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Prime Minister Netanyahu has finally been forced to face reality. If he wants to remain in office as Prime Minister he must accept the coalition terms of Yair Lapid. That means Netanyahu has to build a coalition with Lapid and Naftali Bennet– without the Haredi parties. For the last few days there has been a collective outcry by both the Haredim– and more so by the Likud and some commentators– stating what a terrible thing it is that the Haredim are being boycotted merely because they are Haredim. This claim is simply false and ridiculous. The Haredim will not be in the coalition because they will not agree to Lapid's core positions. To a smaller extent, the Haredim are also unable to abide by some of Bennet's core positions. Lastly, though unstated, the Haredim are equally unable to endorse the stated positions of what is left of Lieberman’s party. Lapid means what he says in terms of the necessity for change in politics. While I agree we cannot ignore our ongoing conflict, we also cannot continue to put off dealing with our domestic issues forever, while we deal with our nearly unsolvable international challenges.
Meanwhile, Egypt seems to be spinning slowly out of control. There is a growing sense that the government of the Muslim Brotherhood is unable to rule the country. The opposition seems to be growing steadily. The U. S. remains in a difficult position– trying to balance the need not to support the government of Morsi too much, while not cutting off all support to Egypt and, as a result, losing all leverage.
There was an interesting segment on the news today reported by Israel's Channel 1. Emanuel Rosen, the Chief Diplomatic Correspondent, stated that the U. government is upping the pressure on Iran. As the meeting last week failed, they have now made it clear that if they cannot reach an agreement with Iran on stopping its nuclear program by July, the US will attack Iran. His report went on to say that Obama is planning to tell Netanyahu during the visit– "We will take care of Iran, but you better start negotiating seriously with the Palestinians."
At the same time, many people who voted for Bennett are absolutely furious with him and feel betrayed. As someone who voted for Bennett myself, I am aligned with many others who believe that he did exactly the right thing, which is to deal with the circumstances at hand in the best way. I would like to point out a few underappreciated ways in which his decision was correct.
First is that the Bennett-haters, even from their right-wing perspective, are making the same mistake that many of those who oppose the '67 conquest of Judea and Samaria make. With any given course of action, you can't pass absolute judgment on it you have to evaluate it in light of the alternatives. Controlling the lives of millions of Palestinians might indeed be awful, but if the alternative is a terror state firing missiles at Tel Aviv, then it's preferable. Likewise, you might not want Bennett making any compromises with Lapid or Mansour Abbas, but the alternative is not a right-wing government it's either endless elections (which is absolutely terrible for the country) or a government in which Lapid doesn't even need Bennett.
The second point to take into account is that last night, a terrible blow was struck to Hamas. Dr. Joshua Berman expresses this well:
The formation of the new government in Israel is a massive blow to Hamas and denies it two of its major achievements from the last round of fighting.
1. Hamas fired its first rockets the day before this very coalition was set to ink an agreement on May 11. When negotiations for this coalition were discontinued, Hamas scored a huge victory: it demonstrated that it had the power to make or break coalitions in Israel.
2. Hamas basked in its capacity to bring about unprecedented mutiny by Israeli Arabs and the threat of out and out civil war. Imagine how emboldened Hamas would have been to let loose its rockets again had those signature achievements remained.
Instead, the formation of the new government--including for the first time the participation of an Arab party in spite of the pummeling of Gaza--demonstrates that Hamas is not the kingmaker in Israeli politics, and that the will of the Arab community to work towards coexistence is actually far stronger than many imagined.
Finally, here's something else to appreciate: the new coalition government in Israel will have one of the largest number of Zionist MKs of any government in the last few decades.
This is, of course, because the non-Zionist charedi parties are not part of it. And this provides a unique opportunity to make necessary changes to help the charedi community, which has been greatly harmed by its elected representatives indulging their short-term needs at the cost of their long-term wellbeing. Radical change is needed to prevent the charedi community causing immense harm to itself and the country as a whole, and this government might possibly be able to make this happen.
Tyranid Hive Fleet Incursions into the Milky Way Galaxy, ca. 998.M41
The Tyranids are not native to the galaxy they have journeyed across the unspeakable cold of the void, where time and space conspire to hold the stars apart with inconceivable distances.
Yet the Tyranids crossed this expanse nonetheless, moving through the empty darkness for countless millennia to reach the rim of the galaxy.
Who can say for sure what could compel an entire species to make such a venture? Perhaps the Tyranids have already consumed everything of worth in their home galaxy and must find new feeding grounds or starve.
It is possible that the Tyranids have been preying on galaxies since time immemorial and this is but the latest to feel their predations.
Some have even speculated that the Tyranids are in flight from an even greater threat, be it a cosmic disaster or another fearsome alien threat, and have risked the nothingness between galaxies rather than face extinction.
Whatever the truth, for the Tyranids to have endured such a voyage must have required utter single-mindedness and unimaginable energy. During their journey, the Tyranids slumbered in a state of frozen hibernation, but now they have arrived, they have awoken and they are hungry.
The first recorded contact between the Imperium and the Tyranids places their appearance in the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy in 745.M41. However, it is rumoured that the Ordo Xenos of the Inquisition had identified possible appearances of this xenos species as far back as the 35th Millennium.
The xenos emerged from the intergalactic space of the Local Group of galaxies, their Hive Mind drawn to the Milky Way by the psychic beacon of the Astronomican transmitted by the Emperor's presence in the Warp from Terra.
The first officially recorded contact with the Tyranids for the Imperium of Man came during a Tyranid attack on an Ocean World called Tyran, and from there Hive Fleet Behemoth continued directly towards the centre of the galaxy, consuming all the worlds in its path.
The Tyranids were defeated, barely, by the efforts of the Ultramarines Chapter of the Space Marines during the Battle of Macragge, although the Ultramarines suffered devastating losses that would take centuries to replace.
This map displays the directions from which the major Tyranid hive fleets entered the Milky Way Galaxy from the intergalactic void before the opening of the Great Rift, ca. 999.M41
In 942.M41, Commissar Ciaphas Cain, while on a mission on the Ice World of Nusquam Fundumentibus, discovered hibernating Tyranids buried deep in the permafrost the swarm was apparently carried to the planet by a Hive Ship that had crashed on the planet seven millennia earlier, prior to any human colonisation.
Members of the swarm and subsequently, the Hive Mind, were awakened, but this swarm was eventually defeated. However, the Inquisition was unsettled by the fact that the Tyranids had developed a presence in the galaxy possibly before even the start of the Age of the Imperium.
It is not known whether the crashed bio-ship was on a scouting mission when it was lost, was a casualty in a pre-Imperial Tyranid invasion force that was defeated by unknown adversaries, or part of a plan by a Tyranid super-intelligence that may have "seeded" the galaxy with many such slumbering broods.
In 993.M41 the Tyranids returned to the galaxy with Hive Fleet Kraken which, instead of assaulting its targets as a single massed Hive Fleet, split into countless smaller fleets, each enveloping whole star systems before reinforcements could arrive.
The brunt of this new attack was borne by the Space Marine Chapters known as the Scythes of the Emperor and the Lamenters the former Chapter was almost completely destroyed.
Though the backbone of the hive fleet was broken by its defeats at the Battle of Ichar IV and at the Aeldari Craftworld Iyanden, the cost to the Imperium was still great and many splinter fleets broke off from the Kraken to later wreak havoc deep within Imperial space, even reaching as far as the fringes of the T'au Empire.
Tyranid hive fleet incursions into the Milky Way Galaxy after the formation of the Great Rift, ca. 999.M41
Only a few Terran years later, in 997.M41 Hive Fleet Leviathan unexpectedly appeared from "below" the plane of the galaxy (on the Z axis) and attacked from two points, cutting off large portions of the galaxy from reinforcements.
