Assaf Wohl
Photo: Shai Vaknin

Extortion in God’s name

Assaf Wohl bemoans political manipulation of Judaism in open letter to Minister Eli Yishai

Just look at what’s been happening here in recent days: Parents in Emanuel declare that they will not adhere to the High Court of Justice’s decision, thereby rebelling against an order issued by our top judicial authority in a democratic state. And what kind of noble values is this “rebellion” promoting? Genetically-based racism wrapped in a veneer of longwinded arguments.


These Ashkenazi zealots intend to draw the entire Israeli public into a civil war only in order to keep their daughters away from Sephardic girls. Is this what Judaism is all about? And how do you, as a Sephardic Jew, reconcile yourself to this?


Meanwhile, the reaction to the High Court’s decision to end the preferable treatment given to yeshiva students clarifies the matter even further. As it turns out, some citizens in our country believe that taxpayers must be made to pay for their caprices.


In both cases, the haredi public has nothing to fear. After all, you and the other haredi functionaries are already paving a path that would circumvent the High Court, in order to ensure you can continue the discrimination and continue to stick your hands into the public coffers.


“This is a severe blow to the spiritual status quo of the people of Israel,” you said about the recent High Court ruling. In fact, it is precisely the linkage between Jewish spirituality and state budgets that constitutes absolute nonsense. A small cult led by shameless functionaries’ attempts to brand its domineering customs as “Judaism.”


Turning Judaism into joke

In the name of this “Judaism,” you decide who shall enter the Western Wall, and wearing what. You decide who deserves to be called a “Jew.” You decide who is entitled to wed. In the name of this Judaism we see delays in opening emergency rooms, as new roads and dozens of millions of shekels are invested in junctions aimed at going around bones. Then there is the possibly gravest matter – in the name of this Judaism, you absolve yourselves of paying the price of blood by shunning military service.


Being such cult of functionaries, you turned Judaism into a joke. With your deeds, you turned Israel from a democratic state into a primitive theocracy commensurate with the Middle Ages genre. In fact, even back in the Middle Ages there were those who did not agree to see such foolishness in the name of Judaism. Below are the words of a well-known Middle Ages figure, Maimonides, who directed his words precisely at the kind of silly arguments made by you and your partners:


“Do not make the Torah a spade to dig with,” that is, into a source of livelihood, he said. And here is the proof that Maimonides predicted your emergence within Israel’s political scene – he characterized as “absolute nonsense” the thought that sages and students who study the Torah must be offered financial assistance.


This kind of extortion in the name of God brought the status of Judaism to a nadir. Hence, I believe that our religion must be saved from you; you, who adopted far-reaching economic and political reforms in Judaism, contradicting the views of our forefathers. I am hopeful that Judaism will be spared from you and from the other functionaries, and that the High Court of Justice shall restore our glory days.


פרסום ראשון: 06.16.10, 18:01
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