37 thoughts on “Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Invokes Medieval French Rabbi to Justify Israel’s Theft of Palestine – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I think the one thing that can be taken from her little pep-talk to the professionals is that…. she really is exactly what she appears to be i.e. she is as nutty as a fruitcake.

    Apparently she really **does** believe that the world will be convinced – and instantly won over – by an argument that goes like this: What’s your problem, Goy-boy? The history of the Jewish people is replete with tales of the genocide of “the other” by God’s Chosen People, so why are you so concerned about one more scalp hanging from our belt?

    I would imagine that there was more than one career diplomat who understood the implications of Totovely’s “logic” i.e. once Israel starts playing the We’re-God’s-Chosen-So-Screw-The-Palestinians card then that will inevitably destroy their ace in the hole.

    You know, the Holocaust card.

    Going to be real hard to play that card once Totovely starts laying down her markers.

    1. She is a sign of the lunacy that has spread among the right-wing population in Israel, and this argument is of course a two-sided sword (ISIS claim their own holy book command them to cut off the heads of heretics…). However, those tales of ancient genocides are irrelevant: as you said, they are tales, of things that (presumably, and probably more fiction that facts) were done by people thousands of years ago – people that the link between them and those who call themselves “Jews” may not exist in the first place.

      There are more than enough reasons to criticize Israel and Israelis for their current actions. Resorting to such irrelevant arguments achieves nothing more than antagonism.

      Come sanctions, come.

    2. “Can you imagine her telling the foreign ministers of the world that a latter day claim of modern Israel is justified by a medieval rabbi who spent his entire life in rural France? ”

      Rashi’s commentary is midrashic mainly because his rebbe compiled the Midrash Rabbah from ancient traditions.
      But paraphrasing the Torah it says ‘that the Jews did not receive the land of Israel on their own merit but because of the ‘mis’doings’ of the gentiles.
      The status you claim for yourself as a Jew is very bewildering for even though you have attested to the historicity of the Torah it contradicts your general view of traditional Judaism.
      And don’t forget you live on land soaked with the genocidal blood of the American Indians who were basically physically and spiritually decimated by the ‘white man’.
      Stones in a glass house?

      1. @ yaron: Bless my soul, yet another hasbarist seeking to remind me that I personally killed millions of Native Americans and personally stole all their land. Not to mention that while all this genocide happened my own descendants were being killed by Cossacks in a Ukrainian ghetto, which caused them to emigrate to America. Methinks, Yaron has a bad case of ahistoricity. Perhaps to assuage a slight twinge of guilt he might feel for living in a town or city built on the ruins of a Palestinian villages whose inhabitants and descendants are still very much alive in the places where they sought refuge after Yaron’s father &/or uncles forced them into exile.

        If by attesting to the “historicity of the Torah” you mean I accept the claim that Israel fought wars of conquest and sought to exterminate other tribes in & near ancient Israel, yet I generally accept this as historically reliable. Does that mean you don’t? Unlike you, I don’t believe every word of the Torah is historical fact. So that’s where our views of “traditional Judaism” diverge.

  2. “Hotovely erred in attributing this to Rashi” – Rashi opens his commentary to the whole bible with this statement, it is safe to say he stands right behind it.

    Genocide, genocide, genocide – the same can be said about Christianity, Islam and Buddhism (??). Wait for her to say it in her voice before stuffing all the faults (in your opinion) in Jewish history down her throats. Maybe she also approve of Judah sleeping with his daughter-in-law (incest)? Or having sacrifices at the temple (cruelty)?

    Your article reminds me of a Dvar Torah I heard at a liberal synagogue at the Upper East Side. Q: What can we learn from Parashat Korach? A: Don’t learn from Moshe who was rightly challenged by Korach, but instead of answering, bullied Korach with his thug (that will be god). Nice!

    1. @ Tankist: I didn’t say Rashi didn’t “stand right behind” the commentary. I said that it originated with Rebbe Yitzhak & that Rashi was quoting him, hence Hotovely made an error of attribution.