Just as it seemed the defences of the Segmentum Solar and perhaps Terra itself would be tested, the Tyranids were distracted by being deflected into the star system of the powerful Ork Empire of Octarius in the Octarius Sector of the Segmentum Ultima.
While the Orks managed to stall the main Tyranid hive fleet's advance in what has become known as the Octarian War, tendrils of the Leviathan have already begun to reemerge from these battles, victorious and stronger than ever after having absorbed potent Orkoid genetic material into their own genetic pool.
Devastation of Baal
In the final days of the 41st Millennium, the bulk of Hive Fleet Leviathan moved to consume Baal, the homeworld of the Blood Angels Chapter. The Blood Angels called a gathering of all their Successor Chapters, most of whom sent forces to aid the defence of their Primarch's adopted home. But the sheer size of the Leviathan fleet threatened to overwhelm all the sons of Sanguinius.
As the Great Rift tore open reality, Warp Storms ravaged the Baal System even as its worlds faced the Leviathan. Upon Baal itself, the battle between Blood Angels and Tyranids raged on, but the vast Leviathan fleet orbiting Baal was pulled apart by the empyric storms and devoured by the madness of the Warp.
Daemons invaded the moon of Baal Prime, annihilating a great portion of the Leviathan's invasion swarms. They were led by Ka'Bandha, the ancient nemesis of the Blood Angels, who had determined that he and he alone would be responsible for the destruction of the Blood Angels.
The Bloodthirster slaughtered the entire Tyranid host upon Baal Prime, and piled their skulls high in the shape of his dread sigil, leaving a chilling message for his hated foes, before vanishing back into the Warp.
As the Warp-spawned insanity of the Great Rift's birth finally began to wane, the principal fleet of the resurrected Primarch Roboute Guilliman's Indomitus Crusade arrived at Baal, assisting the few surviving Blood Angels in the extermination of the isolated Tyranid ground forces. Baal was saved during the campaign rememvered as the Devastation of Baal, but at the cost of almost the entire Blood Angels Chapter.
In the latter days of the 41st Millennium the galaxy-wide cataclysm of the Great Rift tore a ragged wound across realspace, signalling the beginning of a new age of darkness, the Era Indomitus of the Age of the Imperium.
Further Warp Storms followed, rippling across the galaxy, spilling the raw matter of Chaos into the material realm in ever-increasing quantities.
This ongoing corruption of the galaxy spells potential disaster for the Hive Mind. Tyranid hive fleets require vast stockpiles of organic matter to power their galactic assaults.
The mutable, inconstant psychic energy of Chaos provides none of this vital sustenance. With every passing season, more planets and systems are swallowed up by the roiling tide of empyric madness, denying the Tyranids the precious biomass that sustains them.
Yet the Tyranid species is defined by its ability to adapt in the face of disaster. The timeless sentience of the Hive Mind has already developed new organisms and hunting patterns in the face of this peril.
In the wake of its defeat at Baal, the remainder of Hive Fleet Leviathan launched a vast offensive along the southern border of the Segmentum Solar.
As the Leviathan pushed ever further towards Holy Terra, Primarch Guilliman has despatched dozens of newly founded Primaris Marine Chapters to the front lines of the Third Tyrannic War.
Recommended: Working at French airports: how racism works
NOT recommended: this “ We would like to thank ….Trevor Adams of the Metropolitan Police Service for assistance with access to crime data,…We are also grateful to the following people who have supported us by sitting on our Advisory Group…Chief Supt Owen West.” Poor guy – he only did this to up his university publishing status (or maybe, his name was used without his approval).
Recommended: The Paradoxes of working class of Russia and USSR “ It is one of the main paradoxes of the Leninist countries: their population is more individualistic than the population of the West. … state collectivism, which declared the whole society a “single family” … led to the most extreme, destructive forms of individualism and to the total cynicism and to disbelief in the triumph of any utopian idea. Finally, drunkenness became an important aspect of life in the Bolshevik Russia. Perhaps it was a reaction to a hopeless existence, a product of “learned helplessness” … It is also possible that this was a reaction to the collapse of utopia. Drunkenness reached monstrous proportions in the proletarian districts. For example, my childhood was spent in a working-class area, where almost the entire male population at the weekend was drunk.”
Added: a page detailing developments in China and a discussion about the Jasic workers struggle The latter covers events from the summer to November. It was going to be put up in November, but was delayed.
Due to technical problems the ‘France’ page is now here, though it only has events from this year 2017 is now here.
This – Diagnostic of the Future – a forecast – seems like a significant, well-researched, fairly long text, well-worth reading and reflecting about.
Added: non-remembrance day: lest we remember A minimal, and not at all developed, contribution to attacking 100 years of amnesia
Interesting anthology of English translation of texts written between 1948 & 1965 by “Socialisme ou Barbarie” Includes, amongst other things, texts from this period about Russia, East Germany, US car workers’ wildcat strikes, UK dockers’ strikes, the Hungarian insurrection, Algeria, China, and the US Free Speech and Civil Rights movements. And this links to a page of various links to the contents of each issue of Socialisme ou Barbarie, including links to those parts which have been translated into English. Obviously I can’t endorse every aspect of their theory, and less so some of their practice after 1967, when they ceased existing as an organisation. For example, shortly before May Castoriadis advocated that workers joined the CFDT union, despite the fact that 88% of workers weren’t in unions and despite S ou B’s persistent, and largely correct, critique of the recuperative function of trade unions. Still, though largely limited to critiques at an ‘objective’ level, including mostly ignoring a critique of culture and other significant blindspots, they were certainly one of the most interesting post-WWll, pre-, radical groups – though not as insightful/inciteful (for that epoch) as the Situationists, since, in particular, their critiques avoided questioning academia.
Recommended: 2 liberal-Leftist articles on Trump’s nomination for the Supreme Court:
Amy Chua, the author of the Battlehymn of the Tiger Mother a paean to the virtues of raising hyper-competetive children in a highly pressurized “success-oriented” environment, is one of a couple who are close to Kavanaugh and share in his forms of cultural value creation. The article does an excellent job of showing the surreptitious vileness and overt sliminess of the legal arm of the political class.
A sketch – in some cases illuminating – of the plutocratic elite in the USA. However, it’s worth questioning, after reading this from the pro-Democrat Huffington Post, how it eluded the writer that ever since the drafting of the Articles of Confederation, the “American aristocracy” has been a bi-partisan project, whichever subsequent era we refer to.
Origin of the term “Judaism”
Main article: Hellenistic Judaism
The term “Judaism” derives from Iudaismus, a Latinized form of the Ancient Greek Ioudaismos. Its ultimate source was the Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, “Judah”, which is also the source of the Hebrew term for Judaism: יַהֲדוּת, Yahadut. The term Ἰουδαϊσμός first appears in the Hellenistic Greek book of 2 Maccabees in the 2nd century BCE. In the context of the age and period it meant “seeking or forming part of a cultural entity” and it resembled its antonym hellenismos, a word that signified a people’s submission to Hellenic (Greek) cultural norms. The conflict between iudaismos and hellenismos lay behind the Maccabean revolt and hence the invention of the term iudaismos.
Shaye J. D. Cohen writes in his book The Beginnings of Jewishness:
We are tempted, of course, to translate [Ioudaïsmós] as “Judaism,” but this translation is too narrow, because in this first occurrence of the term, Ioudaïsmós has not yet been reduced to the designation of a religion. It means rather “the aggregate of all those characteristics that makes Judaeans Judaean (or Jews Jewish).” Among these characteristics, to be sure, are practices and beliefs that we would today call “religious,” but these practices and beliefs are not the sole content of the term. Thus Ioudaïsmós should be translated not as “Judaism” but as Judaeanness.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the earliest citation in English where the term was used to mean “the profession or practice of the Jewish religion the religious system or polity of the Jews” is Robert Fabyan’s The newe cronycles of Englande and of Fraunce (1516). “Judaism” as a direct translation of the Latin Iudaismus first occurred in a 1611 English translation of the apocrypha (Deuterocanon in Catholic and Eastern Orthodoxy), 2 Macc. ii. 21: “Those that behaved themselves manfully to their honour for Iudaisme.”
