October 16, 2011
My late father was a world class worrier and sat up night after night worrying about what to worry about. I used to sleep like a baby all night until a certain North Manchester based rabbi recently started to meddle in Israel advocacy because he believes that the current infrastructure does it wrong.
So he has decided to gather together a few pals and erect a ‘Big Tent for Israel’ event in a town that is the home to in excess of 30,000 Muslims. Its as daft as having a hog roast in Stamford Hill.
No this is not a joke it’s a fact and it gets worse.
The past few weeks have seen a rise in incidents in Israel from Religious Zionists, these include the desecration of Muslim and Christian graves in Jaffa.
Attacks on Mosques have recently become the norm on the West Bank and the Koran was said to have been burned in an attack in the Arab village of Yuba Zangria by right wing radicals.
If there is to be any chance of a peace agreement these attacks and the construction of settlements in disputed areas must cease.
At a recent meeting of the Manchester Jewish Representative Council a past president advised that he was working closely with this community Rabbi and others to organise this event to which the Chief Rabbi of the UK had been invited.
It is always an honour to be in Lord Sacks company and obviously I do not have any issues with his attendance but the past president went on to inform us that the Chief Rabbis of Poland, Italy and South Africa have also been invited and a further 150 guests will be attending from the USA.
Members of Reform, Masorti and other non orthodox communities will be welcome to attend but they would neither be permitted to share a platform nor lead any break out or focus groups so as not to ‘offend’ the Chiefs.
Therefore this is an Orthodox Zionist event which strikes at the heart of the Stanmore Accords where non contentious issues such as Holocaust education and Israel are respected by all parties.
Donations to UJIA or JNF, MDA or any of the many Israeli charities are received from people with a whole basket full of religious preferences as to where one chooses to pray is actually completely irrelevant.
This event is so contentious that many Manchester Zionist activists are extremely uncomfortable as are the Board of Deputies, who’s President, and Honorary Officers have confirmed that they will not be supporting and neither will the JLC nor BICOM.
I am not suggesting for one minute that any of the Rabbis would condone any of the extremist criminal actions that I have mentioned above but they were carried out in the name of right wing religious doctrine and if that is to be the way of future Zionism then we traditional Zionists have another front on which to fight.
One only has to look at radical Islam to see what a terrible mess right wing clergy can cause.
This conference was conceived to be a follow up to the conference in London last May but with a northern flavour, a noble thought, but why so many Rabbis? Follow up conferences in London for Students and the Zionist Federation are open to all Jews to speak and participate. Our enemies, and there have never been a shortage of those over the past 5772 years, hate us all irrespective of where, if and how we choose to pray.
Rabbis are wonderful people, the rabbi of my Synagogue is young with boundless energy his community is much smaller than that of the organising rabbi of this event and there are not enough hours in the day for him to do his communal job.
So as there is a defined and established support infrastructure in place why doesn’t this rabbi and his rabbinic friends leave it to those of us with a fund of experience from all sides of the religious divide to continue to move forward and to recruit young members from the entire community.