Israel's Foolish Government Ignorant of U.S. Jews

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MK Yariv Levin (left) standing next to fellow coalition member Moshe Kahlon.
MK Yariv Levin (left) with fellow coalition member Moshe Kahlon.Credit: Emil Salman

The current coalition seems to have a special position operating in rotation. This role stipulates that there is always a coalition member serving as the “duty fool” to amuse the public with his nonsense.

Not a week goes by without some duty fool demonstrating his/her comic talents. If it isn’t Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, then it’s MK Oren Hazan. In Hazan’s rare moments of silence, MK Miki Zohar takes his place (all three are from Likud). And if it isn’t Zohar, then MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) will dazzle us with his antics. And if, heaven forbid, all the coalition fools are silent, the opposition will rush to its aid and dispatch Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) to delight the crowd with his strategic plans. Anything rather than suffering a single dull moment.

In recent days, the duty fool appeared to be Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud). The honorable minister – a highly skilled, experienced fool – roused the public with a surprising onslaught on the Reform movement and obsequious groveling to the Jewish Orthodox community in the United States. In his eyes, it turns out, Reform Jews are “a waning world,” but Orthodox Jews are out of this world. The former will be extinct in two generations, but the latter will rise and flourish.

One can laugh, of course, but one mustn’t ignore the ignorance of the duty fool. Here are a few facts. The Reform and Conservative Jews constitute some 53 percent of America’s Jews. Orthodox Jews, meanwhile, are a rather negligible 10 percent, two thirds of which are ultra-Orthodox. And here’s a surprise: some 30 percent of U.S. Jews define themselves as “having no religious denomination” or are “Jews of no religion.” Explicitly so. But the minister apparently hasn’t heard of those, so he didn’t manage to abuse them, too. About half of the ultra-Orthodox Jews are indifferent to Israel (see the studies of the U.S. Pew Research Center) or vehemently oppose Zionism.

Unlike the prevalent view, it’s not only the Hasidic Satmars who are anti-Zionists; the Chabadniks are, too – avowed anti-Zionists. Their last Lubavitcher Rebbe took pains his whole life not to utter or write the words “State of Israel.”

Levin’s joy over the strengthening of Orthodox Jewry in the United States is also the joy of all post-Zionists, anti-Zionists and a-Zionists in our world. All these may be worse in Levin’s eyes than serial killers, yet he will celebrate with them the coming of “the Orthodox spring” he fantasizes about. Oh, how mysterious are the meanderings of the fool’s mind.

Between the lines, Levin is blatantly accusing the Reform Jews. As far as he’s concerned, they are the ones causing the Jews’ extinction, while the Orthodox ones are those preserving it. Thus, we have no choice but to revisit the events of the dark annihilation years. The Orthodox rebbes of the Satmar, Ger, Belz, Bilgoray and Lubavitch dynasties fled from the inferno. Their followers stayed behind. Most of them were annihilated. In contrast, Rabbi Leo Baeck – the leader of Germany’s “abominable” Reform community – did not flee. He refused all offers to escape and insisted on staying with his flock to the end. He was locked up with his people in the Theresienstadt death camp, survived and continued serving as a spiritual shepherd to them for years to come.

Will the duty fool succeed in gleaning some insight from the above facts regarding those who protect the Jews and those who don’t? It’s doubtful.

To conclude, a short quote from Leo Baeck about Israel a few years after its establishment: “It’s a great prospect, but the danger may be too great that in its ancient land, an old-new danger will threaten the people – nationalism, deifying the state and their ally since the dawn of time – clericalism.” It’s as though the late Rabbi Baeck had met the duty fool and immediately saw him for what he was.

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