Distinction between Jews as a people and Judaism
According to Daniel Boyarin, the underlying distinction between religion and ethnicity is foreign to Judaism itself, and is one form of the dualism between spirit and flesh that has its origin in Platonic philosophy and that permeated Hellenistic Judaism. Consequently, in his view, Judaism does not fit easily into conventional Western categories, such as religion, ethnicity, or culture. Boyarin suggests that this in part reflects the fact that much of Judaism’s more than 3,000-year history predates the rise of Western culture and occurred outside the West (that is, Europe, particularly medieval and modern Europe). During this time, Jews experienced slavery, anarchic and theocratic self-government, conquest, occupation, and exile. In the Diaspora, they were in contact with, and influenced by, ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Hellenic cultures, as well as modern movements such as the Enlightenment (see Haskalah) and the rise of nationalism, which would bear fruit in the form of a Jewish state in their ancient homeland, the Land of Israel. They also saw an elite population convert to Judaism (the Khazars), only to disappear as the centers of power in the lands once occupied by that elite fell to the people of Rus and then the Mongols. Thus, Boyarin has argued that “Jewishness disrupts the very categories of identity, because it is not national, not genealogical, not religious, but all of these, in dialectical tension.”
In contrast to this point of view, practices such as Humanistic Judaism reject the religious aspects of Judaism, while retaining certain cultural traditions.
Who is a Jew?
According to Rabbinic Judaism, a Jew is anyone who was either born of a Jewish mother or who converted to Judaism in accordance with Jewish Law. Reconstructionist Judaism and the larger denominations of worldwide Progressive Judaism (also known as Liberal or Reform Judaism) accept the child as Jewish if one of the parents is Jewish, if the parents raise the child with a Jewish identity, but not the smaller regional branches. All mainstream forms of Judaism today are open to sincere converts, although conversion has traditionally been discouraged since the time of the Talmud. The conversion process is evaluated by an authority, and the convert is examined on his or her sincerity and knowledge. Converts are called “ben Abraham” or “bat Abraham”, (son or daughter of Abraham). Conversions have on occasion been overturned. In 2008, Israel’s highest religious court invalidated the conversion of 40,000 Jews, mostly from Russian immigrant families, even though they had been approved by an Orthodox rabbi.
Rabbinical Judaism maintains that a Jew, whether by birth or conversion, is a Jew forever. Thus a Jew who claims to be an atheist or converts to another religion is still considered by traditional Judaism to be Jewish. According to some sources, the Reform movement has maintained that a Jew who has converted to another religion is no longer a Jew, and the Israeli Government has also taken that stance after Supreme Court cases and statutes. However, the Reform movement has indicated that this is not so cut and dried, and different situations call for consideration and differing actions. For example, Jews who have converted under duress may be permitted to return to Judaism “without any action on their part but their desire to rejoin the Jewish community” and “A proselyte who has become an apostate remains, nevertheless, a Jew”.
Karaite Judaism believes that Jewish identity can only be transmitted by patrilineal descent. Although a minority of modern Karaites believe that Jewish identity requires that both parents be Jewish, and not only the father. They argue that only patrilineal descent can transmit Jewish identity on the grounds that all descent in the Torah went according to the male line.
The question of what determines Jewish identity in the State of Israel was given new impetus when, in the 1950s, David Ben-Gurion requested opinions on mihu Yehudi (“Who is a Jew”) from Jewish religious authorities and intellectuals worldwide in order to settle citizenship questions. This is still not settled, and occasionally resurfaces in Israeli politics.
Historical definitions of Jewish identity have traditionally been based on halakhic definitions of matrilineal descent, and halakhic conversions. Historical definitions of who is a Jew date back to the codification of the Oral Torah into the Babylonian Talmud, around 200 CE. Interpretations of sections of the Tanakh, such as Deuteronomy 7:1–5, by Jewish sages, are used as a warning against intermarriage between Jews and Canaanites because “[the non-Jewish husband] will cause your child to turn away from Me and they will worship the gods (i.e., idols) of others.” Leviticus 24:10 says that the son in a marriage between a Hebrew woman and an Egyptian man is “of the community of Israel.” This is complemented by Ezra 10:2–3, where Israelites returning from Babylon vow to put aside their gentile wives and their children. A popular theory is that the rape of Jewish women in captivity brought about the law of Jewish identity being inherited through the maternal line, although scholars challenge this theory citing the Talmudic establishment of the law from the pre-exile period Since the anti-religious Haskalah movement of the late 18th and 19th centuries, halakhic interpretations of Jewish identity have been challenged.
The total number of Jews worldwide is difficult to assess because the definition of “who is a Jew” is problematic not all Jews identify themselves as Jewish, and some who identify as Jewish are not considered so by other Jews. According to the Jewish Year Book (1901), the global Jewish population in 1900 was around 11 million. The latest available data is from the World Jewish Population Survey of 2002 and the Jewish Year Calendar (2005). In 2002, according to the Jewish Population Survey, there were 13.3 million Jews around the world. The Jewish Year Calendar cites 14.6 million. Jewish population growth is currently near zero percent, with 0.3% growth from 2000 to 2001.
Neturei Karta’s long history of solidarity with Palestinians is subject of upcoming documentaryNeturei Karta take part in a march across the Brooklyn Bridge, titled March for Gaza, August 20, 2014. Photo by Heather Tenzer.
Heather Tenzer is a filmmaker straddling three worlds: she grew up in a modern Orthodox Jewish community that was Zionist, she left it for non-religious life in New York, and she’s an activist for Palestinian freedom. Her upcoming film, The Rabbis’ Intifada (http://therabbisintifada.com), uniquely stitches together these three vantage points. Tenzer follows the strictly-Orthodox rabbis of Neturei Karta – long-time supporters of Palestinian rights, and opponents of Israeli colonialism – from the US to Jerusalem and Gaza.
In this interview, Tenzer talks about navigating tensions in the Palestine solidarity movement between religious and progressive frameworks for liberation – and about her own challenges as a female documentary filmmaker making boundary-pushing work.
Emmaia Gelman: Why is Neturei Karta important in the Palestine solidarity movement?
Heather Tenzer: Neturei Karta has a long history of standing in solidarity with Palestine. Over the years, they’ve built a reputation among Palestinians and their supporters as a Jewish voice with a consistent presence at Palestine solidarity demonstrations. They unequivocally express support for Palestinian rights. They speak out against Israeli occupation, violence, and colonization. Because of that, they are appreciated by many many Palestinians – but especially religious Palestinians.
Documentarian Heather Tenzer, at Israel Day Parade – May 2018. Photo by Alex Laser.
Palestinians are diverse. The Palestine solidarity movement is perhaps even more diverse. And I think that Neturei Karta has a unique role to play in that movement. Because NK are deeply religious Jews with socially conservative values, they are able to identify with and relate to the sector of the Palestinian community which is also deeply religious and also socially conservative. Muslims in Gaza who are suffering under Israeli occupation were so touched by NK’s visit and by their expressions of support. I saw it with my own eyes – not just in Gaza, but also in Egypt, Turkey, Jordan… Religious Middle Eastern communities appreciate their support, perhaps even more deeply than expressions of support from Leftist or secular communities.
Neturei Karta often meet people who don’t necessarily know that Judaism and Zionism are different. For example, when I was with the rabbis in Gaza, the children there were initially afraid of them because they look religious Jewish. For a lot of people around the world, Jewish means Zionist or even Israeli. It means an occupier and an attacker and a purveyor of violence. Israel is pretty effective at creating that illusion. Neturei Karta disrupt that.