      I’ve also never denied that almost every religion has been guilty of genocide. My point was that pro Israel types like you have no right to whine about Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran anti-Semitism or seeking to eliminate Israel.

  3. Unless Hotovely is mored than ordinarily stupid she must realise that her argument doesn’t fly in large parts of the world, particularly Asdia and an increasingly secularised Europe. But she can hope that it cuts some ice with large parts of the US (and Canadian?) population, particularly those benighted Evangelicals.

    How is it received in Israel itself? According to Wikipedia more than 40 percent of the Jewish population there is secular. They might mock her historical escapade among themselves but appreciate its usefulness with its target audience all the same.

  4. ——— In my post about the new government ministers, I noted that it would be impossible for the world to deal with her. ————-

    this of course is an odd view.

    the world is extremely well practiced in dealing with extremists, bigots and fools in positions of power.

    Gaddafi, Khomeini, Stalin, Mao, Reagan, Arafat, and Franco spring to mind.

    1. You neglected of course that Gaddafi & Khomeini were placed under quarantine with their countries under rigid sanctions. Arafat was besieged in the Muqtada & had no visitors to speak of. The others you mention were from an earlier era when such ostracism was less practiced.

      You omitted the examples I did raise (try reading the piece more carefullty, unless you simply wish to ignore inconvenient evidence) of Kurt Waldheim & Jorg Haider, both of whom were put in international herem.

        1. Yes, this model is the 5,000 lb model which we’ve given to the Israelis before. One of these very likely killed Mohammed Deif’s wife & baby during last summer’s war. I point blsnk asked a U.S. official about this & he refusrd to confirm or deny. Yet another way in which we’re exerting our constructive influence to promote peace & understanding in the region.

          1. The US provides Israel weapons to be tested on civilian populations. What are friends for?

        2. So, they are planning another assualt on Gaza, probably? The stronger type is the one that can really hit Iran underground facilities.

          1. “So, they are planning another assualt on Gaza, probably”

            More likely Hezbollah’s bunkers. Hezbollah is the greater threat and the does Iran’s bidding.

          2. Israel has a knack of creating deadly implacable enemies. For example, Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978, 1982, 1993, 1996, and 2006. The second time that the Lebanese government showed itself powerless to stop the Israelis, a resistance force, Hezbollah, sprang up to fill the gap, and has only gotten more powerful ever since.
            Note that that last time Iran invaded another country was 1836, not 2006. Yet Israel feels comfortable depicting Iran as a bellicose country.
            The case of Hamas is a bit stranger, because Israel actually recognized it as a charity until the First Intifada. They still see Hamas as a useful counterweight to Fatah: within a month after the announcement of the Hamas-Fatah unity government last year, Israel invaded Gaza.

  5. So when will she start arguing for polygamy, slavery and stoning rebellious sons and people who work on the Sabbath or have premarital sex?
    I am also interested in hearing when she plans to have the next Jubilee year (overdue already), when land will be returned to its original owners and prisoners will be freed.

    1. @Elizabeth
      You are exhibiting ignorance of multiple subjects here.
      Jews have not practiced polygamy for over 1,000 years[that is, Ashkenazi Jews] except for Moroccans and Yemenites whereas Moslems take up to 4 wive even in Israel and I would assume that since it is under the rubric of freedom of religion they are not prohibitied neither in Europe or the US from ‘polygamy and nobody complains about this.
      The stoning of rebellious son according to the Talmud never happened.
      The Jubilee has not been instituted since the Babylonian exile so we don’t have to worry about it. And even so it would obviously not be the Palestinians.

      1. @ yaron: You are exhibiting ignorance on multiple subjects. Muslims are not polygamous in the U.S. Only small isolated sects of Mormons retain polygamy which they’ve practiced in the U.S. for two centuries. You can be damn sure if Muslims were polygamous here Islamophobes like you would be complaining about it.

