate with young wild idiots who understand nothing but force.

The petition that states that rabbis “empathize” with attackers and sympathize with their being victims is a cop-out of responsibility.

Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun, unarguably one of the most passive and political compromising national religious rabbis, has been one of the few leaders to label the Jewish vandals for what they are. “Whoever does something like this cannot be included in a minyan or called to the Torah,” he stated.

That is the language these criminals understand.

But no group of rabbis in any of the regional councils of Judea and Samaria has taken the initiative to corner the price tag vandals and threatened them with ex-communication.

Beit Shemesh – We Was Robbed

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

I was at a wedding on Monday night, and sat with some fine, educated and well informed people from Efrat.

I started to discuss the next day’s municipal election in Beit Shemesh.

“Are the elections tomorrow?” he asked me. It transpired that neither he nor his wife were even aware of Municipal Domesday, which was happening the following day…

In many small town elections, a main contention might be whether to have a swimming pool, or a tennis court. Should certain streets be turned into pedestrian-only zones…and other such day-to-day important mundanities.

Here in Beit Shemesh the contentious issues seemed to mainly resolve around God and godliness.

That’s rather a Biggy, and therefore, rather than being a gentlemanly contest between parties for seats on the town council, it resembled jihad.

Try as the non-Chareidi candidate, Eli Cohen, might, to address regular municipal issues, such as parks, cleanliness, safety, education, cultural events and transport….the ever-present issue was really that Eli Cohen’s chosen lifestyle is Sephardi traditional, whereas the incumbent mayor,Moshe Abutbol, is Sephardi ultra-orthodox.

Beit Shemesh has a history of religious flare-ups and civil disturbance, ever since thousands of ultra-orthodox families started to move into the traditional Sephardi town, about twenty years ago.

Today, the town of 80,000 residents is split evenly between ultra-orthodox residents, and “miscellaneous others” (National Religious, traditional Sephardim, secular, Ethiopians, Russians..).

The ultra-orthodox campaign used highly charged language and tactics – blessings and curses (and lies) dispensed by rabbis from pulpits, holocaust imagery in political adverts, slurs of “Nazis!” hurled at anyone non-Chareidi in the streets, production & use of fraudulent rabbinical approbations, criminal use of fraudulent ID cards, cheating during the voting process, stone-throwing at political opponents, illegal use of educational facilities and institutions, illegal use of child labour, importing and paying national religiously dressed school-kids to appear to support the Chareidi candidate, as well as the more humdrum pathological smearing and lying about the competition and provable facts.

Perhaps the most startling chareidi innovation of this election was the ‘permit/heter’ issued to Abutbol supporters to desecrate the holy Shabbos – such as by tearing down ‘enemy’ banners and materials after candle-lighting on Friday nights.

These and many other outrageous behaviors were not occasional aberrations, but were an intrinsic part of the ultra-orthodox campaign.

The message to me was clear – in a Holy War, all tactics are permissible.

Indeed, in the main rabbinical approbation (Kol Korei) of the campaign, signed by over 20 leading Chareidi rabbonim, both national and local, which was republished ad-nauseam, stated that supporting Abutbol and the “Chen” Agudat Yisrael party, was a mitzva (commandment) and that not voting, or voting for someone else, or another list, was an aveira (sin against the Torah).

Ominously, the document’s call to action instructed the public to use “all means possible” to influence people to vote for Abutbol +  Chen list. Although this may have been seen as purely rhetorical – it was clearly interpreted as a carte blanche to engage in criminal and unethical activities for The Greater Cause.

The end results of this filthy campaign, published today (following the soldiers’ vote count) showed an Abutbol victory by around 1000 votes (out of 50,000 registered voters).

[Around 500 were accounted for by the maverick 'spoiler' non-chareidi Meir Balayish - the third no-hope candidate in the mayoral race].

The 1000 votes can surely be explained by the criminal/illegal elements – for example, around 200 ID’s were discovered by police as a voting scam (8 people arrested, so far); countless others were also presumably used. Thousands of voters were coerced, blackmailed, misled and intimidated into voting Abutbol.

I am willing to be part of a losing team – particularly one which loses by fighting cleanly and with integrity.  Indeed, as a member of the National Religious camp I have got used to this role – as a group, we endeavor to play straight, and this often puts us at a disadvantage in the cynical rough-and-tumble of the the ‘real world’.

However, I am not willing to be a victim of a crime.

Eli Cohen supporters, and other citizens who do not approve of the behaviour they witnessed, in the streets, in the communal institutions and in the voting stations – have appealed to the Supreme Court to over-rule the election results.

