Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Reverting to (Re)Form

It's an old story: the Orthodox Jews didn't participate in the early aliyot to pre-state Israel. They didn't support the establishment of the state. They don't fight in the army. They don't participate in society.

What people don't remember is that opposition to the establishment and survival of Israel didn't just come from the radical right wing of the Orthodox world. The Reformers, for the most part as part of their mainstream policy, also opposed the creation of the State of Israel because of fears it would give birth to nationalistic feelings in assimilated Jews that felt more American than Jewish at the time. After all, for them America was the new Holy Land. It was only with the survival and growth in prosperity of the State that the Reformers turned around and developed a patriotic feeling for our homeland.

Since that time, Reform has tried very hard to make people forget about that unfortunate "blip" in their history. As part of their ongoing efforts to villify the Torah observant community and paint us as reactionary and obsolete, they have played up their strong attachment to Israel. They visit in small numbers, proportionately speaking (compared to the Orthodox population), they have camps and programs there, they talk about growth and creating temples and institutions.

But sometimes the true, original philosophy of Reform - Let us be just like all the other nations, except with blintzes - shines through.

Those who follow the news from Israel know that the government of Ehud Olmert is reportedly conducting secret negotiations with our enemies regarding the surrender of Yerushalayim as part of a final peace deal. Yes, the prime minister whose popularity continues to languish in the single digits, who is under several fraud investigations, whose success record in protecting his country is 1-45 (after all, he did get the Hezbollah guy in Syria), is planning to hand over the heart of the Jewish nation to the same thugs who now shoot rockets at Sderot and Ashkelon on a regular basis. And what is he getting in return? The enemy's (in)sincere thanks.

Most Jews are outraged this is happening, especially as it is being done secretly by a prime minister with no moral right to continue in his post. But not all. In fact, in addition to the whackjobs on the left one expects to give comfort and succor to the enemy, like Peace Now and the New Israel Fund, we now find the Reformers in all their glory:

Rabbi Yoffie told Haaretz that if the Israeli right wing mobilizes its supporters in the United States against such an agreement, the Reform Movement would respond in kind.

Oh well, I guess the threat isn't so real. After all, being Reform is synonymous with lack of commitment to Jewish values. Secular liberal views aren't likely to mobilize a large amount of people and those that do come out with do so to show their disdain for anything legitimately Jewish.

Yoffie said that despite their statements, he doesn't believe that the right-wing elements in U.S. Jewry would mount a serious public opposition. "Such an agreement would also be a major part of American foreign policy and they wouldn't dare to try and derail it," he said. "But if they do try, we would also mobilize our people against them."

So let's get this straight. The most incompetent prime minister in Israel's history wants to compound the mistake that was the 'Aza withdrawal. He wants to do it without the support of over 90% of the electorate. He wants to hand over vital strategic and religious parts of his country to an enemy that still openly calls for Israel's destruction (in Arabic, of course). And Yoffie wants Reform to take to the streets and help him. Am I the only person to wonder what's wrong with this scenario?

Now, remember this is the man who recently decided to show how "pro-Islam" he is, even as he works to undermine the Jewish State. It never fails though. Whenever there is a threat to Israel or Torah observant Jews, there will also be those who will jump up and shout "Not me! I'm as goyish as you goyim. More, even!"

To which the only real reply is: Shut up Eric.


Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

The movement away from nationalism by the early Reformers was in response to the confusing nature of Jewish identity. Are we a nation or a religion? The early Reformers declared us a religion -- and so moved away from any nationalstic expression of Jewishness. The early non-religious Zionists actually moved in the other direction, declaring that we are a nation and not a religion. That is why there was a whole fight not to include God's name in Israel's declaration of independence and also explains why there were Zionist movements which attempted to challenge any religious precept, even encouraging people to eat on Yom Kippur.

That fact is, though, that Jewishness includes both nationalistic and religious elements and I don't just mean that, as a deviation from Torah, it is incorrect. It doesn't work. It has no lasting power even for the ones attempting to make the change. As such, Reform Judaism found itself disintegrating without a nationalistic element. And modern secular Zionism is also suffering as a non-religious Jewishness does not yielf the necessary commitment to make people want to fight for Jewishness.

