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Israel's Election - Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah

04/18/2019 11:27:32 AM


Rabbi Dan Dorsch

In the days following the Israeli election, news media outlets reported that three organizations within the conservative movement, along with its reform counterparts, lobbied President Trump to ask him to prevent the Prime Minister from annexing the West Bank.

Admittedly, there are a wide variety of Jewish beliefs on the issue of a unilateral annexing of the West Bank. I’m not interested in going into them in this column. Instead, I want to talk about the timing of this lobbying initiative: which in my humble opinion, could not have been poorer.

Years ago, I remember writing an article following my first experience as a delegate to the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem in 2010. Worldwide, the conservative movement’s party had done remarkably well in the elections. As a result, at the plenary we were killing it: we won resolution after resolution. That’s when a group of members of the Mizrachi/Orthodox party came and started yelling at me to take off my kippah. They told me I was not really a Jew based on the way I was voting. Quickly thinking, I yelled back the expression: Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah. That we as Jews should never forget what has united us, despite the light bulb changing number of opinions we have, is our commitment to be decent to each other in the face of our disagreements over Torah. Such behavior, I argued, was indecent.

Now, it’s my turn to call out the Conservative movement for doing the same. Those of you who know me recognize that I have my differences with the Prime Minister, especially regarding matters of religious pluralism. However, I also recognize that publicly attempting to undermine and shame a sitting Israeli Prime Minister the day after his reelection is folly. These actions do nothing to help advance the causes that we as Conservative Jews find important, including religious equality, as we seek support for our currently underfunded institutions in Israel.

Certainly, a kind of acknowledgement of his election at this point would be premature, as he has not yet formed a coalition government. But the reality is whether one likes it or not, Bibi Netanyahu will remain as the democratically elected Prime Minister of Israel. That’s how elections work. We must celebrate that democracy--though it is quite different than ours--as the pride of an otherwise autocratic region.

Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah. When the government is officially formed, I suspect that the Prime Minister will receive a letter from our movement acknowledging his election in some way. I know that well into his fifth term, he understands our concerns by now. I only hope that he may address them so we may all work together to build a stronger Jewish state.

Mon, June 1 2020 9 Sivan 5780