R. Lau to Submit Conversion Rulings to Haredi Review in Backroom Deal

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Three weeks after the stunning knockout a coalition of Haredi and Hardali (National religious Haredim) politicians delivered to Jewish Home and its hapless leader, Minister of Religious Services Naftalli Bennett, Ma’ariv reveals the price that had to be paid before the approval of Rabbi David Lau by the extremist Haredi camp: control over non-Haredi conversions.

Over the past three weeks, we’ve heard nothing but praise for the new Ashkenazi chief rabbi, who, as rabbi of Modi’in, a typical mixed religious and secular Israeli town, has shown the kind of moderation and acceptance one expects of a rabbinical shepherd. Some, like National Religious pundit Menachem Rahat, have gone so far as to suggest that under normal circumstances—meaning before the overwhelming sweep of Jewish Home and the ousting of the Haredim from government—someone as sweet and accepting as Rabbi David Lau would not have stood a chance to be selected, and that he was picked only as a desperate response to the popular Rabbi David Stav, a National Religious scholar and leader who was going to revamp the chief rabbinate.

And it worked. Like Menachem Rahat, the prevailing tone of the National Religious commentators following Lau’s election (and Stav’s defeat) has been that at least Rabbi Lau is a nice guy, a moderate, a uniter, not a divider.

All those well wishers may have to reexamine their praises now. According to Ma’ariv, in closed conversations Rabbi David Lau conducted with some Haredi decision makers before the vote, he gave them his commitment that all of his ruling regarding conversions would be submitted to a review by Rabbi Avraham Sherman, the man who gained his reputation as the killer of Rabbi Chaim Druckman’s thousands of kosher giurim-conversions.

Back in May of 2008, the Supreme Rabbinical Court judges Rabbis Hagai Izirer, Avraham Sherman and Avrohom Sheinfeld annulled thousands of conversions done by two National Religious rabbis, determining that:

“First, all conversions performed since 1999 by Rabbi Chaim Avior and Rabbi Chaim Drukman must be disqualified; second, conversions can be retroactively annulled for those who are not observant.”

Attorney Susan Weiss, founding director of the Center for Women’s Justice (JOFA), told Ynet in 2008 that the verdict had far-reaching implications on thousands of people who underwent conversion in the last few years—and on their children.

Much has been written and said about the case, which had territorial war written all over it. It was the first case of such massive, retroactive annulments of giurim-conversions, and the fact that the injured rabbis were renowned National Religious figures, while the court that destroyed their decades of work—as part of the chief rabbinate!—was comprised only of Haredim, was a sign that the Haredim were determined to annul not just the conversions, but also the foothold of the religious Zionists in the Chief Rabbinate.

In the spring of 2012, Israel’s Supreme Court re-affirmed the validity of the thousands of conversions disqualified retroactively by the Rabbinical Court in 2008, but stopped short of saying the rabbinical courts did not have the authority to annul conversions.

Still, the justices did not spare the rabbinical court their criticism. Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch wrote in the verdict:

“The Rabbinical Court of Appeals rode roughshod over basic procedural rules and the principles of natural justice. It demonstrated contempt for the special conversion courts, and above all, it hurt and did a shocking injustice to the petitioners and their children.”

Maariv spoke to Rabbi Sherman who confirmed the story about the condition for Rabbi Lau’s election. According to rabbi Sherman, Rabbi Lau met with Rabbi Yosef Efrati, a confidant of the late Rabbi Elyashiv, leader of the Lithuanian Haredim.

“Rabbi Lau told Rabbi Efrati that on all matters regarding conversions he would come to talk to me and consult in me before reaching a decision, because I have been involved in these issues as a confidant of Rabbi Elyashiv, and I am familiar with his rulings on these matters.”

And so the circle is complete: the most fundamental driving force behind the candidacy of Rabbi David Stav, the celebrated chairman of the Tzohar organization, dedicated to making life under halacha more palatable for secular Israelis, was the brutal treatment of thousands of converts by Rabbi Sherman and his co-justices. Now it is clear that not only did the Haredi politicians manage to subvert the attempts to ease their hold on religious life in the country, but that Religious Zionism has lost the most crucial battle of that campaign. The forces that gave us the disqualification of thousands of Jewish lives are back at the helm, stronger and smarter.

Rabbi Stav: Get ‘Corrupt Politicians’ Out of the Rabbinate

Friday, June 28th, 2013

National religious Rabbi David Stav has based his campaign to become Israel’s next Ashkenazi chief rabbi on a message of inclusion, friendliness and tolerance. But in an exclusive interview with JTA, he had harsh words for those who have attacked him in recent weeks.

The attacks began two Saturday nights ago, when Rabbi Ovadia Yosef used his weekly speech to call Stav “evil.” Rabbi Yosef, Israel’s chief Sephardi spiritual and legal authority, said that Rabbi Stav, who has painted himself as a reformer,  is “dangerous to Judaism, dangerous to the rabbinate and dangerous to Torah.”

