“Katzav is innocent”


By Simon Rocker
February 24, 2011
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Israeli ex-President Moshe Katzav awaits sentencing after being convicted of rape last month.

But he still commands support from a group of Israeli rabbis who believe in his innocence. See this story on Failed Messiah.

COMMENTS

Jenni Frazer

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 14:49

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4 points

Thank you for finding this, Simon. It - sadly - corroborates my suggestion in December that there were still those in Israel, often on the right of the observant spectrum, who persisted in trying to declare Katzav innocent. This extraordinary stance runs not just along religious lines but along the ethnic divide: just yesterday I saw a comment on a website in which the poster maintained that the "plot" to convict Katzav arose because he is Sephardi.
I am sure it is more than uncomfortable to be presented with the unpalatable information that the president of one's country is a rapist and a serial sexual molester. But that doesn't make it untrue, as these rabbis are trying to maintain. To say the least, very disappointing.


mattpryor

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 15:10

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-1 points

If he was convicted in a fair trial then the sane and compassionate thing for his supporters to do (for the sake of the victims) would be to just let the matter lie. It's quite distasteful.

Then again, what if it's true...? Brrrr.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 15:16

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-3 points

Absolutely true, both of you. What is frightening is that very few modern Orthodox rabbis in Israel have stood up to those backing Katzav.
As Yedidia Stern writes here in Haaretz

The rabbis of the current generation want to carry on the dynasty of leadership. But their actions when faced with the challenge posed by the Jewish state raises doubts about whether they are up to the task. For the first time, the Jewish collective has the authority and responsibility of wielding tools of power, with all the consequences. But the rabbis, instead of sharing in the burden of sovereignty, shake it off. The undercurrents of their positions show a lack of recognition of the importance of the central Jewish phenomenon of our time: the Jewish state.

When the mainstream of religious Zionist rabbis stands behind Lior's refusal, it is using superficial judgment, with tragic characteristics, that amounts to defiance of Jewish sovereignty in our generation. Just last Shabbat we read how the Prophet Elijah ran before the chariot of King Ahab, the idol worshipper, because he wanted to show respect to the government. Well, the State Prosecutor's Office is not as bad as Ahab, and Lior is not on the level of the Prophet Elijah. Why then does the religious leadership choose to act against the tradition dictated to us by Elijah, the zealous prophet?

When the Chief Rabbinate closes ranks with ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionists (or at least tries to appease them, the facts are not yet clear ), it is leaving us with a social time bomb of mixed marriage, family pedigrees and the creation of a new national group, neither Jewish nor Arab, in the Jewish state. The rabbis are choosing the easy way out - it's easy to be strict and hard to be lenient. Thus the gates of Judaism are locked before a third of a million Israelis, most of whom have Jewish roots....

The rabbinic influence on Israeli society in our time is undeniable. They have the power to intervene in the national agenda, move masses to action and even topple governments. But in a broader, multigenerational and fully Jewish perspective, the rabbis will be judged with particular harshness. They have the chance to be important partners in shaping Jewish sovereignty, which is such a rarity. And they are working to break it up.

Who will rid us of these turbulent priests?


mattpryor

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 15:36

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0 points

Who will rid us of these turbulent priests?

Distasteful and uncalled for. We all know who said that (well, he didn't quite) and what happened. All strands of Judaism must be staunchly defended by anyone of conscience, whether you agree with them or not. Finding the right balance of power to improve Israel's governmental system is a different matter, but this is not the first time I have seen you express such things towards Orthodox Jewry.

Please, please be more careful with your language.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 15:45

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-2 points

I honestly don't care who almost said it first. These are turbulent priests and Israel and judaism would be better off rid of them.
As for all standing together, only anti-Semites believe that Jews should all do/say the same thing. And I won't be defined by anti-semites


mattpryor

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 15:50

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-1 points

Let me be clear:

I don't care about whether you are Jewish or not. If anyone said that to me in person I would avoid them like the plague, and I would have to control myself not to lose my temper.

I do not tolerate that kind of talk. I find it disgusting.

Do you understand?

Why do you have to turn an interesting piece about Katzav into your own personal vendetta against Orthodox Jewry?


