It was only a matter of time before a Rabbi picked up on the Pew opinion poll on the place of Arabs in Israel with its “shocking “ findings that almost half the Jews questioned wanted them deported. It was just as certain that the Rabbi who picked it up would be from the Reform movement –and get it entirely wrong.
Putting in her “ two shekels“ worth , as she put it,of opinion Britain’s senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner bemoaned in the London Jewish News newspaper that this was not the Israel she grew up with and decried the country’s move to the right over the last ten years.
Before I take issue with the Rabbi, whose sincerity or love of Israel I do not doubt , let’s look at the basis of her discomfiture, the Pew poll. All opinion polls are no more than a snapshot in time. When was the question asked, how random was the sample, what was happening at the time when the question was asked and how leading was it., All have a bearing on the answer..
Here we have a poll taken at what is in fact the height of a third Intifada. Men, women, and children are deliberately being targeted by knife wielding fanatics. Far from being discouraged from their actions these people are lauded as heroes in their own communities. Their families given financial assistance by political leaders and have streets named after them. Their schools do not even show Israel, its towns or cities, on their maps.On U-tube they show a girl, no more than 7, waving a knife showing how she wants to stab Jews.
Yet despite that 52 % of Jews, all be it a slim majority, even in this atmosphere are not calling for the removal of the Arab population. When is the bottle half full and when is it empty. Where is the typical optimism that is a Rabbi’s hallmark.
Now lets look at the West, no doubt the area the good rabbi is holding up as an exemplar of the behaviour she would like to see Israel emulate. These are the self same countries that are putting up barriers against migrants fleeing death and persecution faster than you can utter the word compassion. Perhaps her example is just the United States. The self same country where would be presidents are falling over themselves to literally put all Muslims, citizens and visitors, virtually under house arrest. Or perhaps its her liberal home base, Great Britain, which is the model. This is a country whose Government is grudgingly taking in as few migrants as it can get away with while at the same time seeking to lock its borders against free travel to the country for citizens of its European neighbours.
And while the British Prime Minister boasts of sending killer drones all the way to Syria to murder British citizens who have uttered threats against the home country Israel is told to be “proportionate “ when defending its self against terrorists not thousands of miles away but on and inside its own borders.
I am afraid that what unites Reform and Liberal rabbis throughout the Western world is that they are on the whole paid up members of the intelligentsia.. What we call in England “ the chattering classes.” This mainly left looking group is big on non vilence and sees Religion as historic and dated. Therefore the Jewish claim to the land of Israel goes by default. No matter that the adversary it is locked in a grim struggle with is far from isolated and alone but backed by 22 sovereign countries with the same culture and religion..No matter that this would be replacement of Israel is misogynistic, homophobic, undemocratic and corrupt. Behaviour, the chattering classes believe, can be cured. Religion they view as an incurable disease..
While I do not feel Rabbis of the progressive movements share these opinions the very strong social consciences they have are open to the constant drip, drip of these calumnies from oh so reasonable people. People who judge Israel’s behaviour in isolation and not against its peers. We need to wake up before a country which despite its trails and tribulations, and a beacon in a world of misery, is lost.