        Since Hotovely was invoking a rabbinic figure who lived nearly 1,000 years ago to justify Israeli theft & dispossession today, it’s totally proper for Elizabeth to invoke halachic norms that may’ve been practiced 1,000 yrs ago. Would you care for me to invoke a few halachic norms that are in practice today & endorsed by some rabbinic figures? Like murdering Palestinian children? Collecting Palestinian foreskins as battle trophies? Putting Palestinians in concentration camps? Killing their babies like little snakes?

        1. The rantings of a few isolated Rabbis, even Rabbis with followers and position does not a “halachic norm” make. Elizabeth’s examples are a bit off. Stoning a rebellious son never happened. It was an analogy – a warning to parents to teach their children Torah and to live up to the values that they teach lest their child grow up to commit a capital offense. The Jubilee year hasn’t been observed in a very long time bc it can only be observed when the 12 tribes of Israel are living in the land allotted to them – a condition that hasn’t been in place since the 6th century BCE. With the destruction of the 2nd Temple and the disbandment of the Sanhedrin, Judaism doesn’t even mark, let alone celebrate, the Jubilee year. I could go on, but my question is for @Elizabeth – what is your opinion of the rational faculties of people of faith? Is it possible to combine reason, tolerance for others and faith?

          1. @pea: Saying these are “rants” of a few rabbis is a misstatement. First, these are state rabbis whose salaries are paid by the nation. Hence they do speak for both the tradition & the State. Further, these are among the most popular rabbis in Israel. They are not outliers as you suggest. There is a reason why I urge commenters to read the thread in which they’re commenting carefully. You’ve repeated almost verbatim a comment already published. If you had read that, you wouldn’t repeated yr self & put us in the position of having to repeat oursrlves. I remind you that I hate repetition.

          2. Pea, there are people around in Israel nowadays who truly believe they are bringing back lost tribes to Israel (from India and Ethiopia for instance) and who long to reconstruct the institutions of what they see as Israel’s Golden Age. (Including the Sanhedrin.) THESE people are not reasonable and tolerant, as I am sure you would agree with me. Being religious myself, I am definitely not saying that people of faith have no rational faculties.

        2. Noone of statue has argued againstvwhat the Rashi is saying there quoting the Midrash. In fact rabbis in this generation ruled based on this axiom that Land of Yisrael is our inalianable possesion and every individual Jew has a share in it even if he never walked on its sacred ground. Of course if a person lives in Pacific NorthWest USA it is hard for him to grasp such a concept because his own house can be taken from him tommorow to make space for public toilet or some other thing his city fathers deem important…

          1. @Ariel: Of course many Jews have argued against Rashi’s claim and almost no Jews except nationalist extremists believe either that Jews had a right to exterminate the seven nations or that they have a divine right to the Land. You are a decided minority amid world Jewry & even among Israeli Jews.

      2. Yaron, you write:
        “The stoning of rebellious son according to the Talmud never happened.”
        And you know this how? And stoning of adulterous wives never happened either?
        You write also:
        “The Jubilee has not been instituted since the Babylonian exile so we don’t have to worry about it. And even so it would obviously not be the Palestinians.”
        Lovely to see that the Palestinians do not count, and that you see redistribution of wealth as a ‘worry’. But apart from that, the Sabbatical year is observed by Orthodox farmers in Israel, so what will the future bring as to the Jubilee year?
        You go on by saying that:
        “Moslems take up to 4 wives even in Israel and I would assume that since it is under the rubric of freedom of religion they are not prohibitied neither in Europe or the US from ‘polygamy AND NOBODY COMPLAINS ABOUT THIS.”
        However, polygamy is outlawed all over Europe and in the US, so what would there be to complain about indeed? (I will not call you ignorant though 🙂 heh heh heh.)

