Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Bill for rabbinic immunity should backfire

Ultra-Orthodox Members of Knesset introduced a bill to give rabbis immunity from prosecution for foul language on groups of people. They should be so fortunate to see their proposal backfire. It should lead to a new bill clarifying that (not just Islamic) religious and political leaders, including Members of Knesset, should be held accountable for incitement, degradation, insulting, and scaring groups of people and individuals.

Israeli law on sexual harassment is the best in the world. Even if someone merely feels unpleasant from the words or behavior of someone, s/he can go to the police. You don’t need to touch inappropriately to get indicted.

This is needed on slander too. And on voicing opinions that degrade and threaten whole groups of the public. No tolerance for the intolerant!

The mantra that this is undemocratic, not to let anyone say whatever they want, is faulty. It is rather undemocratic to give the microphone to people who endanger democracy. Democracy is that we’re all equal for the law. That no person should be treated less (or better) just because of where they come from, who they are, and what they think.

On the other hand, there should be wide tolerance for the intolerant of the intolerant, the free press. Without their reporting, community leaders can incite within their community freely against ‘others.’ One of our leading rabbinic decisors has just explained the value of such a free press.

Yes, that would change the political climate. Yes, the privileged will feel restricted. For not being ‘free’ anymore to say with impunity that women are stupid, Arabs are evil, Blacks are lazy, children must obey, GLBTQIAs are immoral, the handicapped and elderly are worthless, etc.

Better than the oppressors feel restricted than the oppressed.

If it was ever good (and it wasn’t) that women, Arabs, Blacks, children, GLBTQIAs, the handicapped, elderly, etc. are intimidated, that has been done plenty. It’s high time that people enjoying male, White, grownup, Straight, able-bodied, young privilege feel some of the oppression that has been perpetrated on the oppressed through no fault of their own.

You hate them? You can’t feel empathy for them? Why should vulnerable people carry the burden of your lack of humanity? Don’t expect a democratic Jewish State to support airing and spreading your bigotry.

We need the opposite of this bill. Instead of protection for bigots, we need more protection or the vulnerable. This is exactly what a democratic and a Jewish State should be about. Fire and prosecute the bigots.

How sad that some Jewish leaders fight Modernity instead of competing with it to show that Judaism is at least as gigantic and beautiful.

How disturbing that on the saddest day of the year, that calls upon us to love more, I must say that rabbis shouldn’t have a right to spread hatred.


Mazal tov, Jonathan Pollard with your birthday. I regret our continued failure to bring you and your wife–may she have a complete recovery amidst all the sick the Jewish People cares about–home to Israel.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry, and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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