The strange thing is that these two elements are now trying to come together to create a Jewishness that has nationaistic and religious elements. The new call is to take secular Zionism, which has no relgion, and Reform Judaism, which originally had no nationalism and try to re-create the hybrid Jewishness that has some lasting power.

Unfortunately, for them, the mixture only works with Torah.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

evanstonjew said...

Your description of Reform and the left is blatantly unfair, but it is your blog, so vent away.

One point is really misleading. There are negotitions going on right now on Jerusalem, the territories, refugees...everything is on the table. Israel I believe will end up with a worse deal than the one they could have had with Barak, but that is yesterday. Whatever the outcome, the results will be put before the Kenesset. Shas is certain to leave the coalition, at which time we will go to elections, probably toward the end of the year.

Should a majority vote Kadima back into power, with or without Olmert, then the major part of your complaint is spoken to. A majority would have opted for the division of Jerusalem. Remember one thing....Olmert ,Halivni the entire gang are former Likud people. Sharon was headed that way. And if Netanyahu gets elected he will divide the city after making a lot of speeches about the indivisibility of Jerusalem.

There is no way to get a peace deal without allowing Palestinian sovereignity over their own neighborhoods.

Garnel Ironheart said...

> Whatever the outcome, the results will be put before the Kenesset. Shas is certain to leave the coalition, at which time we will go to elections

Shas may or may not leave the coalition in time to bring down the government. Remember they have their hand in the cookie jar and are very reluctant to remove it. As for the Knesset, if Olmert etc. can figure a way around that, especially if they don't think they can win a vote, they will.

>There is no way to get a peace deal without allowing Palestinian sovereignity over their own neighborhoods.

Here's the kicker - we won't get a peace deal even with allowing the Arabs sovereignty over their own neighbourhoods. They want to control OUR neighbourhoods (without any Jews in them, of course). All a surrender of Yerushalayim will accomplish is rockets on the remainder of the city and the cutting off of Jews from the Kotel.

As for Olmert, remember Kadima only got 29% of the vote. Remember that Sharon pushed the Aza disengagement to cover up his imminent indictment on corruption charges, in other words he sold out the Aza settlers to save his own skin. Hardly the most noble of attitudes. If Olmert and the Left win the next election, then the Israelis deserve what they get.

evanstonjew said...

No govt. will sign a final peace treaty with the Arabs without the legitimacy of an election. If Olmert even tried,the democratic left will/should oppose him. This is such an important issue it is wrong to do this without a referendum or election.

My guess is that the right would not be satisfied with an election that would put Olmert back into power. They would insist on something like 60% of the Jewish vote. The point can be made that when they settled the West Bank they were more than satisfied with the tacit or explicit support of governments that were the result of coalition politics.

Calling Olmert or Sharon left because they see the demographic handwriting on the wall is fine with me, but it is a bit of a stretch. If you count Kadimah on the left then the right begins with ethnic cleansing and moving Palestinians to other countries,or being the permanent master of a majority of the population in permanent of intrnational law.

Garnel Ironheart said...

The problem is the realism of the situation.

First of all, the PLO was created not to "liberate Palestine" but to help in the destuction of Israel. Whether it's throughout direct attacks, terrorism, or the establishment of a large terrorist base within the true borders of Israel, they are still committed to that, as Abbas himself has said on many occasions. As a result, any treaty signed with them won't be to create a new state but will become an opportunity to inflict further damage on Israel.

I don't think I would call Sharon or Olmert leftists. I would call them selfish egomaniacs who were/are obsessed with staying in power through whatever means possible. I would suggest that Olmert is prepared to do tremendous damage to Israel to remain prime minister and will decamp to a villa in Switzerland if things go terrible wrong, chas v'shalom, and then write in his memoirs that he meant "the very best" when he accidentally surrended his country.

As for elections and referendums, the left is only interested in those they can win. Remember Oslo II? Was supposed to be an election issue, then a referendum issue, then Rabin bought off two opposition MK's and passed it 61-59. There will only be a democratic process if the left/Kadima thinks they'll win. If they don't think they have the numbers, they'll use every non-democratic move possible.