Note: before playing the video, click on lower right-hand corner button and the “cc” (closed-caption) setting in order to see the English-language translation
An Israeli blogger, Ami Kaufman, has done a great service by uploading an Israeli TV talk-show interview with Rabbi Dov Wolpe, founder of the far-right settler group, SOS-Israel, who I’ve blogged about here along with his illegal U.S. fiscal conduit, Machanaim (about whom the Forward published an expose this week). Kaufman has translated and captioned the interview to give you a real taste for the loopy politics and religious stew that simmers inside these Jewish wingnuts.
Wolpe’s views are not only anti-democratic, but as the interviewer notes, they are insurrectionist in calling for IDF soldiers to refuse to obey lawful military orders. The TV show host also notes that the logic of Wolpe’s views would lead to civil war between the secular state and the religous zealots the rabbi represents.
Here, the interviewer asks for short replies to one-word questions:
Interviewer: The Palestinians.
Wolpe: I don’t recognize such a nation.
W: To a point.
I: Olmert, Livni, Barak.
W: Heretics of our generation.
I: Hilltop Youth.
W: Maccabbes of our generation.
W: He has been warned.
I: The left.
W: Emissaries of the enemy.
I: The messiah.
W: The only solution.
Later in the interview Wolpe strangely denies that his group pays soliders who refuse military orders to evacuate settlements and go to prison as has been reported in all Israel’s major newspapers. After the denial, he adds:
We said that every soldier who will sit in prison for the love of the Land of Israel, then we will give money to the family that raised such a child who is willing to suffer for it.
According to such sophistry, he isn’t paying the family a bounty for a specific act of insubordination, but rather is offering the funds as a gift for raising such a wonderful child–as if this severs the connection between the illegal act and payment. This may pass muster for Talmudic analysis, but it certainly won’t pass muster in a court of secular law. But I don’t suppose this interests Wolpe a whit since he’s preparing for the imminent arrival of the messiah, the deceased Chabad leader Rabbi Schneerson, who presumably will rule this settler Kingdom of God and strike mortal blows against heretics like yours truly and other trespassing Jews.
During the interview, Wolpe articulates his views with the utmost clarity when he says that Israeli soldiers swear an oath of allegiance to the State on a Tanach (Bible) to protect and defend the homeland. “How can a soldier obey an order to evacuate a settlement thus destroying the homeland?” There you have it in a nutshell: every inch of the Territories is not just sacred, God-given ground, but land the Israeli government must defend with its last ounce of blood. Can there be any starker elucidation of the chasm between radical settlers and the secular State than this?
According to Wolpe’s view, the democratic majority of Israelis has neither the right nor the ability to evacuate these settlements. We’ve heard of the concept of jury nullification, whereby jurors are urged to find minority defendants regardless of the merits of the case due to the suffering and discrimination inflicted on them by American society. Well, this is an example of national nullification. For Wolpe, the State of Israel is essentially null and void.
How else can he say he supports democracy “to a point?” For me, supporting democracy to a point is like saying you’re half-pregnant. It can’t be done. Democracy is an inviolate principle. There are no half-measures or conditions when it comes to democracy. To use a poker term, you’re either ‘all in’ or you’re all out. Clearly, Wolpe is neither a gambling man nor an advocate of liberal values when it comes to the State of Israel.
Later in the interview, Wolpe likens a military order to evacuate settlements to eating chametz (unleavened bread forbidden during Passover). I kid you not.
And when the interviewer attempts to remind his subject that the international community and Barack Obama are pressuring Israel for concessions, the latter responds with derision:
The nations [world community] are laughing at us, they mock us. We’re nothing but a laughingstock to them. Show me another country that would freeze building on their territory? Who’s ever heard of such a thing? We’re a bannana republic. You say we’re in charge. They’re in charge.
At another point, Wolpe calls the decision by the Netanyahu right-wing government to accept a temporary settlement freeze, “a dictatorship.” The rabbi, who doesn’t appear to have studied the principles of liberal democracy, claims that no democratic government can force a minority to accept the will of the majority when it comes to a decision like evicting 8,000 settlers from Gush Katif. Now, here I always thought that this was one of the principles of democracy–that the minority accepted the will of the majority even when former opposed it. Apparently, Rabbi Wolpe studied this subject at the feet of that other settler democrat, Meir Kahane. He certainly didn’t study in the yeshiva of John Locke or Thomas Jefferson.
H/t to Didi Remez.