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

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks should listen to his own words and stay out of politics

The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.” (Albert Einstein)

On the rabbinic license, it should say: “Not only are you not qualified for talking about politics. We hereby explicitly prohibit this rabbi from entering the political debate.”

Again Lord Chief Rabbi Sacks irritates me by giving his outsider opinion about politics, claiming he’s an insider.

How often do I need to say that rabbis are automatically disqualified from saying anything about politics? Someone with a fear of blood should not be a surgeon. Rabbis are (supposed to be) scrupulously honest and saintly. That renders one naive and totally unsuitable in the political arena.

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: G-d will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” (Pastor Dietrich Bonhöffer, a rare German church leader who kept speaking out against the Nazi regime.)

This time the good rabbi has talked against US rabbis endorsing Trump or Biden. That seems evenhanded, wise, balanced, peace-loving, calming an overheated debate. But it is flawed nonsense completely.

When facing evil, there is no neutrality. There is no evenhandedness. There is no impartiality. One must choose the side of goodness and speak up against spreading hatred, war-mongering, oppressive notions, etc.

The United States has come at a decisive junction between democracy or Trump, science, healthcare, and life itself or Trump, truth or Trump, and against racism, xenophobia, and antisemitism or for Trump. It’s so simple. If he is blind to that, that means already that he should stay out of politics.

Those who don’t speak up against Trump are part of the problem, on the wrong side of history, complicit. As angry US Black demonstrators shouted this week: ‘White silence is complicity.’

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transformation was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” (Rev. Martin Luther King Jr)

This is the rabbi who wrote in a book (so, it was not a thoughtless slip of the tongue) only 20 years ago that European antisemitism is dead.

The problem with people who deem themselves valid opinion makers is that when they don’t know their ignorance, no size of mistake will prove to them to shut up. So, the only choice there is is to not listen to them.

Instead of advising US Orthodox Jews to not take positions in the 2020 debate, he should keep his political opinion to himself because no good can come from his unwise comments. His opinion degrades Judaism.

His call for Rabbis to be silent comes on top of a long rabbinic habit of not being bold, of Jewish men outside of Israel being cowards (with notable exceptions). (NB: I don’t blame the victim. It is scary to take a clear stance in the Diaspora. That’s not our fault.) We don’t need any additions to this.

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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