out of proportion
Without in any way minimizing Rabbi Freundel’s sins, especially given the trust placed in him as a rabbi, it still seems to me that his sentence of 6 1/2 years is way out of proportion (“Freundel’s future: ‘No Country’ Club,’ WJW, May 21) True, the female victims feel (and were) violated, but this violation cannot compare with the violation of rape, for which, according to pbs.org, the average sentence served is 65 months, or about 5 1/2 years. Is that justice?
Maximizing clout is par
for the political course
Regarding “Back in power, haredi parties aim to roll back religious reforms” (WJW, May 14):
All that the religious parties in Israel are doing is leveraging their political power as a swing vote in a parliamentary system of proportional representation in order to maximize their clout on issues of import to them. It just so happens that at the current time, this includes control of the Office of the Chief Rabbinate. Fair is fair.
AIPAC and the rest of the so-called Israel lobby do the same thing within the American political system. They pressure the White House and Congress in order to influence — if not outright determine — U.S. policy on matters affecting Israel. Case in point: the Armenians. Until the Turkish government turned uber-Islamist in 2010, AIPAC, year after year, intervened in Congress on behalf of Israeli-Turkish relations, to prevent passage of a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide as a genocide (which it definitely was).
This behavior is par for the course in politics.
Here is the full text of my submission, which appeared in abridged form.
Allow me to respond to the May 5 “Back in power, haredi parties aim to roll back religious reforms” feature article.
Believe me, I carry no brief for the haredim, aka Meshugadox (1), but fair is fair.
All that the religious parties in Israel are doing is leveraging their political power as a swing vote in a parliamentary system of proportional representation, in order to maximize their clout on issues of import to them. It just so happens that at the current time, this includes cast-iron control of the Office of the Chief Rabbinate. Their diktat to non-haredi Jewry is clear: your role is to pay and obey, and keep women from carrying Torah scrolls to the Western Wall to pray.
By the same token, capitalizing upon Jews’ active voting and fund-raising presence as a swing vote in key states, AIPAC and the rest of the so-called “Israel lobby” -with the aid of their media palfreys – do the same thing within the American political system. They pressure the White House and Congress in order to influence – if not outright determine- U.S. policy on matters affecting Israel. Case in point: the Armenians. Until the Turkish government turned uber-Islamist in 2010, AIPAC – and even the ADL, who should know better- year after year, intervened in Congress on behalf of Israeli-Turkish relations, to prevent passage of a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide as a “genocide” (which it definitely was). The “Israel lobby’s” ultimatum to U.S. legislators comes across as: “vote our way, or we’ll denounce you as an anti-Semite and drive you from office.”
Bullies are bullies: This behavior, this modus operandi, comprise two slick sides of the same coin of political –wheeling-and-dealing.
In the words of blogger Andrew Sullivan: “I might as well state clearly what I do believe – and know almost no-one in Washington who isn’t a fanatic who doesn’t – that AIPAC’s perfectly legal, perfectly open, brilliantly conducted lobbying operation has massive influence in the Congress. Really, any dissenters?” Simply substitute ‘Haredim’ for AIPAC, ‘Israel’ for Washington, ‘political’ for ‘lobbying’ and ‘Knesset’ for Congress.
As a matter of truth and integrity, you can’t complain about one set of advocacy tactics and not the other; you can’t take issue with the one but condemn the other.
So live with it,
If not: what is needed is action, not palaver.
In Israel : mobilize the citizenry to force an overhaul of the current system of proportional representation. Draft the haredim’s daughters as well as sons into the IDF- as the Talmud commands for a Jewish army. And defund their stateside affiliates. Shamor va-zachor: remember that the 1980s’ Knesset “who is a Jew?” row about conversion was masterminded (from America!) by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and was only beaten back by Baltimorean Shoshana Cardin and other paragons of communal valor by foursquare standing up to the black hats. Tzedaka may be obligatory but its recipients are a matter of donor discretion.
In America : confront the undemocratic, superannuated moneyed elite of AIPAC, ZOA etc. by not allowing such groups’ strong-arm tactics to play into the hands of Judeao-phobes like Pat Buchanan, who like to point to such organizations as proof positive that, down deep, American Jews are nothing but a bunch of Jonathan Pollards. And find out from these self-appointed machers how many of their children and grandchildren have served in the U.S. armed forces, versus how many have served in the IDF.
J Street has made strides in this direction, only to get slimed as “McCarthyist” by the likes of O.J. Simpson Dream Team moral examplar Alan Dershowitz. If you want youth support, what is needed is sustained opposition to the prehensile Old Guard culture of Wall Street-style measured mendacity. Stat.
Thou shalt not kvetch: It is time to fish or cut bait. No more whining. “If not now, when?”
(1) When I was in England decades ago, the distinction was made there between Mainstream Orthodox, known as “Orthodox” and the ultra-Orthodox, referred to as “meshuganeh Orthodox” or Meshugadox.