​​​​​​​Did a RABBI open the door to BreakingTheSilence?

Susie Dym,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Susie Dym
Susie Dym serves as spokesperson for Mattot Arim, with over 20 years of expertise on "peace-for-peace" issues.

Could a World-Mizrachi Rabbi have spawned today’s worst Israel-bashers, like Breaking The Silence?

Would a World Mizrachi Rabbi ever brutally criticize Israel and IDF soldiers in public? You’d think the answer would be a resounding NO.

Yet unfortunately the answer seems to be yes. Because World Mizrachi has, this year,  chosen to center their Yom Yerushalayim  event around Rabbi Jonathan Sacks . And Rabbi Jonathan Sacks did, in one of Israel’s worst years, use (or abuse) his po‎sition as then-Chief Rabbi of England to accuse Israel of not treating Palestinians properly and to denigrate, rather than stick up for, IDF soldiers.

Rabbi Sacks’ shocking attack on the good name of  Israel and her soldiers was gleefully disseminated by the major British media – in the dark days of 2002. Breaking the Silence would never have dared do what they do, nor would they have gained such respectability in academic circles, had the door to such unjust Israel-bashing be‎havior not been thrown open by no less a dignitary than Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks – an Orthodox rabbi, no less!

What happened in 2002 was this:

Rabbi Sacks was asked, in a Guardian interview, about what a hostile reporter termed Israel's “occupation”. Rather than turning on the reporter, Rabbi Sacks preferred to turn on Israel. He told his open mouthed interlocutor that Israel must not  “ignore a commandment”  (ill-treating non-Israelites)  that is “repeated 36 times in the Mosaic books”. Israel’s “postures” are incompatible in the long- run with Judaism’s “deepest ideals", Rabbi Sacks scolded us Israelis and particularly our soldier daughters and sons, adding that things that happened “on a daily basis” here in Israel made his civilian self, in far-off England, “feel very uncomfortable as a Jew". For example? Well,  such as Israeli soldiers who had just slain a Palestinian terrorist and were photographed smiling rather than, presumably,  looking suitably sorrowful at the regrettable downfall of this poor non-Israelite man. Imagine – smiling at the successful downing of one who had been striving to slaughter their sisters and brothers. These  Israeli soldiers, Rabbi Sacks said, made him "profoundly shocked".

In the very same interview, Rabbi Sacks shared with his interviewer also his views on explicit endorsers of Palestinian suicide bombings.  Could Sacks "hear the voice of God" from the mouth of a Muslim extremist who approved of terrorist violence, his interviewer asked.  "Yes!" Rabbi Sacks responded, explaining that whenever he spoke to Islamic radicals, he “established within minutes a common language, a particular language that believers share".

It seemed as though Islamic radicals  did not “profoundly shock” Rabbi Sacks at all – just the Israeli soldiers.

To top it all off, Rabbi Sack’s rabbinical exhortation to Israel – promulgated for all of Britain’s Israel-bashers to hear – was  “Give back all the land for the sake of peace”.

The resulting media carnival (or should I say carnage) was barely noticed time here in Israel back in 2002, since our demoralized citizenry was reeling from  a barbaric onslaught of Palestinian terrorism on her citizens, children and elderly.  At that time, Rabbi Sacks seemed the least of our problems. Rabbi Sacks was not, after all, the one bombing a bus or shooting at any parents driving along with their young children, unlike the Palestinians Rabbi Sacks was being so solicitous of. We simply did not have the bandwidth to devote any thought or worry or concern to the havoc Rabbi Sacks was wreaking.

And mind you, everybody makes mistakes. So in a sense we can hardly fault Rabbi Sacks if he made mistakes just as everyone else does.

And yet -- serious mistakes need to be retracted, regretted, apologized for, very clearly and explicitly.  And this Rabbi Sacks has, a decade and a half later, not yet done. When his anti-Israel diatribe was raised again by a CNN interviewer perhaps 3 years ago, Rabbi Sacks’s actually indirectly praised himself for being “self-critical”!

Like anyone who makes a mistake, if indeed he now agrees it was a mistake, Rabbi Sacks can easily put things right to some extent. He can definitely reduce much of the massive damage that he inflicted on the State of Israel’s undeserving head in 2002, all by taking good advantage of the World Mizrachi event. Here is a perfect forum at which  to – at long last -- retract the entire 2002 interview and offer a simple public apology to Israel and its  soldiers. To be effective – to pull the carpet out from the likes of Breaking the Silence and worse – such a retraction and apology would need to be posted on Internet for all to see and encourage others (Israeli-bashers) to see.

On Yom Yerushalyim then – in just a few days -- Rabbi Sacks has the opportunity to put his finger in the dike guarding Israel’s reputation. Rabbi Sacks can easily, standing in Jerusalem, stop or stem the massacre of Israel’s reputation from continuing to pour through the hole he created in 2002. This is relevant to

the reputation of Jews everywhere.  We hope that Rabbi Sacks will not disappoint us this time.

To contact Mizrachi and/or Rabbi Sacks regarding this matter, use these email addresses:  info@mizrachi.org  and  info@rabbisacks.org. The undersigned has already asked Mizrachi to raise this matter with Rabbi Sacks and readers will be informed if any reply is received. Thus far – none.

One possible wording, or simply open your heart and compose your own, is this:

Dear World Mizrachi and dear Rabbi Sacks,

A World Mizrachi Rabbi and speaker must not be unapologetic about publicly and unjustly denigrating Israel and the IDF.

Please then – urge Rabbi Sacks to apologize at long last.

Please don’t give anti-Israel groups like “Breaking The Silence” and worse, the continued satisfaction of having a mentor who is... a

World Mizrachi Rabbi of all people.

Leaders – this matter is in your hands and the time is now!

Sincerely (YOUR FULL NAME)

Sources for further reading:

1. The 2017 Yom Yerushayim Mizrachi event which Rabbi Sacks COULD use to air a much-needed apology (particularly if a few readers are bold enough to actually ask him to do so...) 

is here: http://mizrachi.org/yy50/YY50-Schedule.pdf*

2. Rabbi Sack’s 2002 Israel- and IDF-bashing interview is here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/aug/27/religion.politicsphilosophyandsociety 


3. Rabbi Sack’s un-retraction and non-apology (CNN interview, 2014) is here: http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2014/01/10/7505/.


This is Susie Dym, spokesperson for Mattot Arim, an Israeli NGO working toward peace-for-peace since 1992 – writing to you from Israel