I was one of the people Neturei Karta reached! My first experience with Neturei Karta was when I was a kid, marching in the Israel Day parade. I grew up in an Orthodox community. Neturei Karta appeared to be very religious, much more religious than my community. I was shocked to find out that religious Jews opposed Israel.
Neturei Karta protest Israel Day Parade – May 2018. Photo by Alex Laser.
EG: There are many critiques about Neturei Karta. A big one is that they’re not actually interested in Palestinian human rights, but instead – what?
HT: The critique – and the myth, actually – is that they’re just interested in following the Torah text, and everything that they do is about allegiance to their Rebbe, and they can’t think for themselves, and they’re backwards, and they don’t care about Palestinians, they just care about being anti-Zionist. The only reason for supporting Palestine is because they oppose Zionism, and the only reason they oppose Zionism is because in the Torah is says that you must wait till the Messiah comes in order to have a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
EG: That critique would put them in the company of the Christian right: trying to hustle the messiah into place.
HT: Neturei Karta – like all religious Jews – are waiting for the coming of Messiah. I don’t think there is a universally accepted idea among religious Jews of what will happen when Messiah comes. However, there is an idea that Jews would be returned to the Holy Land by God. That idea of return, as I understand it, is completely the opposite of Zionism. It is not a violent forceful man-made return to the land of Palestine, in which Palestinians are massacred or dispossessed. It is a peaceful return of Jewish people to the Holy Land carried out by God. That does not require violence against Palestinians. It does not require a nation state at all, and we may well be living without nation states at all during this imagined anarchic future.
EG: Neturei Karta are controversial on the Left because their gender politics don’t sit well with progressives. But their anti-Zionism puts them to the Left of major Jewish groups in the Palestine solidarity movement on that issue. They also break pretty sharply with other forms of Jewish Orthodoxy. Do you think of Neturei Karta as radicals?
HT: Like other anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews, Neturei Karta oppose a Jewish state for theological reasons. But, Neturei Karta are unique in that they also support the rights of Palestinians to live in peace in their homeland, to be free of Israeli occupation and violence. Neturei Karta are unique in their efforts to speak out around the world in support of Palestinian rights and liberation. That’s a step further than most other Haredim.
I think it’s a mistake to talk about them in terms of Right and Left, because it’s not how they define themselves. Their actions emanate from religious and moral convictions. But if you look at Neturei Karta as a whole, often their language and beliefs are more radical than other parts of the Palestine solidarity movement. I can compare a Neturei Karta demonstration in Jerusalem with a Leftist demonstration I saw on the streets of Tel Aviv. The Neturei Karta demonstration was much more radical and clearly anti-Zionist. They held signs calling Israeli actions in Gaza a “massacre.” At the Tel Aviv protest, some progressives carried Israeli flags. They were critical of Israeli policy, but still supported a Jewish state
So, yes, I think Neturei Karta’s approach is sometimes more radical than that of those on the Left, whether that’s in Israel or here in the United States. Interestingly, in the Israeli Left, now there are people slowly making coalitions with Neturei Karta. They’re breaking with decades of animosity and hostility.
EG: How did Palestinians in Gaza respond to Neturei Karta?
HT: Religious Palestinians were incredibly appreciative of Neturei Karta’s words and actions. When Neturei Karta would visit Muslim families impacted by Israeli violence, I saw how deeply their presence there was appreciated. Some people who identified more as Leftist or communists or whatever were a little bit more on the fence, and not really sure about how they felt about Neturei Karta.
I think the social conservatism of Neturei Karta is very similar to what you find in a lot of different religious communities in the Middle East. And that’s why, when they go there, one of the reasons they’re so welcome is because of this cultural similarity and similarity in world view.
Neturei Karta take part in a march across the Brooklyn Bridge, titled March for Gaza, August 20, 2014. Photo by Heather Tenzer.
EG: In the course of your work, what kind of conversations did you have with women or queers inside Neturei Karta?
I have gotten to know several Neturei Karta women and many did not feel comfortable being interviewed. I met one woman on the street in Williamsburg. She talked about her support for Palestinians. I wanted to interview her, but she felt uncomfortable with that. This is for cultural reasons, as women in their religious culture generally feel a sense of modesty that prohibits their participation in such things. Off camera, however, they were always very kind, interested and supportive of my project in ways that pleasantly surprised me. They’ve talked to me about milking their goats, about their children, and sometimes even feminism. In one case, there’s a woman who speaks much more fluent English than her husband. Because of that, she often serves as the translator between us.
One time I was with a woman and her 12-year-old daughter in their backyard. The daughter was jumping up and down so her skirt was bouncing. The mother shouted at her daughter that she wasn’t being modest enough. It’s a very rigid society where the laws of the Torah are in their every day, moment-to-moment lives. To me, that level of modesty feels oppressive, but if it is working for them, then who am I to say that my worldview is better?
One time, two Neturei Karta women were speaking with each other. One woman says to the other something like “the men make the decisions, but the women turn the man’s will.” It was a Yiddish expression that doesn’t translate that well in English, but the idea was that women have the power to control their husbands – in a sense, talking about women’s power. I’m hoping to do more to include Neturei Karta women in the film.
I didn’t meet anyone who said that they were unhappy and wanted to leave the community. But based upon what I have read and what some Haredim have told me, it’s very hard to leave. You’re losing your entire family and community, there’s not a middle ground. And yeah, it’s deeply difficult for those who choose to leave.
EG: LGBTQ rights are a major part of human rights conversations right now. How do you reconcile Neturei Karta’s concern for human rights with their apparent lack of support for LGBTQ rights?
HT: Neturei Karta and many other Haredim don’t use the language of human rights, because they don’t have access to secular education. Some are not familiar with Martin Luther King, Jr. for example. Secular thinking is not a part of their world. They define everything that they do, whether it’s going to sleep at night or joining a Palestine demonstration, in religious terms. To explain their concern for Palestinians’ rights, they’ll quote the Torah text on the most basic things. For example, Rabbi Meir Hirsch of Neturei Karta, who is featured in the film, quotes the Torah – saying in Hebrew: ‘Love thy brother as thyself!’” He cites this text as a reason why Jews are obligated to show solidarity with the Palestinians, and “feel their pain,” as he says.
These are common Torah passages that have nothing to do with anything esoteric, but are passages related to the ethical or moral obligations of Jews about caring for fellow human beings.
As far as LGBTQ rights, as far as I know, nearly all strictly Orthodox Jews don’t support homosexuality. I have a queer friend who was not in Neturei Karta but was in another Haredi community. His Rebbe was, as he explained it, sympathetic toward him in some ways, like: this is your struggle. But in the end my friend who was married to a woman still felt like his identity as a gay man was not reconcilable with living in that community. So, he left.
Interestingly, Jacob Israel de Haan is a figure whom Neturei Karta consider as their martyr. He was assassinated in the 1920s by the Haganah. He was an anti-Zionist Jew from Amsterdam living in Palestine. He was openly gay and wrote homoerotic poetry that was published in Amsterdam. When he came to Palestine, he went from being Zionist to anti-Zionist, and from secular to religious. His was the first Jewish on Jewish political assassination in modern history.
EG: Are de Haan’s writings part of Neturei Karta life?
HT: His homoerotic poetry is certainly not! He was a journalist/poet/novelist before he came to Palestine, so those writings are not part of the Neturei Karta canon. But he became friendly with Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, the chief rabbi of the anti-Zionist Haredim of Jerusalem. De Haan became the community ambassador. De Haan and Sonnenfeld went to Transjordan to meet with the prince there, to say, “Look, we represent the Haredi community of Jerusalem, and we oppose what the Zionists are doing.” That was the purpose of their visit, to visit the prince and say, “We want to live in coexistence with the indigenous people here.”
