Naftali Rothenberg on “the state’s Jewish character”

Some anti-Zionists are actively painting Orthodox rabbis as fascists.

In Israel, an intense debate is ongoing between – among other dimensions – religiously observant Jewish communities, over what it is to be Jewish and the nature of a Jewish state. Among those involved is Rabbi Naftali Rothenberg of Har Adar, one of many Orthodox leaders who refuses to pursue a conflict path.

Here he responds to the Chief Rabbi of Safed:

“Calls issued by rabbis not to rent apartments to Arabs, including such an appeal delivered recently by the chief rabbi of Safed, belie Israel’s definition as a Jewish state. They contradict the state’s Jewish character no less (and, perhaps, more ) than they undermine its definition as democratic. Much has already been said about the ease with which we allow ourselves to assail the country’s minorities, as though we do not bear a heritage of abuse as a persecuted minority in the lands of the Diaspora. However, it should be emphasized that the most problematic aspect of the rabbis’ calls of incitement is that they completely deviate from Jewish law.”

Read on.

Debates like these are ongoing across the Middle East, a region where minorities fare poorly and most states define themselves in religious or ethnic terms – for example, as Arab like Egypt and Syria or Islamic Republics, like Iran. Greens, like everybody else, should address this situation without prejudice.

Bonus link: Time to End the Reform-Orthodox Wars.

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