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Wednesday, July 10, 2013 

David Newman drags "right-wing" into his criticism of today's rabbinate for no good reason

The Jerusalem Post columnist David Newman spoke about the latest elections for chief rabbi, which have nothing short of a disgrace. While his arguments have some valid points, like how the Haredis running the show today are some of the most selfish, self-important, self-interested and self-indulgent people around, he also reveals his concerns are less than altruistic. First, here's what he says about one of the early modern day rabbis, Yitzchak Kook:
Most Israelis do not recall the venerable rabbis who occupied this position in the early years of the state. Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Herzog was esteemed and appreciated by the population at large for his attempts to bridge the world of religion and secular statehood, and to introduce many of the public practices governing religious behavior in the public domain.

His predecessor, in pre-state days, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook is, to this day, revered as an ultra-Orthodox, but strongly pro-Zionist chief rabbi of Palestine, whose attempts to incorporate the entire Jewish population of Palestine is far removed from the narrow minded and segregationist tendencies of those who speak in his name today.
True, he was a far more sensible guy in his time.

But then, here's what he says about 2 later rabbis:
The following pair of chief rabbis, Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliyahu, toned down the internal rivalries, but turned the Chief Rabbinate in another political direction.

They openly supported the hardline right-wing political positions of Gush Emunim and the West Bank settlement movement, thus causing an additional schism within the institution which should appeal to as broad a public as possible, and definitely should not take up political positions with which only certain sectors of the population identify.
Oh good grief. Is that really a negative direction? I don't think so. But if that's what he thinks, why does he say that rabbi Kook, a pro-Zionist of his time, was a positive influence? If Kook took the same stand as they did - and there's every chance he could and would - surely he wouldn't despise it?

Funny how somebody can imply he's pro-Zionist and then inject things that suggest he's completely the opposite.

Newman is not a Zionist, and if not, then I don't see the point of his writing this, nor why he'd have a problem with rabbis like Ovadia Yosef, whose beliefs are very similar to his apparent views.

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