Then de Haan wrote to the British to say, “We, the Jewish community of Jerusalem, do not want there to be a Jewish state here.” That was very threatening to the Zionists.
EG: Are there any other surprising characters in Neturei Karta?
HT: There’s Ruth Blau, who was a Christian in the French resistance during WWII. She converted to Judaism, moved to Israel and married Rabbi Amram Blau who was the head of Neturei Karta at that time. It was a very controversial marriage because she was a convert, and much younger than he. Rabbi Amram Blau was a religious guy, and he’s been described to me as fearless. The Israeli police were very violent toward all the anti-Zionist Haredim of Jerusalem since the beginning of the state. Like, very violent. There’s news footage of these attacks. But Rabbi Moshe Beck, one of the subjects in my film who knew Rabbi Blau, recalls how Rabbi Blau would lead the demonstrations – despite the police violence, and be totally fearless, and have all of the followers stand there and urged them not lift a finger against the Zionists.
EG: What was it like to reach out to them, when you’d decided to make this film?
HT: I reached out to Neturei Karta, and to my pleasant surprise, they agreed to meet with me. I first met Rabbi Meir Hirsch in Jerusalem. He’s the leader of Neturei Karta there. I was surprised that the rabbi was so at ease with me and with my friend Sammy who was translating surprised that he was willing to speak with me as a woman conducting the interview and at his willingness to speak frankly, to trust in our capacity to represent him fairly. But most of all I was very shocked by his forthcoming and radical language around what Israel was doing to Palestinians. Rabbi Hirsch called Israeli actions ‘crimes against humanity.’
EG: Following your first impressions, did your opinions about Neturei Karta change as you worked on the project?
HT: I didn’t go into it having a lot of negative stereotypes about religious people, in part because I grew up in a religious community. Still, there were things they’d say that I strongly disagreed with and others that would pleasantly surprise me. Our values are oftentimes deeply at odds and oftentimes overlap. That’s the way things are with most of humanity.
The first time I heard them speaking in a way that I found intolerant of LGBTQ communities, that was hard.
EG: What have been the biggest hurdles in making this film?
HT: When I started the film, almost immediately I got a little backlash. I started shooting in Jerusalem years ago. Some Israeli Leftists were very supportive. But others were like, why are you covering Neturei Karta? They’re horrible people, they’re homophobic, they’re sexist… why? I was surprised by this reaction. It seemed to me mostly immaterial what Neturei Karta’s religious beliefs are… I mean, their religious ideology is followed by hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Jews around the world. And the fact that they were supporting Palestinians and that Palestinians were appreciating it, that makes it valuable. Whether or not they have values that we would get on board with as Leftists, that felt very secondary.
There are many legitimate critiques that can be made about Orthodox communities at large. But I see secular men pointing the finger at religious communities and being like, “Hey! Those women are really oppressed. Those places are repressive for women and sexist.” While some of that is true, those same critics tend to ignore these ways that women are oppressed in secular society, when right now in the US secular women are fighting serious battles against sexism (the #MeToo movement immediately comes to mind!), which is pervasive in many secular workplaces, including in the documentary film industry, and is often perpetrated by secular men.
I see a Zionist force at play in the effort to discredit Neturei Karta. I think Zionists highlight Neturei Karta’s social conservatism as a way to undercut the power of what Neturei Karta are doing by saying here’s how they don’t measure up to liberal Western standards. Zionists have done the same thing to Palestinians, criticizing them as “not liberal enough” as a way of trying to push the Western Left away from supporting them.
EG: What work are you hoping your film will do in the world?
HT: I hope first and foremost that the film will humanize Palestinians and expand the conversation around Palestine and Israel. A lot of folks in this country and abroad still think that all Jews – especially religious Jews – support Israel and its policies. Neturei Karta help to challenge that myth. Many folks tend to think that what is happening in Palestine/Israel is a religious war between Islam and Judaism. And I think Neturei Karta help to challenge that by talking both about the history of Muslim/Jewish coexistence and about religious texts that prohibit Jews from killing and occupying Palestinians—or any other people for that matter. Neturei Karta come and say that that violence perpetrated against Palestinians is perpetrated by a state which claims to be acting in the name of Judaism but is actually only acting in the name of nationalism. I hope the film will challenge stereotypes about Neturei Karta, Muslims, Palestinians, and Arabs, and about religious Orthodoxy and what it means to be an activist. I also hope that film will challenge American Jews – and Americas more broadly – to learn about the history of persecution of Palestinians at the hands of Israel. And I hope that by showing a community of religious Jews who are critical of Israel, more Americans will feel licensed and safe to also critique it – without fear of being called an anti-Semite.
Heather Tenzer is a Philadelphia-based documentary filmmaker. She is currently crowdfunding her documentary in progress, The Rabbis’ Intifada on Indiegogo. Check it out here: http://therabbisintifada.com
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- Tom Sawicki, The Miracale Cure?, The Jerusalem Report, 13 July 1995
- Shannon Davis, HSC to open new, advanced detox center, the University Daily, Vol 75, Issue 116, Texas Tech, 29 March 2000
- Neri Livne, Hagomel, Ha’Aretz website, March 15, 2004
- Robin Eisner, Hospital Offers Addicts a Choice, ABC News, 6 January 2006
- Can this man really cure drug addiction over night?, The Independent, 2 October 2008 , Mako, 10 October 2009
- Yasmin Lidsky, Drug Withdrawal in a Single Day: Why Isn't It Subsidized?, Ynet, 25 March 2012
- Lior Bayer The Community Line: about gays, drugs and clubs, Mako, April 19, 2013 , Behadrei Haredim, 22 June, 2015 , cbw.ge, 23 June 2016
- Uri Pasovsky, The Profit is Painful: What Massive Addiction to Painkillers Looks Like, Calcalist, February 25, 2017
- Cannabis Magazine, Drug Detoxification Expert: “The Cannabis Prohibition Leads to Death”, Cannabis Magazine, 8 May 18
- Jenny Frenkel Shalom, Life Drugs: Drug Addiction in 4 hours, Kan South, Ashkelon, 17 May 18
- Doctors Only, A New Method for Drug Withdrawal developed by an Israeli Doctor to be presented in the UN today, Doctors Only, 26 September 2018
- Meshi Aid, International Honor, The Israeli Doctor that Succeeds in Healing Addicts - to speak in the UN, Ynet, 25 September, 2018
- Karni Eldad, Drug withdrawal in four hours, Makor Rishon, October 31, 2018
- Ziv Reif, Not on Schedule: dozens of individuals die in Israel from painkiller addiction, Kan – The Israeli Broadcast Corporation website, February 9, 2018
- Andre Waismann, To end the opioid crisis, we need to change the way we think about the addiction, Washington Examiner, 23 July 2019
- Andre Waismann, Alternative approaches to battling opioid dependency, Florida Weekly, 15 August 2019
- Dr. Andre Waismann, Mission Impossible Heroin Hope at Last, Australia Women's Weekly, 26 Septamber 2019
In The Media
Jerusalem on the Fourth of July
Professor of Philosophy at Bard College Berlin in Germany.
Week of June 17
By an accident of circumstance, my visit to Jerusalem this year to visit family in Israel happened to fall on the day my fellow Americans and I — for no particularly good reason, as the Smithsonian blog pointed out today — celebrate the birth of our country. Partially as a consequence of that accident, I was quite struck that the first thing I saw after being dropped off in city center to meet a friend and colleague was a poster that (it seemed) shouted: “Welcome Mr. President time to move the U.S. Embassy to Israel’s capital.”
A leftover from President Trump’s visit here in late May, the banner’s message is unambiguous. What makes it somewhat interesting is that immediately to its left we saw another banner that depicts (in a clownish and offensive way reminiscent of the Cleveland MLB team’s infamous logo) an American Indian who says, “Ask me about ‘Land for Peace.’”