One day later, some Haredi Orthodox youth took the rabbi’s words to heart and literally pushed Rabbi Stav around as he danced at a wedding.

And then last Thursday, the man whom Stav hopes to replace, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, was questioned for fraud and money laundering and placed under house arrest for five days, preventing him from being in communication with other suspects and from leaving the country.

No indictments have been charged, but in Israel, public figures, especially those who are right wing or religious, are considered guilty until proven innocent.

Rabbi Stav wouldn’t comment directly on Metzger’s arrest, but said earlier in the interview that Israel “needs a rabbinate not ruled by corrupt politicians but by God-fearing people. The people of Israel want a Judaism that speaks not in threats and curses but in a pleasant language and ways of peace.”

He insisted that he only wants to make the rabbinate more user-friendly, not to change Jewish law. He’s against instituting civil marriage in Israel and won’t recognize non-Orthodox conversions. But the Haredi orthodox leadership in Israel doesn’t seem to believe him.

Rabbi Stav told JTA that if elected, he wants to strengthen the chief rabbinate’s relationships with Jewish communities outside Israel. One of his goals would be to push for a unified international standard of kashrut.

“The Israeli rabbinate is not just the top institution in the Jewish state but is also a formal authority for Jewish people worldwide,” he said. “We want a permanent dialogue with the different organizations and rabbinates in the United States and different places in the world.”

Hamodia Calling for Independent Haredi Autonomy within Israel

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

If you ask me, this is the real redemption: Haredi anger over the new government’s attitude towards their interests is increasing every day, and so the Agudat Israel newspaper, Hamodia, published an extensive article calling for the first time to establish a Haredi autonomy within the State of Israel.

The author attacks the behavior of National Religious leaders who have chosen to cooperate with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, despite the latter’s anti-Haredi stance.

Then he refers to the philosophical differences between the Haredi and Religious Zionist approach to the state – one sees it as an outright danger to the Jews, the other as marking the start of messianic times.

At this point, Hamodia offers a revolutionary idea: “Led by the media and the High Court, which are nourished by left-wing organizations funded by anti-Semites, they choose to deny the hard earned status quo in the relationship between the religion and the state, breaking all conventions by approving fictitious conversions, civil marriage, and interference in the life of the Haredi sector.”

Hamodia threatens: “If there is no turn in our favor, there is an option of last resort we should consider – to establish a Jewish autonomy in Eretz Israel.”

Note the “last resort” thing. Possibly because establishing an autonomy requires work?

“An autonomy means independence in governing our domestic affairs, without political sovereignty, overseeing our own constitutional independence, economics and the police, but without an army and foreign policy,” declares Hamodia.

“If we were able to establish Bnei Brak, Elad Modi’in Ilit, Laniado hospital and Ezer M’Zion, we will also succeed in setting up an electric company, roads, and whatever else is required,” it adds bravely.

The Aguda paper believes that the benefits of the new autonomy would be economic as well, since the Haredim would be able to work and earn a decent living without the need for academic degrees and without modesty issues.

And the Haredi autonomy won’t be wasting public funds on sports, “delusional” Western culture, prisons and rehab centers.

Man, are they in for a couple wakeup calls, at least regarding the prisons and rehab centers, where Haredi folks comprise a nice portion of the population. Turns out Hamodia is perfectly capable of being delusional without the benefit of Western culture.

Incidentally, why would the requirement for academic degrees be such a bad thing? In New York, both Touro College and Yeshiva University are turning out thousands of Haredim with academic degrees who later excel in the professions an in business. Is it because the Hamodia staff are afraid of being replaced by better qualified, eager Haredi journalists?

The Aguda paper promises further that “using wise and prudent management, we will succeed in budgeting one hundred percent of our educational institutions, kollel students will be the darlings of the public (yakirei hatzibur) and will receive respectable scholarships, and we would take care to offer housing at reasonable prices.”

Oh, please God, do it, do it now, don’t hesitate, you’ll be great at it, don’t wait. If you ask me, this is the best Atchalta d’Geulah news I’ve heard in a year.

IDF, Religious Students Oppose Supermodel in Pro-Israel Ads

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Israeli military officers and religious students are objecting to the selection of supermodel Bar Refaeli as part of an ad campaign to raise Israel’s public image.

Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, wrote the Foreign Ministry a critical letter of its choice of Refaeli, pointing out that she did not serve in the Israeli military.

“The choice of a representative who did not serve in the military as an official presenter on behalf of Israel conveys the message that we ignore and forgive evasion of enlistment, and encourages identification, among youths of both sexes with the success of those who did not enlist,” Mordechai wrote.

Refaeli married a family friend in 2007 in order to avoid conscription and continue her modeling career.

