There's a 'Moral Issue' With Going to anti-Netanyahu Rallies, Says Rabbi Who Went to anti-Rabin Rally

We asked a prominent Israeli rabbi why he condemned anti-corruption protests

Rabbi Haim Druckman.
Tomer Appelbaum

Shalom to Rabbi Haim Druckman [a former Knesset member and current head of the Ohr Etzion Yeshiva]. It’s Nir Gontarz from Haaretz, again. I tried you on Saturday evening, after Shabbat, but you were in the middle of giving a lesson. I wanted to talk to you about the letter you published, stating that it’s not permitted to take part in the demonstrations against corruption.

That’s right. But I decided that I’m not going to talk about it. Thank you. Goodbye!

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Just a minute, sir

No minute!!! I don’t want to talk about it. Goodbye!

Why are you shouting at me?

I am not shouting at you.

You are. But please let me tell you something, alright?

I don’t want to talk about it!!!

But I want to say something. Will you agree to listen?

Certainly.

Fine. You, sir, are a well-known rabbi in the Land of Israel. When Your Honor issues a directive like this, he has an audience whose members know how to read between the lines and how to interpret the text. But there is also a large public that doesn’t possess that talent. I, for example, do not know how to interpret Your Honor.

(Rolling laughter)

Why are you laughing, sir?

I enjoy what you’re saying.

My pleasure. In any case, I and the readers of Haaretz are entitled to understand what’s behind your words. After all, Your Honor thrust his hand into the burning issue. So, let Your Honor please muster a little patience and explain himself to me and to my ilk. Why is it forbidden to go to demonstrations?

You’re right. You are entitled. What’s behind the letter is the truth of the whole subject of the demonstrations – a political goal. It started with pressure on the attorney general in Petah Tikva [demonstrations outside the attorney general's home] and shifted to Tel Aviv, and they want to move it to Jerusalem, too. The organizers are not innocent people. We know who they are, what they want. What they’re not succeeding in doing at the ballot box, they want to do in demonstrations. That is something we must object to strenuously. To use the values of justice and integrity for political purposes, is itself corruption.

You are saying, sir, that you don’t believe in the organizers’ sincere intentions.

Correct. Correct. Correct. Correct. Correct.

And you see it as an attempt to topple the right-wing government.

Correct. Correct. Correct.

And you say, sir, that it is wrong to topple the right-wing government because, heaven forbid, as you see things, the left could come into power and

Why go any further? I say that the very act of using slogans of justice and integrity and a guillotine and other things of that sort, is itself corrupt. I am against corruption.

The demonstrations themselves are corrupt?

There is corruption in the demonstrations. Not in the naive people who come to them. In those who organize them.

Let’s say, let’s just say, that the organizers of the demonstrations are political people who want to be rid of the right-wing government in order to bring the left into power. Let’s say. Still, the tens of thousands, or the thousands, who come are honest people who are against corruption.

Certainly, certainly, 100 percent.

And the demonstration in Jerusalem that was organized [last Saturday night] by [journalist and former Netanyahu aide] Mr. Yoaz Hendel – do you suspect him?

I will not go into it. At the Jerusalem demonstration, too, there were political people among the speakers, and people who intended to be political.

I understand. Since you are, after all, being nice here and summoned the patience to reply, one more thing: Your Honor is a senior figure in the leadership of the Bnei Akiva [religious] youth movement, which is supposed to educate for values and so forth. Is there a problem in the fact that the rabbi does not agree to allow his pupils to take part in a protest in which most of the participants are against corruption?

No. There is no problem. They know me and understand that if I tell them not to take part, it means that there is a moral issue here.

I see. You, sir, have taken part in demonstrations yourself, right?

Certainly!

Including that problematic demonstration in Zion Square [in Jerusalem, against Yitzhak Rabin, in 1995]. Right?

I don’t know. I don’t remember.

Interesting. People who know the rabbi better than I do, tell me that, to the best of their memory, the rabbi was at the demonstration in which the late Yitzhak Rabin was depicted dressed up in Nazi clothing [in a photograph].

Possibly. What “Champagne” [code name for an agent provocateur from the Shin Bet security service] dressed up in a uniform – that was done by the Shin Bet.

Ah, I see.

It was done by the Shin Bet, which was an arm of that same government.

I’m afraid that I understand what the rabbi is saying. I have nothing to say about that.

Correct.

What else does the rabbi have to say about current events?

Nothing. You asked me – I told you.

Yes. Correct. Fine. Thank you to the rabbi.

Shalom.