The juxtaposition of these two banners presents a remarkably crass, bold and immoral message to Americans, especially Jewish Americans, and most especially Jewish Americans who are opposed to the occupation, and support Palestinian statehood (or “even” a single pluralist, democratic state in all of Israel-Palestine). For, the building owner who decided to place these two banners alongside one another is saying in one breath one of two things. Either: it was good for the United States to have treated “land for peace” agreements with the American Indians to legitimize Israel’s similar behavior by recognizing Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel, beyond the 1967 borders. Or: it was bad for the United States to dispossess the American Indians in this dishonorable and immoral fashion, but it should recognize Israel’s similar behavior this fact notwithstanding. Regardless, especially given that the banners were in English directly across the street from what is, literally, the home of Conservative Judaism in Jerusalem and in Israel, the Fuchsberg Center for Conservative Judaism, the imputation seemed clear: you diasporic Jews, and especially Jewish Americans, can either get over your moralistic lecturing to us about the occupation, or spend your time justifying your own complicity in genocide.
This message especially struck home because of the recent maelstrom over what might well be the last gasps of pluralism in Israeli official civil society, this time occasioned by a truly callow decision by Israel’s Prime Minister to refuse a planned space for Reform and Conservative Jews to worship in unisex fashion at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, as Isabel Kershner reported recently in the New York Times. The Wall has multiples saliences and references, with and without consideration of the “other” wall we often find ourselves talking about when contentious news is coming from Israel-Palestine. But, I believe, this story’s deep salience rests beneath all those controversies, and has to do not with worship at the Wall or Netanyahu’s decision to roll back the plan for greater inclusiveness. Rather, as Kershner’s piece points out, what is really striking is that the “ultra-Orthodox politicians’ response to the outcry has been dismissive. Yaakov Litzman, the health minister and a member of the United Torah Judaism party, said the politicians were merely upholding a status quo that has existed since the foundation of Israel. An editorial published by an ultra-Orthodox news site, described Reform Judaism as “perhaps a kind of religion, but a foreign religion like Christianity and Islam.”
But actually, Kershner has understated the degree of vitriol and exclusionary rhetoric “mainstream” Haredi (or “ultra-Orthodox”) voices speak with. Indeed, if you read the entirety of the editorial she refers to, the authors go beyond merely declaring Jews like myself “foreigners.” Indeed, the authors bestialize the “Reformers” on a number of occasions, likening them to beasts and to crows (think “vultures” in our idiom, I’d say). The point being, not only are “they” not Jews they are not “even” aliens, like Christians or Muslims — let alone, one might remark, persons of non-Abrahamic faiths, or no confession at all. No, they are less than that: subhuman. Interestingly, Conservative Jews — like myself, I suppose, for what that’s worth — disappear entirely from the radar. For the editors of B’Haderei Haredim, the battle is between the zeroes (Reform Jews) and the heroes (Haredim, the ultra-Orthodox) there is no salient middle ground, there is no room for compromise, and as they insist in multiple formulations in different places, there will be no “unity of the people,” not of the Jewish people, not of the Israeli people, and not of the Jewish and the Israeli peoples.
Of course, one can — and ought to — question the unstated premise of the piece: that the Jewish People and the Israeli People are the only salient categories here, and that the Israelis who are really Israelis are Haredi Jews and their supporters. These starting points are both wrong, both in the sense that they are factually incorrect and in the sense that they are morally repugnant. But appeals to universal norms and the international community will be pointless here. Ultimately, this is a conversation “we” must settle among ourselves in order to have any place within the international community, and the conversation will necessarily include the stakeholders who would, in the same breath, castigate the United States over the genocide of the American Indians and call upon the President of the United States to make a gesture whose sole purpose is to recognize and to legitimize the conquest and occupation of Palestinian lands by the State of Israel after 1967. It is not sustainable any longer, if it ever was, for Jewish Americans (in particular) to present one face to our fellow Americans and the world when it comes to US policy and international affairs in general, and another face to Israel and (when need be) others when it comes to US policy on Israel. We have to come to terms, or come apart, it seems.
This brings us back to where we began, and where my visit to Jerusalem began today. There is a debate to engage in concerning Israelis and their neighbors there is a debate about confessional identities within Israel and there is a debate about how Jewish identity and the practice of Judaism (the two being tightly related but far from the same, for complex reasons) can or ought to relate to democratic sovereignty both in Israel and in the diaspora. But alongside those debates, or ideally prior to them, Jews and Israelis (with all our permutating identities and nationalities) must articulate for ourselves and one another what, if anything, it is that we share and is worth striving for in solidarity. As an American writing on Independence Day, I feel the seductive charm of distancing myself from a culture and a history that so often fall short of the ideals I was taught to believe in — as the banner about “Land for Peace” is designed to make me, and other Americans, remember. But I also believe quite strongly that there is no positive prospect for us humans if Americans don’t engage and struggle together with one another over what, if anything, constitutes “the unity of the people.” In just the same way, diasporic (but especially American) Jews and Israelis (Jewish and otherwise) must engage and struggle together about what, if anything, constitutes the unity of the people in the State of Israel, if there is to be any hope for constructive relations between Israelis and Palestinians. B’Haderei Haredim might be right about the seeming hopelessness of the prospect, but they are quite mistaken if they believe the solution is to simply enshrine one (sizable and vocal) community as the arbiters of official civil society.
The term clerical fascism (clero-fascism or clerico-fascism) emerged in the early 1920s in the Kingdom of Italy, referring to the faction of the Roman Catholic Partito Popolare Italiano which supported Benito Mussolini and his régime it was supposedly coined by Don Luigi Sturzo, a priest and Christian democrat leader who opposed Mussolini and went into exile in 1924, Ώ] although the term had also been used before Mussolini's March on Rome in 1922 to refer to Catholics in Northern Italy who advocated a synthesis of Roman Catholicism and fascism. ΐ]
Sturzo made a distinction between the "filofascists", who left the Catholic PPI in 1921 and 1922, and the "clerical fascists" who stayed in the party after the March on Rome, advocating collaboration with the fascist government. Α] Eventually, the latter group converged with Mussolini, abandoning the PPI in 1923 and creating the Centro Nazionale Italiano. The PPI was disbanded by the fascist régime in 1926. Β]
The term has since been used by scholars seeking to contrast authoritarian-conservative clerical fascism with more radical variants. Γ] Christian fascists focus on internal religious politics, such as passing laws and regulations that reflect their view of Christianity. Radicalized forms of Christian fascism or clerical fascism (clero-fascism or clerico-fascism) were emerging on the far-right of the political spectrum in some European countries during the interwar period in the first half of the 20th century. Δ]
Fascist Italy [ edit ]
In 1870 the newly formed Kingdom of Italy annexed the remaining Papal States, depriving the Pope of his temporal power. However, papal rule in Italy was later restored by the Fascist regime Ε] (albeit on a greatly diminished scale) in 1929 as head of the Vatican City state Ε] under Mussolini's dictatorship, Roman Catholicism became the state religion of Fascist Italy. Ε] Ζ]
In March 1929, a nationwide plebiscite was held to publicly endorse the Lateran Treaty. Opponents were intimidated by the fascist regime: the Catholic Action organisation (Azione Cattolica) and Mussolini claimed that "no" votes were of those "few ill-advised anti-clericals who refuse to accept the Lateran Pacts". Η] Nearly nine million Italians voted, or 90 per cent of the registered electorate, and only 136,000 voted "no". ⎖]
Almost immediately after the signing of the Treaty, relations between Mussolini and the Church soured again. Mussolini "referred to Catholicism as, in origin, a minor sect that had spread beyond Palestine only because grafted onto the organization of the Roman empire." ⎗] After the concordat, "he confiscated more issues of Catholic newspapers in the next three months than in the previous seven years." ⎗] Mussolini reportedly came close to being excommunicated from the Catholic Church around this time. ⎗]
In 1938, the Italian Racial Laws and Manifesto of Race were promulgated by the fascist regime, enforced to both outlaw and persecute Italian Jews ⎘] and Protestant Christians, Ζ] ⎙] ⎚] ⎛] especially Evangelicals and Pentecostals. ⎙] ⎚] ⎛] Thousands of Italian Jews and a small number of Protestants died in the Nazi concentration camps. ⎘] ⎛] In Jan. 1939, The Jewish National Monthly reports "the only bright spot in Italy has been the Vatican, where fine humanitarian statements by the Pope have been issuing regularly". When Mussolini's anti-Semitic decrees began depriving Jews of employment in Italy, Pius XI, on his own initiative, admitted Professor Vito Volterra, a famous Italian Jewish mathematician, into the Pontifical Academy of Science. ⎜]
Despite Mussolini's close alliance with Hitler's Germany, Italy did not fully adopt Nazism's genocidal ideology towards the Jews. The Nazis were frustrated by the Italian authorities' refusal to co-operate in the round-ups of Jews, and no Jews were deported prior to the formation of the Italian Social Republic following the Armistice of Cassibile. ⎝] In the Italian-occupied Independent State of Croatia, German envoy Siegfried Kasche advised Berlin that Italian forces had "apparently been influenced" by Vatican opposition to German anti-Semitism. ⎞] As anti-Axis feeling grew in Italy, the use of Vatican Radio to broadcast papal disapproval of race murder and anti-Semitism angered the Nazis. ⎟] Mussolini was overthrown in July 1943, the Germans moved to occupy Italy, and commenced a round-up of Jews.