National religious students, virtually all of whom serve in the IDF, also have objected to Refaeli’s participation. Haredi students objected on the basis that she does not represent the Israeli public because she had a high-profile relationship with the non-Jewish actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

School Fires Unmarried Pregnant Teacher: The Whole Story

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

An Israeli ”national religious” girls high school (“ulpana“) fired a teacher who was pregnant…and single.

This headline has been floating around the web yesterday, especially in light that the teacher sued the school in court for damages, specifically for having broken the law which prevents women from being fired if they are pregnant.

When an ulpana expects their teachers to be more than educators, but also role models for their students, did the school do the right thing even though they broke the law?

I could almost understand the ulpana’s point of view until I looked around and found that our story above is missing some important details (courtesy of The Marker):

1. The teacher is religious, and observes a religious lifestyle in school and outside of it. 2. The teacher was 41 years old and single. 3. Not finding a husband by her age of 41, the teacher decided to undergo artificial impregnation so she could have a child and she would raise the child as a single parent. The Ulpana claimed they fired the teacher not because she was pregnant, but because she was not observing a religious lifestyle (i.e., had she been married and pregnant, they wouldn’t have fired her). The plaintiff’s lawyer stated that the Ulpana should have taken into account her unique situation of being a single, religious teacher who wanted to have a child before she would be biologically unable to.

The court ruling stated an important point:

The court does not make light of the defendant’s right to determine their school policy, but the right of the defendant is less than than the right of plaintiff, and doesn’t justify terminating the plaintiff’s employment while violating her right to parenthood. The court awarded 180,000 NIS in damages to the teacher, which is a rather expensive lesson in democracy and “freedom of employment” to the Ulpana. In my opinion, if the ulpana truly wanted to act as a role model for their students, they should not have fired their teacher.

Visit the Muqata.

Judaism as the Meaning of the Jewish state

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

A state, especially one that is trying to be a nation-state, a national homeland for a people, needs an organizing principle, a set of ideals, an ideology, a purpose — whatever you think it is, some kind of philosophical reason for being. Otherwise there is no reason to live there if you can go somewhere else. And in the developed world, going somewhere else is more of an option than ever before.

Israel’s worst enemies have powerful ideologies — Islamism and Palestinian nationalism/irredentism.

Even the US, a secular state with a very diverse population has such principles, embodied in its Constitution and Declaration of Independence. They are one reason that the nation survived, in united form, its terrible Civil War, and why — one hopes — it will survive the forces trying to pull it apart today.

Despite being the nation-state of the Jewish people, the state of Israel does not have a set of basic unifying principles. There isn’t a single Zionism, and for some Israelis, any form of Zionism at all is looked at as a combination of ignorance and gullibility.

The early struggle to define the state was won by the secular left-wing Zionists of whom Ben-Gurion was an example. Unfortunately that segment was seduced by and ultimately subsumed in the peace movement, a movement based on a pathologically false view of reality, and encouraged by the worst enemies of the Jewish people. Its collision with the bitter truths of the real Middle East has left in their camp only those who have rejected Zionism, the academics and Ha’aretz columnists who are simply anti-state.

The remnants of political vitality are found today on the Right, especially the nationalistic-religious segment. For example, here is how Naftali Bennett explained it, in a fascinating interview with Ari Shavit of Ha’aretz:

Zionism arose thanks to secularism … The dogmatic religious establishment in the Diaspora was not capable of initiating Zionism without [Theodor] Herzl’s secular involvement. But secular Zionism was an existential Zionism that saw the state of the Jews as a refuge state.

A state that is 64 years old cannot continue to exist on the ethos of a refuge state, on security alone. After all, if this were the reason for our existence, there are many places that are safer for Jews – like Melbourne, Australia, or New Jersey. They don’t send children to the army there, and missiles aren’t flying there. Therefore, the time has come to move from the existential Zionism that you come from to a Jewish Zionism. It is necessary to base our national life on a Jewish basis, and it is necessary to give the state a Jewish coloration.

I don’t support religious coercion, but I do believe that Judaism is our ‘why’: Judaism is the reason for our existence and the justification for our existence, and the meaning of our existence.

This isn’t an easy sell to secular Israelis. For many of them, ‘Judaism’ is a corrupt functionary that tells them that they aren’t Jewish enough to get married in a Jewish state, or a haredi who maintains a large family on welfare, doesn’t do army service and spits at secular women.

The ideal is a tolerant Jewish state which is nevertheless fully Jewish. This will have to come from those, like Bennett, who see themselves as observant, and not from the liberal side of Judaism, which has embraced pluralism to the point of accepting a universalist ideology that does not “distinguish between Israel and the Nations.”

Is it possible? I am not sure, but I think it’s essential to our survival.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fresno-zionism/judaism-as-the-meaning-of-the-jewish-state/2013/01/02/

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