The Nation-State Bill, Groucho Marx, and Justice Kavanaugh

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14 Responses

  1. dr. bill says:

    A logician would make anyone who knows how precisely correct but practically wrong they can be a tad nervous. Since quoting the rav ztl in contexts different from those in which he spoke seems to have become a popular pastime,; I would argue that on occasion he opposed formalization of what was already the practical reality. Creating a theoretical boogeyman – the court – and ascribing all sorts of potential ills to it may be a logical possibility, but not a practical probability or reality. I say this with great respect for prof. koppel with whom I share a doktorvater.

    thank God we have a court that can control the coercion a minority can impose if it is part of a ruling coalition.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    Your mention of both Groucho Marx and the Soviet Union brought this to mind:

    I hope the Jewishness of the State asserted in this measure prompts a discussion of how the State should be more—not less—Jewish in fact.

    Also, the “world community” can mean a huge group of buffoons uniting around their pet hate, us.

  3. mb says:

    Antisemitism was illegal in the Soviet Constitution.

    In answer to your inquiry :
    National and racial chauvinism is a vestige of the misanthropic customs characteristic of the period of cannibalism. Anti-semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism.
    Anti-semitism is of advantage to the exploiters as a lightning conductor that deflects the blows aimed by the working people at capitalism. Anti-semitism is dangerous for the working people as being a false path that leads them off the right road and lands them in the jungle. Hence Communists, as consistent internationalists, cannot but be irreconcilable, sworn enemies of anti-semitism.
    In the U.S.S.R. anti-semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system. Under U.S.S.R. law active anti-semites are liable to the death penalty.
    J. Stalin
    January 12, 1931
    First published in the newspaper Pravda, No. 329, November 30, 1936

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    One should note the similar logic used by opponents to the law in Israel and those who oppose enforcing the law in inner city neighborhoods, meaningful screening of would be immigrants in the US. Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit and an eminent legal conservative once remarked that J A Barak would and should have been granted a Nobel Prize in inventing his theory of law and jurisprudence.

  5. Raymond says:

    I have really two responses to this article. The first part will be fairly simple and predictable coming from me, while the second part will be a bit more nuanced.

    Any normal country has its nationalistic pride. It is called patriotism. So the French are proud to be French, the Chinese are proud to be Chinese, and so on. Nobody questions any of this. If anything, it is so obvious that it hardly needs to be stated at all. And yet when we Jews express similar pride in our little Jewish country, proudly declaring what should be self-evidence, namely that it is a Jewish State, suddenly the whole world is up in arms. Far more maddeningly is this protest when it comes from our own Jewish people, although I suppose that Jewish self-hatred is nothing new. In any case, the fact that Israel declaring itself to be Jewish State is somehow so controversial, only goes to show that antisemitism did not die with the Holocaust. It has only metamorphosized into a somewhat different form.

    Now, as to the question concerning the seeming incompatibility between the notions of a democratic State and a Jewish State, that gets a bit more complicated. First of all, I do not believe that Judaism is incompatible with democracy at all. On the contrary, when Thomas Jefferson wrote about how all people are created equal, he might have been inspired by G-d Himself, who very early on in the Torah explicitly states that Adam, and by implication all of us, are created in the Image of G-d. That is the ultimate statement of equality, how none of us are inherently better than anybody else, which in turn logically leads to each person having exactly one vote, no matter what station in life that one happens to find oneself in, since we are all equal.

    Given that to be the case, what about the Jewish State of Israel? Should it be a pure democracy? The answer is not quite yes and not quite no, but rather, that it depends, not quite on how one was born, but rather on one’s actions. When it comes to non-Jews living in Israel, they must agree to abide by the Seven Noachide Laws. If they are unwilling to do so, then they should not be welcome in Israel. Thus the islamoNazis are quite proud to either murder Jews or throw their support behind their fellow islamoNazis who murder Jews. Israel therefore needs to vomit those savages out of our Jewish land. A bit more delicate is the issue of Christianity, since many of them are some of Israel’s strongest supporters, and yet their idolatry also violates one of the Seven Laws of Noah, and therefore Christianity is also incompatible with the inherent holiness of the Jewish Land of Israel.

    Now what about among Jews ourselves? The vast majority of Jews in the world today, are not even religious. Are they, too, not welcome in Israel? The answer has to be no, since Israel is meant for us Jews. But what kind of a Jewish State would it be, if it were totally run by completely secular Jews? If Israel is not run as a religious state, then it has very little meaning to it. And yet for the State to force Jews to be religious, would be a really terrible solution to such a problem. G-d wants our hearts, not for us to be slaves.

    So my answer to this seemingly insoluble problem, actually comes from what I perceive to be the way of Chabad. Chabad Rabbis are sent all around the world to bring Jews back to the Torah, but it is never done in a coercive manner, and yet even in Chabad shuls where everybody there may start out being not religious, it is understood that Torah Judaism is the ideal to aspire to, with the Rabbi of the shul serving as their role model. Similarly, while the people of Israel should have the inherent right to choose for themselves how religious that they wish to be, the government itself should consist of religious Jews, with their religiosity helping them formulate public policy, and in that way they serve as a standard for the average Israeli citizen to aspire to become. In that way, democracy remains intact, while the standard for Israel would then be Torah Judaism.