Around 4% of Resistance forces were formally Catholic organisations, but Catholics dominated other "independent groups" such as the Fiamme Verdi and Osoppo partisans, and there were also Catholic militants in the Garibaldi Brigades, such as Benigno Zaccagnini, who later served as a prominent Christian Democrat politician. ⎠] In Northern Italy, tensions between Catholics and communists in the movement led Catholics to form the Fiamme Verdi as a separate brigade of Christian Democrats. ⎡] After the war, the ideological divisions between former partisans re-emerged, becoming a hallmark of post-war Italian politics. ⎢]
Daas Torah - Issues of Jewish Identity
That such an article appears on the Aish HaTorah website should be a cause for alarm in the Charedi world.
There should be a protest by the BADATZ against this kind of backtracking into Jewish history to seek "converts" and to put Aish HaTorah and organizations devoted to seeking "Jews lost and intermingled among the gentiles" on notice, that organizational efforts like this are essentially anti-Halachic because it is one thing for an individual to make their path to Yiddishkeit following the way Divine Hashgocha may have guided them, but that it is quite a different matter when organizations are set up, as is EJF, to facilitate the mass registration, collection, education, and help to convert goyim to Yiddishskeit that is anti-Halachic.
There is an importnat factor that must be born in mind. That in changes in Western culture in the last 25 years, there has also come a greater openess to alternate and outside-the-system beliefs and ways of life.
So just as many liberal-minded people have become open to oriental religions like Buddhism and even to Islam, there is a significal stream of people who have developed an admiration for Jews and a desire to not just know more about Judaism but to become "Jewish" in some way.
There are therefore many "Jews by choice" (see things like http://jewsbychoice.org/ and http://jbuff.com/c060400.htm and http://joi.org/blog/?p=852 and http://www.converttojudaism .org/ to see how this concept is used and plays it outself out) who are usually gentiles who may not even have an urge for any Jewish religious conversions but they have decided that by their own criteria they are "Jews" -- after all in a society that places a premium on autnomous choice this is a valid move.
And then of course, there are the more open oned, neither-here-nor-there, such as the many gentiles welcomed by the Kabbalah Centre, the best-known being the singer Madonna who has taken on a Hebrew name of "Esther" has her own personal rabbi, she spends hours per day studying with him, has given tens of millions to the Kabbalah Centre of London and has brought many celebrities, some born Jews and many not on board this group.
Rav Ovadiah Yosef has long openly opposed the Kabbalah Center people, and no doubt it has gone a long way to clarify to the Sephardic masses especially in Israel who may care about Halachah to stay awy from the Kabbalah Center people and their ilk.
There are many other factors and examples that can be cited, but the bottom line is that now there are all sorts of groups and individulas who are crawling out of the wood-work and claiming a historical and or religious link with the Jewish people and Judaism, like the Anusim, (see some discussion at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki /Anusim and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki /Talk:Anusim and http://www.judaismo-iberico .org/responsa/resp.htm and http://www.cs.tau.ac.il/
The implications of such movements for Klal Yisroel as we know it to be, and certainly that portion that can be called Orthodox and Charedi and Chasidic Jewry, is that if the various trends and movements in the world that seek not just to "gather up" a few lost souls/sparks here and there but want to create mass movements backed up organizations and perhaps even by the secular Israeli government, in the process creating inevitbale de facto and de jure alliances with the non-Halachic Reform and Conservative movements, which themselves have been declared "NOT JUDAISM", that it will create more not less confusion, and more and not less of a need for Halachic clarifications by notable Batie Din and Rabbinical groups speaking authoritatively.
The example of the BADATZ declartion against EJF is a key and historic move in that direction just as the historic 1997 declaration stating that Reform and Conservative are not Judaism by the Agudas Harabonim (Union of Orthodox Rabbis, the oldest Orthodox rabbinical organization in America that was also headed by Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l, not be confused with the OU) of America published in The Jewish Press of Friday, April 4th, 1997.
That "Kol Koreh" caused an uproar but by now has been conveniently forgotten, or more accurately tucked away, but its message was refreshing for its clarity.
This is what they said about Reform and Conservative, so that lesser forms of "Judaism":
"A HISTORIC DECLARATION
Issued March 1997"
The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada (Agudath Harabonim) hereby declares: Reform and Conservative are not Judaism at all. Their adherents are Jews, according to the Jewish Law, but their religion is not Judaism. The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of The United States and Canada is the oldest Orthodox Rabbinic Organization in North America. Its leaders and members have been and are renowned and authoritative Torah scholars. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, the foremost authority on Jewish law in our time, was its president until his passing (1895 – 1986).
1) The Agudath Harabonim has always been on guard against any attempt to alter, misrepresent or distort the Halacha (Jewish Law) as transmitted in the written an oral law, given by G-d through Moses on Sinai. It has therefore, rejected recognition of Reform and Conservative movements as Judaism, or their clergy as Rabbis. It has publicly rebuffed the claim of “three wings of Judaism.” There is only one Judaism: Torah Judaism. The Reform and Conservative are not Judaism at all, but another religion.
2) The present declaration is not based upon a new decision in Jewish Law. It is as old as Sinai. It is only giving new emphasis and vehemence, sounding an alarm and warning signal, because of the new dangers wrought by the conservative and reform movements. Their condoning of interfaith marriages, null and void conversions and homosexuality are repugnant not only to Torah Judaism, but also to common morality. Yet, they do this in the name of “Judaism.”
This declaration is thus a clarion call to all, that despite their brazen usurpation of the titles “Judaism,” “Jewish Heritage,” “Jewish Tradition,” “Jewish Continuity,” Reform and Conservative are not Judaism at all. They are outside of Torah and Outside of Judaism
3) Having caused havoc in the United States, leading generations of Jews toward assimilation and intermarriage, they now attempt to export their alien ideology to Israel. By promoting pluralism in Judaism, they seek to be recognized as rabbis entitled (contrary to existing law in Israel) to carry out Rabbinical functions, such as marriage, divorce, and conversion, contrary to Torah Law.
4) In addition to the above, from a Torah perspective, it is imperative to support Israel’s government in their refusal to change the status quo regarding the exclusive Orthodox Rabbinic authority. Even non-orthodox political leaders recognize that unless Jewish religious family law remains under the authority of the sole Rabbinate, the Jewish nation would be hopelessly divided.
