On Passover, freshman Yesh Atid Knesset member Ruth Calderon learned from a Facebook posting - her party's name means "there is a future," after all - that there were issues with Komemiyut, the movement led by Rabbi Dov Lior. Despite her reputed expertise, Calderon said she had never heard of such a major contemporary theological movement as Komemiyut and its rabbis.
Calderon wasted no time. Following standard practice in her party, she checked out Komemiyut’s website and decided that it was all right, she could work with them.
Rabbi Dov Lior is not just another rabbi. He is the one who declared Baruch Goldstein [who in 1994 massacred 29 Arab worshipers in the mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron before he was overcome and killed by the worshipers] "holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust."
Menachem Livni, head of the Jewish terror underground of the 1980s, testified that it was Lior who pushed, ordered and encouraged him to commit all the attacks, including asking impatiently when six loaded buses would be blown up.
Lior was the authority for "Torat Hamelekh, the Laws of Killing non-Jews." According to Rabbi Yoel bin-Nun, it was Lior who ruled the Jewish laws of rodef and moser (which allow a person to kill someone who is trying to kill him) applied to Yitzhak Rabin
Lior receives tens of thousands of shekels a month from the state, in his capacities as the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba, in Hebron; the head of a hesder yeshiva, whose students combine religious study with military service; and the head of the Rabbinical Council of Judea and Samaria.
When it comes to Lior, you’re either against him, fighting for his removal from public office, or you collaborate with him. There is no third way.
But we should not add to Calderon's burdens in her journeys. Wrongly, some people view her as expert in, and therefore responsible for, contemporary theology. She is not. Calderon is a talented and well-meaning creative artist who uses Jewish "material."
And that is where the problem lies. Pardon the analogy, of course, but: Is it reasonable to think that in the 1930s someone who had discovered the charms of the Siegfrieds, the Nibelungs and Teutonic mythology would wax poetic over them while not only ignoring how others used these myths to spread racism but also embracing his fellows who did so, lending them legitimacy with his mystical rhapsodies?
In the wonderland where Calderon wanders, Lior is not alone. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party, ruled that a woman who cannot cook well is deficient; women are born to serve their husbands.
This was no isolated ruling for him; rather, it is of a piece with halakha, Jewish religious law, part of the body of rulings that, like Lior’s, relies on the great rabbis about whom Calderon waxes so rhapsodic.
The difference is that in the past most of these rulings were not applied because there was no state system to fund and subsidize this sort of indoctrination, which mutilates the souls of millions.
That is the heart of the matter. Most Jewish first-graders are sent by the state to religious or Haredi schools that it funds, to an education that is overwhelmingly in the spirit of Lior and Yosef.
People who are shocked by Hamas for dictating gender segregation in Gaza Strip schools from age 9, from the next school year, have forgotten that it’s already happening here.
Under Shai Piron the Education Ministry has ordered discriminatory sex segregation from the age of 9 in the schools of the "moderate" state-religious education system. That is the way of the world in the institutions of the education minister, a settler rabbi who was voted in by Yesh Atid’s secular constituents.
On the individual level, a number of women who survived the indoctrination of discriminatory state-religious schools are circulating a petition.
Female genital mutilation is shocking in the way it maims the body. But the institutional indoctrination, from earliest childhood, of the idea that half the population was born to serve men is also mutilation. So is inculcating racism. So is turning the statement in the Talmud — "You are called human beings, but the nations of the world are not called human beings" — into an educational axiom.
Mutilating children in this way is no more a parental right than incest is. Should Israel fund the mutilation of most of its children? Even worse, should it do so while waxing poetic about it and offering a "brotherly" embrace?
On the collective level, at this time of year - when we celebrate Passover, the festival of freedom, while also marking Holocaust Remembrance Day - the fundamental switch from exile to independence must occur.
Israel needs a humanist, egalitarian constitution to restore that which should be obvious. The horror of a situation in which the refuge for survivors of racism is itself tainted by racism drives sleep from the eyes of everyone who loved their dear ones - those who emerged from the conflagration and those who did not.
What about religion? Racism written as concealed textual revenge by male rabbis after being stripped of their manly "rights" to land and to weapons must change: from object to inclusive liturgical song, utterly transformed.
In the meantime Israel must remember what happens in the Middle East when the language of "brotherhood" prevails: that which should be obvious is shattered. Where there are "brothers," there are no citizens.
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