According to JTA, more than 330 American clergy from the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist progressive movements––“including some who occupy prominent roles in major cities”––have issued a “Call to Action for Clergy in Protest of Israeli Government Extremists,” pledging to ban members of the Religious Zionist alliance from speaking at their synagogues, and lobby to ban them from speaking anywhere in their communities.
Needless to say, not a single Orthodox rabbi has signed the “call for action.”
“In 1984 when Meir Kahane was first elected to the Knesset, an outpouring of condemnation came from almost the full breadth of US Jewish organizations,” opens the petition. “Israel’s most recent election saw the Religious Zionist Party (RZP) and the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit faction together receive a shocking 11 percent of the vote, becoming crucial partners with Likud in the formation of a new Netanyahu-led government.”
At this point, a serious document would attempt to offer an explanation about the choice made by “a shocking 11%” of Israeli voters, roughly a half-a-million of them, who live in Israel and are looking for solutions to their country’s existential issues.
We should be so lucky they would address that.
Instead, the 330 non-Israeli, non-halakhic persons of clerical authority copy and paste the “controversies” section from Wiki’s pages and the shrill message from certain NGOs, and declare: Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, the leaders of the respective parties, have been arrested for incitement, trespassing, and intimidation – with Ben Gvir being a former member of the now-defunct Kach group, which was designated as a terrorist organization by both Israel and the United States.”
Fine, but why would so many Israelis decide to support them? After all, since 1948, the historic NRP has never scored more than 12 Knesset mandates – and now its heirs have received an unprecedented 14. But in addition, Israel’s far-left has shrunk to a dwindling, 4-mandate Labor party, with the more extreme Meretz disappearing entirely. So, what happened? It obviously doesn’t concern the brave 330 Spartan wannabes. Instead, they hammer on:
“Their policy proposals are anathema to the tenets of democracy, contradicting the spirit and intent of Israel’s own Declaration of Independence. Furthermore, their implementation will cause irreparable harm to the Israel-Jewish Diaspora relationship, as they are an affront to the vast majority of American Jews and our values.”
What follows are despicable lies, which go unchecked by JTA.
1. Changing the Law of Return–including the refusal to recognize Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist converts and their descendants – a policy that negates the Jewish identity of the majority of Diaspora Jewry.
It’s a blatant lie. There is no mention of conversions in the proposed amendment which centers on a single clause in the Law of Return, known as the “grandson clause” (Report: Coalition to Amend ‘Grandson Clause’ in Early 2023).
As the Israeli Immigration Policy Center described it: “After many months of putting together the coalition to amend the Law of Return, the move is now being implemented. The goal before our eyes is to end the absurd situation in which immigration to Israel creates a demographic deficit for the Jewish majority. The data we revealed to the elected officials have led to the fact that no one is left who does not understand the need for an amendment to the Law of Return.”
2. Eroding LGBTQ rights and the rights of women, causing irreparable harm and disenfranchisement among these communities.
Another shameless lie. There is no planned legislation regarding LGBTQ rights, none.
As to the rights of women, this is the left’s twisted view of a bill by the Haredi parties that permits public events for women only, as well as separate-sex classrooms in higher education. It’s hard to understand what’s the irreparable damage of a concert by and for religious women who don’t wish to congregate together with strange men.
As to segregated classrooms: the “liberal” left has been preaching to the Haredim that they must attain higher education to get better jobs – but refuse to permit them to do it in a stress-free environment without women (or without men, respectively). This, like so many other leftist claims, shows that their end goal is not to improve Haredi standards of living but to obliterate the Haredi lifestyle.
3. Subjecting Israeli Supreme Court decisions to the whims of the Knesset, a policy clearly intended to erode individual and minority rights.
This one is the most bizarre of all the lies.
American Jews, whose own Supreme Court justices are elected by lawmakers only, are begrudging the proposed change by which roughly two-thirds of the committee to appoint judges would be made up of politicians, and a third by Supreme- and lower court judges.
They also use the insulting “whims of the Knesset” to describe the decisions of the lawful representatives of Israel’s citizens, on decisions made by unelected judges.
And how would giving the sovereign of the land, the voting public, better control over its fate by balancing the judiciary and elected branches, “erode individual and minority rights?” Instead, the reform will “erode” the courts usurping of legal powers it was never granted, to tame its judicial zeal and natural tendency to pass judgment based not on the law, but on their own moral whims.
4. Annexing the West Bank without giving Palestinians the right to vote, thereby further undermining Israeli democracy.
Another unabashed lie.
I may desire the annexation of the “west bank” and toppling the Palestinian Authority with all my heart, but nowhere does this appear in Religious Zionism’s legislative agenda.
Here’s what’s going to happen: the civil administration in Area C of Judea and Samaria, which governs the day-to-day lives of Arabs and Jews under the IDF occupation––yep, that’s the term, it’s a military occupation––will now be placed under a non-military administrator serving as a minister in the Defense Ministry, under the authority of the defense minister who will have the right to veto his decisions.
How does that undermine Israeli democracy?
On the contrary, the reform will allow half a million Israelis and some 70 thousand Arabs to share what 9 million Israeli citizens already enjoy: a democratic system governed by civilian rather than military courts, access to benefits that most Israelis take for granted in terms of government services, and all the other democratic improvements one is barred from under a military government.
5. And expelling Arab Israeli citizens who are seen as opposing the government, challenging the democratic right to freedom of speech.
This is only half a lie.
The incoming National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has indeed been bandying about his desire to expel from Israel individuals, especially politicians, who speak out against Israel’s right to exist. But this is not a proposed policy, it’s a campaign slogan (although in Israel campaigns never end).
The lie part is about the proposed legislation that would expel individuals who take up violent terrorist action against soldiers and police in the form of live shooting, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails and car ramming. Ben Gvir argues that such acts constitute not only crimes but a declaration against the right of the Jewish State to exist.
Throwing explosives at a policeman is not free speech, it’s an act of terrorism, and Israel already has on the books laws that permit the Interior Minister to expel terrorists. Ben Gvir doesn’t have to write a new law – just apply the one that’s already there.
Finally: it’s a good feeling to see that 330 Jewish American rabbinical program graduates have already solved all of their own country’s problems and now finally have some time to worry about Israeli democracy. America must again be the trouble-free paradise it used to be in nineteen hundred and never.