Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Tishrei 5766 - October 15, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network












Observations: A Man Who Champions Assimilation is Chosen to Set Immigration Policy in Israel
by M. Levy

Former Meretz Chairman Prof. Amnon Rubinstein will head the Advisory Committee for the assessment of the State of Israel's policy on immigration. The committee was appointed by Interior Minister Ophir Pines to propose an immigration policy and to assess the relevant legislation, including the Law of Return, the Citizenship Law and the Entry to Israel Law.

In reaction, Rabbi Moshe Gafni told Yated Ne'eman that Rubinstein's appointment poses a major threat since his stances are well known and he would not hesitate to present proposals damaging to Kerem Beis Yisroel. However, Rabbi Gafni noted, clearly the coalition agreement between Ariel Sharon and his government and United Torah Jewry representatives does not leave room for the committee's decisions to harm the status quo in the State of Israel.

A recent report in Ha'aretz reveals that in his past articles Rubinstein did not spare the Population Administration from his criticism of its policy against immigrants who are not Jewish according to halochoh but who serve in the IDF and speak Hebrew. But that is just a drop in the bucket.

When Rubinstein was named Education Minister in the Rabin- Meretz government, the Hebrew edition of Yated Ne'eman printed a "reminder" of the stuff he is made of, things worth repeating now following his recent appointment as committee chairman.

Rubinstein headed the original Shinui party that formed after the Yom Kippur War. In his book Nisayon Politi Mesuyam ("A Political Experiment of Sorts") he explained that, in the eyes of the party founders, even the Labor Party was considered too moderate in the struggle against the religious parties and was suspected of "capitulating" to their demands.

"Shinui was started as a challenge to the ruling party, the Maarach. We saw with growing concern how the Maarach government was surrendering to political violence," he recounts. "We considered it `sinful' to hurriedly surrender to religious coercion!"

Based on this approach, negotiations were held regarding a union between Shinui and Meretz, based on the two parties' common agendas.

Over the years, Shinui's ranks have been filled with notorious anti-religious combatants such as Avraham Poraz, Mordechai Wirshovsky, Avraham Paritzy, Yehoshua Porat and today's successor, Tomi Lapid. Rubinstein was the party leader and the one who set the party line and fighting spirit.

"The organizational solidarity that focused around Rubinstein's personality was what guaranteed the organization's continued existence and made it indispensable to this day," writes Prof. Yonatan Shapiro in The Shinui Movement — From Protest to Party. The book includes the party's first platform speech, which calls for a struggle against "religious coercion" and gives legitimacy to heretical "streams" of Judaism.

"The right of various religious streams in each of the religions—such as the Conservative and Reform streams in Judaism—to organize should be recognized. Today these streams are discriminated against in matters related to providing religious services and representation on the religious councils." The platform also calls for "guaranteeing the right to marry" for pesulei chitun and recognition of marriage among various religions.

In his books, Rubinstein reveals himself to be a man with dangerous, heretical views. The only thing separating him from his left-wing, anti-religious colleagues is his relaxed appearance. His academic, cultured approach to uprooting religion stands in contrast to the vociferous style employed by Lapid & Co. This deceptive conduct merely makes him all the more dangerous, because Rubinstein's innocent appearance belies his schemes, which are liable to ensnare unknowing Jews.

Rubinstein's numerous books and articles provide insights into his conceptual thinking and his aspirations in the public sphere.

In his book Lihiyot Am Chofshi ("To be a Free Nation") Rubinstein devotes an entire chapter to the claim "Judaism is filled with pronouncements against non-Jews," which contradicts his aim toward universal humanism. He decries fulfilling all of the halochos intended to separate Am Yisroel from the nations, saying "he who tries to transfer these elements to the fabric of life in the Jewish State disavows its goal."

Rubinstein tries to formulate a distorted thesis that holds, "the overwhelming majority of halachos against non-Jews were devised in the Diaspora" due to persecution by goyim while "the State of Israel was founded in order to eliminate this abnormal state" of persecution, thus there is no need to observe these halochos.

"He who wants to import and preserve halochos created under ghetto conditions of the persecuted Jew, intends to create a new ghetto here," writes Rubinstein. "The power of coercion placed in the hands of the Jewish State destroyed the basis for the worldview created in the ghetto."

Yet Rubinstein could not rest until he had written that under the new set of circumstances in the State of Israel, "the traditional halochos of Judaism take on a grave and frightful meaning."

In his opinion, he continues, in the new reality, marriage between Jews and non-Jews should not be prohibited(!) He demands that religious Judaism permit intermarriage and if not, "then we are authorized to at least demand that in the legal system of the State of Israel and its laws there will be no place for any halochoh that differentiates between people based on origin or race. We too have principles and we too have beliefs and we too have the right to have them honored."

In another chapter of the book, Rubinstein provides an explanation for his approach of preserving "tradition" in certain areas even among Jews who totally deny the Torah and Jewish faith. The Jew who is severed from all mitzvas can hold a Passover Seder and spend Yom Kippur fasting and praying without lying to himself, explains Rubinstein, for "the religious folklore [sic] has meaning that goes beyond religion" and helps to promote "culture" and "national preservation."

In The Constitutional Law of the State of Israel, Rubinstein discusses marriage law in depth, calling for recognition of civil marriage and divorce. He tried every possible way to implement his conceptual approach. Two decades ago in the party organ Leshem Shinui, Rubinstein recounts his "achievements" as Communications Minister and reports how he expressed his worldview even in the Philatelic Service, saying that he then planned to issue the first stamps in Israel's history that honor Christmas and the Reform and Conservative communities.

In 5747 (1987) he was at the vanguard of the battle against a bill designed to block Reform conversions by vesting the head of the religious authority with the power to approve conversions. Rubinstein said the bill was acceptable to him for the Muslims, the Druse and the Christians, but not for Am Yisroel, where there are "varying interpretations of Judaism." He called for the withdrawal of "the shameful proposal," adding, "I cannot imagine a greater blow to the declaration of independence, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion."

A glance at these alarming quotes makes one immediately rise up in opposition against the decision to have Rubinstein involved in an issue as sensitive as immigration policy, but to Interior Minister Pines this is the very reason why Rubinstein was chosen.


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