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 15:59

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-1 points

The piece, Pryor, was about the turbulent priests supporting the serial rapist Katzav. As jenni pointed out it, sadly, reinforced her suggestion that many on the right of the Orthodox spectrum refused to accept the ruling of a properly constituted court of law which found him guilty of rape and several other sexual offences against women in his employ while he was a minister and president.
Don't manufacture offence. Leave that to the others.
I will not be defined or be dictated to by those who think Jews must act as a monolith who have to do or say the same thing.


mattpryor

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 16:03

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-2 points

I am not "manufacturing offence", I am taking offence.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 16:07

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-1 points

Of course you are, Pryor


amber

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:09

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0 points

"Who will rid us of these turbulent priests"?

Millis, you mean in the style of Thomas Becket? (That is the only context in which I have heard this phrase).

What a horrible - indeed inciteful - thing to say. In addition, the religious parties in Israel are there because - people voted for them. It's called democracy.


amber

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:10

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-2 points

Millis - your comparison between the Orthodox in Israel and the Mullahs - presumably of Iran - is just thick and offensive.


amber

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:11

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-2 points

Millis - "rid of them".

How sick is that?


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:21

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0 points

You know, Amber, much as I respect your sterling stance against anti-semitism, people who think Jews are a monolith who must act and do the same thing arent much different from the racists.
So forgive me if I don't bow to your diktat on how Jews must act and pardon me for not buying into your self-righteous, manufactured offence. You obviously have no idea who these rabbis are and how, quite frankly, they are not a million miles away in their thinking from the mad mullahs and turbulent priests. Organised religion and its dogmatic, fundamentalist, scare-mongering, protagonists is, if I'm honest, the root of all evil.


mattpryor

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:36

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-2 points

Organised religion and its dogmatic, fundamentalist, scare-mongering, protagonists is, if I'm honest, the root of all evil.

Well then there we have it. Thank you for finally revealing your hatred. Perhaps this explains why you felt the need to call an Orthodox Jew a Nazi on this website.

I don't expect you to offer any sensible reply, as you never do, but perhaps you could go away and consider the ideologies that have caused the biggest human suffering and mass slaughter in human history - Nazism and Communism - and try to rationalise to yourself what these had to do with organised religion. No doubt you'll perform some fantastic mental leaps to draw a connection.


Jon.

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:38

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2 points

Hang on?

Maybe I've missed something. @Mattpryor why are you getting so worked up by a paraphrase of a Henry II quote?


Jon.

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:39

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2 points

Hang on?

Maybe I've missed something. @Mattpryor why are you getting so worked up by a paraphrase of a Henry II quote?


Jon.

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:44

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-1 points

so puzzled I wrote it twice.


mattpryor

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:46

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-3 points

Because Jew hatred pisses me off, whether it's hatred against you (assuming you are Jewish) or an Orthodox rabbi in Jerusalem.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:50

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0 points

Pryor, communism and Nazism were, for their followers, organised religions. And where did I ever call an Orthodox Jew a Nazi? I did say that yoni1, who isn't orthodox as far as I am aware, was about as welcome as Horst wessel lied at yad vashem. And he too took manufactured offence.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:50

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0 points

Pryor, communism and Nazism were, for their followers, organised religions. And where did I ever call an Orthodox Jew a Nazi? I did say that yoni1, who isn't orthodox as far as I am aware, was about as welcome as Horst wessel lied at yad vashem. And he too took manufactured offence.


mattpryor

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:55

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-2 points

Pryor, communism and Nazism were, for their followers, organised religions

What did I say?

So let me get this straight - you are comparing Judaism to nazism and communism now?

And where did I ever call an Orthodox Jew a Nazi?

Oh wasn't that you? Must have been some other "Orthodox" Jew hater.

Just when I think you're getting better, you go and screw it up. And you just don't get it.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:56

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-1 points

Jon, because some people with very little knowledge of the thinking of the Israeli equivalent of Henry II's turbulent priest or iranian mad mullahs feel they have to get on their high horses, show self-righteous indignation and take manufactured offence. Mixing metaphores but it's water off a duck's back, mate.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:59

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0 points

ROFL, the disingenuity simply pours out of some people.


Jon.

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:11

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4 points

Sorry matt but it strikes me that this is willful misunderstanding.

"Pryor, communism and Nazism were, for their followers, organised religions
What did I say?
So let me get this straight - you are comparing Judaism to nazism and communism now?"

It seems you're just trying and failing to to trip Joe Mills (incidentally was he once TelegramSam?) up without really engaging with the debate.