        In Israel there are nowadays groups calling for the reinstatement of the temple and sacrifices (and they have close ties to the present government) as well as for the reinstatement of polygamy.
        The reasons? Nationalistic and racist (“demographics”) as usual.
        Complete Jewish Family for instance supports polygamy in order to increase Jewish fertility and prevent single Jewish women from marrying non-Jews:
        “This is a cry out to all God-fearing Jews. Instead of Arabs marrying Jewish women, Jews should.
        This is also a solution for women who never married, for widows, divorcees.”
        The whole notion of monogamy is not an essentially Jewish one, Sopher (a senior figure in the ‘Sanhedrin’ founded several years ago by hard right rabbis) stressed. “This [polygamy] is very acceptable in our religion, it’s religious coercion from the establishment under the influence of Catholicism that prevents about 15 percent of women in their fertile age from marrying,” he said. “It’s cruel. And the Jewish nation is harmed by it. We think national fertility could rise by at least 10%. This is national discrimination, where the state turns a blind eye to Beduin, who freely take more wives. If Jews do, they are thrown into prison. And if a law is implemented in a discriminatory manner, it doesn’t have to be heeded,” he said.

  6. “Everyone in the cabinet opposes two states…except the prime minister. Who supports two states when he’s talking to foreign leaders. But not when he’s talking to a domestic audience. Which bring us to another irony: the hasbarists used to chortle about Arafat saying one thing in Arabic and another in English. This is precisely what Bibi does, except he says two different things in ONE language, English! If you’re confused, don’t be. This is Israel, after all.”

    And this should explain quite clearly why the Palestinians have no partner in peace and that the state of Israel must be isolated by the civilized world for their ongoing crimes comitted daily against the Palestinian people. The behavior of N’Yahooo and his government is like that of a spoiled child, who is actually begging, with every temper tantrum he/she throws, to be stopped, because he/she is unable to stop themselves. This horrible situation will never end willingly – hear O rest of the world – the Israeli government is not trustworthy, made up of liars, lunatics and criminals.

  7. Again, the midrash was phrased as such so that two points were made:

    1. GOD owns the land, and not the Israelites, who were only there on God’s favor – which has already been withdrawn TWICE in history, if you recall;
    2. The Canaanite tribes were guilty of such grave sins (idolatry, murder, other forms of immorality) that they were destined to be wiped out by Divine intervention anyway.

    It is NOT, despite you pervertors of Judaism think, a blank check for Jews to drive out native peoples from the land.

      1. So essentially you opt that there is no divine command relating to the Jews and the ‘supposed Sinai revelation?

        1. @ Murray: I don’t take the Bible literally. But of course I find great meaning in it. As for revelation, if there was one, it has a solely spiritual and not halachic dimension. Nor does the vast majority of world Jewry take these things literally.

          1. If you don’t take the bible literally, why do you claim “the Israelites exterminated the seven nations”?

          2. @ An Israeli: Do you understand the difference between history and Tanach? Or do you believe that everything written there is scientifically provable & demonstrably true?

            We know both from the Tanach and independent sources that many of these tribes existed. Now they don’t. The Tanach says that the Israelites annihilated them. That pretty strong circumstantial evidence.

            At any rate, since you do believe in the literal truth of the Tanach you do accept that the Israelites did annihilate them. Which is genocide in modern terms.

          3. @Richard Silverstein Following your way speaking, Do you understand the difference between fact and fiction, as in my earlier comment “those tales of ancient genocides are irrelevant: as you said, they are tales, of things that (presumably, and probably more fiction that facts) “?

            I have yet to read about a substantial archaeological finding supporting the biblical tales of the conquest of Canaan. Anyway, it is not important – if those things did happen, than they are not related to current day Jews any more than the actions of the ancient ancestors of any other nation. And if you claim it is the message that is the problem, then the actual occurrence does not matter, but rather the (quite negligible, in my opinion) place these tales have in our culture.

            Focus on what can, and should, be criticized and changed today. Not on irrelevant stories from 3,000 years old.

          4. @ An Israeli

            if those things did happen, than they are not related to current day Jews any more than the actions of the ancient ancestors of any other nation.

            If the ancient history of peoples has no bearing on modern history then you have no right to Israel as a state for Jews. Is that your argument?

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