Ehud Barak cites Talmud in attack on Israeli Right

Ex-PM accuses Netanyahu of 'straying from Herzl's path' - then cites Talmudic passage used by anti-Zionists to criticize creation of Israel.

Tags: Ehud Barak
David Rosenberg ,

Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Tomer Neuberg, Flash90

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who recently launched his new ‘Democratic Israel’ party ahead of the September elections, excoriated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Israeli Right on Sunday, accusing them of indulging in dangerous ‘messianism’ and straying from the vision of Zionist leaders like Theodor Herzl.

Barak’s attack on Netanyahu during the interview with Reshet Bet drew major media coverage, largely for his attempt to link the Prime Minister to the followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the slain founder of the Kach movement and an MK from 1984 to 1988.

Barak claimed Sunday that there exists "an alliance of a person who lost all compass and restraint with messianic people not of the settlers, with whom I disagree, but who are idealists. He relies on the Kahanists, before whom [former Prime Minister Yitzhak] Shamir would leave the Knesset plenum when they got up to speak."

The comments referenced Netanyahu’s efforts prior to the April election to encourage the United Right list to include the Otzma Yehudit party, which is led by students and followers of Rabbi Kahane, thus ensuring that both the United Right and Otzma Yehudit passed the electoral threshold.

But in his criticism of Netanyahu and the Israeli Right, Barak also made notable references to Jewish religious texts, the Jewish Press reported, citing the Talmud to justify his attack on Netanyahu and his allies on the Right.

During the interview with Reshet Bet, Barak cited the so-called “Three Oaths” – a passage in the Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Ketubot, 110b) which states that following the beginning of the exile, Israel was adjured “not to storm the wall” by forcing its way back into the Land of Israel and “not to rebel against the nations of the world”.

A third oath, directed at the non-Jewish nations of the world, obliged them “not to oppress Israel excessively”.

This passage was furnished by Orthodox opponents of the modern Zionist movement in support of their position that a Jewish state should not be established in the Land of Israel prior to the coming of the Messiah.

Barak, however, cited the Three Oaths in his more narrow criticism of the Israeli Right, while warning that Netanyahu and his allies were “straying” from the vision of Israel as a “Zionist, democratic, enlightened, liberal state.”

"Israeli control over from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the Jordan River will definitely either end Israel as a democracy, or as a Jewish state. That's the essence of what we are seeing. We support a Jewish, Zionist, democratic, enlightened, liberal state."

The path of "Herzl, Ben-Gurion, and Rabin and Peres and everyone else - Netanyahu has strayed from that. The extreme right has pushed Israel towards the directions which the Talmud has already warned against, with two catastrophes that happened in history as a result of this kind of politics, with false messianism which tries to hasten the End [of Days] and give God a schedule for bringing the Messiah, which amounts to 'storming the wall', 'provoking the nations of the world' and spreads 'baseless hatred'."

"These three Talmudic prohibitions are violated every single day by people wearing kippot and priding themselves on their title of rabbis, but in fact, they falsify and distort Judaism, Zionism and Israelism.”