Surely if any orthodox group is spouting hatred/nonsense then you should reject it. When you say: "All strands of Judaism must be staunchly defended by anyone of conscience, " may I suggest you replace the word Judaism with Islam and imagine your response if someone else had written it.


mattpryor

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:12

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-2 points

I don't care how secular Israelis view Orthodox rabbis Millis. If they speak about them in the same hateful terms as you then they are wrong and should be confronted. YOU should be confronting them, and instead you have to be chastised by a genteel for encouraging anti-Semitism. What does that say about you?

You are verbally signing death warrants for Jews. Don't say you're not, you are.

Yes I am self-righteous and yes I am indignant, and yes I do take offence (I assure you it is not manufactured). I get ridiculed for it - the other week my boss spoke about Jews in most unflattering terms and I stood up for them. For YOU. Now he ridicules me behind my back. You know what? I don't give a damn. He won't say that crap in front of me any more. If everyone else took this as seriously as me and others here then there would have been no Auschwitz.

Why are you so bloody dense? Why can you not see what's happening around you?


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:15

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-1 points

Just so there's no misunderstanding wilful or otherwise, I am not now nor have I ever been Telegram Sam or any other T. Rex song.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:18

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0 points

Thanks for standing up for Jews, Pryor. But I will not have my identity determined by anti-Semites or those like them who think Jews all should act as a. Monolith.


Jon.

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:18

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-1 points

ah ok. Cheers.


mattpryor

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:23

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-1 points

No "Jon" I am not trying to trip him up, I'm showing him the error of his ways. Unfortunately it's like hitting my head against a brick wall.

To compare an ancient and noble belief system such as Judaism to a hateful murderous ideological dogma like nazism is insulting. And that's what he did, because he hates religion so much that he sees no difference between the two.


Jon.

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:32

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-3 points

Ok. Do you take my other point on board though. You shouldn't defend religious extremism simply because it shares a god with you.

Were I a moderate muslim I wouldn't defend nightclub bombings or violence in Sudan.

Being Jewish doesn't mean you have to defend every aspect of judaism. Surely debate is how a faith moves on?


Yoni1

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:33

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-2 points

"Perhaps this explains why you felt the need to call an Orthodox Jew a Nazi on this website"

Well, he called me one, and I am atheist. I think it's simply his default option, a safety valve for his bubbling, toxic hatred.

I am, obviously, no friend to organised religion. But calling it the root of all evil is stupid and ignorant. Ghengis Khan was not motivated by religion. Nor was Saddam.

"if I'm honest"

You wouldn't recognise honesty if it bit you on your shrivelled parts.


Yoni1

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:35

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-5 points

"the ideologies that have caused the biggest human suffering and mass slaughter in human history - Nazism and Communism - and try to rationalise to yourself what these had to do with organised religion"

I am afraid, Matt, that Nazism and Communism were organised religions.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:36

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-3 points

What are you, Pryor? My pope? A tele-evangelist? If anyone's way is in error, it's yours. You know nothing about these rabbis, but you are willing to give them blinkered, automatic support because theyre Jews. Not much different from people who blame all the ills of the world on the joooz because they're, well, Jews.


Yoni1

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:36

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-2 points

"Were I a moderate muslim I wouldn't defend nightclub bombings or violence in Sudan"

Kindly link us to the loud and widespread condemnation of terrorism by moderate Muslims.


Anonymous

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:40

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3 points

This comment by Yoni1 has been moderated


mattpryor

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:48

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-4 points

I strongly disagree with you Yoni, communism is blind faith in mankind's goodwill and nazism was a death cult. God did not feature in either.

Jon: There is no comparison between a rabbi that stands up for Katzav (wrongly, in my opinion) and a mullah that preaches hatred and murder. If a rabbi were to do that then I am fairly sure he would be shunned. Which Muslims are shunning the hundreds of mullahs that call for death and destruction with every sermon? Terrible comparison.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:54

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-3 points

And to prove my point, heeeeeere's Yoni!!!!! As welcome as a bacon baguette in a yeshiva and fart in a sealed room.


mattpryor

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 18:54

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-3 points

Millis: You insult me now, but I hope that when you're alone and in a dark place you'll think about what I've said.

The abuse is fine, I have broad shoulders. Carry on.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 19:31

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-3 points

Pryor, that's your choice to be insulted. Sorry but that's one of those things I can't change. For my part I was merely showing you the, ahem, error of your ways. We aren't a monolith and we are not going to be defined by those who hate or love us too much.


