Moshe Katsav after the verdict reading
Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yeshuv

Rabbis are no Zionists

Op-ed: Rabbis who endorsed convicted rapist Katsav should not refer to themselves as Zionist

A sign had been sent from the skies this past week to Israel’s citizens, and mostly the seculars among them, some of whom still insist on looking up to several rabbis from the stream known as “religious Zionism” and viewing them as a source of moral, cultural, and historical inspiration. This is seemingly the natural approach, as senior religious clerics are viewed as spiritual leaders by definition, yet the wind that is blowing from them and their school of thought is a bad one; a wind that is foreign to Israel’s citizenry.


To be honest, the touching letter of support for the great man, Moshe Katsav, is merely another link in a chain of holiness that joins letters urging Israelis not to lease apartments to Arabs or to kill non-Jews because they are non-Jews during war.


Some of the words uttered by these sages include wild incitement and prompt suspicions of criminal wrongdoing; indeed, other people had been indicted for less (religious radicals such as Sheikh Raed Salah, for example.) Other such words, like the Katsav endorsement, are a legitimate (even if despicable) part of the public discourse taking place in a democratic state.


Not all religious Zionist leaders are responsible for the glorious publications, but rather, a wide selection of community rabbis, yeshiva heads, educators, and a significant number of the camp’s leadership. The substance of their words isn’t identical, yet they all have a conspicuous, disturbing common denominator: Condemning Israeli law and the rule of law, rejecting and abusing it every time it is incommensurate with their zealous religious or nationalistic agenda.


Dangerous junction

It’s hard not to feel that the law in Israel on the one hand, and an angry, provocative group of rabbis on the other, are standing on both sides of the divide here. This is a central, dangerous junction that can result in lethal accidents, at the intersection of religion and state, legislation and Jewish law.


Our rabbis need to decide where they are headed: Towards loyalty to the State, its laws and institutions, or in the exact opposite direction. Should they continue to undermine the legitimate political and civilian entity and rebel against the government, they should at least be honest and remove the word “Zionist” from their title.


Meanwhile, law authorities would have to mix religious and secular matters and impose the law on anyone who must follow it, even if this person holds a senior religious post. Otherwise, the buds of rebellion may give rise to a pocket of resistance that may prompt, heaven forbid, Jewish Jihad against the State of Israel. As we know, destruction can be caused without bloodshed.


A last call is directed at the nice, naïve Israelis who are not among the devoted faithful of these rabbis and their messianic zeal. These people are hereby invited to wake up, sober up, and reconcile themselves to the disappointing reality whereby Israel is divided into two worlds, with the artificial link between them increasingly weakening. After they wake up from the one-state-for-one-people delusion, they shall bid these radical Jewish isolationists (who in many ways are closer to their enemies) farewell.


Should these Israelis have trouble, God knows why, undertaking a full immediate disengagement, they should at least scrutinize the morals and ideology of rabbis before warmly adopting them as supreme moral authorities. Amen.



פרסום ראשון: 02.28.11, 11:45
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