(Red Line) Liberal Jewish BDS (On the Cusp)

The Religious Zionism party in Israel is an anti-democratic National-Judaism-Religious-Zionism hybrid. It is dangerous and racist. Jews in the diaspora will have to figure out how to respond if they are brought into a governing coalition led by Netanyahu and the Likud in tandem with the ultra-orthodox parties.

This editorial is a sign of things to come if the Religious Zionism party enters the government as a major coaltional partner with up to 12-14 seats after the upcoming elections.

“It raises a question that British Jews have perhaps been ignoring for too long: how do we respond? There is no question of diminishing our support for Israel as a country, but for the first time we face the prospect of that country being represented by intolerance.

If Bezalel Smotrich or Itamar Ben-Gvir visits Britain as ministers, some of us might be tempted to overlook their views and welcome them as representatives of the State of Israel. Some may even encourage the British government to do the same. We must stand against that.

Hatred is a powerful tool. Jews need no lessons on what can happen when it is allowed to flourish. It is difficult to stand up to odious views from within our own community but that is why we must find the courage to do it. Israel is on a dangerous path and we must not ignore it.”

Communities are determined by political and ethical redlines and the taboos that shape them. You can read the entire editorial here and coverage at Ha’aretz here.

In the Haaretz report you can see the alarm indexed by a super right spokesperson responding to the editorial this way.

Yishai Fleisher, a spokesman for Ben-Gvir, as well as for the Jewish settlement in Hebron, responded harshly to the Jewish News article, tweeting that its condemnation was itself an outrage.

“How can a small Jewish paper of the smallish Jewish community of London (which is not the land of Israel) be so biased against the call of millions of Israelis who want a center-right government to defend the Jewish State from terror,” he asked.

This is, of course, a lie. An extreme right Netanyahu-Ben-Gvir-Haredi government would not be center right.

About political repreussions we have already seen comments like the ones below:

https://www.axios.com/2022/10/01/israel-election-menendez-netanyahu-jewish-supremacists

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/haaretz-today/2022-10-02/ty-article/.highlight/israels-friends-in-d-c-are-worried-so-why-wont-they-speak-out/00000183-998d-d34c-abef-99df15980000

https://www.timesofisrael.com/2nd-pro-israel-congressman-urges-jerusalem-to-ostracize-ben-gvir-ahead-of-election/

https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/2022-10-11/ty-article/.premium/u-s-jewish-groups-face-big-dilemma-as-israeli-far-right-gains-in-election-polls/00000183-c69b-d1ea-a5c3-cedbd3920000

As reported in Ha’aretz:

The Jewish News’ condemnation comes less than a year after the Board of Deputies, a major communal Jewish organization in the U.K., decried Smotrich’s “hateful ideology,” as he kick-started a Europe tour to rally against efforts to end the rabbinate’s monopoly over kashrut and conversion.

In February, the group tweeted in Hebrew that they “reject his abominable views and hateful ideology,” before ordering the member of Knesset to “Get back on the plane Bezalel and be remembered as a disgrace forever” in English.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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