Yoni1

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 19:54

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-4 points

You are manifestly wrong, Matt.

Both had:
An infallible supreme being.
A hierarchy of priests and acolytes.
A rigid system of what they considered to be morality, given and unquestioned, based not on rational proof but on blind faith.
Rigid rules of behaviour that must not be questioned.
Severe penalties for transgression.
Ceremonies of communal worship.

They were religions.


amber

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 20:22

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-1 points

millis, your post to me demonstrated a complete lack of comprehension on your part. I do not, nor have I ever, thought that Jews should all be the same (and your implication that I am close to being a racist is rubbish). You can dislike the orthodox - that is your choice, and nothing to do with me. You can express your opposition to their stance on a million things - again, your business. The problem I have with what you wrote is that it alludes to a phrase which led to the vicious murder of a religious figure. In deliberately cjhoosing this phrase, you are inciting hatred - even violence. Following this phrase with comments like "get rid of" is troublesome, to say the least.

Do you understand that?


Yoni1

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 22:19

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-3 points

"I hope that when you're alone and in a dark place you'll think about what I've said"

Triumph of hope over experience.


Joe Millis

Thu, 02/24/2011 - 23:49

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-2 points

Amber, it alludes to a phrase out of Shakespeare's Henry II -- a work of fiction. And you do harp on about how shameful it is that Jews who disagree with this or that Israeli policy that you may or may not support do not support Israel unquestioningly and uncritically. This is out of fear that what those who disagree with you may or may not be "betraying" their fellow Jews.
I've said it once, and it bears repeating, I will not have my life or views defined by anti-Semites or philo-Semites.


amber

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 00:01

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-1 points

Millis - your arguments become more absurd and extreme. Indeed, it is desperate to say you only know the quote from Henry II - the phrase refers to the subsequent murder of Thomas Becket. It is always the case with you - you clearly have misjudged its use here, yet rather than just say "I concede that maybe that wasn't the bast phrase to use", you defend it to the bitterest and most desperate end.

As you failed to grasp what I wrote to you, I'll repeat it again - I do not give a fig what you think of religion, orthodox or otherwise. But inciting hatred through the use of such violent terminology, through odious comparisons between orthodox rabbis and the mullahs (how many rabbis have you seen urging their followers to don a suicide vest and go and kill the unbelievers?) - is unacceptable in civilised discourse. It is a complete red herring to claim anyone is trying to decide for you.

Either your intellectual paucity can't follow that reasoning, or your ego is so inflated that you can't admit a mistake.

Which is it?


amber

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 00:03

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-1 points

In addition millis, the phrase "get rid of"? How would you like to achieve that?

I mean, really?


joemillis

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 00:09

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-2 points

Get rid of... Easy enough, Amber, separate state and religion.


Yoni1

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 09:10

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-1 points

As he has nil intellectual rigour, honesty, knowledge or common decency, what else does he have left but that?


mattpryor

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 11:23

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-1 points

Yoni:

In the spirit of rigorous philosophical debate, and ignoring the ravings of our resident saboteur, do you seriously think you can make an honest comparison between:

a) Thousands of years of written and oral tradition and beliefs which have given rise to western civilisation as we know it

and:

b) The paranoid, conspiratorial ravings of a Jew-hating lunatic and his brainwashed followers, who dragged Europe into hell?

Religions require God, or they aren't religions.

By the way, wasn't it you that said Mohammedanism isn't a religion? So how come nazism gets to be a religion but Islam doesn't? :)


amber

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 16:03

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-2 points

Millis, do you understand what I wrote to you? You have just disappeared. And, if you mean separate, state and religion, why not say that, (although Israel not being a Jewish state specifically loses its raison d'etre) instead of the ominous "get rid of"?

You haven't addressed the use of a term which applied to murder either.


Yoni1

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 16:16

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-3 points

Because, Matt, I am applying logical first principles. Religions aren't religions simply because you like them or dislike them. Nor is it relevant how long they have been in existence. Nor is it relevant whether they have a god in the sense that you choose to understand the term. Or whether their chief priest and/or supreme being is sane or insane. I am afraid those arguments are non-starters.

Islam isn't strictly speaking a religion. At most, it's a political dogma that has a religion as one of its subdivisions, but its main features are those of a political dogma. In that latter sense, it's a lot more consistent than Nazism, which has more of the features of an irrational cosmic fairy tale, namely a religion.

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