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No Sermon on the Mount This

By Yisrael Medad
11/2/2007, 12:00 AM

The Rabbi of an Orthodox synagogue in Los Angeles has proven that the pulpit should not be thought of as the cockpit.

Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of Bnai David-Judea Congregation has issued a call in the local Jewish Journal weekly to openly discuss the redivision of Jerusalem.  Even the Los Angeles Times took note and wrote it up.

I read his article (here) and I am forced to say that I am not very impressed with his logic or his knowledge of international law as well as the history of the Zionist movement, or more properly, is ignoring of that history.  To be generous, I'd put him behind a mechitza and give him a condensed seminar to catch up on these issues and more.  It is actually embarrassing that this is the face of Orthodox Judaism in LA when it comes to current affairs, Middle East history and using plain sense.

What Kanefsky wants is not to see Jerusalem divided (and here his editor did him a disservice) but that we Jews/Israelis need be honest in telling the story of our conflict since the 1967 war (as if prior to 1967 is irrelevant.  of course, if we do relate to the pre-67 period, all of Kanefksy's thinking would be revealed to be pure, you should excuse the expression hogwash) because without that "honesty", no meaningful talks about peace can take place (if the Arabs were just as honest the Rabbi might turn rabid).

He must have just finished reading that inimical book of Gershom Gorenberg, The Accidental Empire, for he writes about the probable illegality of the reestablishment of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza which Gorenberg's book plays up (actually its the opinion of but one legal advisor - who has long since emmigrated to London - which flies in the face of dozens of others holding the opposite opinion, even if we neglect the 3000 year Jewish right to the Land).

I can presume, as we all, that the Rabbi has a grounding in Halacha and the Talmud.  Besides learning about the status of Jerusalem in the framework of Jewish tradition, he should also know about the League of Nations Mandate which sought to promote the reconstitution of the Jewish national homeland in the territory that, at the very least, included all of Jerusalem and Judea, Samaria and Gaza if not more (Rabbi, we were forced to partition the Land due to Arab violence that England, not us, surrendered to).

Could it be the Los Angles ambience that has affected his thinking?  Can it be that he is delusional and irrational or just playing to the grandstands as this excerpt illustrates:-

"The possibility that the Kotel, the Jewish Quarter or the Temple Mount would return to their former states of Arab sovereignty [no Rabbi, they would be handed over to the PA] is unfathomable to me.  At the same time though, to insist that the government not talk about Jerusalem at all...is to insist that Israel come to the negotiating table telling a dishonest story...".

But that bit doesn't make sense.  What seems to annoy him is our "story".  But if we alter our story to make the other side and him happy, we play into their hands.  What has his narrative to do with the fact that the Muslim Waqf is destroying Jewish historical and archeological artifacts?  That our antiquities are being dumped?  That the governments, backed up by the courts and a weak Chief Rabbinate, deny Jews the right to pray on the Temple Mount, to visit openly as Jews and not just as non-identifiable 'tourists'.  That the Mount of Olives is desecrated regularly?  Can he not recall what was done, when Jerusalem was divided, to the tombstones of our and maybe his ancestors - pathways and latrine covers?

Rabbi Kanefsky may be the spitiual leader of an Orthodox congregation but he happens also to be an outstanding and unfortunate example of that League of Trembling Israelites, seeking a disconnected high moral ground of a mea culpa stance.  He is retreating from Judaism and Zionism, the Jewish cultural and religious tradition and legacy.  And worse, he displays little knowledge of what the 'peace meeting' in Annapolis portends.