5) Quotations from Torah luminaries of our time on the status of the Reform and Conservative movements and their clergy:
a) Chief Rabbi Herzog of Israel, zt”l: “Reform is not Judaism at all” – Dvar Halacha – Jerusalem 1956
b) The Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l: The doctrines and ideologies of the Reform and Conservative movements, can only be classed in the category of heretical movements which have plagued our people at one time or another, only to disappear eventually, having no basis in our everlasting Torah, the Torah of truth, the living Torah, Toras Emes, Toras Chaim.
c) Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l: The Karaites of the Geonic period were closer to Judaism than are the Reform of our time.
6) We appeal to our fellow Jew, members of the Reform and Conservative movements: Having been falsely led to believe by heretical leaders that Reform and Conservative are legitimate branches or denominations of Judaism, we urge you to be guided by this declaration, and withdraw from your affiliation with Reform and Conservative temples and their clergy. Do not hesitate to attend an Orthodox synagogue due to your inadequate observance of Judaism. On the contrary, it is because of that inadequacy that you need to attend an Orthodox synagogue where you will be warmly welcomed.
7) You, surely want your children and grand-children to remain Jewish and be qualified to marry Jews everywhere, make certain, then, to be guided by an Orthodox Rabbi in all areas of marriage, divorce, conversion, etc.
8) These are critical days for the State of Israel, under continuous threat by the Arabs and their allies throughout the world. Our return to Torah, in Israel and in the diaspora, will merit us to receive G-d’s help and guidance.
THE UNION OF ORTHODOX RABBIS
OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA
235 EAST BROADWAY
NEW YORK, N.Y. 10002
PROCLAIMED BY THE UNION OF ORTHODOX RABBIS OF THE
UNITED STATES AND CANADA - (AGUDATH HARABONIM)
It is prohibited to pray in a non-Orthodox Temple at any time. If one does not have an Orthodox synagogue within walking distance, one should pray at home. This is so even on Rosh Hashonah. One must not pray in a Conservative of Reform Temple, even if it means not hearing the blowing of the Shofar. This ruling is affirmed by the prior ruling of such Torah luminaries as Hagaon Reb Moshe Feinstein, zt'l, the late president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, and Hagaon Reb Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt'l, of Boston, the late honorary president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis.
Therefore, we call upon all Jews to discontinue to pray any time in a Conservative of Reform temple and instead pray in an Orthodox synagogue. If you have no Orthodox shul within walking distance, then pray at home.
May G-d grant that both the laity and the clergy of the Reform and Conservative movements will be guided by the light of the Torah to abandon their erroneous ways and through genuine Teshuva (repentance) return to Torah-Judaism."
The BADATZ in Eretz Yisroel of 2008 and and Agudas Harabonim in America of 1997, and Rav Eliashiv's call for the creation of a Registry of Halachic Jews, see below, saw fit to issue declarations and one can see that one of the core issues is the concern that these Orthodox and Charedi bodies have about the laxity of accepting watered-down or re-invented ideas about Yiddishkeit for a variety of reasons.
The phenomenon of the Anusim is related to the non-Halachic "conversions" by Reform and Conservative and to the "Jews by Choice" movement and of course to the vaguele-defined over-all strategy of EJF and how it wishes to move with or within these events.
Here is a link to the full text of the Agudas Harabonim declaration:
and here is the link and the full text of an article that was published in the English yated in 1999
From: Yated Neeman USA (Wed, 29 Dec 1999)
"Independent Registry an Urgent Necessity"
As hundreds of thousands of gentile immigrants continue to pour into Israel from the former Soviet Union, the Torah leadership of Eretz Yisroel has reached a momentous decision: to set up an independent registry to keep track of who is Jewish. Rav Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv and Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman strongly support the plan.
"There is no longer any doubt that the majority of immigrants coming to this country are not Jewish," says Rav Yosef Efrati, Rav Eliyashiv's closest disciple. "The Jewish Agency itself admits this, and yet many immigrants are [falsely] given documents stating that they are Jewish. Two generations from now, their children will speak fluent Hebrew and behave like regular Israelis, and no one will be able to tell the difference. What will prevent them from marrying Jews?"
According to Rav Efrati, Rav Eliyashiv shed many tears before finally arriving at this decision. He realizes that the establishment of an independent registry will divide the Jewish nation and evoke a strong backlash from the Israeli government and from the Reform and Conservative movements, as well as confuse and possibly alienate many non-aligned secular Jews. However, the alternative -- standing aside and allowing the wholesale infiltration of hundreds of thousands of gentiles into the Jewish People -- is totally unacceptable.
To date, over 500,000 non-Jewish immigrants have entered Israel under the aegis of the Law of Return. The law grants full citizenship status not only to Jews, but also to gentile descendants of Jews, and to the gentile next of kin of gentile descendants of Jews. Often, the Jewish Agency flies entire clans of gentiles to Israel on the basis of a long-forgotten Jewish grandfather of one of its members. Lately, gentiles throughout Russia have been applying for citizenship on the basis of forged documents linking them to fictitious Jewish relatives who supposedly lived several decades ago.
Though the immigration issue forced the decision to establish an independent registry, the system would solve many other problems that are not being addressed effectively by the governmental registry. For example, better tracking of mamzerim and Karaites [who have special marriage restrictions under Jewish Law].
In view of the long-term repercussions of establishing the independent registry, the Torah leadership of Eretz Yisroel will involve spiritual leaders from around the world in the plan so as to gain as wide a consensus as possible before implementing it in practice.
"Most Jews-even non-religious ones-identify with the halachic definition of who is a Jew. The key will be in how the plan is presented to them," Rav Efrati says. "This is one of the major obstacles to implementing the plan at this time. The Torah leadership of Eretz Yisroel wants to avoid alienating non-religious Jews at all costs. This would be counterproductive, since the objective here is to encourage every halachic Jew in the world to join the registry."
The American Torah community will play a central role in the implementation of the plan, since Israeli law prohibits the establishment of independent registries inside the country. Therefore, it is likely that the data bank will be situated in the United States.
The sheer logistics of registering approximately 12,000,000 Jews in all parts of the world are another daunting challenge. However, this has not deterred the spiritual leaders of Eretz Yisroel.
"Some people say that one should not ring the alarm when one does not have the complete solution to a problem," says Rav Efrati. "Rav Eliyashiv, however, disagrees. He believes that one should cry out even if one does not have the complete solution, for the very act of crying out will alert others and motivate them to work for the good of Klal Yisroel."
Here are some important things to consider and it is not clear yet how they will jell:
One wonders how Rav Eliashiv's call in 1999 now fits in with EJF's desire to facilitate conversions? EJF has also not clarified if it will get involved in helping Anusim get conversions. The Reform and Conservative will no doubt stand behind the Anusim. The Agudas Harabonim has pasuled the Reform and Conservative. The BADATZ has pasuled the EJF. Rav Eliashiv has made it clear that there should be a Registry for all Halachic Jews.
Anusim join the Falashas, Jews with Reform and Conservative conversions, Russian Jews with partila non-Halachic Jewish lineage, and gentiles converted by Orthodox batei din under highly questionable Halachic circumstances such the non_Jew in an interfaith intermarriage converting for the sake of the Jewish spouse and partner.
Hopefully the BADATZ will take the lead in seeing the total picture of all these diparate groups seeking to all of a sudden "become instant Jews" and look into the matter conmprehesivly and block the door, in the spirit of Ezra HaSofer as a precedent! and issue definitive prohibitions and guidelines to stop invalid and doubtful conversions of all sorts in the light of so many alien and marginal groups and the organizations that back them wishing to knock down not just the doors to Klal Yisroel but to destroy the very core notion of H-shem himself being the one who is hamavdil bein Yisroel lo'amim.