There are two ways to deal with leaders writing or saying nonsense or wickedness. One could ignore it, deeming it not worthy of our time and effort. Or one could denounce it – if it were important to counter nonsense or wickedness. What’s the right thing to do?
My guess today is that if it’s nonsense, let it be. Precision is not always so important. But if it’s evil, it must be countered. Every act of opposing evil and bringing in light is important.
This came to mind when I saw yet another rabbinic rant degrading for fellow Jews by a senior Israeli rabbi. I want to go over his ill-chosen and immoral words one by one.
But first, three things.
1. First of all, know that most Israeli Jews, including most religious Israeli Jews, find these words offensive. But who will still protest as we hear this kind of nonsense from some religious leaders all the time? I will.
2. Understand that we are beleaguered by powerless people who want to kill us all. A mob of 200 million Jew haters surrounding the State of Israel. Forget about animosity. It’s deadly hatred. If you grew up sheltered in naivety with sweet parents, you can probably not imagine it.
If you would deny that hatred (do you also deny the Holocaust? Maybe that’s the same kind of denial?), you wouldn’t understand anything of what is going on here. This hatred has nothing to do with anything we can change for them. Like women cannot get haters of women to improve by being nice to them. This is irrational baseless hatred.
3. Just like in Nazi Germany, there are good people in Gaza. Still, there is something like collective guilt when a society in overwhelming majority chooses for evil. You can also not reach a compromise because their aim is to mass murder (not to get wealth) and you cannot scare or reason with them because when the destruct in Israel they rejoice and when they face destruction they cry foul – win-win is a cynical way.
Arabs who live in Israel together with the Jews for many generation already, often are still angry that Israel is a Jewish State (Arab leaders have always rejected a bi-national State while many Zionist Jews thought that to be a solution for all. Playing all or nothing with the Zionists gave Arab nationalists nothing until today.) but they don’t walk around every day thinking how to kill as many Jews as possible – though in their anger, too many of them may have sympathy for such would-be murderers.
That’s still not the same as being part of genocide attempts. And many Arabs, especially in Israel, are models of morality. I know because I talk with the bus drivers in Jerusalem (most of them Arabs).
Now his words and my corrections.
The rabbi said that the nation of Israel is in the midst of a “spiritual struggle.” – This is code for good against evil and he means that they are evil. That indeed is the role they play, as long as they would rather try to kill us and see their loved ones killed in that struggle than build their own lives, all out of hatred for us.
Then: “they live off of us” – That’s just one side of it. Many Israelis buy their cucumbers and tomatoes. We also profit from their cheap labor.
“This is the same story that happened with David and Goliath.” – The citizens of the Gaza Strip are not the powerful, coming to mock us. The only thing they learned is that violence, murder and Jew hatred will win the day. Like all hardcore anti-Semites, they believe in their victory over the Jews till their dying breath. It’s supernatural. They won’t learn from experience or history. They are the ones going to finally kill all the Jews.
They are very idealistic – but with a faulty ideal. We should all learn from their fervor. (They use it for evil but we can use it for doing good.)
“Every soldier has a legal prosecutor and can’t do anything. (…) Israeli soldiers, and Israel stands with its hands tied behind its back.” – This is the greatest nonsense. It’s like saying that we won’t steal because we’re afraid of the police. There are honest people who won’t steal period. Similarly, collectively, Jews will not kill unless we have to. That is what we are known for for millennia and that’s why G^d loves us extra.
Gazans will attack even if their death and defeat are certain and guaranteed. With the same – but opposite – kind of reasoning, Israeli soldiers will not kill or maim, even if they are meeting would-be killers.
As long as the attackers are powerless, the IDF guidelines forbid any action. These ethical standards – study them – are the highest, holiest and most beautiful in the world – first written by Chief Rabbi Goren, of blessed memory. Every Israeli conscript learns them.
We meet immorality with morality. We don’t kill because we are angry or feel like it, not because it is just and not because we can. We will not carpet bomb the Strip. We are probably the only People in the world who have this high standard. When someone lifts a rock to hurt us, we may shoot. When the rock has left his hand, we’re not allowed to harm. (When he tries to pick up another rock, we can shoot before he kills us.)
The chief rabbi is right: we need to be more courageous. But not by being as hateful as our very real and dangerous enemies but rather by countering his immoral stance.
Rabbis have legal authority when it comes to determining what is kosher and a moral authority when they show to be of high morality. But their other ideas are a free-for-all. Whether it is an opinion on a Talmud passage or on politics, one doesn’t need to be a scholar to reject them.
This is not our first encounter with anti-Semitism. How did the Sages and Rabbis guide us through the ages?
They taught us that Jew haters have no power of their own. They are pawns in the hands of the Almighty, coming to summon us to start respecting each other without reason. When there is Jewish unity, we will not be attacked anymore. The police, the army and any self-defense (carrying weapons) are great options Jews lacked for thousands of years. But the real solution is prevention from shaping up between ourselves.
That is the main reason why the vile words of this senior rabbi are so absurd and bad. They contradict what we were always taught. This is – in other words – religious fraud.
Fortunately or unfortunately, most secular Israelis (good for them!) have a higher morality than he shows. This man is salaried by the secular State. His words should have consequences.
As a private citizen, he has free speech but he should not be able to abuse his office, showing his incompetence and moral deficiency and get away with it. He soils the good name of rabbis, of Israel and Jews in general. He should be fired.
The only reason he’s ranting with impunity is that he has friends inside the administration. It’s not worth a fall of government.
But I am free and eager to protest these fraudulent words. Herewith.