  6. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding the comment by Raymond – August 3, 2018 at 12:23 am:

    The nations of the world can only harm us in proportion to our desire to be like them. We can’t deny that Israel is meant to be ruled exactly as Halacha prescribes. Any other arrangement is at best temporary and transitional. The question is how to act together to achieve the transition over time. The answer is to voluntarily correct our outlook and our actions toward one another so as not to push off our final redemption any longer.

    About the basic law:

    If I read Rav Adlerstein’s article correctly, declaring the State to be Jewish is meant to be a check on Israel’s Supreme Court. Do we really think this arrogant, elitist, inbred Court that is responsible to no one will curb itself because of a basic law that challenges its core philosophy? Is this law an immovable object that will block the previously unstoppable force that the rest of the government has felt compelled to obey? Miracles do happen.

  7. Steve Brizel says:

    Judge Posner’s review can be accessed

  8. dr. bill says:

    Raymond, a government of religious Jews committed to democracy and religious freedom would have two challenges. 1) it would have to be democratically elected. 2) if only Jews committed to democracy and religious freedom could run you would have a very restricted set of religious Jews from which to find candidates.
    I can think of a fair number, but almost all from traditional Judaism’s so-called left wing and NONE who would feel subject to anything more than rabbinic advice – not authority.

  9. Raymond says:

    Dr Bill, aren’t you assuming that most religious Jews would want to force their fellow Jews to be religious? Because that is essentially the situation that Jews in Israel would find themselves in, if Israel would suddenly become a theocracy overnight. However, it is my distinct impression that that is the last thing that truly religious Jews would want, simply because Free Will is one of the biggest hallmarks of Judaism. We Jews are constantly taught how G-d gave us Free Will so that we follow His Ways not because we are robots unable to make our own decisions, but rather free human beings who decide how to live our lives. And so, to be logically consistent, religious Jews would advocate that Israel be a democracy for Jews, so that individual Jews can freely decide how religious they wish to be, rather than having it imposed on them by an overarching, coercive government. And I advocate that the government itself have its representatives be religious, both to serve as role models for the general public to aspire to, and also to help them inform policy. If this sounds like a rather odd idea, it really isn’t, as I compare it to the Founding Fathers of America. The Founding Fathers forbade the establishment of an official State religion in America, and yet all of its Founders were very strongly influenced by the Judeo-Christian ethic, and thus formulated policy consistent with that. It is no accident that virtually every President of America have been Christian Zionists.

  10. Allan katz says:

    The law is more about making a political statement than making meaningful change on the ground. In fact , it has changed things on the ground alienating the Druze community, endangering the partnership between the state and the Druze , which will change things on the ground. Israel has always lost the propoghanda war and sometimes because of its stupidity – making Ahed Tamimi into a hero world wide and now this. Sometimes as the saying goes , rather than being in the right , be wise and clever.

  11. dr. bill says:

    Raymond, I am assuming nothing; I am extrapolating from the behavior of chareidi politicians who currently occupy various elected offices. You can have a democratic state; you can insist that elected officials comport to a religious lifestyle. You cannot have both.

    Your analogy to the US is faulty to the extreme. the US elected officials represented views supported by a majority who elected them: a majority of Israelis do not support your desired qualifications for a candidate. if they did, we would already have something close to what you desire.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Bill-there is an alternative to your two suggestions-that is known as the status quo-in which Halacha is respected and viewed as paramount in determining such issues as that of personal status and public Shemiras Shabbos as well as having a vote in all issues of pubic concern.

  13. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Bill-please define what you mean by “religious freedom” in Israel? Does it mean an American style establishment clause ? Does it mean that halachic norms have no right to be heard and considered on issues such as personal status and public observance of Shabbos?

  14. Raymond says:

    I have to acknowledge that Dr Bill has made a valid point. In fact, I have to thank him for pointing out a major flaw in the position I took above, a flaw that is big enough that I need to somewhat modify my position. For the truth is, that my using America as a role model did not quite fit the stance I had taken. See, while it is true that every President with the possible exception of Baraq Obama have been Christians, it is also the case that the American Presidency has never had a religious test for that political office. Christians have thus dominated the Presidency not because the law required it, but because that has been the will of the American people, expressed through their voting preferences.

    So the question then becomes, would the same thing happen in Israel? Would the will of the people voting in Israel’s elections, naturally choose to vote for Jews loyal to the Torah? So far, it has overwhelmingly not done so, but at least part of that may be due to the fact that Israel’s Parliamentary system resembles Western European countries more than it does the American system.

    Regardless if that is the explanation, the most important part of what I originally wrote above, still stands. Turning Israel into a Torah State from the top down, that is, through government force, would be to turn Israel into a Jewish version of Iran. Such a system by virtue of it being Jewish would surely be a whole lot more humanitarian than what Iran has, but I hardly think that most Jews would accept living in such a coercive, repressive regime. Nor do I see that as the Jewish way at all. Just as Judaism opposes forcing non-Jews to convert to Judaism, so common sense would tell me that Judaism would oppose forcing Jews to live a Torah life. And thus we return to what the foundation of Judaism is has always been about anyway, namely education. Really the only hope for Israel to be a State based on the Torah, is to educate Jews in the ways of the Torah, one individual at a time, and only when each individual Jew is ready to make such a radical change in their lives.

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